Any time is great to visit the mountain college town of Boone. It can easily be argued, however, that the most beautiful time is when the leaves of the mountain forests are richly stained the delicious colors of apples and pumpkins and nuts. Soon it will be the perfect time for leaf-peeping drives on the Blue Ridge Parkway and the winding back roads. Make sure to include the BRP stretch between Blowing Rock and Linville, which will take you along the shoulder of Grandfather Mountain and across the famed Linn Cove Viaduct.
Rest assured that Boone in fall will have its full share of concerts, festivals, historic exhibits, cultural pursuits and, of course, outdoor recreation. Visit www.exploreboonearea.com for information.
In addition to being home to Appalachian State University with its busy event schedule, Boone is the county seat and retail hub of the area.
To stretch your legs before or after tackling the great outdoors, you’ll find pleasant options for strolling and shopping in Boone’s many specialty shops filled with art, crafts, apparel and plenty of one-of-a-kind gifts. Downtown Boone has a famous Mast General Store brimming with seasonal goods. It is also well worth the short trip up to nearby Valle Crucis to spend time in the original (1883) Mast General Store
Look back into Boone’s 20th century past at the Jones House, built by one of the first doctors in the area; this cultural center holds three art galleries ( www.joneshousecommunitycenter.org). Enjoy free concerts on the Jones House lawn on Fridays through September.
Treat yourself to some relaxing moments at Grandfather Vineyard and Winery ( www.grandfathervineyard.com). The terraced mountainside vineyard sits at the base of Grandfather Mountain on the Watauga River.
A trip to the area is not complete without a walk over the mile-high swinging bridge at Grandfather Mountain (www.grandfather.com). See a view from the top of the High Country and visit their nature museum, fudge shop, restaurant and gift shop.
Another way to catch the views from the air is with a visit to Sky Valley Zip Tours ( www.skyvalleyziptours.com). This secluded zip line is a real treat in fall as you soar through an old-growth Appalachian forest with Mother Nature’s tapestry unfolding around you.
The Boone area is packed with accommodations to meet all tastes and budgets and restaurants for every palate. Don’t miss the family-style meal at the historic Dan’l Boone Inn ( www.danlbooneinn.com); make plans to enjoy the cozy environment and authentic Italian cuisine at Joe’s Jazzed Up ( http://bit.ly/1wyc2Dn).
Gather some friends and head over to the new River Street Deli ( www.riversstreetdeli.com). Its expansive menu is taking everyone by surprise and garnering much praise. Indulge your addiction to sweets and wireless while you wait for a warm, just-baked cookie at Appalachia Cookie Co. ( www.appcookieco.com).
Also new in downtown Historic Boone is Lost Province Brewing ( www.lostprovince.com), serving up authentic and innovative craft beer and savory wood-fired fare.