Parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends come from far and wide to take part in this triumphant moment! Having graduated from Appalachian State University, I know how wonderful it can be having everyone together for the big day and also how challenging an Appalachian Graduation can be.
Going to a graduation at App is, in some ways, similar to attending a football game. Crowds descend on Boone and the parking lots are filled with tags from across the country. People book hotels and make dinner reservations and go shopping for last minute graduation gifts. As wonderful as the hustle and bustle can be it can also be a little frustrating. Many families, like mine, are choosing to stay in Wilkes and make the short drive up the mountain.
Wilkes is just a short 30 minute drive from Appalachian State. Just take US Hwy 421 up the mountain and enjoy the views as you go. Once you reach Boone signs will direct you to the campus where graduation parking will be available. If you want to park close to the ceremony you will need to arrive early. There is a parking deck on campus but be sure you are ready to pay as you leave. Signs and parking lot attendants will also be there to help you find a space.
The Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn are two great options. Both are close to shopping, dining and are easy to access from Hwy 421. The hotels each have meeting space (which would be great for a graduation party), a swimming pool, business center, serve a delicious hot breakfast and offer much more!
Another good reason for staying in Wilkes is the weather. Graduates who are going to walk the stage in Winter need to factor in the possibility of ice and snow. The weather in Wilkes is rarely as severe as it is in Boone. If they get a foot of snow and cancel the walk you can relax in Wilkes knowing that you aren”t snowed in and can still have your own graduation celebration with friends and family here!
Wilkes has a number of fine eateries and offers a wide variety of cuisine. No matter what your grad prefers, Chinese, Italian, Thai, down home cooking, etc., you are sure to find a place to celebrate their day. Another bonus is that you are more likely to avoid the crowds and long waits that folks dining in Boone may endure.