This small city of about 15,000 (excluding students) is named for the pioneer Daniel Boone, and today the locals still celebrate its adventurous, outdoors spirit with an annual “Horn in the West” dramatization of the explorer’s life, which is performed at an outdoor amphitheatre.

As this town is in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, much of regional culture is based on Appalachia traditions such as bluegrass music and storytelling. As this is a fairly remote town, most of the local families have been around for several generations. Boone’s population is predominantly white, with the largest ethnic minority group being African-Americans at about 3%. Very few people of Hispanic, Asian or Native American origin reside here.

The city also has a big emphasis on education, as it is home to the Appalachian State University (part of the University of North Carolina system), whose 14,000 mostly in-state student population doubles the size of the town during the school year. The university is also the town’s biggest employer, though tourism, industry and agriculture also play big roles in the local economy. There are also various education and outreach programs designed to help secondary school students in Appalachia, such as GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs).