Skiing. Climbing. Paddling. Fishing. Underwater basket weaving.

Okay, maybe not the latter, but whatever your passion is, the Boone-Blowing Rock area likely has you covered. Situated just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in the mountains of western North Carolina, Boone has all the characteristics of a lively college scene (thanks in part to Appalachian State University, located right in the heart of Boone) while still managing to maintain a small-town vibe.

To read more about why I chose Boone as “the best place to dabble,” check out this month’s feature on the results from our Top Outdoor Towns, reader-based poll. Thanks to Jason Hightower for showing me the best of Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park and to Tim Holcomb the Trout Pimp, Drew Fuller, and co., for casting some lines.