couple walking through a winery in banner elk

Destination: Banner Elk

Enjoy the Great Outdoors in Banner Elk

Editorial supplied by Craig Distl with the Town of Banner Elk

Although a small town, Banner Elk is big-time when it comes to outdoor activities. Visitors looking for everything from soft adventure to adrenaline rushes will find plenty in this resort town 

Tucked in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Photo by Sam Dean

North Carolina’s only alpine coaster, Wilderness Run, offers a unique, twisting downhill experience in rider-controlled cars that reach up to 27 miles per hour. Next door at Wilderness Run’s adventure course, folks can climb, swing and dangle in the treetops at Banner Elk’s newest attraction, which opened in 2022.

The ski slopes at Beech Mountain Resort and Sugar Mountain Resort convert to downhill mountain biking trails in the warmer months, before returning to their true calling every winter. Sugar and Beech are the two largest ski resorts in the Southeast, providing skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing and ice skating.

For softer outdoor adventure, visit nearby Grandfather Mountain and take in the panoramic views during a walk across the Mile High Swinging Bridge, then learn about animals native to the NC High Country at the mountain’s animal habitats. Another nearby attraction is Elk River Falls, one of the most popular high-volume waterfalls in North Carolina.

In the heart of town, the Banner Elk Greenway meanders gently through the town park and central business district. It also easily connects to Lees-McRae College, a leafy in-town campus that invites walkers to stroll amongst historic rock work and intricate architecture.

Photo by Sam Dean

Outdoor dining is a staple in Banner Elk from spring through fall, while summer brings Thursday evening amphitheater concerts and monthly weekend Art on the Greene shows at the Historic Banner Elk School.

Two of the nicest wineries in the NC mountains are rooted in Banner Elk. Enjoy outdoor tastings at Banner Elk Winery and Grandfather Vineyard & Winery through the warmer seasons, and cozy indoor tastings during the High Country winters.

Year-round culinary excellence is found in a Banner Elk food scene that 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. The town has even earned the title of “Culinary Hot Spot of the High Country.”

A variety of Banner Elk lodging options accommodate getaways of all sizes and styles. Complete details about lodging, restaurants and activities can be found at


Art on the Greene: May 27-28

Art on the Greene: July 1-2

Star-Spangled Banner Elk Fourth: July 4

Grandfather Mtn. Highland Games: July 6-9

Art on the Greene: Aug. 5-6

Art on the Greene: Sept. 2-3

Oktoberfest at Sugar Mountain: Oct. 14-15

Woolly Worm Festival: Oct. 21-22

Trunk or Treat: Oct. 31

A Small Town Christmas: Dec. 1-3