Local Attractions

Distance from Sky Retreat
Dark Sky Picture

Dark Sky Observatory (0.9 miles) is an astronomical observatory run by Appalachian State University (ASU). Less than a mile from Sky Retreat, its dark skies are widely recognized as one of the best places in the world for viewing the cosmos. The Dark Sky Observatory is equipped with four telescopes and is used to conduct observational research in astrophysics. The observatory holds monthly public nights where visitors can sign up to enjoy gazing through its 32-inch telescope.

Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway (1 mile) – is noted for its scenic beauty with stunning long-range views and close-up vistas of the rugged mountains and pastoral landscapes of the Appalachian Highlands. It is America’s longest linear park running for 469 miles (755 km).

Mountains to Sea

Mountains-To-Sea Trail (1 mile) – is North Carolina’s premier hiking trail that stretches 1,150 miles from the Great Smoky Mountains, through the Blue Ridge Mountains, to the Outer Banks. It is a scenic backbone of an interconnected trail system spanning North Carolina. The MST has the distinction of being the highest elevation, long-distance trail in the eastern United States.

Park Vista Restaurant

Park Vista Restaurant (2.7 miles) – is a charming, family owned restaurant conveniently located directly off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Sky Retreat. It has a relaxing environment the whole family will enjoy. The restaurant is known for using locally grown ingredients. It can be also be reached by a beautiful 1.7 mile hike along the MST trail.

Cascade Falls

Cascade Falls (3 miles) – is a spectacular waterfall with beautiful surrounding trail systems. It can be reached by 3 different trails ranging from a short walk suitable for the whole family, to longer trails including interesting historical sites such as the Jesse Brown Cabin, a 19th century residence. Cascade Falls is a beautiful 3 mile hike along the MST from Sky Retreat.

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West Jefferson (17 miles) – has a downtown arts district with numerous art galleries and studios featuring local and regional artists. There are more than 15 murals that create a walking tour throughout downtown, reflecting the area’s history and unique mountain character. West Jefferson is the home of the only cheese plant in North Carolina. Visitors can watch the fascinating process of cheese making from the viewing area as well as visit the cheese and gift shop

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Boone (18 miles) – is a historic mountain town known as the home of Appalachian State University. Named after the legendary explorer Daniel Boone, the town retains  the pioneer outdoor spirit, even as it’s grown into a busy college town. Boone is a  center for bluegrass musicians and Appalachian storytellers.

From quaint shops and theater venues, to sports games at Appalachian State University, Boone has something for everyone to enjoy.

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Watauga County Farmer’s Market (18 miles) – is a popular Saturday farmer’s market located in the Horn of the West Park in Boone. People come from all around to get the freshly picked local produce and delicious homemade products. There are often special events, live music, cooking demonstrations, and children’s activities at this lively farmer’s market.

Appalachian

Appalachian Ski Mountain (23 miles) – is one of the 3 ski mountains in Watauga County in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is suitable for families and skiers of all abilities. It has nine slopes and five lifts and includes an outdoor ice skating rink.

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Blowing Rock (24 miles) – is a picturesque resort town, filled with boutique shops featuring works from local artists and crafts people. Enjoy its seasonal farmer’s market and award-winning restaurants. Blowing Rock‘s legendary name comes from its prominent rock formation, which has been attracting visitors since 1933. Named “the only place in the world where snow falls upside down” by Ripley’s-Believe-It-Or-Not.

MosesConeManor

Moses Cone Manor (25 miles) – Twenty-five miles of carriage trails wind through the fields and forests of the 3,500 acre Moses Cone Memorial Park. The trails are available to the public for hiking as well as horseback riding. At the peak of the estate is Flat Top Manor, a gleaming white 13,000 square foot mansion built in 1901 in the grand Colonial Revival style, which is open for visitors to tour.

Enjoy viewing traditional aspects such as the grand sweeping staircase with its long, curving banister made from a single piece of cherry wood, or browse its craft shop operated by the Southern Highland Handicraft Guild.

Bass Lake

Bass Lake (26 miles) – a picturesque lake covered with water lilies in the summer, reminiscent of a Monet painting. Part of the Moses Cone Manor Estate, Bass Lake is surrounded by a scenic, wide flat loop trail. Numerous trail systems start from the lake area and wind up the nearby mountains. Fishing is permitted, and the lake is filled with a variety of fish including smallmouth bass, walleye, catfish, crappie, and white bass.

Sugarr

Sugar Mountain (34 miles) – is the largest ski area in North Carolina. There are 115 skiable acres and 20 runs, along with seven lifts, including one triple, four doubles, and two surface lifts. There is also snowshoeing, tubing, and ice skating available. It is a favorite for families and skiers of all abilities.

GrandFatherMountain

Grandfather Mountain (38 miles) – Grandfather Mountain has 11 trails varying in difficulty from a gentle walk in the woods, to a rigorous trek across rugged peaks. Cross the thrilling mile high swinging bridge at the top of Grandfather Mountain park. See stunning scenery and unmatched ecological diversity. Visit its Nature Museum, which houses exhibits about the region’s natural history or enjoy Grandfather Mountain’s Fudge Shop serving freshly made delectable treats.

Wine Country

Wine Country (2 hour radius) – The 1.4 million‐acre Yadkin Valley, just east of Wilkesboro, is home to exquisite vineyards and wineries and was approved as North Carolina’s first American Viticultural Area. There are over 30 wineries offering tours & wine tasting.