Exploring Downtown Blowing Rock NC: Restaurants, Shopping & More

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Blowing Rock is a quintessential little North Carolina mountain town with an upscale vibe, located right in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

It’s one of our favorite places to visit in the North Carolina High Country, and it’s located about 1 mile off of the Blue Ridge Parkway (at Milepost 291.8).

The first time we visited, we’d been camping at the Julian Price Lake Campground, which is just 4.6 miles west of Downtown Blowing Rock. 

We were delighted to find a cool downtown area with lots of great breweries, restaurants, and shops, not to mention beautiful outdoor spaces with hiking trails and waterfalls right in the heart of town!

Named after a unique geological formation known as The Blowing Rock (one of the oldest tourist attractions in North Carolina), this ranks among the very best small towns in North Carolina to visit. 

Read on for our guide to exploring Downtown Blowing Rock NC, including all the best hotels, restaurants, shops, and other noteworthy attractions. 

READ MORE: The 20 Best Things to Do in Blowing Rock NC

Historic photo of the Blowing Rock in Blowing Rock NC
Historic image of the Blowing Rock, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

The History of Blowing Rock NC

The history of Blowing Rock is steeped in the legends of the Catawba and Cherokee people

It wasn’t until 1752 that early Scots-Irish immigrants first began to settle in the area. 

The Greenes were the first European settlers to make Blowing Rock their home. They established the site that is now home to the Green Park Inn. 

During the Civil War, many women and children moved to the area for safety while the men were off fighting. After the war, many of the surviving husbands who returned chose to make Blowing Rock their permanent home.

It wasn’t until March of 1889 that Blowing Rock was incorporated as a town, with a population of just 300. The current population of Blowing Rock stands at around 1,400. 

There are several noteworthy historic sites in the town of Blowing Rock NC, including the Martin House (built in 1870), the Mt. Bethel Reformed Church (built in 1886, and home to the grave of a Revolutionary War soldier), and Edgewood Cottage, the home of famous Southern painter Elliott Daingerfield

READ MORE: Visiting the Blowing Rock Attraction in Blowing Rock NC


Downtown Blowing Rock NC Hotels 

Chetola Resort, Lodge & Spa in Blowing Rock NC
Chetola Resort, Lodge & Spa in Blowing Rock NC photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

Chetola Resort, Lodge & Spa

185 Chetola Lake Dr, Blowing Rock NC • 800-243-8652


The Cherokee word Chetola, which translates as “Haven of Rest” in English, is quite a fitting name for this expansive Blowing Rock resort.

Chetola Resort has a storied history that dates back to 1846. It spans 78 acres (including an inn, lodge, and condos) and is located just a short walk from the heart of downtown Blowing Rock. 

They have a luxury spa, an indoor pool and hot tub, an exceptional restaurant, outdoor fire pits, a kids’ camp, and a lake that offers opportunities for fishing, kayaking, and standup paddle boarding.

READ MORE: Visiting the Chetola Resort, Lodge & Spa in Blowing Rock NC 

Meadowbrook Inn

711 Main St, Blowing Rock NC • 828-295-4300 


Located one block from the heart of downtown, this boutique hotel has 62 cozy rooms that take you back in time while offering all the modern amenities you could want.

They have an indoor swimming pool and fitness center, and offer a complimentary hot breakfast.

Their landscaped grounds are simply stunning, including an heirloom vegetable garden and a duck pond.

The Inn is proud to be a Certified Wildlife Habitat, and it’s fun to sit around their outdoor fire table in the evenings. 

READ MORE: The 15 Best Blowing Rock Cabin Rentals (1 to 4+ Bedrooms)

The Blowing Rock Inn in Blowing Rock NC
Photo courtesy The Blowing Rock Inn

Blowing Rock Inn

788 Main St, Blowing Rock NC • 828-295-7921


Located within easy walking distance of downtown Blowing Rock, this budget-friendly boutique Inn has 20 guest rooms and 4 villa-style suites. 

The Blowing Rock Inn is an affordable place for those just passing through Blowing Rock, or anyone who wants to spend a few days exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains.

All of their rooms have mini-fridges and microwaves for snack-making, and all the best Blowing Rock restaurants  are right at your doorstep. 

READ MORE: 10 Must-Visit Blue Ridge Mountain Resorts for 2024

Boxwood Lodge in Blowing Rock NC
Photo courtesy Boxwood Lodge

Boxwood Lodge

7876 Valley Blvd, Blowing Rock NC • 828-295-3380


Enjoy a true mountain vibe at this delightful lodge located right on Blowing Rock’s Main Street.

This pet-friendly hotel has a variety of rooms to choose from, all of which come with a covered porch and rocking chairs to while away the afternoon.

They also have a beautiful communal lounge area with exposed wooden beams, and a mountain cabin feel with lots of rustic charm.

