Picnicking & Playgrounds
There are so many places in and around Banner Elk to bring the family and enjoy a relaxing day of picnicking and/or enjoying watching your youngsters playing in one of the many playgrounds in the High Country. We have listed below many of them, but there are way too many to list them all:
Lees-McRae's Historic "Mill Pond":
This duck and fishing pond is located off Highway 184 (Tynecastle Highway) on Hickory Nut Gap Road in Banner Elk. Take an immediate right turn into the park area. Bring the family and feed the ducks, picnic, fish in the pond or just enjoy the waterfall that is just a short walk back from the main road. It's so picturesque and close to all the Banner Elk great restaurants and unique shopping.
Tate-Evans Park (Banner Elk Town Park):
This beautiful small, quaint park is located off Highway 194 behind Town Hall and the Bank of America in Banner Elk. It hosts a quarter-mile paved walking track, picnic tables with grills, picnic covered pavilions, a volleyball court and two fantastic playgrounds. The walking track also has a fenced-in doggy area. For more details, click on the link on the right side of the page. Also, for more information, call 828-898-5398.
One of the best things of which Banner Elk can boast is a beach—on the 13-acre Wildcat Lake, located on Hickory Nut Gap Road approximately 1 mile from Highway 184. Upgraded picnic facilities, including two shelters, play areas and a bath house all are available. There is no charge to use any of the facilities, although state fishing licenses are required, and reservations for use of the picnic shelters are necessary. Lifeguards are on duty during summer hours. The beautiful shores of Wildcat Lake have long been a magnet for summer swimmers, enjoying the cold waters and the adjacent park for picnics, reunions, even weddings. For 50 years, a Presbyterian church-related camp has offered its young campers priceless memories set in and near this picturesque lake. For more details, click on the link on the right side of the page. Also, for more information, call 828-898-5465.
Beech Mountain Park & Buckeye Recreation Center:
This park on breathtaking Beech Mountain overlooking Buckeye Lake is ideal for fishing and relaxing. Visitors can also enjoy ball fields, basketball and tennis courts and a sheltered picnic area with great views of the lake and mountains. Buckeye Recreation Center has indoor and outdoor amenities. The indoor activities are tennis court, tennis ball machine, children's playroom (for 7 and under), fitness room, basketball court, lounge with public computers, DirecTV, wifi, games & library (no fee to use). Outdoor activities are a walking track, a playground (that is being completed now and should be open July 1st (weather permitting) and will include a low obstacle rope course, swings as well as other playground equipment), a softball field, soccer field, hiking trails, biking trails, horseshoes and fishing (Buckeye Lake). They also offer summer activity camps and summer sports camps for the kids (ages 5 – 13) starting in June and ending in August. 2009 will be the first year for "Movies on the Lawn" at the Buckeye Recreation Center. The dates this year are June 25, July 16 and August 6, all starting at 8 p.m. Please bring a blanket and/or lawn chair. For more information on these or their other special summer programs or to get a Summer Program Guide, call the Buckeye Recreation Center at 828-387-3003. You can also pick up a Program Guide in our office. For more details on the Buckeye Recreation Center, click on the link on the right side of the page.
Buckeye Lake & Coffey Lake:
These two lakes on Beech Mountain are great fishing lakes and have hiking trails. On Buckeye Lake, there are picnic tables as well as a picnic shelter with bathrooms, 3 charcoal grills and 10 to 12 picnic tables (to include one that is handicap accessible). For large groups, you can reserve the pavilion by calling the Buckeye Recreation Center at 828-387-3003. Lake Coffey has a picnic table next to the lake and a few picnic tables next to the basketball courts in the shade. If you decide to picnic at Lake Coffey, plan to either go early to select your table or pack a blanket just in case the tables are in use. For more details, click on the link on the right side of the page.
This park serves as the trail head for the Pond Creek Hiking Trail on Beech Mountain and is a great place to have a picnic lunch. This park is dedicated to the Town's former Public Works Director, Joe Perry.
Annie Cannon Meditation Gardens:
Located in downtown Blowing Rock at the entrance to Glen Burney Trail, this small, beautiful park offers a bench-lined walkway which meanders throughout the neatly landscaped gardens. For more information, call 828-295-5222.
