Blowing Rock, North Carolina

Best Places to Retire in North Carolina


Blowing Rock (population 1,500 year round, and about 8,000 at peak season is located in the High Country of western North Carolina. This beautiful mountain resort village, called the “Crown of the Blue Ridge,” is located along the Blue Ridge Parkway, eight miles south of Boone (population 15,000). It is situated on the Eastern Continental Divide at an elevation of about 4,000 feet above sea level.

The North Carolina High Country offers a very interesting and stimulating environment with activities ranging from dozens of festivals, art, cultural events, Broadway shows, jazz, and mountain music, to skiing, hiking, golf, horseback riding, fishing, and whitewater rafting. With summer temperatures 10 to 15 degrees cooler than the flatlands, it is an ideal climate for outdoor activities. The fall season is spectacular with the forested mountains drenched with colors, and winters have their own beauty with the landscape coated with a clean, light snowfall. Springtime brings an explosion of new growth with dwarf iris, mayapple, buttercups, Indian paintbrush, and tulip poplar, followed by mountain laurel and rhododendron.

The area is a naturalist’s dream-come-true with millions of acres of unspoiled lands, scenic vistas everywhere, and outstanding sports and recreational opportunities. There is beautiful Grandfather Mountain Park, the highest point in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the 3,500-acre Moses Cone Memorial Park, and the vast Pisgah National Forest.

Blowing Rock is both a thriving local community and host to tourists and travelers on the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway. The tourist trade supports many amenities that would otherwise not survive in a small community. It has numerous inns, restaurants and specialty stores, including arts and crafts, books, sporting goods, jewelry, and clothing. Just north of town are the well-known Tanger Outlets with 30 nationally known factory outlets. Cultural opportunities include a professional summer stock theater, ballet, concerts in the park, and periodic art shows in the park during the warm weather. Thousands of tourists find their way to these events each summer. And nearby Appalachian State University adds greatly to the cultural opportunities with its Performing Arts Series and Summer Arts Festival. If you like bluegrass, you will find an abundance of music festivals and conventions throughout the region.

Arts & Culture

The Appalachian Cultural Museum in Boone, N.C., features exhibits ranging from fossils to mountain music, weaving and even self-portraits.

Blowing Rock Community Arts Center is a 25,500-square-foot facility featuring a state-of-the-art theater. Productions include nationally know performers and entertainers, live theater, music, dance, film, and the visual arts.

Blowing Rock Jazz Society is a non-profit organization that promotes and sponsors events to educate and encourage the development of jazz talent and to preserve this art form. (828-265-3242) Blowing Rock has held its Art In the Park series for over 40 years, with exhibit days throughout the summer months. It attracts over 120 vendors with paintings, jewelry and crafts.

Blowing Rock Stage Company is a professional company that produces comedies, musicals, classics, new works, and children’s theatre.

Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show has been a tradition since 1923 and is one of the oldest English saddle events in the country. It features hunter/jumper events and a Saddlebred horse show.

There are a great many Festivals and events including live Bluegrass, a chili cook off, concerts and kid’s events.

The drama, “Horn In The West” plays in a beautiful outdoor theatre at Boone. This adventure from our nation’s heritage is open late June to mid-August with shows nightly except Mondays.

Blue Ridge Community Theatre in Boone is a non-profit theater company that produces a major play each spring, a summer production and a holiday show.

Turchin Center for the Visual Arts at Appalachian State University offers exhibitions and outreach programs.

Blue Ridge Wine Festival, Blowing Rock —

Catherine J. Smith Gallery is in Farthing Auditorium on the campus of Appalachian State University. The gallery offers visual arts exhibitions.

Appalachian Cultural Museum at Appalachian State University offers exhibits, publications and special events focused on the region.

Appalachian Summer Festival, presented annually by Appalachian State University, features instrumentalists, vocalists, orchestral and chamber music, jazz, ballet, and contemporary dance.

Appalachian State University presents a Performing Arts Series.

Farthing Auditorium on the campus of Appalachian State University hosts many events, including nationally and internationally renowned artists. The auditorium seats 1,734. The Holmes Center is a major venue for sporting events and numerous special events. It seats 8,400 for basketball, indoor track and volleyball. When the stage is used the seating is dramatically reduced.

The historic Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Va., is one of the oldest professional theaters in America, dating to 1933. Opening in the depths of the depression, the theater accepted bartered goods as the price of admission. The building itself was constructed in 1831 as a church and has seating for 507. The Barter Stage II, which is across the street, seats 167 around a thrust stage. The theater produces a season series, a student matinee program, and special events.

MerleFest at Wilkesboro, N.C., is a music festival sponsored by Wilkes Community College and offers a mix of traditional and contemporary roots music, with bluegrass, contemporary, blues, folk, old-time, Cajun, jazz and singer-songwriter music. It attracts up to 80,000 fans and participants.


