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Posts Tagged ‘Hendersonville NC’

Trailside Brewing Co. Is Something Wonderful: Hendersonville, NC

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If you’re looking for a spacious brewery that’s as friendly, welcoming, and beautiful as its brews are delicious, you’ll want to check out Trailside Brewing Co. in Hendersonville, NC. Whether you’re popping in after a day of apple picking with the family, or planning a fun couples night out, we think you’ll enjoy this special brewery. This is one we found on a recent date night, and now we’re sharing everything we loved about Trailside Brewing.

Beer at Trailside Brewing Co with live music in the beer garden.

About Trailside Brewing Company

Located in an old factory space beside what was once the Transylvania Railroad Line and now the soon-to-be-completed, Ecusta Trail, Trailside offers a gorgeous outdoor beer garden space complete with beautiful dahlias and vining greenery, strands of overhead lights, and two fire pits.

The indoor tasting room space is equally as inviting with long tables, high ceilings, and great big doors that open to the outside.

The brewing company has a wide range of brews to choose from as well as wine and even a few non-alcoholic options. They’re both pet and family-friendly and have a great line-up of live music most weekends, plus awesome food trucks parked right up front.

You can find their lineup of food trucks, live music, and other events on the Trailside Brewing Co. Event page.

Trailside Brewery

To Bring the Kids or Not

Trailside Brewing Co. is the perfect place for a casual date night or a night out with friends, but it’s also family-friendly and pet-friendly. Bring a board game for a family game night, or bring the kids to enjoy some music and a fire.

Parents should note that while the space is fabulous and welcoming, there isn’t any playground-type equipment, so kids shouldn’t come expecting to run and climb.

When we visited for our date night there were also lots of families and pets, but it wasn’t chaotic, crowded, or in any way rambunctious at all. Everyone seemed to be having a great time enjoying Trailside. together.

Trailside Brewing Co beer garden

Food Trucks

We deviate slightly from this review of Trailside Brewing Co to tell you that on the night we visited Trailside, the Groovy Grease Wagon food truck was parked out front. If you are ever fortunate enough to come upon the Groovy Grease Wagon, jump up and down, do a little dance, and then order the fried chicken sandwich. It’s the best ever, hands down, crunchy and juicy, the perfect chicken sandwich.

It goes really well with the Oktoberfest beer.

Groovy Grease Wagon friend chicken sandwich

Beer at Trailside Brewing

Trailside’s beer is locally made and seasonal. They are made in-house or at one of Trailside’s sister breweries. We tried the Community Brew Stout, Oktoberfest, Front Porch Pilsner, and the Hammock Haven, which is a blonde ale. They were all fabulous.

After you’ve tried some and found a favorite, you can even purchase a growler can to bring some home. They fill it right there at the bar and seal it up. The beer stays fresh for about a week. We know this because my husband really enjoyed the Hammock Haven blonde ale so much so that he asked when we closed our tab about cans.

So, while they don’t sell pre-canned beer, they do have a neat can growlers you can purchase if you plan to drink your purchase within about a week.

Where is Trailside Brewing, Hendersonville?

Trailside Brewing is about a half mile from downtown Hendersonville, located in the Lennox Park Historic District. Trailside Brewing is the anchor of the renovated Lennox Station. Soon it will be accompanied by a market and cafe. And, as its’ name would imply, the multi-use Ecusta Trail is set to be opened soon. When complete it will link Hendersonville to Brevard, NC following along the old railroad line.

Open Monday through Friday 4 pm to 10 pm, Saturday 12 pm to 10 pm, and Sunday 12 pm to 8 pm

Trailside Brewing Co. Website
873 Lennox Park Drive, Hendersonville

Things to Do in Hendersonville, NC.

We love Hendersonville, NC!

Find out why.

Kidding Around’s Guide to Hendersonville, NC


Pick apples, explore a corn maze, and eat pumpkin donuts at Stepp’s Orchard in Hendersonville, NC

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Stepp’s Apple Orchard is a family-owned orchard in Hendersonville, NC. They have u-pick apples, lots of fun family activities on weekends, and pretty amazing cider and pumpkin donuts.

Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard is the very first u-pick apple orchard in Henderson County and has been in operation for more than 50 years. They know what they’re doing, and we had to go check it out for ourselves. Honestly, I went for the pumpkin donuts. I love apple cider donuts, but pumpkin? Yes, please!

