North Carolina is such a diverse state and this makes it the perfect place for a family vacation. Thousands of people flock here throughout the year with their children to make memories that will last forever. There are so many things to do with kids in North Carolina, especially in the mountains. Here are just a few.
The mountains are a place to get back to basics and appreciate the smaller things, like renewing your appreciation for nature. There is no better way to do this than with hiking. We have so many hiking trails that lead to cascading waterfalls and overlooks with panoramic views. They’re perfect for family picnics after a long haul up the mountain.
You can find hiking trails that suit any age, from toddlers to teenagers. You can find many trails in Panthertown Valley in Cashiers, NC, or in Gorges State Park in Sapphire, NC. There are trails from .2 miles long that lead to gentle creeks, or you can backpack overnight on a longer trail, if your family wants to be more immersed in nature. The most popular time to hike is in the summer, but hiking here is one of the best things to do in North Carolina with kids in April or October, so you and the kiddos can see spring blooms and changing leaves.
If you’re looking for a day hike that leads to a gorgeous waterfall view and swimming hole, Secret Falls in Highlands, NC boasts a waterfall that looks like a tropical paradise.
If you take a 45-minute drive from our Cashiers office, you’ll find one of the train stations on the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad. The railroad brings people from all over for the unique and hard-to-find-experience of riding a train through the mountains. If you eat lunch at one of the Dillsboro restaurants by the train tracks, you have a good chance of seeing one of the trains come through, which can be pretty exciting for both you and the kids!
You can choose between a few different types of train rides including a steam-powered train or a diesel-powered locomotive. You can also choose to ride inside of the train for a first-class experience, or for ultimate views you can ride in the open-air gondola. Regardless of whatever train ride you choose, you’ll love the unique way you can experience the mountains with the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad.
What kid doesn’t want to spend the day swinging through the trees? Regardless of age, everyone in your family can have fun at Highlands Aerial Park. This is one of the most popular things to do with kids in North Carolina in our area! If you’re an adventuring pro, you can start with their hour-long package and get right to it. Or, if you need a little convincing, you can start with a half-hour package. Either way you go, you’ll get experienced, fun and knowledgeable guides that can help you and the kids have a fun and safe time.
If you’re looking for a team building activity, you can try one of their challenge courses. Instead of ziplining, you’ll be put in a safety harness and you’ll have to navigate a ropes course and bridge system among the trees. This will keep everyone on their toes and get everyone to work together in the name of fun. Keep in mind that this isn’t something you can do if you take a winter family vacation in North Carolina, but if you’re in the mountains during the warmer months, call ahead to reserve your spot for you and the kids!
This one will always be one of our favorite things to do with kids in North Carolina because Western North Carolina is home to several lakes, with a gorgeous mountain backdrop, that are great for families. We have plenty of vacation rentals in Lake Glenville to choose from. You can rent a boat, or bring your own for a day on your new favorite mountain lake. The older kids will have so much fun tubing and making memories that will last a lifetime.
If you don’t own a boat and don’t want to rent one, you can always rent a kayak for a more relaxed lake experience. Take in the mountains as you paddle with your family across the lake. Or, if you just want to hangout and enjoy the surroundings from a far, you can pack a picnic for the family and enjoy the views from the shore. A day on the lake is one of our favorite things to do with kids in North Carolina because there are so many great ways to enjoy the beautiful setting, whether you want to relax and emerge yourself in the scenery, or get active and go boating or kayaking.
For a more private, luxurious lake experience, we also have vacation rentals in Lake Toxaway, North Carolina’s largest private lake, where only members and guests have access to use the lake.
If you’re staying in the mountains and you don’t mind taking a quick day trip, we know your kids would love to go to Dollywood! It’s a two-hour drive from Cashiers, NC, where we are located, to Pigeon Forge, the home of Dollywood. If you’ve never heard of Dollywood, it’s the Appalachian theme park created by our favorite southern heroine, Dolly Parton. Every local has likely been to Dollywood at least once. Get up early and make the gorgeous, scenic drive to this southern theme park and enjoy a number of fast-paced roller coasters, bluegrass music playing in the background, and of course, a funnel cake! If you want a slower pace, you can go to the other side of the theme park where there is a true “country fair” with a ferris wheel and carnival games. On that same side of the park, you’ll find a train and kids will love taking a train ride around the park! You’ll find that there is family fun for everyone in Dollywood. It might be your new favorite thing to do with kids in North Carolina!
You’ll love the unique southern spirit of Dollywood, and at the end of the day when you and the kids are completely worn out, you can come back to one of our quieter towns on the plateau to your secluded vacation rental, and wind down.
We are experts in helping people plan their best mountain vacation. We can help you plan a kid-friendly experience here in Western North Carolina, and help determine which vacation rentals will best accommodate you and your children. Get in touch with us today so we can share with you more about why a vacation with us is full of things to do with kids in North Carolina, and why you need to experience the mountains on your next vacation!