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 the respective altitudes. The town offers many shops, stores, and dining establishments. It's located about an hour north of Asheville, 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), who uses relationships 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 nearby 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 Spruce Pine. 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.
Spruce Pine has a more concentrated area of feldspar than any other area on earth and accounts for 60% of the United States production of the mineral. Feldspar is used in bathroom fixtures, ceramic tile, paint, dinnerware, electrical wiring devices, art ware (pottery and ceramics), fiberglass insulation, and glass containers from mayonnaise jars to Coke bottles. Though you probably don’t realize it, if you live east of the Mississippi River, your home almost certainly contains a bit of Spruce Pine! If you have ever lifted a drink bottle to your lips, you’ve touched a product of Spruce Pine. About 100% of the United States and the world supply of ultra-pure quartz, which is used in the manufacture of fused quartz apparatus used in the production of semi-conductors, come from the Spruce Pine area. If you have a computer you may rest assured the computer chips were manufactured from Spruce Pine quartz. For gem mining, exhibits and the NC Mining Museum, go to Emerald Village. See our Emerald Village Guide. Also tour the nearby Minerals of North Carolina Museum.
Spruce Pine Special Events & Festivals
For over 50 years Spruce Pine has hosted the NC Mineral and Gem Festival (first weekend in August), celebrating earth’s treasures. Thousands of visitors from across the country come to shop, swap and discover beautiful jewelry, gem stones, minerals, fossils and more. The Festival features gem, jewelry and mineral dealers from across the country showcasing their merchandise to fit every budget. The Festival is an indoor festival so weather is never a problem! From Asheville: Take I-26 towards Tennessee to exit 9 (Burnsville/Spruce Pine exit) Turn right at end of ramp onto Hwy 19. Follow Hwy 19 through Burnsville to Spruce Pine. At third stop light in Spruce Pine, turn right onto Hwy 226 S. Go approx. 1/4 mile and turn left onto Summit Avenue. The Festival site is less than 1/4 mile. Look for signs and parking attendants. Go to the Festival Web site for more.
The Fire on the Mountain Blacksmith Festival celebrates the art of the blacksmith. It is held the last Saturday of each April and features nationally renowned demonstrators, diverse blacksmiths, tool vendors, a gallery exhibit, and a free hands-on tent.
The Spruce Pine Potters Market (second weekend of October) is a unique gathering of our region’s greatest potters and clay artists. Enjoy wonderful food and beautiful handmade pottery on a colorful autumn weekend at the historic 31 Cross Street Building. Admission is free.
The Mineral City Heritage Festival (second Saturday of October) in downtown Spruce Pine thrives on sharing the old traditional mountain traits. Watch an old-fashioned train engine chugging and making apple cider, the pot boil with apples peeled, and the making of apple butter. Weaving on an old spinning wheel can be viewed or the caning of a chair being done by hand. Many varieties of food are available to feast upon as you listen to the “picking and singing.”
Nearby Roan Mountain is the largest naturally growing rhododendron garden in the world! To celebrate the pink wonder, Bakersville hosts the NC Rhododendron Festival on the second or third weekend of June.