One thing that stood out to me immediately was just how super nice and helpful everyone at the orchard was. They have u-pick apples, pre-picked apples, a big store that sells homemade soap, t-shirts, and honey, a bakery, corn maze, pumpkin patch, jumping pillow, apple canon, and wagon ride. Some of these activities are only available on weekends, which I’ll tell you about in this review.

Stepps Apple Orchard
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Fall Snow Tubing is a Real Thing at Black Bear Snow Tubing in Hendersonville, NC

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Did you know you can “snow” tube in the fall at Black Bear Snow Tubing? You can! No snow is required thanks to Black Bear’s super-fast tubing mat, the only one like it in the United States! We got to visit Black Bear and try this “snow” tubing and let us tell you, fall snow tubing is where it’s at. Move over pumpkins, there’s a new fall favorite in town. Here’s everything you need to know to plan your visit to Black Bear Snow Tubing this fall.

Thanks to Black Bear Snow Tubing for providing tickets so we could bring this review to our readers.

Fall snow tubing opens September 2, 2023, at Black Bear Tubing!

Tubing at Black Bear Snow Tubing in Hendersonville, NC

How can you snow tube without snow?

The special green and white mat in use at Black Bear comes all the way from Germany. Purchased for use at Black Bear because this mat outperforms all its competitors when it comes to speed. In the winter the mat is covered in snow, but in the fall, you can tube right on the mat.

This means even in warm winters with little snow, tubing is still an option for family fun. So, what we have learned is, snow is not required for super speedy “snow” tubing runs.

Black Bear Tubing Run

Fall is awesome at Black Bear Snow Tubing

No crowds, fewer lines, fun music, and a pretty view of changing leaves across the valley make fall an awesome time to visit Black Bear Snow Tubing. You’ll get more rides down the hill in your tubing time than in the winter. It’s not cold. It’s not wet.

You can even get yourself some apple cider donuts, coffee, or cocoa and enjoy them on the covered rocking chair back porch, overlooking the tubing hill. We tried it and we are convinced, fall is perfect for snow tubing!

Black Bear Tubing fun

Tickets for Black Bear Snow Tubing

Purchase Black Bear tickets for one hour or two hours of tubing online. Walk-ups are also available in the less busy fall season.

  • Summer tubing, without snow, runs weekends through October 29th, 2023.
  • Winter tubing, with snow, runs weekends beginning mid-December. (If the weather is too warm for snow, tubing will still be open using the mat.)
Black Bear Tubing Lodge

Visiting Black Bear

First off, we love nearby Hendersonville, NC, and the drive up from downtown to Black Bear Tubing through the changing leaves was gorgeous. When you arrive at Black Bear, just follow the signs to park and then head towards the fun!

Visit the video shed first where you’ll watch a very short safety video. It’s just a couple of minutes long and it plays on a loop. While you’re there, sign the waiver for yourself and the kids.

Bring your waiver across to the lodge where you’ll pay, get your stickers, and also where you can purchase treats and beverages like apple cider donuts, coffee drinks, cocoa, and more.

Video Shed Tubing Video Shed

When you’re ready to tube, you’ll head down the stairs, grab your tube and jump in the line for the tube tugging line that will bring you to the top of Black Bear’s 600-foot-long tubing run. Staff will hook you onto the line.

At the top, you’ll be unhooked from the line and then walk your tube to the run. Staff will help you get your tube into position and push you off down the 80ft vertical drop.

Black Bear Tubing at the top of the hill

Up to 4 people can go down the run at a time, and you can hang onto other tubes if you want to all go together. Want extra fun? Just ask the staff at the top to spin you going down.

Once you’re at the bottom, pull your tube back over to the tube tugging line and you’ll be off on another run before you know it.

At the bottom of the hill at Black Bear Snow Tubing

Clean portapotties are available beside the video shed, as well as an outdoor handwashing station.

Who can tube at Black Bear?

  • First, kids under 4, and under 35 lbs, cannot be on the slope. They can use the slope-side playground for some fun while bigger kids tube.
  • Second, kids ages 4 to 6 must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
  • Third, there is a maximum weight of 300 lbs.
Playground at Black Bear Tubing

My kids, ages 11 and 14, had a blast. Initially, my 14-year-old was a little not sure he wanted to come, thinking it was not going to be very exciting and that he was too old for such things. He was so glad he came. And, in fact, we saw lots of adults taking runs down the slope, too. I had planned to go down once or twice, just to be thorough in my review, and ended up going down a lot more because it was really fun!

