Banner Elk, NC Things to Do

Banner Elk, NC

Banner Elk is a quaint mountain village between the Beech Mountain and Sugar Mountain ski areas. It's home to Lees-McRae College, a beautiful historic campus at the highest elevation of any college east of the Mississippi (3,700 ft.).

Banner Elk Clock Tower

While the town is only home to about 1,000 residents, it's a hub for the area and offers a nice selection of shopping and impressive line-up of great restaurants within a few blocks of the town clock tower. The Art Cellar Gallery (920 Shawneehaw Ave) celebrates its 25th season during 2017 with a schedule of exhibitions, artist talks, book signings and other special events from June through October. 

Woolly Worm Festival: Banner Elk's biggest event of the year celebrates the coming of the snow season with a Woolly Worm Festival on the third weekend of October. A contest determines which one worm will have the honor of predicting the severity of the coming winter. Enjoy a big selection of arts and crafts, food and live music. Read more.

Banner House Museum: Experience 19th-century life in the North Carolina mountains at the home of Samuel Henry Banner, one of Banner Elk's original settlers. Take daily guided tours mid-June through mid-October by volunteers.

Banner Elk Winery


  • Banner Elk Winery (photo above) is the most celebrated winery in the region, growing new French-American and American varieties of grapes. Banner Elk wines pay tribute to the rugged mountain landscape and capture the delicate nuance and subtle flavors. Stop in for a tasting year around from 12 Noon until 6 PM every day but Mondays. They also offer private tours and tastings with advance scheduling of at least one week. Located at 60 Deer Run Lane.
  • Grandfather Vineyard & Winery is located on a mountainside at the base of Grandfather Mountain on the Watauga River. During a tasting, you will sample a variety of dry white and red wines. From Banner Elk take 184 south to 105 east toward Boone approximately four miles on your right.


  • Flat Top Brewing Company (567 Main Street East, Banner Elk) has about a dozen beers on tap. Their year-round brews include a pale ale, IPA, Kolsch and black-rye IPA. Seasonal beers and experimental small batches, as well as stouts, porters, saisons, hefeweizens and brown ales. 
  • Blind Squirrel Brewery (4716 South US Hwy 19E, Plumtree) is in a small riverside community that's a 30 minute scenic drive from Banner Elk. The brewery combines craft beer, beautiful scenery, outdoor games and a popular restaurant. Try the light Backwoods Blonde and their iconic American Pale Ale. 
  • Beech Mountain Brewing Company (1007 Beech Mountain Pkwy, Beech Mountain) is open during ski season and the summer months for bikers and hikers. They brew small batches in the Alpine Village. Their flagship beer is the 5,506’ Pale Ale, named after Beech Mountain’s elevation. 

Banner Elk Greenway

Greenway: A fun way to explore Banner Elk is via the 1-mile greenway that begins near Flat Top Brewing Company and goes through Tate-Evans Park and pass Mill Pond on the college campus.

Banner Elk Lees-McRae College

Lees-McRae College: Named for two women who founded in in 1907, Lees-McRae College is home to 700 undergrads. Visitors are welcome to explore the beautiful campus with historic buildings built of native stone. At the May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (367 Mill Pond Road, 828-898-2568), learn about the area's wildlife with tours on Saturdays at 1 PM (plus Thursdays and Fridays in the summer). Or, stop by anytime to check out their rescued birds outside. It's a great place for performing arts with the Lees-McRae Summer Theatre, weekly summer FORUM series and other annual performances and concerts. 

Banner Elk Art Center

Arts Center: The Historic Banner Elk School, built in 1939, is now the Cultural Arts Center. Ensemble Stage moved its professional theater productions to the Center in 2017. Art on the Greene is held on the front lawn on summer holiday weekends: Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day.

Zip lines: Experience a true canopy tour and zip line adventure on the Blind Squirrel course. See what it feels like to be a Flying Squirrel as you sail past trees with a beautiful squirrel's eye view of the farm retreat property and Isaacs Branch Creek!

Location: The scenic Blue Ridge Parkway is 12 miles from Banner Elk, near Linn Cove Viaduct and Grandfather Mountain. Banner Elk is about 75 miles north of Asheville.

See more of our Coolest NC Mountain Small Towns.

Places to Stay & Things to Do

Banner Elk Lodging
Banner Elk Lodging
Stay high in the Blue Ridge Mountains in a variety of vacation rentals, log cabins, condos, mountaintop homes and hotels. Near ski resorts, Grandfather Mountain and endless outdoor adventures. 
Banner Elk Restaurants
Banner Elk Restaurants
This small town high in the mountains has become a culinary hot spot. Whether you’re looking for an upscale meal for a special occasion, a hearty sandwich after a day outdoors or a casual steak dinner, check out their locally-owned and innovative restaurants.
Banner Elk Winery
Banner Elk Wineries & Breweries
Take a self-guided winery and brewery tour high in the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Banner Elk area, home to an impressive list of restaurants and plenty of outdoor things to do. 
Lees McRae Summer Theatre
Lees-McRae Summer Theatre
The college performing arts department combines with the community each summer to produce a top-notch series of theatrical productions on their campus in Banner Elk, ranging from classic Shakespeare to Broadway musicals. The series begins in late June and runs through early August.
Wildcat Lake NC
Wildcat Lake
This popular summer swimming hole in Banner Elk includes a white sandy beach, swimming pier and fishing dock. The adjacent Tufts Memorial Park has a bath house and picnic tables. Owned by the Grandfather Home for Children. No admission fee, but they appreciate donations. 
Apple Hill Farm
Apple Hill Farm
Take a guided walking tour of this farm near Banner Elk with the alpacas, llamas, angora goats, guardian donkeys, dogs and all the other animals. Fiber from the angora goats is made into mohair and sold in the farm store. Also, buy socks and other products made from their alpaca yarn. Open year-round. 
Elk River Falls
Elk River Falls
Located near Beech Mountain and Banner Elk is a 50-ft. waterfall that cascades over a rock cliff into a picturesque oval pool. Just below the pool is a popular summer spot for swimming and sunning on the rocks. Formerly called Big Falls, it's in Pisgah National Forest and reached via a short walk.
Grandfather Mountain
Grandfather Mountain
Discover nature on a different level on this rugged mountain, with endless vistas, great hiking and wildlife habitats. Walk across the famous swinging bridge. Located 75 miles north of Asheville on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Top Festivals

