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Posts Tagged ‘North Carolina’

Mom Review: Camping at Mount Pisgah

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One of my favorite places to celebrate the outdoors with my kiddos is high atop the Blue Ridge Mountains at Mt Pisgah Campground. The campground is right off the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway (near Canton, NC), and while individual sites are mostly wooded and tucked away, the entire area boasts breathtaking panoramic views of rolling green-blue mountains from horizon to horizon. Picturesque sunrises, sunsets, hikes, picnics, drives, you name it, it all comes with an incredible view.

Mt. Pisgah Campground

What to Expect at the Mt. Pisgah Campground

As it sits at an elevation of nearly 5,000ft, the entire area boasts much cooler temperatures than here in Greenville. Even in the middle of summer, don’t forget a light jacket. If you’re camping in the fall, enduring the chilly air will bring the payoff of a vibrant colorscape you won’t soon forget. The campground accommodates both tents and RVs with a total of 124 sites, as well as offering drinking water, fire rings, picnic tables, and full service bathrooms.

Reserving a Campsite

Some sites can be reserved online and some are first-come first-serve. Campsites are just $20/night. There are no power hook-ups – so plan accordingly. And don’t forget to head down to the campfire circle for fun programs and marshmallow roasting. Ranger-led programs are offered most Saturday evenings at 7:30 pm in the amphitheater at the top of B loop.

The Camp Store

Directly across the street, through trails behind the campsites, is a quaint camp store that is always fun to visit, plus it’s got you covered when you think of what you forgot, like lighter fluid, matches, and even coffee if you can’t get that fire going in the morning. The store is open daily from 8 am – 8 pm.

Things to do around the Mt. Pisgah Campground

What else can you do? The campground offers hiking straight from the sites. If you’re feeling ambitious (and your kids are too) you can trek about two miles up the summit of Mt. Pisgah to a viewing platform that’s truly worth the effort. Our kiddos have done this many times over the years and have always enjoyed the hike.

Or drive about a mile to the trailhead of Frying Pan Tower trail, an uphill climb to an old fire watch tower with 360 degree views of the mountains.

Mt. Pisgah Campground view

If you want to take a dip or explore some more just head down the mountain along 276 toward home and you can enjoy Looking Glass Falls, Sliding Rock, the trout hatchery, Cradle of Forestry, and the Davidson River among many, many others. Head further along the Blue Ridge Parkway and find yourself in Asheville for the afternoon.

One of my kids’ favorite pastimes about this camp spot is simply driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway with the windows down, and screaming their heads off in every tunnel we encounter. A warning dear friends: there are many tunnels on the BRP. Share this tradition if you dare!

Plan your own trip to Mount Pisgah

Mt. Pisgah Campground
408 Blue Ridge Pkwy, Canton, NC 28716
828.648.2644

Have you taken your kids camping lately?

This article was originally written by Elizabeth Faulkner and has been updated by the Kidding Around Team.

SUMMER FUN: Kids Ride Free on this Scenic Bryson City Train Ride in the Great Smoky Mountains

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The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad has an excellent summertime deal for taking a scenic train ride out of the historic depot in North Carolina’s Bryson City. Train lovers, this is your chance to take the little ones in your family on an adventure, for much cheaper. Kids ride free on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad out of downtown Bryson City, NC this summer! The depot is only about two hours from Greenville, SC and you can stay overnight in the North Carolina mountains or do a day trip.

Great Smoky Mountain Trail: Summer Kids Ride Free

I always thought there was something oh-so-romantic about riding an old steam locomotive train. Maybe it’s just because it’s not something we do often in today’s modern world or that the old photos of these trains often had women with beautiful, full dresses and lace umbrellas and boots – something I always thought was pretty cool.

While I don’t have a hoop skirt – and won’t anytime soon – luckily you don’t need one to ride the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. This is the same Bryson City train that does the Polar Express during the Christmas season. We’ve got all the details on a pretty awesome deal they have for families over the summer though!

Kids Ride Free on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

During the summertime, they are offering a pretty amazing deal: they are offering a free child’s ticket (ages 2-12) with every Adult ticket purchased all summer on trains that run Monday – Friday. Coach tickets are only available for this promotion, so first-class cars will not be available for this deal. Tickets can be purchased by phone only.

Tickets are valid on one of the two scenic general excursions in Standard Coach – either the Diesel locomotive power on Tuckasegee River or Nantahala Gorge. The trains leave out of the depot in downtown Bryson City. Ticket purchases can be made to ride May 1, 2024- August 31, 2024. Tickets for Kids Ride Free can’t be combined with other discounts, are subject to blackout dates, and aren’t available for special event trains. However, you will be able to access the train museum with your ticket, which kids love! Also, ask about their boxed lunches deals as well when you call to book!

All discounts are only available by phone. Contact 800-872-4681 to complete your Kids Ride Free purchase.

The Bryson City Train Ride Through the Smokies

The Great Smoky Mountains rail has 53 miles of railroad to traverse, but not every excursion uses all of those miles. There are also two tunnels and 25 bridges. Train rides roll through the majestic mountains and river gorges in an unforgettable trip. Some of the more affordable tickets even have an open-air car for the scenic train ride, with options to upgrade to coach and first class available. These Bryson City train rides are certain to make lots of memories.

The Nantahala Gorge Excursion takes guests over 44 miles to the Nantahala Gorge and back. Scenic views are plenty on this trip. You’ll see the Little Tennessee and Nantahala Rivers and travel across Fontana Lake surrounded by the mountains. This trip is 4.5 hours long and a Standard Coach Adult ticket starts at $58.

The Tuckasegee River Excursion is a little shorter at 32 miles round trip and four hours total. Guests will see vast meadows and old railroad towns as they travel along the Tuckasegee River. Plus, you’ll pass by the set of The Fugitive starring Harrison Ford during this train ride. A Standard Coach Adult ticket starts at $58.

To purchase your tickets, call 800.872.4681 to utilize the Kids Ride Free deal.

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad
45 Mitchell Street, Bryson City, NC 28713

Where to Stay Near the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad

Use the map below to find the perfect place to stay near the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad

Through an affiliate relationship with Stay22, Kidding Around earns when you book through this map.

More places to stay

There are plenty of cool places to stay in the area but we recommend Sky Ridge Yurts, a beautiful little village of comfortable and spacious yurts about 20 minutes from the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad and on the edge of the Nantahala forest.

Sky Ridge Yurt interior pictures
Interior of Yurt at Sky Ridge Yurts

Or if you really want a memorable experience, stay in a renovated 1960s caboose at Buffalo Creek Vacations– on a bison farm! It sleeps five people and has a full bathroom, kitchen, and living area. Plus, it has bison that freely roam the property.

Caboose rentals in North Carolina
Caboose rentals at Buffalo Creek Vacations

Other Things to Do in Bryson City

In Bryson City, train culture is huge. But so is the great outdoors! Bryson City, NC is a beautiful spot with lots to do but during the summer, there is almost an endless number of things to do with your family.

The Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) is fantastic for families. You can go whitewater rafting down the Nantahala River there (kids need to be at least 7 years old and 60 pounds), which is quite the adventure and something the Nantahala Outdoor Center is known for. But if you have smaller kids, you can also go tubing and enjoy the area. Next to the restaurant is a shallow area of the river perfect for wading as well. You can also pick up part of the Appalachian Trail there if you want to try it out.

Learn More in our KA Review of the
Nantahala Outdoor Center

Nantahalla outdoor center water fun

You can also go tubing at Deep Creek which is at the entrance on the North Carolina side of the Smoky Mountains. There are several outfitters that offer cheap options for tubing. Or you could bring your own tubes, drive into the park, and follow the crowd to where most people put their tubes. There aren’t really any rapids so it’s great for smaller kids but it’s really cold!

Tubing at Deep Creek

Tubing Down Deep Creek, NC
Everything You Need to Know!

Another great tubing spot is in nearby Cherokee, NC at Smoky Mountain Tube & Raft. Ages 5 and up are able to tube.

You can also hike the Deep Creek Loop at the same entrance to the park, a trail that has three waterfalls. It’s an easy hike about two miles long.

If you love animals, history, and natural beauty, you may get a glimpse of the elk at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, about a 30-minute drive from Bryson City. There is an interesting homestead you can tour there and be sure to do the Junior Ranger Program at the visitor’s center. Elk are there usually in the mornings and late afternoon.

Also in nearby Cherokee, NC, Mingo Falls is a beautiful waterfall to see. It’s a really short hike, just a third of a mile, but it does have a lot of steps. The falls are worth it!


Are you ready for your Bryson City train ride adventure?

Tryon International Equestrian Center Saturday Night Lights: The Cheap Event You Should Not Miss

Up for a cheap new adventure only a short drive from Greenville, SC that the whole family will love? Tryon International Equestrian Center is only an hour or so from Greenville and a unique experience you will look forward to visiting again and again! We’ll fill you in on where this hidden secret is, what they offer and why you should visit!

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Ultimate Guide to Visiting the Biltmore in Asheville, NC with Kids

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If the idea of touring the Biltmore Estate in Asheville with your kids sounds daunting, have no fear. We lay out all kinds of things you can do at the estate – most of them don’t even involve visiting the house itself. I’ve been several times and had so many questions initially, but every time I’ve gone, I learn more and explore more of the 8,000+ acres – and fall in love with the Biltmore just a bit more.

Front of Biltmore castle

Biltmore: It’s a real-life castle

Have you ever daydreamed of visiting a real-life castle? Touring the halls and stately rooms, being transported to a different time and place, experiencing the luxurious life? How about touring the castle vineyard, visiting the stables, exploring the renowned gardens? Well, you don’t have to hop on a plane for Europe to set your eyes upon gargoyles and ball gowns, just head to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, a picturesque castle with over 8,000 acres, 250 rooms, and a hundred years of history.

Regardless of whether you are a pass holder or visiting for the day, if you want to tour the house, you need to reserve a time online. Be sure to print out your confirmation email, since you’ll need to show the staff before they let you in. And get there at least 45 minutes before your scheduled tour time to allow for parking and either taking a shuttle to the house or walking over via the trails.

Biltmore Mountain view

Is Biltmore Worth It?

Many parents ask if taking the kids through the house is worth it, which is a valid question. If you don’t reserve a guided tour (an extra cost), you’ll automatically be doing the self-guided tour, which you can go at your own pace but will be following a crowd. Even though the house is just stunning and seeing the grandeur of the rooms is amazing, some kids will be bored. And if you have little kids, you need to keep them with you and not let them run behind the roped-off sections.

I first took my kids to the house when they were 7 and 3 and we didn’t make it through the whole tour because one of them needed to use the restroom – which you must do before you enter the house as there are no bathrooms inside for guests. Bathrooms are located near the Stable Cafe to the right of the house outdoors.

The second time we went was a couple of years later and we got through most of the house, maybe because it was Christmastime and the decorations were mesmerizing. Now, my kids are 9 and 13 and we go every Christmas and they truly enjoy it.

The Biltmore offers an audio tour ($15) for kids, narrated by the Vanderbilt’s dog, Cedric, which they may find entertaining.

Either way, be prepared to bail if you need to. There’s a lot to do on the estate besides the house, no matter how gorgeous it is. The Biltmore ticket system requires you to choose a House ticket or a Grounds & Gardens ticket. The House ticket includes the Grounds but a Grounds & Gardens ticket does not include the House tour.

Biltmore Gardens

I’ve taken so many walks through the Biltmore Gardens and just can’t get enough. They were designed by the father of modern-day landscaping, Frederick Law Olmstead, and are breathtaking.

I thought Spring was my favorite season there as the tulips and daffodils light up the pathways. Then I thought early summer was my favorite because of the beautiful rose garden and azalea garden. Then I decided Fall was my favorite because of the colorful mums that were planted in mesmerizing patterns.

Biltmore sunflowers Sept
Biltmore sunflowers

But after I took walks and bike rides along the sunflower fields near Antler Hill Village in the late summer and early Fall, I just figured I’d get a season pass so I could visit whenever I wanted.

I can’t decide on when all the flowers are the most gorgeous so you’ll just have to go for yourself to see them.

Your House and Grounds & Gardens tickets both include access to the gardens, the walking trails, and the Conservatory. You don’t need a reserved time to walk through the gardens, you just go when you want.

tulips at Biltmore

Antler Hill Village: Biltmore with Kids

Antler Hill Village is my favorite place at the Biltmore Estate because it’s filled with lots of kid-friendly things to do and it’s all included with admission.

The Farmyard is a small farm area where kids are welcome to pet the animals. They have goats (baby goats come March of every year!), chickens, horses, and pigs. On some occasions, they have had border collie sheep herding demonstrations, which are fun to watch.

baby goats

Next to the farm is the Pisgah Playground, a big play area with swings, slides, and climbing structures. It’s a great place to let the kids enjoy a beautiful day outside.

And up the hill a little ways from the playground is the Antler Hill Barn where craft demonstrations take place every Thursday-Sunday. I love this area as the staff are so kind and engaging with the kids. There is also a little cafe with beer and wine so I’ve had a beer while watching my kids do crafts or play there. It’s a perfect place to relax. There are also restrooms at the barn.

You can also pick up several hiking trails at Antler Hill Village right behind the barn and wander past the fields with cows and pens with goats. Grab a map at the Outdoor Center near the barn.

playground at Biltmore

Also in Antler Hill Village is the Winery. We’ve actually done grape-stomping there before, which was a blast. From the village, you enter the winery in the main square and get to walk through an underground tunnel to get to the tasting room and shopping area. Adults are welcome to do a complimentary wine tasting and kids can tag along and have grape juice. The servers are generous with the wine samples so take that into consideration when figuring out the best time to go!

Get Your Adventure On

The French Broad River runs right through the estate, which makes for great rafting trips. It’s a wide river with few rapids, which makes it perfect for families. The rafting trip is about two hours long and costs $50/person.

If horseback riding is on your to-do list, the Biltmore also offers guided tours of 1-10 people with a two-day advance registration. Ages 8 and up are welcome to do this activity and it costs $135/person for an hour ride through the estate.

You probably won’t be surprised the Biltmore offers carriage rides through the estate. A 60-minute carriage ride is offered Friday through Sunday and takes guests around the beautiful estate and house. Cost is $95/person and one child 5 years and younger is free per paying adult.

Fall at the Biltmore
Fall at the Biltmore

There are more than 20 miles of biking trails at the Biltmore Estate, which run all throughout Antler Village and up to the house. You can either rent bikes ($20/bike for two hours) at the Bike Barn, which is open daily dependent on weather, or bring your own bikes and ride them at your leisure. I’ve brought my kids’ scooters and bikes and we rode the trails from Antler Hill up to the house, to the Gardens, and to the pond, and had so much fun.

The two-hour kids fly fishing lesson is at the top of my list at the Biltmore. I really want to learn how to do this and would love for my kids to have instruction (since I know nothing about it). For a private lesson at the Biltmore, it will cost you $125 per kid.

Dining with Kids at the Estate

There are several dining options at the Biltmore. The Stable Cafe right at the main house has a selection of comfort food that’s easy to grab and eat. Families also love Cedric’s Tavern in Antler Hill Village, which has typical pub fare. Consider making reservations at the sit-down places to get your preferred time.

If you’re feeling extra fancy, the Inn has Afternoon Tea, where they serve a delightful mix of sweet and savory treats, tea, and fine cheese. Prices currently are $75/person.

Antler Hill Village also has a confectionery and creamery, where you can’t possibly make a bad decision. My kids and I try to make a stop here just for their ice cream.

Also feel free to bring your own lunch or picnic and eat at the covered tables in Antler Hill Village or at any number of the beautiful open spaces around the estate.

Seasonal Fun & Exhibits

I’ve gotten to see some pretty neat exhibits at the Biltmore like the Titanic exhibit with so many of Kate Winslet’s dresses [insert completely excited face here], a fantastic train exhibit, Christmas at the Biltmore, and Chihuly at Biltmore. These special events and exhibits are incredibly well done and worth a visit.

Biltmore special exhibit

Christmas at the Biltmore

I have started taking my daughters every year to tour the House during Christmastime because it is so beautiful. We really love checking out the 50+ Christmas trees in the House and seeing the decorations.

They are decorated in the most delicate of glass ornaments, and most likely not shatter-proof. We admired the gorgeous velvet ribbons carefully wrinkled at the right places seemingly mimicking the damask finery found in the guest rooms.

View of the Biltmore WIntergarden in Asheville, North Carolina

My personal favorite was a tree on the second floor, close to the Louis XV suite. Beneath the tree, a vignette of vintage toys were carefully assembled to stir any child’s imagination of toy soldiers and sugar plum fairies. Perhaps its proximity to the room where Cornelia Vanderbilt was born, was the reason for the child-friendly tree. It was a good reminder that a family once lived in this beautiful home.

The spots for the Christmas House tours usually go fast so you’ll need to reserve your preferred time and date online. They also have wildly popular candlelight tours, which I have yet to do, but would love to take in that experience sometime. Christmas at the Biltmore runs from November 2, 2024 through January 5, 2025.

Chihuly at Biltmore

Watch! Our Visit to Chihuly Was GORGEOUS

Chihuly at Biltmore is an incredible collection of blown glass art from Dale Chihuly. The Biltmore has collaborated with him in the past, placing several of his gorgeous pieces around the estate in 2018. This time, his work is featured in seven galleries at Amherst in Deerpark near Antler Hill Village. The exhibit runs March 25, 2024 through January 5, 2025.

Chihuly at Biltmore
Chihuly at Biltmore

We got to go through it and take a tour with representatives from the Biltmore and Dale Chihuly’s studio, which was completely fascinating as we learned how the exhibit came about and the unbelievable preparations for it to be held in that location. The exhibit is extraordinarily unique with 33 pieces that include thousands of smaller pieces of blown glass. The creations don’t even seem real.

Chihuly has a background in weaving, which he somehow used in several of his pieces that were inspired by Native American art, which you’ll see in the second gallery. Be sure to watch the short movie about Chihuly before you head to the galleries and read the plaques because they are fascinating.

Chihuly’s knowledge of how how light interacts with glass is on display throughout the exhibit but especially in the room with the Parisian ceiling. The art is above you and the light is reflected through all of those pieces to create art on the surrounding white walls. You’ll feel transported to another world.

Chihuly at Biltmore
Chihuly at Biltmore

I kept staring at the chandelier pieces in the room next to the one with the Parisian ceiling trying to figure out how Chihuly put them together and created the nuances in color in the glass. I can’t even wrap my head around it.

The next gallery features a garden of glass flowers that looks like it is floating on water. It’s called the Millie Fiori, thousand flowers, and I advise just taking your time in here, walking around the piece and looking at every detail. Chihuly was inspired by his mother’s garden and this specific composition was designed and created specifically for the Biltmore.

Chihuly at Biltmore
Chihuly at Biltmore

The last gallery is a neon glass gallery that was inspired by tumbleweeds. It’s so unexpected because it’s not as colorful as his other pieces yet somehow flows well in the entire exhibit. The pieces are anchored in sycamore trees.

By the time we exited the gallery, I think my head was spinning (in a good way). I love art and especially glass blowing but Chihuly at Biltmore was a whole other level. His art almost cleared my head and became therapeutic because all I could consider was the beauty and awe of it. I’m grateful for the partnership the Biltmore and Dale Chihuly forged in order to bring the exhibit here. I wish I could afford even a small piece of Chihuly’s art, which you can absolutely buy in the gift shop if you’ve got the funds!

One thing to mention if you plan to bring your kids is that Chihuly designs his pieces to be see up close and enjoyed by all, which means there are no barriers around any of his art. So, parents, watch your kids closely.

Your entry ticket or annual pass does not include entry to Chihuly at Biltmore. Ticket prices are:

  • March 25–May 23, 2024: Starting at $125
  • May 24–November 1, 2024: Starting at $115
  • November 2, 2024–January 5, 2025: Starting at $145
  • $30/adult and $15/kids for pass holders

The entire exhibit is wheelchair and stroller-accessible. Plan to spend about an hour inside the exhibit galleries.

Need-to-Know Tips for Visiting Biltmore Estate

Plan to spend the day

There is plenty to see (or cut short if need be), but it would be awful to feel rushed. Many of the kid attractions close at 5 pm.

Getting around can take some time

You can drive to the Biltmore House and park in one of the several lots. Lot A is about an eight-minute walk to the house while the other lots are further away. There are shuttles to take you to the house and to Antler Hill Village. You can also take shuttles – which come about every 20 minutes – from the house to Antler Hill Village.

The Deerpark Trail from Antler Hill to the house is around three miles. You can also drive to Antler Hill and walk to the house or take the shuttle. There is a parking lot near the lagoon and trail as well if you want to park there and walk the 1.5 miles to Antler Hill or up the hill to the house and come out on the side near the gardens.

Free things to do at Biltmore

While you need a ticket to get into the Biltmore, there are lots of free things to do once there: bring your bikes and bike the trails, take a walk amongst the gardens and sunflowers, visit the Conservatory, visit the Farmyard, play on the Pisgah Playground, do a wine tasting, make a craft at the Antler Hill Barn.

Buy Biltmore tickets online

Less lines mean happy kids. (Kids 16 and under are free during the summer. The rest of the year, kids 9 and younger are free.) Ticket prices start at $95 and vary depending on season. Read on to learn about the annual pass and saving money.

Bring your stroller/backpack

Strollers and backpack carriers are welcome. You will want to stick with a carrier in the house as some of the areas are difficult to navigate with a stroller.

As part of the Biltmore bag policy no backpacks are allowed on any guided tour.

Wear your walking shoes

Put everyone in comfy walking shoes and put on sunscreen as exploring the grounds is one of the best parts of the trip.

Think about getting an annual pass

An annual pass is usually $249/person and kids ages 16 and younger get in free with a passholder. They usually offer discounts on their annual pass in November (that’s when I got mine for a lot less than $249). Stay tuned to their social media and website to score a deal.

Passholder benefits are awesome, too – discounts on tickets for guests, discounts on tours, shopping, dining, and lodging, and discounts at other attractions like Chimney Rock State Park, Dollywood, Tweetsie Railroad, Mast General Store, and Grandfather Mountain.

Biltmore event

Need more info? Visit the Biltmore Estate website.

Have you taken your kids to visit the Biltmore Estate yet?

One Lodge Street
Asheville, NC 28803
800.411.3812
The Biltmore Website

26+ Fun Day Trips for Spring

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With spring break around the corner, Kidding Around Greenville gives you a list of fun day trips not too far from home. To make room for some unpredictable weather, we have separated the list of spring day trips near Greenville, SC into two main categories: indoor and outdoor.

To help in your trip planning, we have also listed a summary of driving times in the end. Before going, just be mindful of operation hours. Lastly, don’t forget to take photos and tag us on social media!

Spring Day Trips Near Greenville, SC

For more Day Trip ideas see our Day Trips Near Greenville page.

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Play with Goats and Hike at Carl Sandburg’s Historic Home in Flat Rock, NC

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Have you visited the Carl Sandburg home in North Carolina? We love the Carl Sandburg National Historic Site for many reasons – great hikes, gorgeous views, and adorable goats you can pet and play with – but there is so much more to do at the Carl Sandburg National Historic Site in Flat Rock, NC. The Carl Sandburg home, Connemara, is less than an hour away from Greenville, so visiting makes for a perfect day trip. Tours of the historic home and access to the pasture, barn, and trails are currently free! 

carl sandburg home in north carolina

Looking for more day trip ideas? Check out our guide to Ultimate Guide to Daytrips Near Greenville, SC to plan your next adventure with your family! 

Visiting the Home of Carl Sandburg- Connemara 

Connemara, home of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and writer Carl Sandburg, is located in the charming town of Flat Rock, North Carolina. It’s an easy drive across a beautiful mountain, just below Hendersonville, NC. Once you arrive, you will find several trails branching from the National Park Service parking lot, including the contact station, Front Lake (restrooms and brochures), Front Lake Loop, and the wide main road that heads up towards Connemara. 

One of the wonderful things about being so close to Connemara is that you can read Sandburg’s children’s book The Huckabuck Family one morning and then get in the car that afternoon to see where the book’s author wrote and explored and ate and laughed and walked.

Tours of Carl Sandburg’s Home

Poet Carl Sandburg and his family lived at Connemara from 1945 until his death in 1967. Currently visits to the farm, grounds, and House tours are available Wednesday-Sunday. Tour tickets for adults are $10 each and tickets for kids 15 and younger are $1. House tours are free in 2024 on January 6th, March 23rd, June 15th, and October 19th-20th. It is highly recommended to make reservations for house tours, as tour capacity is 10 people and fill up quickly.

The house has been left exactly as it was when Sandburg passed away in 1967. The rooms of the home are teeming with books that Sandburg touched, read and studied. The view from this house elicits a smile just thinking about the poet sitting in his chair on the rocks being inspired by the same image. The Sandburg’s had over 17,000 volumes of books. The man liked to read.  Inside the basement of Sandburg’s home is a sweet little gift shop and a room for viewing a video about the writer’s life. During the year there are several events scheduled that are engaging, educational, and fun!

Visiting with Goats at the Carl Sandburg National Historic Site

As you head past the lake, up towards the house on the gravel road, and past some of the older historic structures, you’ll eventually end up at the dairy barn. This is where the goats live. The property continues to be a working goat farm to this day. Gentle, adorable, loving goats. Goats that love kids petting and touching and hugging them.  The goats are actually descendants of Mrs. Sandburg’s own prize-winning goat herd.

The barnyard is also home to chickens and giant shady trees and rock walls and green fields. Excellent for a picnic. During April and May the barnyard is full of babies, so when visiting in Spring be ready to hear lots of awes from your kids.

The goat farm is unique in that visitors can walk in the pasture with the goats (and in the enclosure with the kids!) as well as explore the barn, not only meeting the goats, but petting them and watching them feed and interact. The hours of access to the barn and goat pasture will be daily from 10 am – 3 pm and is free. The entire park is open from sunrise to sunset.

Reading to a Goat During National Literacy Month

September is National Literacy Month and March is National Reading Month. Both fit nicely with the theme of the entire park given Sandburg’s choice of career. So to honor the heritage of the park and give guests a pretty good reason to come there, the Carl Sandburg National Historic Site invites visitors to grab a book and read to a goat (or several). 

You can bring your own book, although I don’t recommend it for one very important reason, which I will get to in a second. They also have books in a red wagon right outside the gates to the barn that you can borrow and bring into the pasture to read to the goats. We found a couple of great books that both my kids really enjoyed. The goats did, too. 

Carl Sandburg Historic Site - reading to goats

Once you pick out your book, you can go see the goats. All the goats you’ll interact with are females and they are really sweet and curious and have no idea about personal space. The very first time I ever went to see the goats was when my kids were super little, they were terrified because the goats are pretty big if you’re a little kid. Now my kids, ages 10 and 7, love the goats and enjoy petting them and this time, reading to them. 

So reading to goats is not an easy task. We really tried. One of the goats ripped out a page and started eating it, which we grabbed back because you know, they have special diets, which don’t include books. This is why you may not want to bring your own book. We ended up sitting with a few goats who may or may not have been sleeping and reading the books. I had a book of Sandburg’s poetry, which was wonderful to read while at his home. 

My oldest daughter found a nice, docile goat with a white coat who seemed to be totally enthralled with being read to. It was very cute to watch. 

We spent about an hour with the goats and our attempts at reading books. We had a blast and reading was such a bonus because books are pretty popular at my house and we all enjoy it.

But reading to goats? A whole level of awesomeness. 

Hiking the Carl Sandburg Home National Site Trails

In addition to the home and the barns, which are plenty to fill an afternoon, there are hiking trails on the property that are family-friendly and quite rewarding. You can also take the rambling walk back to your car and trek around the beautiful fishpond. It’s a great path to wear your children out with good, honest exercise so they can nap on your drive back across the mountain to Greenville.

If you are up for a challenge, you can take the Memminger Trail Loop and the big Glassy Mountain Trail up to the Glassy Mountain overlook. It is 1.25 miles, but the 523-foot increase in elevation makes this a more challenging hike. Although there are several other options for reaching Glassy Mountain from the parking lot, they are all about the same length with the same workout.

The exposed rock makes for interesting plant communities in the various seeps, and the overlook is the only spot in the park with a view of the mountains. Round trip, this strenuous hike takes around 4.5 miles. 

Kids Track Trails at the Carl Sandburg National Historic Site

You might notice a Kids in Parks TRACK Trail kiosk at the entrance. The Kids in Parks network is a family-friendly collection of outdoor adventures called TRACK Trails. Each TRACK Trail features self-guided brochures and signs that can enhance your outdoor experience, and you can earn prizes for tracking your adventures.

Get more info on the Kids in Parks program from our Kids In Parks Review on Kidding Around

Carl Sandburg home in Flat Rock, NC

Things To Know Before Visiting the Carl Sandburg Historic Site

A couple of things to note when planning your visit:

  • Wear closed-toed shoes because you’ll be going in a field, which has lots of grass, some mud, goat poop, and other things you don’t want on your feet. 
  • Bring water. The hike up to the goat barn isn’t long, a bit over a quarter mile, but it is somewhat steep. There are water fountains to refill your bottle, and you can also purchase small snacks and water bottles from the bookstore. Please recycle your bottles! 
  • There is no charge to visit the historic site, hike the trails, or go to the goat barn.
  • House tours recommend a prebooked registration, and only 8 people are allowed per tour. Tours are currently free!
  • Backpacks and large bags are not allowed on the tour, so plan accordingly. 
  • Strollers and backpack child carriers are not allowed on the home tours, but soft-front carriers are allowed for babies and toddlers.
  • The hours of access to the barn and dairy goat pasture are every day from 10 am – 3 pm. The entire park is open from sunrise to sunset. 
  • The pedestrian bridge from the parking lot to the main entrance is currently closed. In order to access the park you’ll walk from the parking area .4 miles around the lake and another 1/3 mile up a steep grade. If you require accessibility assistance, please call 828.707.8125 when you arrive.
  • Visitor Center/Park Store is open Wednesday to Sunday 10 am to 4 pm. This is where you can pick up Junior Ranger program packets, get information for your visit, purchase books, and more.

Directions to the Carl Sandburg Home 

Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site
81 Carl Sandburg Lane
Flat Rock, NC 28731

828.693.4178

Get Directions for Carl Sandburg’s Home.

Other Western NC Travel Ideas:

Kidding Around WNC: things to do in Western North Carolina towns

There’s so much to see in WNC!

Find more fun in our Kidding Around Guide to WNC.

After visiting Carl Sandburg’s home, spend the day in nearby Hendersonville, NC!

Things to Do in Hendersonville, North Carolina

Has your family ever visited the Carl Sandburg home?

Take Your Family on a High-Speed Adventure at ZMAX Dragway in Concord, NC

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Thinking about a visit to ZMAX Dragway in Charlotte, NC? When is the last time you stood up to watch something go 300 mph? Been a long time or maybe never? Then you should plan a trip to the ZMAX Dragway for an NHRA National Event.

We got a chance to visit for an NHRA Nationals Event and couldn’t believe all the things we got to experience. And the best part? Kids are just $10. So your 300 mph family adventure just got a lot more budget-friendly. Here’s everything you need to know.

Watch!: Here’s our visit in one quick video

This post contains affiliate links.

The next NHRA event at ZMAX Dragway is coming soon!

Thank you to Explore Cabarrus County for providing tickets so we could bring our readers this review!

entrance to ZMAX Dragwa
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Snow Tubing at Zip ‘N Slip in Mars Hill, NC Delivers Fast, Wintry Fun

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Head up to Zip ‘N Slip in Mars Hill, NC for a fun, fast ride on any of their eight snow tubing lanes. We checked them out and have all the details on enjoying this fun, winter entertainment. 

You cannot miss Zip ‘N Slip Snow Tubing Park in Mars Hill, North Carolina. It’s right off Highway 26 heading through NC towards Tennessee, about an hour and 40 minutes from Greenville, SC. And wow, you’re in for some fast and fun rides at this snow tubing park. 

Zip 'N Slip Snow Tubing Park
Tubing at Zip ‘N Slip
Best snow tubing, skiing, and tubing near Greenville, South Carolina

Want more? Here’s our guide to all the fun places to hit the slopes.

About Zip ‘N Slip Snow Tubing Park 

Zip ‘N Slip has eight snow tubing lanes that can run more than 800 feet long in optimal snow conditions. How long is that in terms of flying down on a tube? About 20 seconds! It’s really fast, especially in colder weather. 

My kids – ages 13 and 9 – had a blast at this snow tubing park and it was well worth the drive up there. The owner is really nice and has owned the property for more than a decade. He initially wanted to build a hotel and shopping center on the property but ended up having so much fun with the snow tubing park that he kept the fun winter activity as it was and updated the park and equipment. 

There are eight snow tubing lanes. At least there were when we went. Because of weather and snow-making abilities, this can definitely change each season or each week or month even as the park is able to create the snow needed for the hill. Or if they just get a ton of snow through Mother Nature, then it’s even more fun. It is always a good idea to check the social media pages or website of any seasonal activity before you head out to ascertain the conditions of the park. 

There are heated bathrooms at Zip ‘N Slip as well as hot chocolate and a fire pit. They sell hot dogs, nachos, and mac & cheese as well. We were promised free marshmallows to roast after our tubing run but headed out too fast. We saw some people with sticky fingers though so we know they enjoyed the treats. 

And if you forget your winter gear like hats, gloves, or even socks, you can purchase them at the park. 

Tubing at Zip ‘N Slip 

Tubing at Zip ‘N Slip was unlike most places I’ve been because the guests, once they got their safety briefing and tickets, were pretty much on their own. It was definitely fun but like the Wild West of tubing. 

Once you get your tube, you’ll head over to the Magic Carpet ride, an escalator-type contraption that you stand on while holding onto your tube. Pro tip: lean forward on it so you don’t fall backwards. Once you get to the top of the hill, you’ll step off ever-so-gracefully and be able to choose which lane you want to go down. 

Tubing at Zip 'N Slip
Tubing at Zip ‘N Slip

There aren’t any staff members at the top of the hill so you just choose your lane and go down or wait until the person in front of you goes down. We didn’t have any issues with waiting or choosing our lanes. Because there are eight lanes, we got in a lot of runs and rarely had to wait for a spot. 

But it does get a little tricky at the top pulling a tube amongst other people while navigating snow. I slipped twice but in my defense, it was a little icy. And I’m clumsy. I was fine. 

