I have to admit that my kids are pretty lucky to have their grandpa live in one of the prettiest places: Blowing Rock, NC. This past summer, we spent a week visiting my dad in the Blue Ridge Mountains. With all three kids old enough to walk & explore, we had a lot of fun on our trip to the mountains. Below, I am sharing some of my favorite things to do in the area! I highly recommend adding the Blue Ridge Mountains in your family travel bucket list. We had so much fun exploring & my kids are already talking about their next trip to the mountains.
Favorite Things to Do near Blowing Rock, NC
1. Grandfather Mountain: This is a must-see when you are in the Blowing Rock area. There’s great views, lots of hiking trails, & a great visitor’s center for kids. Our first stop was to head and see the animals before the crowds started to come. We were lucky enough that the bears were awake and alert and got to see them super up close. The otters were also super active & swimming right by us. We were the only people viewing them since we arrived early so we got a super awesome otter show! Then it was on to Grandfather Mountain. It really is kind of a place that everyone should see. One mile above sea level on a swinging bridge. A little crazy but super pretty with mountains all around you. We somehow crossed the bridge & back with all kids in tow and one slight toddler meltdown!
2. Roan Mountain Hiking: Our first day there, my dad decided to put us to the test and take us to Roan Mountain in Tennessee. It’s located right on the NC/Tennessee border & the views are fantastic. The kids were actually great hikers & we had a fun time exploring nature! Andrew decided that maybe he doesn’t want to be a scuba diver after all, but instead wants to be a mountain climber. We had the best surprise at the top. A big patch of berries for the kids to pick and eat. Aiden may have been in a little “slice of heaven”. He ate and ate and ate and ate.
3. Hickory Science Center: This is a great place to visit on a rainy day! We headed south to Hickory to visit this awesome science center & the kids had a blast. There were not a lot of visitors, so we had lots of time to play & learn and it kept the kids busy for several hours. We visited several different exhibits, stopped for a show in the planetarium, & even got to see the museum guides feed the sharks. One of our favorite parts of the science center was the outdoor science center, which thankfully was our last stop since the kids were quite wet after playing here! Once we were done, we thought about taking a short trip to the Hickory Furniture Mart but with three worn out children, we decided it was time to head home!
4. Linville Falls: Another favorite place to visit in the area is the Linville Falls. This a pretty easy hike for the kids & ends at the waterfalls. So if you are in the area, try it (my husband was traveling at the time so I managed to do this one solo & we made it through so trust me, it’s not too tough!). You could pack lunch or snacks & enjoy when you get to the waterfalls.
5. Linville Caverns: Located near the Linville Falls, we headed here for the afternoon after hiking the falls. You get to go down into the caverns and see stalagmites & stalactites and learn about how the caves formed over the years. It is about an hour long tour, but even these three kids enjoyed the whole tour watching the fish swim in the water, standing over the “bottomless” pit, & walking around in the dark. Do dress them warm as it is chilly down in the cave & if you have a kid scared of the dark (or tight spaces), I would not recommend this expedition!
6. Bass Lake: This lake is located right near Blowing Rock & is a super easy hike/walk around Bass Lake. It’s super pretty & a fun morning out with the kids. You can even take a stroller if you have a little one who is getting tired of hiking (like we did!). The kids enjoy looking at the animals, finding walking sticks, & exploring nature!
7. Exploring around the Area: Honestly, you can just take a drive & see where the road takes you. My dad has a few favorite spots that aren’t even named, just random hiking trails and views that are right off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Spend a nice afternoon & head for a drive and explore.
8. Downtown Blowing Rock: Last, but not least, make sure to take a trip to downtown Blowing Rock. The park in the middle of town is phenomenal for kids to play. There are lots of fun shops & fun restaurants. Of course, my kids’ favorite place to eat is Mellow Mushroom with a trip to Kilwins’ for ice cream and homemade fudge!