It’s one of those life things that are just plain fun for anyone. Escape from whatever is bugging you to the fresh air and whip down that hill on a tube. Laugh with the kids. Enjoy them, even as teens and preteens, asking you to go down the run with them. There are not enough moments like that in the world, if you ask me.

Tube tugging line at Black Bear Snow Tubing

Our Review

We really loved the family atmosphere at Black Bear. They do not allow alcohol or any open profanity. All the staff were super friendly and helpful. When I wasn’t tubing myself, I could clearly see where my kids were at all times from the covered porch. It was really brilliantly arranged for a couple of hours of low-stress family fun.

Tubing on the mat was really fun. No heavy coats, no wet gloves. It was all the fun of snow tubing without the cold, with the added benefit of short lines and no crowds. We had a great time and think you’ll enjoy it, too!

Plan Your Trip to Black Bear Tubing

  • 1-hour tickets are $30 each, and 2-hour tickets are $40 each. (2023 prices)
  • Open until October 29th for summer tubing, and then opening mid-December for winter snow tubing.
  • Saturday: Open at 10 am, last ticket is for 7 pm. Sunday: Open at 12 pm, last ticket is for 5 pm.

Black Bear Snow Tubing
373 Kerr Road, Hendersonville, NC
Black Bear Snow Tubing Facebook


Things to Do in Hendersonville, NC.

Discover Hendersonville!

Check out all the things you don’t want to miss in our Hendersonville, NC Guide.

Pick Addictive Asian Pears at Pilot Mountain Pears: Hendersonville, NC

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Ever have an Asian Pear? They are incredibly delicious, juicy, and a must-try fruit. Pilot Mountain Pears has acres and acres of them available for u-pick this fall in Hendersonville, NC.

I have been obsessed with Asian pears for years and get ridiculously excited whenever I see them in grocery stores or farmers’ markets. They are generally light brown in color with the texture of an apple and a crunchy but juicy center- like the kind of juicy where you bite in and the juice runs down your arm – that kind of tastes like a cross between an apple and a pear. 

If you’re also a fan of Asian Pears, you might be wondering, “Is there any place with u-pick Asian Pears? Or any Asian Pear picking near me?”

Yep!

At Pilot Mountain Pears in Hendersonville, NC, and only an hour from Greenville, SC, not only can you buy these wonderful fruits but also pick them yourself. You’ll definitely want to add this orchard to your fall adventures!

About Pilot Mountain Pears

The orchard is owned and run by the Laughter (pronounced LAW-DER) family. I met Beth and her husband David and they showed me around the orchard, the little shop, and the packing barn. David really loves Asian pears and he planted about 1,000 of the trees more than a decade ago and just kept replacing the apple trees with Asian pear trees until that’s pretty much all they grow now. 

The couple are both locals and have been married for 27 years. They have two grown children who help out on the farm when they are home but mostly, it’s Beth and David who are the driving force behind the orchard. They’ve done a lot on the farm in terms of making a fun u-pick experience for guests since they first opened to the public three years ago and word has spread almost solely through word of mouth about how amazing their Asian pears are. 

Why Asian Pears Are So Amazing

I love apples just as much as the next person but Asian pears are on a whole other level.  The Asian pears come from a tree native to East Asia and were originally eaten by the rich, noble people of China. Around 1850, the exotic fruit was brought to America by Chinese laborers. There are hundreds of varieties and you may hear them called apple pears, sand pears, Japanese pears, or Korean pears. 

The pears aren’t like regular pears that are literally ripe for ten minutes and then turn to mush. Asian pears last a lot longer, especially if you refrigerate them. They are juicy and sweet and delicious and crunchy. They are usually ripe when they turn a little past light brown but can also be eaten when they have a green color to them or light brown. 

U-Pick at Pilot Mountain 

With 5,000 Asian pear trees at Pilot Mountain Pears, you’ll have plenty of fruit to choose from. The farm grows mostly Olympic Asian pears, which are huge.

When you arrive at the farm, you’ll see the orchard store. Park there and you can go get a wagon or bag and if you’re really brave, you can grab a pick stick (a very long stick with a metal cage at the top to pick the highest fruit on the trees – also known as long swords for kids). 