Blowing Rock Memorial Park:
Located on Main Street in the picturesque mountain village of Blowing Rock, Blowing Rock Memorial Park is often the scene of various community activities. The park features picnic tables, tennis courts and a playground, along with large, shady trees, which make this the perfect spot to take a break from shopping and strolling on warm, summer days. For more information, call 828- 295-5222.
Located in downtown Blowing Rock, this popular, scenic park features an easy .25 mile paved walkway which winds around a pond. A covered gazebo and benches are scattered throughout the park. For more information, call 828-295-5222.
Boone Jaycees Park:
This small park, located near the Appalachian State University campus on Horn in the West Drive in Boone, offers a playground for children and a large picnic shelter. For more information and to reserve the picnic shelter, call 828-264-9511.
Brookshire Park features large grass playing fields surrounded by a paved walking track that's just over four-tenths of a mile long, a covered picnic shelter with two grills, and restrooms. The lighted fields can be used for several games or practices at once, depending on the sport and age group. The park is located along the New River near the country industrial park on Brookshire Road in Boone. For more information, call 828-264-9511.
Daniel Boone Native Gardens:
If lovely flowers and creative landscaping are your pleasure, a leisurely stroll through Daniel Boone Gardens is a must. Located on Horn in the West Drive in Boone, the gardens contain many plants native to North Carolina and to the mountain region. A small bog garden, an arbor and a meditation garden highlight the tour. The gardens are open daily, weather permitting, from May through October. Admission is $2 per person, and proceeds are used for upkeep. For more information, call 828-264-6390.
Howard's Knob Park:
This park, that offers one of the best views of downtown Boone, is perched atop the proud peak overlooking the town. The park is open daily from dusk to dawn during the summer, and features a picnic shelter, numerous picnic tables, and several short trails and overlooks. From King Street in Boone, turn on to Cherry Street, and follow the signs to the top. For more information, call 828-264-9511.
Watauga Humane Society's Dog Park:
Located along Don Hayes Road, between Rutherwood Baptist Church and the Boone Stockyard, about four miles from Boone off Old Hwy. 421 South. The Dog Park features a 6-foot high chain-link fence and almost 4 acres of grassy fields. There is no water source at the park so owners should bring water for their dogs. The park is open from 7am to sundown, seven days a week. Membership fees apply, but day passes are available for $3. Please call the Watauga Humane Society for more information at 828-264-7865 or visit www.wataugahumanesociety.org.
Watauga Tot Lot:
Fun for children of all ages, this park is equipped with extensive playground equipment and a large picnic shelter. The park is located in front of the Watauga Swimming Complex on State Farm Road in Boone. For more information and to reserve the shelter, call 828-264-9511.
Foscoe Community Park:
Set along the Watauga River in the Foscoe community between Boone and Banner Elk, this little gem is tucked away behind the Grandfather Trout Ponds off Highway 105. Open during daylight hours, the park has a bandstand, sheltered picnic area, basketball court, river walk and hiking trails.
Grandfather Trout Farm:
Located on Highway 105 in Foscoe just past the town of Seven Devils. You and your children can enjoy taking advantage of their miniature putting course. There is something for the entire family here. For more information, call 828-963-5098.
Cannon Memorial Hospital Playground:
This playground is open to the public and has all the bells and whistles, to include a fort, crawling tunnels, swings and slides. You can use it on a first come first served basis. However, if you would like to reserve it for a party or a special event, they would appreciate a donation of $25.00, and you will need to call 828-7538.
Grandfather Mountain has over 100 picnic tables and grills located throughout the park. The picnic area located on the right about one-third up the main road is equipped with a water fountain and restrooms. Guests are welcome to bring their own picnic. Those who have not planned ahead can purchase fried chicken or sandwiches to go from the Museum restaurant. For more details, click on the link on the right side of the page.