Golf courses near Blowing Rock include:
Blowing Rock Country Club, Country Club Drive — (828) 295-7311
Boone Golf Club —
Mountain Aire Golf Club, West Jefferson (40 mins) —
Willow Creek Golf Course, Vilas (20 mins) —
Sugar Mountain Golf Course, Banner Elk —
Hawksnest Golf Course, Banner Elk — (828) 963-6565
Linville Ridge Country Club, Linville — (828) 898-9741
Land Harbor Golf Club, Linville — (828) 733-8325
Linville Golf Club — (828) 733-4363
The Beech Mountain Club — (828) 387-2372

Appalachian Ski Mountain, Blowing Rock, NC has a 45,000-square-foot base lodge with a large observation deck, slope-view restaurant, three dining rooms, game room and a nursery.

Ski Beech is in the town of Beech Mountain, at a 5,500-foot elevation.

Sugar Mountain Ski Resort is located in Banner Elk, N.C.

Moses Cone Memorial Park is a 3,500-acre estate at Blowing Rock that was created by Moses H. Cone, and ultimately donated to the U.S. government. The Moses Cone Manor House serves as a showcase for the works of Appalachian artists. The park is open to the public for walking, hiking, and mountain biking. There are stables and 27 miles of carriage trails.

Appalachian State University fields 10 varsity sports for men and 10 for women. They compete in the Southern Conference, NCAA Division 1-A. Football is 1-AA. Its football stadium accommodates 17,000 and Holmes Center seats 8,400 for basketball and indoor track.

The Great Train Robbery in nearby Banner Elk is the High Country’s greatest shopping attraction with over 150 shops, galleries, boutiques and eateries.

Grandfather Mountain, located minutes south of Blowing Rock, is the highest peak on the Blue Ridge Mountain range. It is a nature preserve and features 12 miles of walking and hiking trails, a nature museum, picnic sites, a mile-high swinging bridge, and spectacular 360-degree views of the mountain range. Summer events include (gospel) Singing On The Mountain, Grandfather Mountain Games, Kidfest, and many more.

Pisgah National Forest consists of more than a million acres, stretching to the Asheville area. The Grandfather district, which includes Watauga and Caldwell counties, consists of over 400,000 acres. Amenities and activities include hiking, camping, fishing, horseback riding, and ATV riding.

Tweetsie Railroad is a family-oriented park where you can take a train ride with an historic steam locomotive and browse a main street that simulates the old West. There are also playgrounds and other attractions for children or grandchildren.


Appalachian State University, Boone, N.C. (about 10 miles) began in 1929 as a state teachers college. In 1967 it became Appalachian State University and grew to 9,500 students in the 1970s. Today it enrolls about 15,000 students and offers over 90 major courses of study and more than 80 graduate majors. It is located on a 250-acre campus just west of Boone.

Wilkes Community College, Wilkesboro, N.C. (39 miles) —

Senior Programs

Appalachian State University offers tuition-free courses for senior citizens.

The Aging of Watauga County program offers a variety of services to assist older adults.


Blowing Rock Hospital provides acute care and long-term care. The hospital’s adult care center is an extended care facility. The hospital offers emergency room services, general surgery, physical therapy, and other services.

Charles A. Cannon Jr. Memorial Hospital, Linville, N.C., is a primary care hospital with 24-hour emergency service. The hospital is part of the Appalachian Regional Healthcare System.

Watauga Medical Center in Boone is a 127-bed primary and secondary care facility with 24-hour emergency service. It is a member of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System.


Hickory Regional Airport is a full-service airport with regularly scheduled flights to major hubs. Hickory is 38 miles from Blowing Rock.

Tri-Cities Regional Airport located in Blountville, Tenn., is 34 miles away. Tri-Cities is a full-service airport serving east Tennessee, southwest Virginia and western North Carolina. It is approximately 75 minutes from Blowing Rock.


The average temperatures for January are a high of 39 degrees and low of 21 degrees. The average highs and lows for May are 66 degrees and 47 degrees. July, which is the warmest month, averages a high temperature of 76 degrees and low of 59 degrees.


The Mountain Times —

Property Taxes

Watauga County Tax Administrator —

State Taxes

North Carolina Department of Revenue —

Chamber of Commerce

Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce —

State Aging Agency

North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services —


Boone – 8 miles
Lenoir – 20 miles
Hickory – 38 miles
Wilkesboro – 39 miles
Abingdon, VA – 60 miles
Johnson City, TN – 62 miles
Asheville – 92 miles
Winston Salem, NC – 95 miles
Knoxville, TN – 167 miles
Atlanta, GA – 320 miles
Washington, DC – 419 miles

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