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Banner Elk is a quaint mountain village between the Beech Mountain and Sugar Mountain ski areas (our top North Carolina Ski Town). 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.). Nearby is Grandfather Mountain and the popular Mile High Swinging Bridge.

Banner Elk 2023 Art on the Greene Dates
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. Find details on their website. 

  • May 27-28
  • July 1-2
  • August 5-6
  • September 2-3

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 an impressive line-up of great restaurants within a few blocks of the town clock tower. 

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

Wineries

  • 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.

Breweries

  • Kettell Beerworks (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. 
  • 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 it 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 Arts Center

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

Winter Fun: Adjacent to the two biggest ski areas in North Carolina, Banner Elk is the perfect winter base camp for skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, tubing, and more. Read more.

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

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… read more

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.

Original Mast General Store

See the original location of the historic Mast General Store near Banner Elk in small picturesque community of Valle Crucis. Take a photo tour.

See the original location of the historic Mast General Store near Banner Elk in small picturesque community of Valle Crucis. Take a photo tour.

Apple Hill Alpaca Farm

Take a guided walking tour of this farm near Banner Elk with the alpacas, llamas, angora goats, guardian donkeys, dogs and other animals. Fiber from the angora goats is made into mohair and sold… read more

Take a guided walking tour of this farm near Banner Elk with the alpacas, llamas, angora goats, guardian donkeys, dogs and other animals. Fiber from the angora goats is made into mohair and sold in the farm store, along with alpaca socks. Open year-round. 

Banner Elk Wineries & Breweries

Visit three wineries in the Banner Elk area (Banner Elk Winery, Grandfather Vineyard and Linville Falls Winery). Also visit two breweries (Kettell Beerworks and Beech Mountain Brewing). Along the… read more

Visit three wineries in the Banner Elk area (Banner Elk Winery, Grandfather Vineyard and Linville Falls Winery). Also visit two breweries (Kettell Beerworks and Beech Mountain Brewing). Along the way, enjoy a scenic drive high in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

18 Outdoor Adventures in Banner Elk

The resort town of Banner Elk is the center of outdoor adventure in the NC High Country. Feel the thrill of an alpine coaster, dangle in the air at an adventure course, hike the profile trail at… read more

The resort town of Banner Elk is the center of outdoor adventure in the NC High Country. Feel the thrill of an alpine coaster, dangle in the air at an adventure course, hike the profile trail at Grandfather Mountain, or enjoy mountain biking, UTV tours, whitewater rafting, and ziplining.

Banner Elk Ski Town

The cool small town high in the Blue Ridge Mountains is basecamp for winter fun on the slopes, adjacent to two of the largest ski resorts in the South - Sugar & Beech Mountains. Near Hawksnest… read more

The cool small town high in the Blue Ridge Mountains is basecamp for winter fun on the slopes, adjacent to two of the largest ski resorts in the South - Sugar & Beech Mountains. Near Hawksnest Tubing. Restaurants, breweries and places to stay.

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. 

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. 

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… read more

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. 

Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster

Take the exhilarating ride on the only Alpine coaster in the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains, located in Banner Elk.

Take the exhilarating ride on the only Alpine coaster in the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains, located in Banner Elk.

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… read more

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.

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… read more

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.

Grandfather Mountain

Don’t miss the views that can be seen from Grandfather Mountain, which at 5,946 ft’ is one of the highest peaks in the Blue Ridge Mountain range. Grandfather Mountain State Park encompasses 2,456-… read more

Don’t miss the views that can be seen from Grandfather Mountain, which at 5,946 ft’ is one of the highest peaks in the Blue Ridge Mountain range. Grandfather Mountain State Park encompasses 2,456-acres of wilderness to explore. If you are staying in Asheville, 70 miles from Asheville, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

 

Ensemble Stage, Banner Elk

Enjoy professional theater in the mountains based at the Historic Banner Elk School. This local theater troupe is known for high-quality performances with a robust year-round schedule of events.… read more

Enjoy professional theater in the mountains based at the Historic Banner Elk School. This local theater troupe is known for high-quality performances with a robust year-round schedule of events.

Top Festivals

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Woolly Worm Festival

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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. Highly popular!

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. Highly popular!

Tier 2

Small Town Christmas, Banner Elk

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Many events during this weekend in our top ski town of Banner Elk. Tree lighting and variety show on Friday evening. Saturday highlights include a 5k, Alpaca Farm tours, holiday market, and more.… read more

Many events during this weekend in our top ski town of Banner Elk. Tree lighting and variety show on Friday evening. Saturday highlights include a 5k, Alpaca Farm tours, holiday market, and more. In the evening, Tate-Evans Park has train rides, luminaries, and light shows. Take home a Christmas Tree from a farm.

Tier 2

Art on the Greene

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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… read more

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.

Tier 2

Art on the Greene

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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. 10 AM-5 PM. Free admission.

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. 10 AM-5 PM. Free admission.

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Grandfather Mountain Highland Games

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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.

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.

Tier 2

Art on the Greene

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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… read more

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. 

Nearby

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 fall each year is Autumn at Oz, the festive annual opening of the former Land of Oz theme park. Read more about the village of Beech Mountain.

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