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Adventures in Western North Carolina

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If you’re looking for a slowdown from the everyday hustle, then Elkin, located in the western half of North Carolina, is the perfect place for you.  You won’t run out of things to do in this little town with an abundance of outdoor activities, wineries with beautiful landscapes, and a vibrant, quirky downtown.

Elkin was built on textiles and furniture, so once those industries moved elsewhere the town had to repurpose many old buildings. You can feel that intersection of old and new all throughout Elkin which makes for a unique experience.

© The Commoner

Hit the River

You may want to wait until late spring for this one, but it’s hard to beat a peaceful float down the river. The Yadkin River extends along the southern border of the Elkin town limits, so it’s the perfect place for a river adventure. You can tube, kayak, or canoe – any option you choose will be a good one, trust me!

If you have your own watercraft and want to do a DIY trip, then you can put in at the Crater Park Access, located at 310 Standard Street. There are a couple different options for your take out – Burch Station at Mitchell River for a short trip, or keep going to the Yadkin Shores Access if you’d like to make a half-day trip out of it.

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The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission has Boating Guides & Publications available to the public to ensure a safe and fun boating excursion.  This includes the use of Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs), Rules of the Water, and other Boating Regulations.  Please review these as you’re planning your river excursion.

If you just want a relaxing trip and would rather have someone else do all the heavy lifting, then Yadkin River Adventures is the place to go. Headquartered at 104 Old Rockford Road in nearby Dobson, they offer 2, 4, or 6-hour self-guided trips.  The trip price includes a vessel (kayak or canoe), paddle, PFD, and shuttle transportation. The Rockford General Store is right across the road – here you can pick up a made-to-order picnic for your trip.

© The Commoner

Opt for the Mountains

There is no shortage of opportunities to get outside around here. If hiking is more your thing, then we’ve got two state parks within 40 minutes. Plus, the Mountains-to-Sea Trail runs right through downtown Elkin. This traverse runs from Clingman’s Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains to Jockey’s Ridge in the Outer Banks.

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The closest state park to Elkin is Stone Mountain State Park, located thirty minutes northwest at 3042 Frank Parkway in Roaring Gap. It offers a gorgeous meadow perfect for picnics, with an incredible view of the face of Stone Mountain. If you choose to do the 4-mile loop, it spends most of it time meandering through picturesque woods. My favorite highlights are a beautiful waterfall and sweeping views of the surrounding mountains and countryside from the top.

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Pilot Mountain State Park is a short forty minute drive to the northeast, located at 1792 Pilot Knob Park Road in Pinnacle. To experience the mountain by which the park is named, you can either park at the bottom and hike your way up the mountain, or drive straight to the top and take the 0.8-mile Jomeokee trail. If you are looking for more of a challenge, the Ledge Spring Trail is an offshoot of the Jomeokee, allowing you to loop back around to the parking lot. At the top of the mountain you can see all the way to Winston-Salem on a clear day.

© The Commoner

Wineries of the Yadkin Valley

The Yadkin Valley was the first American Viticultural Area to be sanctioned in North Carolina. There are over three dozen wineries in the Yadkin Valley – all are unique and worth a visit. Some of my favorites to visit on a wine trip in Elkin are Carolina Heritage, Slightly Askew, and Elkin Creek Vineyard.

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Carolina Heritage

When you walk into the Carolina Heritage tasting room, more often than not you’ll be greeted by the ever-smiling face of Starla. If it’s the first time you’ve been, she’ll give you a warm welcome and explain how this is the first certified organic winery in North Carolina.  Then she’ll serve you a glass or a full tasting. If you’re a regular like my husband and I, she’ll say, “Great to see you again what’ll it be today?!”

The owners are typically there, working hard, but always stopping to make sure their customers are having a great time. My favorite of theirs is a Chambourcin and they also do a wonderful Cabernet Franc. If you are a sweet wine fan try the Apple Pie, Sweet T, or Glogg which is served warm in the winter. This is usually a quiet place to sit and have a glass and you can enjoy outdoor seating and beautiful sunsets when the weather is nice.