Once you choose your lane, you put your tube leash inside the tube and then get in your tube and shimmy to the edge of the great abyss, uh, lane. Ideally, you’ll want to check to make sure no one is at the bottom of the lane you are planning to slide down. If they are, wait until they are gone and then go. Also watch out for people who may be walking in front of your lane. Wait for them to get out of the way and then shimmy your tube closer – or get someone to push you- to the edge and go down. Wheeee!

Once you get down to the bottom, get out of your tube, grab the leash and get out of the way. Fast. I cannot emphasize how fast you need to move once you are at the bottom. There are no staff to tell you to get out of the way or signal anyone at top that it’s ok to send down the next people. You’re responsible for getting out of the way so do it. 

And pay attention. People are going to come down those lanes whether you’re paying attention to someone in a giant tube heading in your direction or not. 

And have fun! Depending on how many people are there, you may get through a lot of runs during your time on the hill. I can’t even count how many times my kids and I went down. It was probably at least 30 times. We had the first slot of the day when we went at 10 am and it wasn’t sold out. The slot at Noon was sold out and there were definitely more people. So when you go, maybe choose the earlier time slot.

Tips on Visiting Zip ‘N Slip 

We’ve been snow tubing to several places and some of these tips follow our previous advice but read on because a few are very specific to Zip ‘N Slip: 

Bring a change of clothes: depending on the weather, snow will melt and you’ll get wet. If you don’t want to drive home in wet clothes, bring a change of clothes, socks, and shoes. 

Wear layers: we were hot after the first 15 minutes and ending up shedding our hats, gloves, and jacket. It’s best to wear layers, especially if the temperatures will rise while you’re there.

You don’t need snow gear: it’s just snow tubing and you’re not skiing. Pants and boots, even hiking boots, hats, gloves, and a jacket are fine. 

Get out of the way at the bottom of the hill: when you finish your tubing run, move and move fast. The way the lanes are designed, unless you’re in the furthest half of the lanes, you’ll have to walk in front of most of the lanes to get back to the magic carpet. If you don’t move fast, you may be in the way of another tuber coming down the run. 

Pay attention: for reasons mentioned above, pay attention to your surroundings and make sure your kids are watching for fast tubers coming down the lane when they are making their way back to get in line to go back up. 

Watch the weather: if you’re going up on an unseasonably warm day, check with Zip ‘N Slip to make sure they are operating normally and secondly, get the first available time slot of the day. You’ll go way faster on colder snow than when it starts to melt a little when the weather warms up.

Keep an eye on your kids: this is standard advice but here, kids need to be watched as they go up the magic carpet and make their way down the lanes and then grabbing their tubes and doing it again. They just need to be aware of their surroundings. 

It can get muddy: at the bottom of the tubing hill, there’s a lot of straw and snow, which is great for stopping your tubing run. But when the weather is warm, the snow will melt and it will get muddy. This didn’t bother myself, my kids, and really anyone I saw there but just be aware that you may get dirty and refer to tip #1 about bringing a change of clothes. 

Be kind and respectful: we had a blast while tubing and everyone was great. But during busier times, there may be some jostling of uncontrollable giant tubes at the top or people not paying attention at the bottom or on . Have patience and be kind.

Fire pit at Zip 'N Slip
Fire pit at Zip ‘N Slip

Tickets to Zip ‘N Slip 

You can get tickets for an hour or two hours. One hour is $30/person and two hours is $45/person. Kids must be at least 3-years-old to go tubing and kids ages 3-5 are free and must ride in the lap of an adult. 

You can – and should, especially on busy holiday weekends – make reservations online. Save time by filling out your waiver and bringing it with you.

Zip ‘N Slip also offers discounted rates for school and homeschool groups of 15 or more. Keep an eye out for Homeschool Day as well since tickets are heavily discounted. We scored $15/person tickets for two hours of tubing during a recent Homeschool Day!

Hours 

The snow tubing park is usually open from mid-December through mid-January Monday-Saturday from 9 am – 9 pm and Sundays from 9 am – 6 pm. From mid-January through early March, the park is open Friday-Sunday and holidays like President’s Day and MLK Jr. Day. They also have special events like Homeschool Day. Follow their Facebook page for details.  

Stay in Mars Hill, NC

If you want to make your stay a little longer, here’s where to stay in Mars Hill, NC near Zip ‘N Slip.

Kidding Around earns when you book through this map through an affiliate relationship with Stay22.

Bonus Day Trip Fun 

Because the snow tubing park was a bit of a drive, my kids and I wanted to extend our adventure a bit. So we went to explore nearby Burnsville, NC and had such a great time! The little town has a beautiful downtown and town square. They have several shops that sell homemade items like scarves, clothing, and hats plus an adorable toy store, a huge general store, a specialty tea shop, a beautiful shoe store, and lots more. 

Burnsville NC
Scenes from Burnsville, NC

While we didn’t eat in Burnsville, there are a couple restaurants plus a coffee shop right along the main street area of the town. We spent about two hours wandering around the shops till our hearts content and could not have been more smitten with the town. I certainly plan to go back and explore it more when we are up in that area again!

Additionally, the Biltmore is on your way back from Greenville if you want to add that to your day trip itinerary. 

For more places to go snow tubing, see our big story on the Best Places to Go Skiing and Snow Tubing Near the Upstate

Zip ‘N Slip Snow Tubing Park
10725 US-23, Mars Hill, NC
828.689.8444
Zip ‘N Slip Website | Zip ‘N Slip Facebook

Driving Tour: Stunning Waterfalls in NC That Involve No Hiking

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Want to see the great outdoors without actually hiking? Kidding Around’s Kristina loves hunting out great waterfalls. She’s created this amazing driving tour packed full of stops where you can see waterfalls without hiking. It’s a perfect day trip activity. She even included a map with all the stops. So fire up that GPS or pop open your favorite map app and get going!

