Whether you're buying a gift, for yourself, a friend, or family member, purchasing home furnishings-even local foods and wine-the Boone Area High Country of North Carolina is the destination for shoppers in search of distinctive products.
There's no need to wade through the crowds for mundane gifts-nowhere is the "buy local" trend more evident than in the Boone Area. Handcrafted items, one-of-a-kind works of art, and quirkily curated collections of unique products are a staple of local galleries and specialty shops. The range of distinctive finds is astounding. Surprise someone with a fresh Christmas tree, a succulent country ham, or an award-winning local wine to toast an event-and the gifter.
Best of all, a shopping spree in the High Country is so much more than a slog through endless parking lots and bumper-to-bumper traffic. The mountains are everywhere around you, so any High Country shopping sojourn amounts to a tour of one of the East's most scenic spots. That goes double during November and December when the Holidays are on the way and a Boone area visit can include taking home a prized Fraser fir Christmas tree!
Start downtown. A wealth of shops cluster along West King Street, the main thoroughfare, and adjoining Depot and Howard streets. Classic outdoor outfitter Footsloggers can set you up to ski or hike or just weather the weather.
Mast General Store has clothing, candy, and almost everything else, including an extensive selection of footwear for outdoor recreation. Lucky Penny features fashion-forward boutique women's apparel brands. Just below King on Depot Street, Magic Cycles is another reflection of Boone's outdoorsy culture. Adjacent and upstairs, Farmers Ski Shop has been a Boone winter sports source since 1969 for ski and snowboard gear, clothing and accessories.
Small shops are many. There are cool and custom women's fashions at Lililu on King. At The Shoppes at Farmers Hardware, small artisanal store fronts called vignettes populate four floors with enticing arts, gifts, and furnishings. Just a stroll through the landmark 1924 building is fun. Art Mart is adjacent, with all the art supplies a budding or experienced artist desires, including classes. Watsonatta Western World is the place for equine extravagance and everyday.
On the corner of King and Depot, duck into the multi-store Boone Mini-Mall complex. Inside is Anna Banana's, for men's and women's fine consignment fashion. Indo, "a hippie place to be," and the Boone Rock-n-Roll Emporium, are fun flashbacks from the 1960s with books, hats, t-shirts, tapestries, stickers and such.
Art seems to be everywhere. The first Friday of each month except January features a memorable Art Crawl. The event is anchored by the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts and the nearby Jones House Cultural and Community Center. Fine art and craft venues include the venerable local landmark Hands Gallery. Just down the street, noted Boone Area potter Bob Meier, one of Hands' founding members, owns Doe Ridge Pottery. Meier's work appears in many of the region's best galleries-and many of the best potters from the area appear here in his gallery.
Other art venues include Nth Degree Gallery and Studios and The Collective On Depot.
Appalachian State University athletic souvenirs are easy to find downtown, and so is diverse dining at one-off local eateries. Try Vidalia, Proper, CoBo Sushi, Cha da Thai, Cafe Portofino, Ransom Cafe & Pub, My Pho, Our Daily Bread, Boone Bagelry and Sabeing Boone King (among many others - troll our Dining Guide).
Satellite shopping centers complement downtown. The Shops at Shadowline shopping center overlooks Blowing Rock Road. The Pet Place is a pet-lover's highlight. Next door in Boone Heights Shopping Center, B.E. Natural Market is the area's first organic store and a longtime locals' favorite.
New Market Center, adjacent to the US 421/NC 194 intersection, contains Boone's Regal Cinemas movie theater. Before or after the show, have an upscale dinner in casual surrounds at Joy Bistro, or take the whole family to locals' favorites Capone's Pizza or Dos Amigos Mexican. Just across 194 from the shopping center is Mike's Inland Seafood, calling Boone home since 1981.
Smaller and easier to navigate than the biggest urban mall settings, Boone Mall requires a much shorter walk from your car to great brands such as Belk, Bath & Body Works, Hallmark, Old Navy, TJMaxx, HomeGoods, South's Clothiers and Wedding Apparel, and Sears Appliances.
Refuel at Eleven80, Tucker's Cafe, Cookies n' Cream, and Panera Bread. Then explore Saslow Jewelers, Shoe Dept. Encore, Sports Fanatic, Game Stop, Claire's and RUE-21. There's also Blue Ridge Vision, Le's Spa and Nails, and Super Clips.
Just south of Boone toward Banner Elk on NC 105, Grandfather Mountain towers above the valley town of Foscoe. A bustling shopping scene has developed over the last half-decade. Art and antiques await in galleries galore.
As you enter Foscoe, a left on Shull's Mill Road leads a short distance past Hound Ears Club to Kevin Beck Studio for plein air paintings of local mountain scenes in oil and pastel.
Heading into "downtown" Foscoe you can't miss the striking sign for Mountain Dog and Friends on the right. "The store for Dog People" is the choice when it comes to healthy foods and treats, innovative toys, gear and more (including cats!). Across the street, there are antiques imported from the U.K. at English Antique Imports (closed in winter). Other stops range from traditional musical instruments at The Dulcimer Shop, indoor horticulture products at 5th Element Supply, and everything for fly fishing from Orvis dealer Foscoe Fishing Company.
Don't miss Hidden Valley Antiques, a cavernous collection of intriguing collectibles and decor treasures. Country Retreat Family Billiards, a unique family-friendly billiards hall and cafe, serves lunch and dinner.
Farther south and gaining elevation out of Foscoe, the headquarters store for the luxury bedding product manufacturer DeWolfson Down is just beyond on the right. On the left, at the Clubhouse Drive entrance to Mill Ridge Resort, is Maggie Black Pottery, featuring an eclectic collection of pottery you won't want to miss. Just past Mill Ridge, look on the right for Grandfather View Village, location of Eat Crow, a restaurant owned by British chef Dominic Geraghty and wife Meryle-with a long list of frozen gourmet items to take back to the kitchen in your cabin or condo.