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Slightly Askew

Slightly Askew is known for their funky combinations of fruit flavors in their sweet wines. The names of those wines will raise some eyebrows and put a smile on your face. Some of my favorites are Tattoo on the Beach, Blackjack ‘BJ’, and Nasty Bastard. They also have dry wines, but their fruit wines are definitely their flagship.

Their cute little tasting room is only a few minutes from downtown Elkin.  It is definitely one of the most convenient if you don’t want to travel very far. It can get busy on the weekends, but spring is the perfect time to buy a bottle and sit on the front porch in blue rocking chairs, watching the cars meander down the road.

© Elkin Creek Vineyard
Elkin Creek Vineyard

If you love pizza, pay a visit to Elkin Creek Vineyard on a Sunday afternoon. Be warned, you’ll probably want to make a reservation. They make their pizza dough from scratch a couple days ahead of time, so once they run out, that’s it.

Their pizza isn’t the only thing that will keep you coming back. They have a fantastic selection of both white and red wines. Be sure to try their Viognier and Dornfelder. Once you find a wine you like, grab a glass and take a walk around the back of the tasting room to see the real Elkin Creek. There’s a small waterfall and it’s the perfect place to get some beautiful pictures or just enjoy the scenery.

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Historic Downtown

Even though there are so many things to do outside of the town limits that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend time exploring downtown.

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Grab a cup of coffee and a pastry at Dirty Joe’s Coffee, located at 132 East Market Street, where the employees are always excited to see you. Once you’ve had your caffeine fix check out some of the antique shops lining Main Street or one of my favorites, The November Room. Here you can find farmhouse decorations, homemade soaps and candles, and so many other unique items.

Whenever you’re ready to take a break for some food there’s no shortage of good choices. Harry’s Place is one of those beautiful hole-in-the-wall restaurants that all the locals rave about. If you like crab legs or hamburger steak this is the place for you. Located at 135 Front Street, it’s a block off of Main Street and gets crowded at dinner time on the weekends. No worries though, because you can order drinks at the bar while you wait, and take a seat outside.

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Southern on Main and Angry Troll Brewing are two restaurants on Main Street that shouldn’t be missed. Southern on Main has a variety of Southern American food and great cocktails. Angry Troll Brewing is one of those restaurants that I always offer as a suggestion when friends want to go out to eat. They specialize in wings and unique wood-fired pizzas. The first floor is a restaurant with a brewery in the basement.

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On the opposite end of Main Street is the recently renovated Reeves Theater, where concerts are held most weekends in the spring. This is such a unique venue and a fun place to listen to music whether you’re sitting in floor seats or in the balcony. They have a bar with a great selection of local beer and wine, plus a cafe.


Elkin has so much to offer for such a small town and the people you meet make it even more of a special place. There’s something to be said for small town hospitality. Whether you’re looking for an outdoor adventure or a relaxing vacation, Elkin has something for you.  ◊

Love North Carolina? So do we! For more travel inspiration check out some of our other articles, all written by local travel bloggers from the ‘Tar Heel State’. One of our most popular reads is 30 Day Trips from Charlotte or, if you feel like staying North we have a great guide to Raleigh, the Craft Beer Capital of the South.

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Go from the hiking trail to the wine trail in the Yadkin Valley in Western North Carolina. There's plenty of outdoor activities available no matter the season. If you prefer the indoors there's plenty of fine shopping and dining to be had in the historic town of Elkin. The Commoner Magazine, full of USA travel tips from local experts. #USAtravel #NorthCarolina #Thingstodoinnorthcarolina #Elkin #ElkinNC #YadkinValley #Winetrail #hiking #mountains

Go from the hiking trail to the wine trail in the Yadkin Valley in Western North Carolina. There's plenty of outdoor activities available no matter the season. If you prefer the indoors there's plenty of fine shopping and dining to be had in the historic town of Elkin. The Commoner Magazine, full of USA travel tips from local experts. #familytravel #USAtravel #NorthCarolina #Thingstodoinnorthcarolina #Elkin #ElkinNC #YadkinValley #Winetrail #NChiking #mountains

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