banner elk

Destination: Banner Elk

Editorial supplied by Craig Distl with the Town of Banner Elk

Escape to Banner Elk and Savor the Flavors of the High Country

Immerse yourself in a charming small town of less than 1,500 residents and let the worries of bigger places drift beyond the Blue Ridge.

Stroll the sidewalks of the walkable downtown and pop into shops and boutiques. Discover the finest in ladies’ fashion, rugged wear for outdoor adventuring and elegant home decor. Galleries stock one-of-a-kind pieces by local artists and markets sell locally made jams, salsas, wine and beer. Four times a year, Art on the Greene creates an open-air market with some of the region’s finest artwork.

Banner Elk

Lees-McRae College, dating to 1900, sits in the middle of Banner Elk. Walk the leafy campus and admire the intricate architecture and rock work.

Known as the culinary hot spot of the High Country, Banner Elk’s food scene far outpaces its size. From nationally recognized fine dining to comfort-food cafes and farm-to-table fare, options abound for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Trout, a local delicacy often served pan fried or sautéed, is a must order. Nearby craft breweries and wineries produce award-winning local spirits.

Appalachian Mountain Brewery Boone

Professional theater is available year-round. Ensemble Stage, located in the Historic Banner Elk School, presents plays of various genres in an intimate setting in the renovated stone gymnasium. Broadway-style shows are the hallmark of Lees-McRae’s long-running Summer Theatre musical series.

The Blue Ridge Mountains surround Banner Elk with outdoor opportunities. Take a casual hike through old-growth forests or get an adrenaline rush by paddling white-water rapids. Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster promises thrills for riders twisting and turning down the mountain on a gravity-fueled run. Nearby Elk River Falls is one of the more popular high-volume waterfalls in North Carolina.

Banner Elk ski trip

Each winter Banner Elk becomes home base for snow sports with the South’s two largest ski resorts—Beech Mountain and Sugar Mountain—located within 10 minutes. In addition to skiing, visitors enjoy snowboarding, ice-skating and tubing. When the snow melts away and summer returns, both ski resorts offer scenic chairlift rides and downhill mountain biking. A brewery at Beech Mountain Resort is open much of the year.

One of Banner Elk’s quirkiest calling cards is the annual Woolly Worm Festival. Each October, the town, awash in fall foliage, hosts a festival to celebrate the local tradition of using a woolly bear caterpillar to predict the winter forecast.

Wooly Worm Festival

The area’s wide variety of lodging options—from convenient hotels to cozy cabins, bed-and-breakfasts and large vacation rentals—accommodate Banner Elk getaways of all sizes and styles. Lodging, restaurants, activities and attractions can be found at