Only an hour from Greenville, SC is a true labor of love and beauty at the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge (where “Dirty Dancing” was filmed). We tell you all about it, including the beautiful Rainbow Bridge in NC dedicated to pets who have passed on, and other things to do in this area of the North Carolina mountains.
Hearing about how amazing something is and going to see it are two different things. I had no idea how incredible the Flowering Bridge really was until I saw this enchanted mountain wonderland for myself. A stop makes for an awesome Blue Ridge Mountains day trip – don’t worry, I will give you lots of ideas on what to do there.
The Lake Lure Flowering Bridge
“How beautiful can flowers on a bridge really be?” I asked myself before going. Way better than my imagination could have guessed! I love flowers and am a huge fan of gardens and wildflower hikes and the gardens at the Biltmore but this bridge is a whole other experience: it’s really like walking through a little world out of a fairy tale.
The bridge was built in 1925 and carried vehicles over the Rocky Broad River until 2011 when a new bridge was built. The old bridge was given to the Town of Lake Lure and turned into a community garden. It is run by the Friends of Lake Lure Flowering Bridge, a nonprofit organization that maintains its beauty. It was dedicated only in 2013 and includes not only the beautiful bridge but also a small bit of land on either side of the bridge that is part of the gardens.
Flowers and Fairy Tales
Throughout the gardens, you’ll find rocks painted like books, everything from Peter Rabbit to Dr. Seuss classics to fairy tales and books you may have read during school like The Secret Garden. I thought it was quite clever and fun to look for them throughout the bridge gardens.
There are two huge arches on one entrance of the bridge with fountains and benches. Another area – my favorite – was designed to look like the garden from Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit. It even had a little rabbit suit and shoes from the book and a seating area to play Tic Tac Toe with rocks. So adorable.
There are little paths that you can find to a butterfly mural or a little troll hidden amongst the roses. I went in the spring so everything was in full bloom and just stunning. It was hard to concentrate on any one flower because there were just so many!
Rainbow Bridge, NC
If you start at the parking area closest to Chimney Rock and go down the path to the right, you’ll come to the small real-life Rainbow Bridge and an area dedicated to four-legged friends. The Rainbow Bridge in NC is a place where family members can remember their beloved furry friends. It serves as a memorial to pets who have passed away and you can put their collars on the bridge. We saw one woman do this and it was just really touching.
A little further down to the river is this hidden garden with dog prints as stones, a fire hydrant, small red benches, and a Doggie Stick Library. The doggie stick library is like a free little library for humans except with sticks to throw to dogs. It’s really cute.
Day Trip: Other Things to Do at Lake Lure
Lake Lure Beach
During the summer, you can easily see the bridge and spend a day at the beach at Lake Lure. They are within minutes of each other. The beach is beautiful as it juts out into the lake, which is surrounded by towering mountains. There’s a little water park at the beach as well, which is included in your admission to Lake Lure Beach.
Chimney Rock Park
If you love hiking, don’t miss the beautiful hike up to Chimney Rock and over to Hickory Nut Gap Falls. The view is breathtaking. You’ll have to pay an entrance fee so add to that your budget planning if you’d like to go here.
Chimney Rock Gem Mining
Gem mining can be really fun and I like this place in particular because it is totally shaded and right next to the river that runs through Chimney Rock. The least inexpensive bucket is $9. I did two of those with my kids and their grandmother and we had a blast. The coffee shop next door also has delicious hot chocolate and coffee, as well as a studio to do those old-time photos.
Get Ice Cream
Next door to the gem mining place is Village Scoop, which has more than 60 flavors of Hershey’s ice cream. Sit outside on the patio, in the pretty yellow chairs out front, or on the shaded benches.
Stroll Around Chimney Rock Village
This is really one of my kids and my favorite things to do. The shops have all kinds of fun things to explore like expertly crafted birdhouses, a fantastic general store, homemade fudge, candles, camping and hiking gear, and just neat things to check out.
Besides Chimney Rock, the area is home to some truly beautiful trails like Bearwallow Mountain and the hard-but-worth-the-climb Young’s Mountain (you need to make a reservation to hike here). AllTrails and Conserving Carolina are great options for finding nearby hikes.
Visiting the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge
There is no cost to visit the Flowering Bridge. It is located right between Lake Lure Beach and the village of Chimney Rock. There is parking on both sides of the bridge in a gravel lot and a port-o-potty for a restroom. The bridge is handicap accessible and most of the paths are paved.
It is open year-round but of course, the flowers in bloom will depend upon the season.
Lake Lure Flowering Bridge
3070 Memorial Hwy, Lake Lure, NC
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