Asian pear picking at Pilot Mountain Pears
Asian pears ripen on the tree

You’ll be directed where to start your picking. Once you’re done, you go back to the store, where your amazing Asian pears will be weighed and you will pay for your goodies. 

They also sell fried apple pies like apple turnovers, apple slushies, and pear juice. I tried the Asian pear juice and whoa. Like, major whoa. This was the sweetest, but not too sweet, tangy, but not too tangy, most refreshing drink. You’ll want to drink it straight from the container. 

The store also has really cute tumblers, hats, pottery, shirts, and other fun stuff that you’ll probably want to take home to remember your awesome experience at Pilot Mountain Pears. 

Visiting Pilot Mountain Pears

The orchard opens to the public Friday, August 25th and will be open likely through the beginning of October. Hours are Fridays-Sundays from 10 am – 5 pm. Follow Pilot Mountain Pears on Facebook and check before you go to make sure they are sticking to their regular hours.

Prices for u-pick Asian pears are $1/pound. You can also purchase pre-picked pears.

Farm store at Pilot Mountain Pears, Asian pears
Farm store

No pets are allowed in the orchard. There are porta-potties on the property. 

And if you want to hang out and eat all your Asian pears, fried apple pies, or drink your slushies, there are picnic tables behind the farm store that overlook the orchard with mountains on the horizon. It’s gorgeous. 

Nearby Things to Do 

Making a day trip to Hendersonville is one of our most favorite activities, so we have plenty of options for a fun day trip there: 

Black Bear Fall Tubing 

Go tubing down a giant hill at Black Bear Snow Tubing – but without the snow (that’ll come in the winter). The tubing place is open starting September 2, 2023. Read our full review for all the details. 

Hike Bearwallow Mountain 

Bearwallow Mountain is easily one of our favorite family hikes because it’s not that hard and the views are unbeatable. It’s a 2-mile roundtrip hike and you get 360-degree views of the mountains. Bring up some Asian pears for a snack. 

Bearwallow Mountain in Hendersonville, NC
Bearwallow Mountain Summit

Play with Llamas

Ellaberry Llama Farm is super close to Pilot Mountain Pears and you can take a llama through an obstacle course or go on a hike with them. We love this farm!

Try a Free Activity

We have a whole story on free things to do in Hendersonville like the Air Museum, Mineral Museum, and Train Museum. 

Play with Some Goats

No story on Hendersonville is complete without me telling you that you can play with the goats at the Carl Sandburg Home for free. It’s a beautiful place for a hike as well. 

Eat at the Village Bakery

This small eatery in nearby Flat Rock has some pretty fantastic brick oven pizza and salads. They close at 5 pm so be sure to get there before closing. If they have any bread left over on their Day Old Bread shelf, grab it because it’s 50% off. 

Things to Do in Hendersonville, NC.

More ideas for things to do in Hendersonville are available at our Guide to Hendersonville, NC.

If you’re looking for more Asian pear orchards, there aren’t any! But if you’re looking for apple orchards in the area, see our big Guide to Apple Orchards in and near the Upstate.

Pilot Mountain Pears
Circle L Farm Dr, Hendersonville, North Carolina 28792
Pilot Mountain Facebook

Have you ever gone to an orchard for U-pick Asian Pears?

Jeter Mountain Farm: U-Pick Fruit & Flowers, Wagon Rides, and a Huge Indoor Play Area

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Planning a trip for apple picking at Jeter Mountain Farm? This gorgeous farm hosts weddings, has seasonal u-pick flowers, fruits, and more plus an enormous indoor play area.

The views from the parking lot of Jeter Mountain Farm are sweeping shots of the nearby mountains, open space, and a beautiful building that seems to fit right into the landscape with its earthy hues of brown and green. The farm is a welcoming spot for families that has nearly two dozen varieties of apples, cider, live music, a wagon ride, and lots of other activities to enjoy.

This article includes:
About Jeter Mountain Farm
Market, Cider Donuts, and Hard Cider Flights
Tractor Wagon Rides and U-Pick Fruit and Flowers
Amazing Indoor Kids Play Area at Jeter Mountain Farm

U-Pick at Jeter Mountain
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Find Fairies in This Fairy Garden Trail FREE in Hendersonville, NC

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Have you found the fairies in Hendersonville, NC? Bullington Gardens in Hendersonville, NC, just a little over an hour north of Greenville, SC has an adorable fairy garden over the summer. And it’s free. 

