Inexpensive activities – Les Appalaches

Aldo Sabaria

The Watauga County Farmers Market was held in Horn in the west on July 30, 2022. The market has been open since 1974 and features a variety of snacks, produce and local crafts. Currently, the tomato season is in full swing.

For many students, the end of summer can mean the end of the fun. But returning to the hustle and bustle of schoolwork every school year doesn’t completely mean trading adventures for books and free time to study. Getting out and doing something fun is important, so why not take advantage of all Boone has to offer before the eternal winter sets in? Here are five of the best things to do in Boone without breaking the bank.


Rough Ridge offers views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, from where you can see the Linn Cove Viaduct. Rough Ridge Lookout is easily accessible, there is a parking area off Blue Ridge Parkway. Photo taken July 20, 2022.
(Aldo Sabaria)

Boone is home to countless hiking trails that can provide hours of free entertainment for visitors and Boone residents. It’s easy to get overwhelmed trying to decide which trail to take when there are so many to choose from. There is a hike for everyone’s skill level. A common starting point is Rough Ridge, a 1.5 mile round trip hike located at mile marker 302.8 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. This trail takes hikers to a breathtaking lookout point where many people take iconic image of Rough Ridge. A more strenuous hike than Rough Ridge is the Summit Trail at Elk Knob State Park. The 4 mile round trip hike is not for the faint of heart, but it does offer incredible views at the top. A less strenuous, but still long, hike is the Flat Top Tower Trail. This is a 5.3 mile round trip trail for an easy hike. The trail leads to the top of Flat Top Mountain where there is a fire tower with panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Watauga County Farmers Market

The Watauga County Farmers’ Market, located at 591 Horn on West Drive, is open to the public with free admission. The market is open every Saturday, from April to October, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and in November from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. According to the market’s website, the market is home to more than 70 vendors each week and the wares range from produce to art, plants and plenty of things that are sure to please any shopper.

Sunrise Mountain Mini Golf

Located on Hwy 105 under Sunrise Grill is Sunrise Mountain Mini Golf. This 18-hole mini-golf costs $10 per person. Opening hours are Monday to Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Friday and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. depending on weather conditions.

Picnic at Thunder Hill

Another way to appreciate the beauty of Boone without having to climb a peak is to drive to Thunder Hill Overlook, located at Mile 290.4 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Thunder Hill Overlook offers panoramic mountain views and spacious parking backing up to the edge of the lookout. Take advantage of this view by ordering take-out food, grabbing a few friends, and heading to the lookout for an evening picnic.

Grandpa Mountain

Grandfather Mountain State Park is home to several hiking trails, a restaurant, and a mile-high suspension bridge. The swing bridge offers views of the surrounding mountains in all directions. The park will celebrate the bridge’s 70th anniversary in September. Grandfather Mountain is one of the most expensive items on the list, at $24 per person.

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