Higher still out of Foscoe toward Grandfather Mountain, Art Purveyors art supply shop is on the right and the 9 Lives Antiques & Consignment with its big red number 9 sculpture, is just beyond. Then comes Grandfather Vineyard and Winery on the left, with its local wines and accessories. Carlton Gallery is beyond that on the right. This landmark local gallery features diverse regional artists including paintings and fiber works by owner Toni Carlton.
In Green Mansions Village, on the left just past Carlton Gallery, The Country Gourmet has been a decades-long Boone Area source for sophisticated kitchenware, tabletop, and home/garden accessories. Next door, Sobleski has gifts, mountain lodge style home furnishings, accessories and USA-crafted products. Steps lead from the Green Mansions parking area up to the landmark Grandview Restaurant, a favorite place for breakfast, lunch, and a grand view-of Grandfather Mountain.
As NC 105 tops out near Grandfather Mountain State Park's Profile Trail, pause for great furnishings at Tatum Gallery, for refined, design-forward options.
From NC 105 just south of Boone, or from Banner Elk, wander the winding NC Scenic Byway of NC 194 to one of Watauga County's most memorable pastoral settings. In Valle Crucis, ridges ripple above verdant farm fields and horse pastures. B&Bs and a classic country stores cluster in a National Historic District-and the shopping venues are many.
The Mast General Store, a mercantile icon according to Charles Kuralt, has anchored Valle Crucis since 1882. Its a sagging, scenic bit of not-to-be-missed Americana. The store sells virtually everything-including a wide range of footwear. Just browsing is a step back in time.
Rivercross Market, located beside the Mast Store, features local artists and a wealth of handmade items including stained glass, pottery, jewelry and paintings and more. Across the street, Over Yonder offers fine dining in a casual 1861 farmhouse.
Down the road toward NC 105, beside the entrance to Valle Crucis Park, the Mast Store Annex features clothing, candy, and an upper floor outdoor outfitter known for one of the area's best selections of clothing and equipment for hiking, backpacking and winter trail sports. Closer to NC 105, the Alta Vista Gallery's four galleries represent the works of more than 100 artists in a structure listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Mark Read Studio & Gallery features the artist's jewelery, sculpture, architectural pieces, and work in restoration.
On the drive from Blowing Rock to Boone, check out The Incredible Toy Company (on the left, they specialize in Playmobil). Farther along on the left, Hatchett Jack's Trading Post has 12,000 square-feet of diverse collectiles and antiques on two floors. Bless Your Heart is a gift shop focused on floral design and Mustard Seed Market calls itself "a destination garden center". In winter and selected other times the ski and gift shops at Appalachian Ski Mountain are the source for all things winter sports.
Check out downtown first-Main Street is definitely the main focus for great shopping.
Start the Holidays at Christmas in Blowing Rock for ornaments, gifts and mountain mementoes. Decor as distinctive as Blowing Rock itself can be found at Brass Exchange, Cabin Fever (everything lodge and cabin-style), and NEACO (specializing in "hip home decor"). Sunset Tee's and Hattery is a must for Blowing Rock souvenir wear and a great selection of hiking and fishing hats.
The Last Straw and Poppy's By Design offer silk floral arrangements, home and garden decor and accents aplenty. Cross Trade offers women's accessories, decor items, and gifts with a Brazilian import niche. De Provence et D'Aillers is the complete French shopping spot. Pandora's Mailbox features jewelry, cards, and more. The Silk Road hand selects one-of-a-kind crafts from less traveled areas of China.
For one of the area's most authentic artisanal pottery experiences, take US 321 past the Green Park Inn toward Lenoir and pull intothe rustic, rural setting of Traditions Pottery and Bolick Pottery (left on Blackberry Road for 1/2 mile, then turn right on Bolick Road). These 5th and now 6th generation potters produce noteworthy works in functional, decorative, and folk art forms. If you don't want to leave town, Traditions Pottery is also located in the Martin House on Main Street. Shoppers in downtown will find no shortage of eateries to fuel their adventures.
On the way back to Boone, pull into the Tanger Outlet Store near Chetola Resort. This more than 30-store mall features the best national brands in many categories at discount prices. The list starts with A, for accessories, with Chico's Outlet, Coach Factory, Levi's Outlet, Sunglass Hut and more.
Next is "apparel," with Aeropostale, Banana Republic Factory Store, Bass, Gap Outlet, Izod, J.Crew/Crewcuts, Jockey, Polo Ralph Lauren Factory Store and Van Heusen. Children's apparel includes Gymboree Outlet and OshKosh B'gosh. Footwear features Bass, Rack Room Shoes, and Skechers. There are housewares options also, with the Kitchen Collection.
From NC 105 near Grandfather Mountain, NC 184 leads to Banner Elk. This major junction at the Tynecastle development includes a number of distinctive shopping venues.
From Tynecastle, NC 194 leads into Banner Elk (where a right turn leads down to Valle Crucis and back to Boone). On the way, there are a few clusters of shops, and a variety of shops flank the main intersection in "downtown" Banner Elk.
In the Boone Area, by the time you've dropped, you'll have really shopped.
Zoom in close on the map below (use the plus/minus signs and directional arrows at upper left), or repeatedly double click near, but not on, the map symbols. You can literally dive down to see the parking lots and landmarks for the Boone Area's diverse shopping spots. Click any map symbol and information balloons pop up to identify the business or location described in the article above. In the map balloons, click "Directions," add your address or location, and step-by-step directions will guide you to the business from wherever you are. This satellite map permits "Map view" so click that to see a conventional road map.