What could be cuter than finding fairies in the woods? Finding them in a beautiful and fun trail at Bullington Gardens in Hendersonville, NC, of course. 

C.S. Lewis, a prolific and famous author of the Narnia chronicles, wrote this to his goddaughter, Lucy, in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe:

My Dear Lucy, I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand, a word you say, but I shall still be your affectionate Godfather, C.S. Lewis

As a grown-up, are you ready to be old enough to read – or see – fairy tales again? If so, step into the Bullington Gardens Fairy Trail.

Fairy Trail at Bullington Gardens

The Gardens

Bullington Gardens is only a little over an hour north of Greenville and is a beautiful spot to stop and literally smell the roses. The gardens are public and encompass 12 acres right in the middle of the apple orchards in that part of Western North Carolina. 

They also do several events and programs aimed at education and carry on the legacy and vision of Bob Bullington, who collected many unusual trees and plants. They often have school groups come out and learn about horticultural science. 

I found the gardens to be just beautiful and so peaceful. The volunteers I interacted with were all so kind and helpful. It’s really a great place to visit for any occasion. 

The Gardens received a grant for new restroom facilities, where were scheduled to be completed by April 2023. We have not been able to confirm if this has happened yet.

The Fairy Trail 

The fairy trail is exactly as it sounds except cooler. The trail winds through shaded woods and guests are encouraged to find all the little fairy houses and trolls and llamas and bridges. It is really fun and entertaining! 

The little worlds that the fairies inhabit are all unique and my kids and I just loved trying to find them all and figure out what was happening in each scene. The exhibits change every year (photos are from the summer of 2022) but the creativity and genius stay the same. 

The trail isn’t long, maybe a quarter-mile on natural, unpaved ground, but there are plenty of fairies and gnomes to find. Be sure to stop at the side trail before you get to the very end where there are lots of fairies and trolls and toadstools and gnomes doing yoga amongst the trees. 

Bullington Gardens asks that guests be respectful of the fairies, only touch gently, and to stay on the trails. The trail is one way only so if you want to take your time, go for it but make room for others to pass. And please follow the rules of Leave No Trace, don’t litter, and don’t move the fairies from their little houses.

The Fairy Trail is open Mondays – Saturdays from June 1 – August 31, 2023 from 9 am – 4 pm. 

Fairy Market

During the summer of 2023, the Fairy Market will be set up at Bullington Gardens on June 24, 2023 from 9 am – 3 pm. This event will include face painting, arts and crafts, a photo booth, Dulcimer lessons, and storytimes for kids. You can also buy adorable fairy accessories like wings and crowns or purchase your own fairies for a garden at home. Definitely a not-miss summer event.

This year there will not be timed entry so it’s first come, first serve. Per the gardens, parking is limited and please do not park on Zeb Corn Road.

Tips on Visiting the Fairy Trail and Bullington Gardens 

The gardens are open year-round but the Fairy Trail is only open June 1 – August 30, 2023, Mondays – Saturdays from 9 am – 4 pm. 

There is no charge to visit the fairies or Bullington Gardens but as a nonprofit, they gladly accept donations.

I saw some people with strollers but I’d say that unless you have an all-terrain stroller, it’s best to carry your littles or baby wear. The trail is natural, so not paved, which makes it hard to roll wheels on.

Please keep your children and dogs on the trail and don’t litter. The trail is one-way only.

Bullington Gardens recieved a grant for new restrooms that were supposed to be ready by April 2023 but we have not been to the Gardens since then and have not been able to confirm this information yet.

Nearby Things to Do in Hendersonville

There are plenty of cool things to do in Hendersonville to make your trip up to the see the fairies a day trip.

You can visit the goats at the Carl Sandburg Home (be sure to get pizza at the nearby Village Bakery), let the kids play on the awesome playground at The Park at Flat Rock, check out the free train museum, or visit the aquarium in downtown Hendersonville. Apple orchards open up in July usually so you can add those to your day trip as well.

Bullington Gardens
95 Upper Red Oak Trail, Hendersonville, NC 
828.698.6104

Hendersonville, NC

Check out our full guide to Hendersonville, NC and don’t miss out on any of the fun!

