This small town of 2,000 residents has a quaint downtown area with some nice surprises for shopping and dining. Spruce Pine offers the uniqueness of having not one but two main streets, Upper Street (Oak Avenue) and Lower Street (Locust Avenue). The nicknames are appropriate given their respective altitudes. The town is located about an hour north of Asheville and just six miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway (at Milepost 331/Highway 226 at Little Switzerland). It's 14 miles east of Burnsville.
On Oak Avenue in downtown, several outstanding browsing stops within one block include the impressive Toe River Arts Council Gallery, Rivers Edge Outfitters and Moose Crossing & Co. The Market On Oak features a farmers market, local specialty foods, music and books by regional authors. A top restaurant pick is Knife & Fork (61 Locust Street), which works with local farmers to change their menu to take advantage of the bounty of the local area.
A walk around town leads to several public art projects, including the town clock on Upper Street. The entire area is a mecca for artists. Don’t miss the Toe River Art Studio Tour in June and December each year. And the Penland School of Crafts is just 6 miles from downtown with a variety of classes and a gallery open to the public.
Riverside Park rests on the opposite side of the river with a wonderful walking path and access to the Toe River for a little trout fishing. Spruce Pine has been designated as a Mountain Heritage Trout City and trout fishing is available from the banks of the Toe River, which runs through the middle of downtown. Walk across the river on the Spruce Pine Footbridge.
Each holiday season, many area Christmas Tree Farms open for people to come and pick the perfect holiday tree.
Tagged "The Mineral City," Spruce Pine has several gem mining spots. The Spruce Pine Mining District is a swath of the valley of the North Toe River in northwestern North Carolina that is home to one of the richest deposits of gems and minerals in the world. Mined for its mica, kaolin, quartz and feldspar, the District provides over 90% of raw materials used in plumbing fixtures. Spruce Pine quartz is used in the manufacture of silicon chips. For gem mining, exhibits and the NC Mining Museum, go to Emerald Village. Also, tour the nearby Minerals of North Carolina Museum.
See more of our Coolest NC Mountain Small Towns. Located 11 miles away is Bakersville, home to the NC Rhododendron Festival. And Roan Mountain is the largest naturally growing rhododendron garden in the world!