Are you looking for the best things to do in the Blue Ridge Mountains? You have come to the right place because here are the region’s top attractions and some of the cutest small towns to visit. From hiking, trails, and scenic overlooks it’s no wonder why the Blue Ridge draws visitors during all seasons of the year.
In the fall you will want to drive down the blue ridge parkway and to see the incredible fall foliage. If you are thinking of planning a trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains in the winter, Helen NC has an amazing Christmas town and there also are a few ski resorts in NC and VA to enjoy.
In the summertime try kayaking or riding down one of the lazy rivers through the mountain valleys. Many hikes in all three of these southern states give you panoramic views of the blue ridge. And Spring is one of the most underrated seasons to visit the Blue Ridge Mountains. There is nothing prettier (maybe the fall foliage) than when the flowers come back to life in the rolling hills.
Where are the Blue Ridge Mountains?
The Blue Ridge Mountains are on the eastern coast of America and span all the way from Maryland to Southern Pennsylvania covering West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia. These blue mountains cover 550 miles with the highest peak being Mt. Mitchell in North Carolina.
Are the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Smoky Mountains the Same?
The Smoky Mountains are a smaller mountain range that sits inside of the bigger mountain range of the Blue Ridge. All Smoky Mountains are in the Blue Ridge, but not all Blue ridge Mountains are Smoky Mountains. The Smoky Mountains are also often referred to by the shorter nickname the smokies.
You can find the Smokies in the two states of Tennessee and North Carolina, and they are some of the oldest rock formations in the world. While the Blue Ridge Mountains run through many more.
There is plenty to do in the smoky Mountains, and they are a popular destination to visit all year round.
Best Things to do in the Blue Ridge Mountains
Hike Rough Ridge Overlook
The Rough Ridge Overlook is in Western North Carolina and is one of the best blue ridge mountain hikes. There are three different viewpoints along the trails at Rough Ridge. The Tanawha Trail is the longest trail which is 13.5 miles long. But, luckily there is a 0.8-mile loop that will take you to the three different overlooks.
Although the Rough Ridge hike is uphill the entire way, the distances between the viewpoints are only about 10 minutes. You will encounter a view of tougher spots where the terrain gets rocky, but people of all ages enjoy this hike in the Blue Ridge.
The first stop along the trail is the best and most popular viewpoint of the entire Rough Ridge hike. You can wear casual clothes, but opt for either hiking bookings or tennis shoes because it can get muddy. Head to milepost 302.8 on the Blue Ridge Parkway and start your adventure today!
Explore Little Switzerland
Little Switzerland is a little slice of Europe nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. This quiet mountain town was established back in the early 1900s and has been a peaceful getaway ever since. You could spend a few hours shopping around or grab a bit to eat at amazing The Switzerland Inn Chalet Restaurant on the outdoor terrace.
This quaint town is in the perfect location for a day trip, or to make a home base while exploring all the best things to do in the Blue Ridge. You can be in a few of the towns that you must see in the blue ridge mountains. Both Ashville and Boone NC are less than an hour from Little Switzerland.
Stop by Asheville North Carolina
Asheville North Carolina is one of the most popular towns in the Blue Ridge. People love the art scene, and downtown nightlife, and Ashville also has plenty of breweries to check out. There are over 15 beautiful murals in the downtown area of the River Arts District. This is a street of old warehouses that have been transformed into an artist’s haven. You can shop through art galleries and pottery studios.
One of the most popular places to visit and stay in Asheville is the famous Biltmore Estate. This 250-room estate was built back by the Vanderbilts in 1889, and it is incredible. Purchase your tickets in advance for access to a self-guided tour of the estate, winery, hikes, and surrounding areas. This estate is the largest private home in the US and is the only one of its kind, and well worth the trip.
For things to do in the Blue Ridge Mountains at night, Asheville is where you want to be. There are plenty of unique breweries to taste test IPA, ales, and sour beers. There is also an amazing culinary scene with plenty of restaurants throughout out for a great night out.
Visit Boone NC
One of the best blue ridge mountain towns is Boone NC. There is something for everyone to love here. In the wintertime, you can book a night or two at the Appalachian Ski Mountain resort. This is one of the best places to ski in all of North Carolina. They rent the equipment on-site and have slopes for all skill levels.
