Last month, David and I went on a weekend getaway to Burnsville, located in Yancey County, North Carolina. We thoroughly enjoyed our experience and have not stopped raving about this quaint mountain town, located right near the Tennessee border. Burnsville is named after Otway Burns, a naval hero in the War of 1812 and an Onslow County native. Burnsville is in the shadow of Mount Mitchell, the highest mountain peak east of the Mississippi River. The town also boasts the most artists per capita in the United States. We had a wonderful time and I am excited to share the highlights from our trip so that you can plan your own visit to this great town.
14 Things to Do in Burnsville, NC
Enjoy a Drink on the Patio at Roland’s Bar at the NuWray Hotel
Roland’s is a recently opened courtyard bar behind the NuWray Hotel, the oldest continuously operating hotel in North Carolina. It is going through a major renovation right now and is going to be absolutely beautiful. Roland’s is named after Will Roland, who was the chef at the NuWray for 40+ years in the first half of the 20th century, and the bar is located in the hotel’s original smokehouse. That smokehouse was where thousands of hams were smoked and cured each year to supply the famous family-style feasts that the NuWray was once known for.
I loved the ginger margarita, a seasonal fall drink. While Roland’s is now closed for the season and re-opening in the spring, be sure to check out Carriage House Sundries. It is also a warm, cozy spot if the weather closes the patio at Roland’s!
Grab Dinner at Snap Dragon
Walk across Town Square to Snap Dragon for dinner. It boasts a beautiful patio and indoor seating, that on warmer nights, opens nicely into the patio. Snap Dragon is named after Otway Burns’ ship, the Snap Dragon, that he used during the War of 1812. David and I started with the fried pickles, served with honey mustard. For entrees, I had a bacon cheeseburger while David had the Southport chili and grilled cheese!
Get a Cup of Coffee and Breakfast at Appalachian Java
Saturday morning, David and I headed down to Appalachia Java. Get there early, y’all! It’s a hoppin’ spot and rightfully so! David ordered the breakfast burrito and yogurt with granola while I got bacon, egg, and cheese on an everything bagel and a side of loaded potatoes. It is absolutely worth the wait!
Visit Hearth Glass & Gallery to Learn about Studio Glass
Founded by the children and grandchildren of Harvey K. Littleton, the founder of the American Studio Glass Movement, Hearth Glass and Gallery aims to continue his legacy by increasing education and access to glassblowing within Western North Carolina. They are tending the flame, carrying on the tradition of blown glass for future generations.
The gallery offers beautiful work by local artists plus glassblowing classes. Classes are by appointment. The space is beautiful and a nice stroll down the hill from Town Square after grabbing breakfast at Appalachian Java.
Explore Downtown Burnsville
David and I loved exploring downtown Burnsville! We spent quite a bit of time antiquing at Hammond’s, which is 3 floors full of treasures. We popped into Burnsville Candle Company, and I brought home “There’s No Place Like Roan” and it has been the perfect scent for the fall and will carry nicely into winter. I picked up a book from my TBR list at Plott Hound Books and enjoyed browsing their selection of books and gifts. Other favorites included the Book Cellar, Mountain Time on Main Street, and Colorful Gypsy.
Order a BBQ Sandwich for Lunch at Pig & Grits
Pig & Grits specializes in breakfast and BBQ in a welcoming, cozy environment. Pig & Grits offers 5 staple sauces, including Eastern North Carolina sauce, and then seasonal sauces as well for you to add your own flavor to their BBQ. David and I started with their homemade chips, called Pigtails. For lunch, we had a BBQ sandwich. David got mac and cheese for his side and I got fried okra with mine. Whatever you do, save room for dessert! If the fried banana pudding is on the menu, order it.
Visit Page Pottery Studio
Burnsville has so many great studios and galleries to visit and they even offer studio tours twice a year in the spring and the fall. One of our favorite studios we visited was Page Pottery Studio, where local artists/husband and wife team, J.R. and Kristen create stunning pieces of pottery! We absolutely loved their space (y’all, they have chickens, miniature donkeys, a cutie pup, and are just genuinely nice people) and their work is exceptional. I brought home a few pieces, which I am so excited to put out in our living room. Call ahead to book your visit to their studio. They are also a part of the Toe River Studio Tour. On a personal note, David & I both genuinely enjoyed chatting with J.R. and Kristen and learning from them, and could have stayed for hours.
Grab Drinks & Light Bites at Birdfoot and Spoke Food Truck
Birdfoot is Burnsville’s bottle shop, taproom, and outdoor shop. It’s open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays and has a great selection of wines and beers, plus a delicious food truck. We grabbed an order of tots from Spoke, the food truck on site, and they were the best tots I have ever had. And y’all know that’s a big deal for me to say. It’s a great hang-out spot and David & I had a great time chatting with folks while there. It is such a warm space and everyone is so friendly!