Linville Falls is located on the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 316 where US 221 and NC 181 intersect the Parkway. Located at the northern end of the Linville Gorge, Linville Falls cascades 90 feet in multiple interval cap-falls. Three trails lead to views of Linville Falls, all are accessed from the Linville Falls Visitor Center, and they range in difficulty from moderate to strenuous. Linville Falls trail is the most popular trail and leads to a view of upper Linville Falls at the first overlook, .5 miles from the parking area. Erwin's View trail continues past Linville Falls and leads to 3 overlooks, Chimney View overlook at .7 miles, Gorge View Overlook and Erwin's View Overlook at .8 miles. Trails to the lower Linville Falls and Linville Gorge fork to the right from the Linville Falls Trail and are .2 mile from the parking lot. Plunge Basin Trail is a .5 mile trail that leads to a view of lower Linville Falls. Lastly, the 0.7 mile Linville Gorge Trail branches off of Plunge Basin Trail and leads to the foot of lower Linville Falls. Swimming is prohibited at all areas of Linville Falls. Plan to spend a lot of time down here soaking up the beauty. There are numerous places along your hike to have a picnic. Be sure to bring lots of water and don't forget to bring a camera. For more details, click on the link on the right side of the page.
Newland Town Park:
This town park features a playground and a .8 mile walking track. The park is located on Beech Street in downtown Newland. For more information, call 828-733-2023.
This recently developed park in Newland with arched bridges takes people along a rambling stream in downtown Newland. The park is located beside the Avery County administration building.
A lovely waterfall is the centerpiece of this multilevel park just outside Newland on Highway 194 across from Ingles and the Family Dollar. The park features a hiking trail that takes you up to the top of the falls, and the stream passes through a small field and then the woods. There is a picnic area with tables and benches. It is maintained by the Volunteer Firemen of Newland.
Off the Blue Ridge Parkway, you will find several places where you can fish: Moses H. Cone Memorial Park (Milepost 292.7) covers 3,600 acres. You will find many miles of horse and carriage trails, hiking and fishing; Julian Price Memorial Park (Milepost 295) covers 4,344 acres. You will find a campground, picnic area, lake, boating, fishing and hiking trails here. Also, off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, there are several small lakes that would be ideal for having a picnic. For more information about this as well as other picnic spots, call the Blue Ridge Parkway at 828-271-4779. For more details on the Blue Ridge Parkway, click on the link on the right side of the page.
Elk River Falls:
The swimming hole and falls are located in Elk River off Highway 19-E. Just follow the signs, the last one being a Pisgah National Forest sign. After this sign, it is less than a mile where it ends at the parking area for the falls. Before getting to the Pisgah sign, however, you will travel through numerous neighborhoods, lots of twists and turns and finally you will see what looks like a very wide, flat, calm, slow-moving shallow riverbed. There are a few picnic tables, but bring a blanket just in case the tables are taken. There is a small walk down to get to the swimming hole. Once you get there, it is absolutely worth the drive and walk! The river falls 65 feet into a large pool. Swimming is great especially on a hot day. The waters are deep and clean. You could swim out to the falls and even go behind them or lay on one of the huge rocks that just seem meant for sunbathing.
Roan Mountain State Park:
The park has several picnic shelters, a swimming pool, tennis courts, children's play areas, and wonderful hiking trails. On weekends during the summer, the public can enjoy a variety of entertainment events in the park amphitheater. For more details, click on the link on the right side of the page. Also for more information, call the Roan Mountain State Park toll-free at 800-250-8620.
Valle Crucis Community Park:
Behind the Mast General Store Annex in Valle Crucis, this beautiful park offers picnic tables, two picnic pavilions, a paved walking trail along the Watauga River, a fish pond, children's playground and space for sports activities. For more information or to reserve a picnic shelter, call 828-963-9239.
Watauga Lake in Hampton, TN:
Less than an hour away from Banner Elk, Watauga Lake is 16.3 miles long and covers 6,430 acres (10.05 square miles). It boasts 104.9 miles of shoreline. Just 47 miles of shoreline are privately owned. The other 58 acres of shoreline are public land. Most of those 58 acres are part of the Cherokee National Forest and can never be developed, making Watauga Lake the TVA's most beautiful and pristine mountain-surrounded lake. On the southern shore of the western arm of Watauga Lake, there are several National Recreational Areas where you can swim, picnic, camp and just relax. There are also several marinas where you can rent a pontoon or houseboat for the day so that you can really enjoy this beautiful lake surrounded by mountains.
Also, as you are traveling the main and back roads in the High Country that run beside creeks, streams or rivers and you see cars parked in a turn-out beside the road, pull over and check it out. You will more than likely find people basking in the sun on rocks, picnicking and swimming in the cool, clear refreshing water. These special places are everywhere in the High Country.
As was mentioned under some of the places listed above, you can click on any of the links on the right side of the page for more information.
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