You can also hit the Grandfather Vineyard & Winery while you are checking out Boone. This is a local winery that is only about 25 minutes drive away from town, and the seating areas have amazing panoramic views of the Blue Ridge.
Or stop by the unique Garden of Eden for Wild Edibles. In the right season, you can taste over 500 different kinds of wild berries. Don’t worry you will be a tour guide and they will help you forge the entry time. It is so much fun and a great way to get back out in nature.
Chimney Rock State Park in NC
One of the best State parks to visit in the Blue Ridge is the Chimney Rock State Park in North Carolina. The most famous attraction is the towering 315-foot granite rock pillar. To get there you will want to walk up the 500-step staircase for the epic views.
Another popular attraction is the 404-foot waterfall, Hickory Nut Falls. You can hike to the base of the falls on the short 1.4-mile look trial. This is the biggest waterfall east of the Mississippi and is super beautiful to see. There are also trails and special rock climbing areas throughout the park.
If you are looking for fun things to do in the Blue Ridge Mountains, The Chimney Rock State Park should be on the top of your list!
Afton Overlook in VA
Nestled in the heart of the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains, Afton VA Overlook offers breathtaking views. In the small town of Afton VA, they have 3 major overlooks within a 3-mile radius! These overlooks are some of the most popular on the entire route.
You will have a panoramic view while taking in the fresh mountain air. If you’re lucky, you might even spot some of the area’s wildlife, such as deer, bears, and eagles. After you are done you can head into Afton, or keep driving on the Parkway, either way, you are going to have an amazing day in the Blue Ridge.
Hike part of the Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian Trail has always been one of the best activities in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Application Trail runs through 14 east coast states, and spans over 2,200 miles! You can easily find different routes no matter which part of the blue ridge you are planning on visiting.
The most popular trail in Virginia is the McAfee Knob round-trip hike. This trail starts are Catawba Mountain and ascend to the top of the stunning McAfee Knob and has panoramic views of the valley below.
If you are thinking of hiking the trail in North Carolina, the Max Patch is one of the most popular hikes for day hikers and backpackers trying a thorough hike. It is on the shorter side coming in at about a 2-mile round trip trail and has an amazing view from the summit.
In GA everyone loves the Springer Mountain hike. This is where the Appalachian Trail officially starts and it is always full of eager beavers ready to hit trails. Official it is an 8.5-mile look trail at the summit of Springer.
Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway
Driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most epic road trips in America. This scenic road is about 470 miles long and connects the Smokies in NC to the Shenandoah National Park in VA.
There are numerous pull-offs along the side of the road to gaze at the rolling hills and lush forests. It never costs any money to drive and is one of the free things to do in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
If you wanted to plan out a route the best blue ridge parkway stops are at Graggy Gardens, at milepost 364.4. During the summertime, you can see the many rhododendrons in full bloom and the mountainside is full of color. The Linville Falls is at milepost 316.4. This is where you can see this stunning waterfall from a unique perspective without breaking a sweat.
You could drive the entire day and never get bored. Or just pop in to take a shorter ride along this famous road, either way, you are going to fall in the love with the blue ridge after driving a few miles.
Winery Tours in The Blue Ridge
One of the best things to do in the Blue Ridge Mountains for adults is to take a wine tour. The Blue Ridge is home to numerous wineries and vineyards that offer tastings, and tours, and have the dreamiest views.
The Biltmore of course is a fan favorite, but there is also Chateau Morrisette in Floyd, VA. You can schedule a wine tour, or just pop in for a tasting. If you are looking for wineries to visit in the Blue Ridge Mountains in NC Shelton Vineyard offers guided tours and has a restaurant on site.
Raven’s Roost Overlook in VA
Ravens Roost is one of the most popular overlooks on the Blue Ridge. You can find it at milepost 10.7 on the Parkway in VA. There is a short hiking trail that leads from Raven’s Roost parking lot to the overlook. It is less than a mile and is very easy to navigate.
You can see for miles in every direction when you get to the overlook. This is one of the prettiest places to fall to see the foliage! But it does get a little busy during the Fall, so try to come early to beat the crowds.
There are picnic tables, restrooms, and even a small visitor center here at Ravens Rock. So bring lunch and enjoy what to do in the Blue Ridge Mountains for the day.
