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.
No matter when you visit, stop by their helpful Mitchell County Visitor Center first to chat with helpful volunteers. It is located inside the Museum of the NC Minerals at the entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway off NC Highway 226 (79 Parkway Road). A self-service information center is located downtown Spruce Pine at 165 Locust Street.
On Oak Avenue in downtown, don't miss the impressive Toe River Arts Council Gallery (269 Oak Avenue) and The Market On Oak (262 Oak Avenue) with handmade works of 100 western NC artisans. Stop for a cup of coffee at DT's Blue Ridge Java (169 Locust).
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.
From downtown, walk the towering Footbridge across the Toe River to Riverside Park. Walk the greenway, picnic or wade in the water. Spruce Pine has been designated as a Mountain Heritage Trout City and trout fishing is available from the banks of the river downtown. Troutacular is held on the first Saturday in June.
Tagged "The Mineral City," Spruce Pine has several gem mining spots. The Spruce Pine Mining District 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. Gem Mountain (13780 Highway 226 South, Spruce Pine) has a very popular gemstone flume and tours of the Aquamarine Mine. 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!