Take in a Show at Arthur Planetarium
The Glenn and Carol Arthur Planetarium, located at the Earth to Sky Park in Burnsville, NC, hosts traditional astronomy shows all underneath a 36 ft projection dome. The planetarium is part of the larger Earth to Sky Park, which also includes Bare Dark Sky Observatory. Scheduling for public observatory sessions depends upon the moon phase to allow for optimum night-sky viewing. There is also a honeybee mural on the side of the planetarium that is part of the Good of the Hive project, by internationally known muralist, Matthew Willey. Willey has committed to painting 50,000 bees worldwide, which is the number needed for a healthy hive.
On our trip, David and I caught the Milky Way Over the Mountain” show at the planetarium and it was quite lovely and informative! Here is the full lineup of shows at the planetarium.
Enjoy Dinner and Drinks at Homeplace Beer Company
Homeplace Beer Company is an eye-catching spot in downtown Burnsville, and its food and drinks are delicious! We sat on the porch and listened to live music while enjoying our meal. David got the buffalo chicken pizza while I ordered a Greek gyro with pasta salad. It is such a cool space with so many indoor and outdoor seating options, including the cellar, that features old-school Nintendo games & an incredible VHS collection.
Brunch at Carriage House Sundries
Amanda and James, who are the owners of the NuWray Hotel and Roland’s Bar, also own the incredible Carriage House Sundries. Carriage House Sundries is a one-stop shop for small-town finery. There is a delicious daily breakfast and lunch menu, brunch on the weekends, and wine + scotch for the evening with a lounge menu available as well. It is such a great, eclectic spot and we loved browsing the space and picking up a bottle of wine for our Air BnB. We also enjoyed a delightful brunch on Sunday, where David ordered the biscuits, gravy, and eggs, and I got the Egg BLT with a side of home fries that will live rent-free in my head for a while!
Hike Crabtree Falls
Now, I think y’all may know this by now, but I’m not a big hiker. However, Crabtree Falls has been a hiking trail on my unofficial North Carolina bucket list for a while. This scenic 2.5-mile loop trail to Crabtree Falls is moderate to strenuous with a steep incline and rocky terrain. There are a couple of options for hiking the trail. After viewing the falls, hikers can return either by retracing their steps or by continuing on a longer but more gradual ascent back to the parking lot. The longer route begins as a moderately steep switchback that provides another beautiful view of the falls. Once reaching the top of the ridge, the path levels out and meanders across Crabtree Creek and its tributaries.
It is absolutely worth the hike and quite stunning. Check out other trails in the area, like Roaring Fork Falls and Setrock Creek Falls here.
Cruise the Blue Ridge Parkway
One of my favorite fall activities is to cruise the Blue Ridge Parkway and luckily our trip coincided nicely with beautiful leaf season. We drove through the Blue Ridge Mountains and took some stops to check out the views from overlooks along the way. We also got lunch to go from Appalachian Java (the cobb salad is *it,* y’all!) and stopped at the Mt. Mitchell Overlook to eat our lunch.
Visit Mount Mitchell State Park, the Highest Peak in the Eastern United States
Photo via Visit NC
Located outside of the quaint, small town of Burnsville, you will find Mount Mitchell State Park, the highest peak east of the Mississippi River. If you visit in the fall, make sure that you allow yourself time as the park will close once the lots are full. There is a summit overlook that is accessible via a quarter-mile steep, but paved walking trail. On clear days, the views stretch as far as 85 miles. There is a reason is a bucket-list item on my NC Bucket List.
Making plans to visit? Here’s where to stay!
David and I called Yummy Mud Puddle vacation rental home for the weekend. The drive up to the cabin is a little muddy and steep, but once you reach the cabin driveway, it is paved and a circular drive so you don’t have to turn around at the top. Yummy Muddle is located up the hill from the art studios of local artists, Claudia Dunaway and her husband, John Richards. They welcome guests to their studio while staying and are a part of the Toe River Studio Tour as well.
We cannot rave about the stay at Yummy Mud Puddle enough simply because of the views of the Black Mountains and its location. It is a quick drive downtown and I loved having a cup of coffee or a glass of wine on the deck. We even had the sweetest deer visitors each morning. Bonus points that it is pet friendly if your itinerary allows you to bring your pup(s).
We are already plotting our next trip back to Burnsville so that we can see the finalized NuWray Hotel. And check out some more of the trails, including the Burnsville Quilt Block Trail. We hope you will plan a visit to this charming mountain town! We know you will enjoy it just as much as we did!
Thank you to Leah Hughes King, Explore Burnsville, and all of their partners for hosting us for the weekend. As always, all opinions are my own.