Chase the Waterfalls in the Virginia Blue Ridge
No matter what part of the blue ridge you are in visiting the waterfalls is a must-do in the Blue Ridge Mountains. In Virginia, the most popular waterfall hike is to Crabtree Falls. This cascading waterfall drops 1,200 feet and the hike to get it is tough but worth it.
Another VA waterfall worth chasing is the White Oak Canyon hike. When hiking this canyon you will be blessed with not one or two, but six beautiful waterfalls to see.
NC has its share of waterfalls too. The most popular is the 90-foot waterfall, Lineville Falls. The hike to reach the falls is short and super easy, many families hike this trail together. Anna Ruby Falls is in Helen, GA, and is a set of cascades near the Chattahoochee National Forest.
GA you can check out Raven Cliffs Falls in northern Georgia. This waterfall is in a series of different cascades that are over 400 feet high. You can hike to the Raven Falls Trail to reach the prettiest section of waterfalls.
Kayak Or Tubbing down the New River in VA
There is nothing better than getting tubbed down the river without a care in the world. Kayaking the New River in VA will take you along a picturesque route down one of the oldest rivers in the world. You will pass by a variety of rapids from calm waters to fast challenging spots.
You will also see plenty of wildlife including bald eagles and cute river otters. This is one of the best Blue Ridge Mountains activities and several different companies are renting out kayaks for personal use to full-on day tours where everything is covered for you.
Blowing Rock NC
One of the best places to go in the Blue Ridge Mountains is Blowing Rock NC. This cool town is in the western section of NC in Watauga County and is best known for its scenic beauty and outdoor fun.
Blowing Rock gets its name from the unique rock formation located on the edge of the cliff overlooking the town below. When the wind blows up from the valley it looks as if the rock is blowing in the wind. There are also plenty of trails near like the Glen Burney Trail and the Moses Cone Memorial Park downtown.
You can also have a ski vacation here at the Appalachian Ski Mountain. You can also check out the famous Tweetise Railroad and which has easy access to the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Blue Ridge Scenic Railway
This Railroad company in Blue Ridge, Georgia has one of the prettiest rides through the Blue Ridge. The train will depart from the depot and travel along a 26-mile route and winds through the forest. You will pass over sparkling rivers, and through the forests.
The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway offers different types of rides throughout the year. During the fall you will have a special fall foliage ride, and during Christmas time Santa may pop up from time to time.
You can pick to sit in the climate-control coach or go with the open-air rail car, both will have an unobstructed view of the scenery through the windows. This is one of the top things to do in the Blue Ridge Mountains with kids, and you can purchase snacks and drinks on board!
Visit Helen Georgia
Helen GA is a mountain town in the northeast Georgia mountains. This charming Alpine Village offers its visitors a unique taste of Bavarian living. You will find cobblestone streets and charming architecture in the town square.
This is one of the best small towns in the Blue Ridge Mountains and they always have something fun going on. Throughout the year Helen hosts a variety of festivals, the most famous being Oktoberfest with authentic German beers and snacks. They also host an amazing Christmas market throughout December.
Helen GA is near the Chattahoochee River with all the adventurous activities that come with that. You can find hiking, tubing, and fishing tours any time of the year.
Hot Air Ballon Ride Over The Blue Ridge
Up next for attractions in the Blue Ridge Mountains is to take a magical Hot Air Ballon to ride over the Blue Ridge Mountains. As you soar along the treetops you will be a bird’s eye view of one of the prettiest areas in the world.
You will take off early in the morning to catch the sunrise, and when the winds are typically the calmest. Many of the balloon companies in the area offer packages that include a light breakfast and maybe even a champagne toast in the air.
Ski Or Snowboard at the Mountious Resorts
One of the best things to do in the Blue Ridge Mountains during the winter is skiing and snowboarding. One of the most popular resorts is Wintergreen in Virginia. Here there are slopes for the most seasoned pro and the fresh beginners. With 26 different slopes as well as a big snow tubing park.
Beech Mountains Resorts, Catacloochee Ski Area, and the Appalachian Ski Mountain are all in NC and offer amazing trails and slopes.
Most resorts also offer ice skating, snow-tubbing, and entertainment during the night and day. And all of the resorts in the Blue Ridge offer ski and/or snowboarding lessons to keep you and your family safe.