Banner Elk Art
Art on the Greene
Saturday, May 26, 2018 to Sunday, May 27, 2018
Find a big variety of 40 artists working with metal, glass, pottery, wood, jewelry and more in downtown Banner Elk. Many restaurants, shops and things to do nearby. Benefits their historic school renovation. 10 AM-5 PM. Free admission.
Mile High Fourth
Mile High Fourth
Saturday, June 30, 2018 to Wednesday, July 4, 2018
Neighboring towns of Banner Elk and Beech Mountain join for events all weekend: Art on the Greene, summer theatre, roasting of the pig with fireworks, outdoor concerts daily, Fourth Parade & Party in the Park.
Banner Elk Art
Art on the Greene
Saturday, June 30, 2018 to Sunday, July 1, 2018
Find a big variety of 40 artists working with metal, glass, pottery, wood, jewelry and more in downtown Banner Elk. Many restaurants, shops and things to do nearby. Benefits their historic school renovation. 10 AM-5 PM. Free admission.
Banner Elk Art Festival
Fine Art and Mastercraft Festival
Friday, July 20, 2018 to Sunday, July 22, 2018
This outdoor show in Banner Elk is strictly fine art and master crafts by an invitation-only. Held on the lawn of the historic Elementary School (185 Azalea Cir SE). Mixed media, jewelry, sculpture, glass, pottery, painting, photography, wood & more. Friday 1-5 PM, Saturday 10 AM-5 PM, Sunday 10 AM-4 PM. 
Grandfather Mountain Highland Games
Grandfather Mountain Highland Games
Thursday, July 12, 2018 to Sunday, July 15, 2018
One of the biggest Scottish Games in the United States, with plenty of live music (bagpipes to rock), athletic competitions, dancing, food, heritage vendors and more.
Banner Elk Art Festival
Fine Art & Master Crafts Festival
Friday, August 10, 2018 to Sunday, August 12, 2018
This outdoor show in Banner Elk is strictly fine art and master crafts by juried artists. Held on the lawn of the historic Elementary School (185 Azalea Cir SE). Mixed media, jewelry, sculpture, glass, pottery, painting, photography, wood & more. Friday 1-5 PM, Saturday 10 AM-5 PM, Sunday 10 AM-4 PM.
Banner Elk Art Show
Art on the Greene
Saturday, September 1, 2018 to Sunday, September 2, 2018
Buy art and support the restoration of the historic school in Banner Elk. Find a big variety of artists working with metal, glass, pottery, wood, jewelry and more. Many other things to do nearby. 10 AM-5 PM. Free admission.
Woolly Worm Festival
Woolly Worm Festival
Saturday, October 20, 2018 to Sunday, October 21, 2018
Celebrate the coming of the snow season with woolly worm races, live entertainment and lots of food and craft vendors in downtown Banner Elk during peak fall color.
Banner Elk NC Christmas
Small Town Christmas, Banner Elk
Friday, November 30, 2018 to Sunday, December 2, 2018
The charming town of Banner Elk has a big variety of events kick off with the tree lighting on Friday evening. 5k, ornament making, cookie decorating, storytelling, shopping and Parade of Lights on Saturday. Take home a Christmas Tree from one of the hundreds of cut and choose farms. 


Banner Elk Christmas Tree Farms

Choose-n-Cut Christmas Tree Farms: Visit during Thanksgiving weekend or early December for their Small Town Christmas celebration and go home with the perfect tree.

Banner Elk, NC

Beech Mountain
The highest town and ski resort in eastern America is just six miles away. While the Beech Mountain Ski Resort is the big draw in the winter, their mountain biking trails created by the town of Beech Mountain are getting national attention. Plus, in early October each year is Autumn at Oz, the festive annual opening of the former Land of Oz theme park.

The former Land of Oz theme park that operated during the 1970s atop Beech Mountain reopens occasionally for us to follow the Yellow Brick Road to Emerald City to see... read more
Tiny, charming Crossnore (population 200) in rural Avery County has an inspiring story and several unique things to see. For more than 100 years, the highly respected Crossnore School & Children'... read more
Our favorite ski town is Beech Mountain, the highest town in Eastern America (5,506 feet) and an ideal winter vacation spot in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains. An... read more
Located near Beech MountainBanner Elk and the small town of Elk Park is the impressive Elk River Falls (formerly called Big... read more
Closure March 1-May 24, 2018: The Linn Cove Viaduct will be closed for a makeover with resurfacing and other repairs to the engineering wonder that opened in the mid 1980s. The National Park Service... read more