New Inclusive Playground in Hendersonville, NC at Jackson Park

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Have you visited Jackson Park in Hendersonville, NC? It’s the largest municipally owned park in Western North Carolina and it has so much to offer anyone looking to spend time outdoors, including tennis courts, disc golf, lit basketball courts, a nature trail for walking or running and so much more! But, today we’re talking about the brand-new inclusive playground at Jackson Park.

We checked it out on opening day and it is so cool, with so much equipment allowing all kids to play together from supportive swings, to wheelchair-accessible equipment, to a full rubber ground cover, they have it all.

Jackson Park inclusive playground

Jackson Park’s Inclusive Playground Opens May 13, 2023

The kid community in Hendersonville came out strong for the opening of Henderson County’s Donnie Jones All-Inclusive Playground at Jackson Park. We loved seeing so many kids having so much fun all together.

Note: Our pictures are from opening day, so, if crowds aren’t your thing, don’t be scared off by these photos. We’re sure this will be a popular playground, but probably not quite as popular as it was on its very first morning open!

Opening day after the ribbon cutting at the All Inclusive Playground at Jackson Park in Hendersonville, NC

Space for All to Play Together

As its name implies, the new inclusive playground at Jackson Park is designed specifically to facilitate play between all kids by making playground space and equipment accessible to everyone.

Smooth, even, rubber ground covers the playground space, ramps grace playground equipment, music equipment sits at a variety of heights, and swings come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. There are spaces to climb, spin, roll, run, and explore.

Playground Layout

This playground includes a smaller climber lower to the ground with ramp access, a larger climber with tall slides as well as ground-level equipment, and a beautiful covered space in the middle with seating, and interactive panels.

This middle section also contains a large array of musical instrument stations and a ground-level merry-go-round.

Music station at the inclusive playground at Jackson Park

To the side of the space is a hill with two fun hill-side slides. Kids (and parents) have the choice to walk up the smooth hill, take the stairs, or use the ramp on the sidewalk to get to the top of these slides.

Jackson Park playground hillside slides

Things to Know: Playground at Jackson Park

  • The restrooms are beside the playground at the covered shelter.
  • Even with the covering over much of the playground equipment, it was hot and there was lots of sun when we visited. Sun protection is a must at this park.
  • Picnic space is available at the covered shelter when it isn’t reserved and there are lots of shade trees and benches in the immediate area for a lunch or snack break.
  • Parking is free, but depending on events at this large park, like seasonal youth soccer games, you may have to walk a little bit to get to the playground.

Jackson Park
801 4th Avenue East
Hendersonville, NC 28792

Open 7:30 am to 11 pm daily
Parking is free.

The Park at Flat Rock: Amazing Obstacle Course Playground in Flat Rock, NC

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Have you visited the Park at Flat Rock in Flat Rock, NC? We are always looking for fun and entertaining playgrounds for our kids and we hit the jackpot with The Park at Flat Rock.

The Park at Flat Rock is just an hour from Greenville, SC, and in our experience, it’s totally a worthy day trip spot near Hendersonville, NC.

I visit Flat Rock, NC often because my family loves to go to the Carl Sandburg Home for hiking and the opportunity to play with goats. It was on one of these adventures that we came across probably one of the coolest playgrounds I had been to with my kids at The Park at Flat Rock. 

This article includes:
About the Park at Flat Rock
What is that super cool playground in Flat Rock, NC?
Things to near The Park at Flat Rock
Quick Review

Playground equipment at the Park at Flat Rock
(more…)

Holmes Educational State Forest: This Living Outdoor Classroom in NC is Perfect for Exploring

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Have you visited Holmes Education State Forest near Hendersonville, NC? KAG’s Elizabeth Lambert visited the park with her family and has all the information about the trails to hike, and things to do and see at Holmes Educational State Forest.

holmes educational state forest

Are you looking for a crowds-free place to take your family on a sunny spring day? I was able to spend a beautiful day at this forest near Hendersonville, NC with my kids, picnicking, hiking, and exploring. What we saw, we loved. From an out-of-commission NC Forest Service helicopter and a Labyrinth to gorgeous views and exciting wildlife, there truly is something for everyone at Holmes Educational State Forest.

