Shortly after entering North Carolina on the Blue Ridge Parkway, you will find the first public recreation area on the parkway, Cumberland Knob. At MP 217.5, Cumberland Knob is a 1000 acre park with a picnic area and a variety of plant and animal life, including many species of birds. There are also two hiking trails, one short stroll to Cumberland Knob. The other trail is a strenuous 2-hour hike through Gully Creek Gorge.
Stone Mountain State Park, in Roaring Gap, NC, is a fun attraction a few miles off the Blue Ridge Parkway at MP 229. Camping, fishing, and hiking are popular activities at Stone Mountain. There are also mountain cultural exhibits, including an old moonshine still, the Garden Park Baptist Church, established in 1897, and the restored Hutchinson homestead. Rock climbing and rappelling are also popular at Stone Mountain State Park, but a permit is required, and admission is free.
Doughton Park is a 7000-acre park on the Blue Ridge Parkway at MP 238.5. Here, visitors can enjoy fishing, hiking, camping, picnicking, and even cross-country skiing during winter months. The restored Brinegar Cabin, built-in 1880, offers weaving and basket-making demonstrations during the summer. These handmade wares can be purchased in the gift shop.
MP 259 is home to a popular shopping destination on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Northwest Trading Post. Here you can find locally crafted gifts and other handmade goodies, as well as a unique selection of collectibles. Minutes from the parkway is the New River and a number of canoe and tubing rental outfitters are available for fun family river trip. You can also bring your own boat, like the Coleman Navigator 3-person inflatable boat, and access the river for your own family adventure. The New River State Park is located just off MP 261 with boat access to the river, as well as canoe camping and primitive camping sites. Parkway visitors can also find cabin and chalet rentals along the nearby river, many with hot tubs and fireplaces, for a romantic mountain getaway.
Also off MP 259 are the world-renowned Church of the Frescoes. These Episcopal churches are always open and there is no admission charge. The famous fresco paintings are displayed at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church and the Holy Trinity Church showcases a wall mural of The Last Supper.
For a fun, music-filled night of dancing with the entire family, visit the Mountain Music Jamboree, just off Blue Ridge Parkway MP 261 in Glendale Springs. Enjoy square dancing, clogging, and other fun family dances every Saturday night and on Fridays as well during the summer.
Blowing Rock is a short drive from the parkway at MP 291.9 and is famous for its mountain charm, extraordinary shopping, and unique attractions. Here you will find the legendary Blowing Rock and can enjoy the 4090 feet view above John’s River Gorge (small admission fee). One of the most popular family attractions near the Blue Ridge Parkway, Tweetsie Railroad, is also located in Blowing Rock. Shopping in the area includes an outdoor recreation specialty store and Tanger Outlets, with 30 various outlet stores.