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Jan. 17, 2023, 5:29 p.m.

20 Blue Ridge Adventure Ideas for Kids of All Ages

Family at The Orchard at Altapass McDowell County

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:

Hot Wheelz in Marion

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.
  • Explore Art and Creativity during any of the McDowell Arts Council Association monthly Art Gallery Exhibits, or shop artisan goods made in McDowell.

Lake James boating

Older School Age (10-13)

Gem mining at Emerald Village

Younger School Age (6-9)

Books and beans in little switzerland

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.