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Ellaberry Llama Farm: Make Your Llama Dreams Come True in Hendersonville, NC

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Ellaberry Llama Farm is a completely unique farm in Hendersonville, NC, about an hour north of Greenville, SC, that lets guests interact in ways they likely haven’t experienced with a llama before!

 Media tickets were given for this experience.

I love llamas and alpacas and big, fluffy animals. I am also an avid hiker. So when I heard of a farm in Hendersonville that lets you hike with a llama and actually play with them and get up close, I was practically in my car driving up there already. 

Ellaberry Llama Farm is so much more than a farm though. This place not only has a very unique history but the family who owns the farms and its llamas are amazing. Plus, what they let guests do at the farm when it comes to interacting with their llamas is the stuff dreams are made of. 

About Ellaberry Llama Farm

The farm sits on more than 100 acres of farmland and is actually a sixth generation apple farm. They aren’t a u-pick apple orchard though. Their apples are for processing, which means they get made into applesauce and baby food that you’ll likely see in a grocery store. 

The farm is surrounded by gentle hills and sits at the foot of Bearwallow Mountain. While we went during the winter time and the apple trees were bare, they are full of blooms in the spring and only add to the beauty of the farm. 

The agritourism llama venture started out of creative necessity. When Hendersonville got hit with a late frost last year, the apple orchards in the area lost most of their crops. Ellaberry Farm was no different. But they did have llamas and these llamas were trained with human interaction – which I’ll get to in a minute – so the idea was thrown out there to open the farm for tours. Guests would get to interact with the llamas on the farm tour and if they wanted to hike, that would also be an option. Well, the idea thankfully caught on and here I am writing about these fluffy and loveable creatures. 

The farm currently has 26 llamas, including an adorable fluffy baby llama.

How Llamas Got on the Farm 

The Justice family (not to be confused with the other Justus family with the awesome weatherman and apple orchard) has four kids who are all homeschooled. The oldest, Allie, fell in love with llamas when she was 10 years old and the neighbors had llamas. Her sister also adored llamas and their dad, being the great father he is, decided to get a couple llamas. They had the farm and the space and barn so it worked out. 

But that wasn’t enough for Allie, now 17 years old. She learned how to care for llamas through the instruction of her llama-loving neighbors and became quite the expert. She worked with her local 4H group on caring for them and then started showing them at llama contests around the country. They probably aren’t called llama contests but these are basically to show how awesome your llama is and they can win prizes for the best llama. Allie’s llamas were champs and she came home with lots of ribbons. To train the llamas to do this well, Allie has to work with them constantly, like twice a day on doing all the cool llama things they need to do to get first prize. 

This kind of constant interaction lends itself to some very attentive llamas who interact well with humans. They are gentle and full of personality and oh-so-cute and fluffy. Allie also knows a lot about llamas, way more than my mind could possibly remember at once. I remember that they have three stomachs, that she taught them not to spit at people, that females are pregnant for a year, and that they have soft padding on their feet, which look like sheep feet. I promise you’ll learn a lot of interesting llama facts when you go to the farm. 

Interacting with the Llamas

We did the farm tour llama experience and got to do a short jaunt in the woods with the llamas to see how that part of the trek works. But the majority of our experience was the farm tour, which was amazing. Calling it a tour is not the right word. This was more of an unforgettable experience than anything. Honestly, when can you run with a llama through an obstacle course together? That’s more than a tour. 

You’ll learn a lot on the llama tour as the Justice family takes you either on a school bus or a tractor ride over the barn to meet the llamas. You’ll learn about the history of the farm and about llamas themselves and how to interact with them. 

Once you get to the barn, you are free to pet the llamas, take photos, and just enjoy their fluffiness. You can hug them and talk to them and ask questions of the tour guides, Donna and her husband, Jason, and of course, Allie. We got to give the llamas little treats also and some of them gave us llama kisses. No llama drama here. 

Allie and her family have trained the llamas not to spit at humans so you don’t have to worry about that.

Playing on the Obstacle Course

After you get to know the llamas a bit, you’ll lead them on their leash over to the obstacle course ring. This is a big sandy, enclosed ring that has fun obstacles like a pool noodle slide through thing, a balance beam, crates to step over and through, a tunnel, and things to jump over with your llama. 

The llama follows your lead here so you have to do all the obstacles with your llama. This was beyond fun. It was like being a kid again except better because you had a llama with you!