READ MORE: The 15 Best Blue Ridge Parkway Hotels & Cabin Rentals in NC & VA

Holiday Inn Express Blowing Rock South
Photo courtesy Holiday Inn Express Blowing Rock South

Holiday Inn Express Blowing Rock South

8412 Valley Blvd, Blowing Rock NC • 828-295-4422

Rooms at the Holiday Inn Express Blowing Rock South have everything you need for a great weekend getaway.
There’s a seasonal outdoor pool, a fitness center, and a complimentary hot breakfast served daily. 
This pet-friendly hotel has an pet-walking area on-site. But, being so close to all the parks and other green spaces in Downtown Blowing Rock, you won’t be short of places to walk or play!

Things to Do in Downtown Blowing Rock

Outdoor Patio at Speckled Trout Restaurant in Blowing Rock NC
Outdoor Patio at The Speckled Trout, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

Downtown Blowing Rock Restaurants

Despite its diminutive size (3.1 square miles), the town of Blowing Rock offers an impressive assortment of restaurants to choose from.

The Storie Street Grille is an upscale bistro-style restaurant with a fantastic menu focused on using high-quality local ingredients. They’ll also be opening a new element, the Sidecar Bar, in 2024.

Serving food that changes with the seasons, Bistro Roca has a casual vibe and a great brunch, lunch, and dinner menu. The Best Cellar is located in the The Inn at Ragged Gardens, and offers sensational soups and sandwiches.

As a Brit by birth, I found that the Six Pence Pub had an authentic pub vibe, and their “chips” were pretty true to tradition. They even had HP sauce, a British pub food staple! 

Lastly, The Speckled Trout Restaurant & Bottle Shop serves regional Appalachian fare that changes with the seasons, and boasts a warm and inviting atmosphere. 

READ MORE: The 10 Best Restaurants in Blowing Rock NC for Foodies

The Blowing Rock Market in Blowing Rock NC
The Blowing Rock Market, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

Shopping in Downtown Blowing Rock

There’s no shortage of cool places for shopping in Blowing Rock, including the Blowing Rock Market.

It’s a coffee shop, deli, gas station, and market all in one, with a fantastic selection of craft beers, fine wines, and gourmet food items.

Sunset Sweets & Heat is a hidden gem where you’ll find vintage sweets and candies, glass bottle sodas, and ice cream sundaes. The heat comes from all the fiery hot sauces they have on offer!

Oliver’s on Main is a lovely little boutique and outfitter selling gifts, apparel, and jewelry, while Shoppes on the Parkway is a large outdoor mall with many different stores and eateries to choose from. 
The Funky Tulip boutique has lots of cool gifts, clothes shoes, and accessories, while ArtWalk is packed with gifts, home decor, and accessories, with lots of unique pieces made by local artists and crafters. 
Defying Gravity at Mystery Hill in Blowing Rock NC
Defying Gravity at Mystery Hill, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

Downtown Blowing Rock Attractions

The Glen Burney Falls Trail is a treasure in the heart of downtown. This 3.2-mile round-trip hiking trail is strenuous due to its steep grade and uneven footing, but it rewards your effort with three amazing waterfalls!

Tweetsie Railroad is a fun theme park where visitors can ride on historic steam trains, take in some live entertainment, jump on the rides at the Country Fair, or pan for gold. 

Mystery Hill is a real head-scratcher! With its naturally occurring gravitational anomaly, visitors can witness balls and water traveling uphill. Other attractions here include a mechanical bull, gem mining, axe throwing, and a Native American Artifacts Museum. 

The Blowing Rock Art and History Museum has rotating exhibits that change 3 times a year, as well as several permanent exhibitions. They also offer artist-led workshops throughout the year, and guided tours. 

Broyhill Park is a beautiful recreation area with walking trails that surround Mayview Lake. There’s a gazebo available for rent, several seating areas for relaxing and picnicking, and opportunities for fishing.  –by Emma Gallagher; lead image by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

Leave No Trace logo

We encourage anyone who loves the Blue Ridge region to learn about the Leave No Trace principles of responsible environmental stewardship. 

Stay on marked trails, take only pictures, pack out your trash, and be considerate of others who share the trails and parks you explore. 

Remember that waterfalls and rocky summits can be dangerous. Never try to climb waterfalls or get close to a ledge to get a selfie.

When you're exploring the wilderness, it's better to be safe than to be a statistic!

Born in Britain, writer/photographer Emma Gallagher lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of NC on a permaculture homestead with her husband, Jonathon. While traveling the world for 13 years, she fell in love with the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge region when she lived at an artist retreat in Burnsville NC before moving to Brevard. Today Emma lives near Stone Mountain State Park and Doughton Park volunteers at the Surry County Fiddlers Convention, and cares for the gardens at the Reeves Downtown School of Music in Elkin. She's also a volunteer for the Elkin Valley Trails Association, which maintains segment 6 of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.