With plenty to explore in nature, history and culture — not to mention delicious food! — the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina are an excellent destination for your next family vacation.
Whether you’re traveling with little kids, almost-grown-up kids, or a blend of all ages, it can sometimes be challenging to find activities that interest the whole group. To support you in planning your next trip, we’ve collected a list of adventures that offers a little something for everyone — the more active and adventurous, the creative and curious, and the easy-going and relaxed.
Although we’ve organized this list by the age group that might find the activity most exciting, know that most of these adventures are great for explorers of all ages.
Take a look at these Blue Ridge adventures for some great getaway inspiration:
Teenagers (14 and older)
- Rent a canoe, kayak or stand-up paddleboard at the Paddy’s Creek Recreation area to explore scenic Lake James State Park from the water.
- Take disc golf for a spin on one of three 18-hold disc golf courses at North Cove Disc Golf & Leisure Club, the site of the 2022 College Disc Golf National Championship.
- Connect with your inner nerd at All Things Geeky, a unique comic book and novelty store in historic downtown Marion.
- Check the calendar for upcoming workshops featuring basketry, stained glass and other art forms at the Arrowhead Gallery and Studios in Old Fort.
- Venture underground to tour the unique subterranean wonder of stalactites and stalagmites in Linville Caverns, North Carolina’s only public caverns.
- Unleash your inner child and challenge your teen to some good-natured family competition in the retro arcade at The Feisty Goldfish. (Please note that this business is 21+ after 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.)
Older School Age (10-13)
- Enjoy a relaxing float down the Catawba River when you rent an inner tube from Catawba River Outdoors.
- Introduce your budding mountain biking enthusiast to the easy, yet still exciting, new Old Fort Gateway Trails. (Any non-bikers in the family will still enjoy walking along these multi-use trails.)
- Visit the Museum of North Carolina Minerals to explore hands-on exhibits about the history of mining and minerals in the Blue Ridge.
- Experience the awe of Linville Falls, one of the most popular stops on the Blue Ridge Parkway and the perfect place for kiddos to level up their selfie game.
- Drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway to Little Switzerland where kids and adults alike will love taking in the views. Browse Little Switzerland Books & Beans to find a new favorite book, and don’t miss the summer square dances at Geneva Hall with live music and cake walks!
- Introduce the whole family to the timeless fun of roller skating at the Marion Hot Wheelz Skating Rink.
Younger School Age (6-9)
- You’re never too old to feel the thrill of finding buried treasure, but gem mining just seems to make kids sparkle! Visit Emerald Village to mine for colorful stones, or see if you can strike gold at The Lucky Strike Gold & Gem Mine.
- Go waterfall hunting! Many of popular area waterfall trails offer easy to moderate hikes, but the relatively short trails of Setrock Creek Falls and Roaring Fork Creek Falls (close enough to one another to do both in one day!) make them family favorites.
- Take a step back in time — and into two authentic cabins built in the 1800s — at the Mountain Gateway Museum.
- Share the thrill of catching your very own fish at Buck Creek Trout Farm, which provides everything you need including poles and bait.
- Take a day trip to one of many family-friendly Blue Ridge attractions such as Grandfather Mountain, Chimney Rock State Park or the Cradle of Forestry.
Toddlers and Preschool (under 6)
- Outdoor adventures are a wonderful way to begin to acquaint your littlest travelers with nature, and there are plenty of opportunities! The 1.5-mile Joseph McDowell Historical Catawba Greenway is perfect for strollers or waddlers, and the Peavine Trail — which follows an old railway route — is similarly easy if you happen to be carrying a kiddo.
- The 100-year-old Orchard at Altapass is a great place for small ones — pick apples, eat ice cream, dance to live music, listen to storytellers and play fun lawn games.
- The swimming beach at Lake James State Park is the perfect place to splash around and cool off in summer.
Begin planning your family vacation in the Blue Ridge, where you’re sure to make memories to last a lifetime.