You can trade your llama for another llama and do the course again. You can even try some jumping obstacles with your llama, which is harder than it looks because you have to jump while trying to get your llama to come with you and jump themselves. They all have very different personalities and some llamas are all like, “nah, I want to watch you jump and I’ll walk calmly around the obstacle”. Others are all into it and will jump along with you. This was so fun and myself and my kids really had a blast playing with our llamas. 

Llama Therapy 

All this llama cuddling and playing got me wondering if llama therapy is a thing and sure enough, it is, although not very widespread or studied yet. Llamas are charismatic megafauna, a term biologists use for bigger animals like tigers, pandas, orcas, or polar bears that have a wide appeal to humans. Llamas are technically in that category but even cooler because humans can safely cuddle and play with them and they can be incorporated into therapeutic uses. 

Ellaberry Llama Farm doesn’t have an official llama therapy program but they do host groups that have suffered trauma in the past or have disabilities and welcome them to do all the things with the llamas that they are comfortable with. Ellaberry also takes llamas to local nursing homes so residents can interact with the llamas and as you can probably guess, the residents love it. 

From my own personal experience with these llamas, I can tell you I left the farm feeling more relaxed and carefree than I had been when I first got there. These llamas made me ridiculously happy, almost as happy as baby goats do – readers know that is a high bar to reach since I just love baby goats so, so much.

Hiking with Llamas

Since Ellaberry Llama Farm is situated on more than 100 acres, they have miles of trails they use for their llama hikes. We hiked a bit of one of the trails just to see what it was like and really, if you love hiking and llamas, this tour needs to go on your bucket list. 

The farm offers two trail options: a one to one and a half hour trek and a longer two hour moderate hike. Each hiker gets their own llama partner and the llama can carry a small pack with water and snacks if needed. 

Llamas are excellent hikers with sure footing. If you’ve ever hiked one of the trails to Mt. LeConte in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you may have seen the llamas carrying supplies up and down the trails to the lodge. My kids and I got to see the llamas once when we were out there and it was so cool.  They are very strong and can carry up to 20 percent of their body weight. But humans can’t ride on them so don’t try that.

The llamas are very well-trained and my kids had no issues walking with them even though the llamas are way taller and bigger. The animals are just so sweet and fun. I got such joy seeing the faces of my kids as they cuddled with their llamas and played with them. 

Special Events with Llamas

Ellaberry Llama Farm offers birthday parties and other special events right on their farm. The birthday party option is 1.5 hours and includes 15 kids plus the birthday child. They have picnic tables for parents to bring a birthday cake or cupcakes. Kids will get to run through the obstacle course with their llama and have the option to take lots of photos at photo booths at the farm. 

The farm can also bring llamas to you! They will take llamas to daycares, schools, birthday parties off site, weddings, nursing homes – you name it. Contact the farm directly for more info. 

Booking Your Llama Experience 

Ready to go have fun with llamas at Ellaberry? To book your own llama experience, contact Donna Justice directly at ellaberryllamafarm@gmail.com or 828.606.3577.

You can also follow Ellaberry Llama Farm on Facebook as they will post when they have slots open for tours and hikes. 

Tickets for the farm tour are $20/person. Farm tours are about 90 minutes long. For the llama hikes, a minimum of four hikers are required for each hike and the shorter hike costs $50/person while the longer one is $75/person.

The farm is open all year round. Be sure to dress for the weather in whatever season you go and bring sunscreen in the summer. 

Things to do Nearby

While you can’t take the llamas up to Bearwallow Mountain, you can definitely fit in a hike there while you’re visiting Ellaberry Llama Farm. The hike is a moderate two-mile trek with sweeping 360 degree views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s stunning. 

Chimney Rock and Lake Lure are only 20 minutes away from Ellaberry as well, where you can visit the free Flowering Bridge, stroll through the Chimney Rock Village, or take a hike at Chimney Rock State Park

During apple picking season, you will have no problems finding an apple orchard nearby to pick your own apples. The farm is very close to several big apple orchards. 

And if you visit during the wintertime and want to add on a few hours of snow tubing, Black Bear Snow Tubing is less than 15 minutes away. 

If you’re looking for more fun in Hendersonville, including lots of free/cheap activities, check out our Hendersonville Guide

Ellaberry Llama Farm 
4178 Old Clear Creek Road, Hendersonville, NC
828.606.3577