On the Road

Escape. Unwind. Indulge.In the Blue Ridge Mountains of Banner Elk, NC

By: The Local Palate

Banner Elk, a popular getaway in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, is a place that blends outdoor adventure and resort town relaxation with award-winning cuisine.

Summertime temperatures rarely exceed 79 degrees, offering a break from the heat and humidity at lower elevations. Enjoy a cool rush as you reach speeds up to 27 mph on North Carolina’s only alpine coaster, Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster.

Or slow things down and soak in the views with a hike along numerous high-elevation trails. Within 20 minutes of the town’s lone stoplight is Grandfather Mountain, one of the best-known attractions in North Carolina. Walk across the Mile High Swinging Bridge at 5, 280 feet above sea level, or visit the animal habitats to see bears, cougars, otters and elk. Grandfather Mountain is an international biosphere reserve, recognized for ecological diversity.

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Also within 20 minutes of town is Apple Hill Farm. Meet and feed the farm’s residents by taking a guided tour (reservations required). On the first Saturday of June, watch farmers shear the alpacas. Their fiber is used to make clothing items, including gloves, socks, hats and headbands, which can be purchased at the farm store. Alpaca yarn is also available.

Banner Elk is known as the culinary hot spot of the High Country. Foodies can indulge in everything from five-star white-tablecloth dining to upscale to down-home cooking. Artisanal, twice named among America’s top 100 restaurants, offers a farm-to-table menu of cuisine in what’s best described as rustic elegance. Stonewall’s Restaurant is known for traditional favorites such as steaks and prime rib, as well as lighter, contemporary fare showcased in the chef’s daily specials.

Another fine-dining destination is Louisiana Purchase on Main. The creative Cajun cuisine–with touches like barbecue shrimp–is paired with an award-winning wine list. The area’s best Italian dishes are served at Sorrento’s Bistro in the village square, while Chef’s Table is known for farm-to-table fare.

A complete overview of Banner Elk’s offerings and attractions, including cozy cabins and inns, can be found at: BannerElk.com.

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