Looking for more waterfalls?
💧Love waterfalls? Here’s our list of Waterfalls in the Southeast with great hiking in South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennesse.
💧Also, if you happen to just love waterfalls like we do and are looking for opportunities to keep them clean and pristine, look into volunteering at any of these outdoor places.

There are few places I’d rather be on the weekends than hiking with my kids to some spectacular waterfall. I’ve done a lot of them and plan lots more. But sometimes hiking a few, or more, miles just isn’t happening. But waterfalls? Yes, I still want to see them!

So if you have the grandparents on board and can’t hike or if there is no way you are listening to kids whine for two hours in the woods or for whatever reason you aren’t hiking, we’ve put together an epic (yes, this is epic) waterfall tour in North Carolina for the ultimate day trip that will kill it on your Instagram feed.

If you need more fun in Western NC, see our big Guide to WNC!

North Carolina Waterfall Driving Tour Map

Just beyond the South Carolina/North Carolina border lies the “Land of the Waterfalls” – it’s true, there is an actual sign that says this – so this is where our epic tour takes you. And because we love our readers and want to make things super easy, we also put together a map of the tour!

I suggest you pack a lot of snacks, drinks, lunch, and some car entertainment since you will have to spend time on the road, even though the drive through the mountains is gorgeous.

You can do this tour starting at either the first or the last waterfall as it takes about the same amount of time as well.

Looking Glass Falls

This waterfall is huge and gorgeous. It’s been on my list since I saw an incredible shot of the falls frozen during the winter. I was really hoping to catch the same photo when I went but it wasn’t cold enough. However, ice did cover the stairs at the very bottom of the falls and the surrounding trees, branches and rocks. It was awesome.

You can literally see the falls from the car but park it anyways, get out and if you have people who are willing and able to walk down the stairs, you can get a close-up view. But if not, you will still get to see the falls in all their glory.

Directions

From Greenville, take 276 W to 25 N and take Exit 5 to 25 N. Take Crab Creek Road to 64 W in Brevard and then take 276 N into Pisgah National Forest. The falls will be on your right.

Sliding Rock

Right down the street from Looking Glass Falls in the Pisgah National Forest is the popular summer destination of Sliding Rock. During the winter, there is no one there and you don’t have to pay to enter (during the summer season, it is $5/person).

You can see Sliding Rock from the top where the bathrooms are located and it’s a short walk down the stairs to the platform that overlooks the gigantic natural waterslide.

The pool is about eight feet deep and during the summer there are lifeguards to keep everyone safe. It’s a sight to see though!

Directions

From Looking Glass Falls, keep going on 276 into the forest and Sliding Rock is about four minutes away on the left.

Bridal Veil Falls

It’s about an hour and 20 minutes from Sliding Rock to Bridal Veil Falls in between Cashiers and Highlands but the drive along 64 is gorgeous. And you can go through Brevard if you like and grab lunch (I’d suggest Square Root for higher end cuisine or grab some delicious pastries and bread to make sandwiches at the Bracken Mountain Bakery) to space out the trip and fuel up. We also love stopping at the original O.P. Taylors toy store in downtown Brevard.

Bridal Veil Falls is literally on the side of the road. You could even stay in your car and see this beautiful 60-foot cascading waterfall but really, you should get out because it’s so pretty, especially in the winter when it freezes over occasionally and icicles drop down and make the whole scene ethereal.

You can walk behind this waterfall too, which makes it even cooler. You used to be able to drive behind it but you aren’t allowed anymore.

Directions

Take 276 back to Brevard and make a right on 64 W. Take that all the way through Cashiers and the falls will be about 11.5 from Cashiers on your right.

Dry Falls

A two-minute drive down the road will bring you to Dry Falls on the left. Park in the lot and either use the handicap accessible ramp to go to the overlook or in the warmer months head down to the falls and walk behind them and take photos to make everyone you know jealous.

These falls are huge and loud and incredible. If you are able to walk behind the falls, stay on the path and behind the railing and don’t walk out on the rocks. Waterfalls are dangerous and you don’t want to become a statistic.

If you’re hungry on your way out from Dry Falls, stop at Slabtown Pizza in Cashiers for delicious pizza.

Directions

Stay on 64 W for .8 miles and the falls and parking will be on your left.

Bonus: Lake Jocassee Overlook

I wasn’t expecting this driving to the last waterfall stop so it was a bonus for me. About three miles or so from Whitewater Falls is this overlook that will take your breath away.

You can see all of Lake Jocassee and marvel at the beauty of the gorge. Stop, take photos, have a snack. It’s worth it.  

Directions

It’s on Route 130 from Cashiers to Whitewater Falls. You can’t miss it.

Whitewater Falls

The last waterfall on our list is the biggest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains, standing at a whooping 411 feet tall, cascading down the mountainside in all it’s beautiful glory.

Whitewater Falls is just under 40 minutes from Dry Falls and is totally worth the trip. Even though I promised no hiking, don’t be mad about this quarter-mile paved trail to the falls. The sign says the falls are a half-mile from the parking lot but they mean round trip. The trail is very short and the view is amazing.

If you are ambitious and want to get out energy from the car ride, head to the stairs on the right, which will take you down to the viewing platform where you can see all of Whitewater Falls. It’s a nice little workout getting back up those 154 stairs.

Directions

From Dry Falls, go east on 64, hang a right at the center of Cashiers onto 107 South, and then make a left onto 130 North and follow signs to the falls. It’s about 25 miles total.

For other wheelchair accessible/short walk/roadside waterfalls around Western NC, see Blue Ridge Mountain Life Wheelchair Waterfalls and this list of roadside waterfalls.

For more waterfalls, see our Guide to the Southeast’s Best Waterfalls.

Winchester Creek Farm: Meet Alpacas and Feed Mini-Horses at This Farm

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Love alpacas and mini-animals? Take a trip to Winchester Creek Farm in Waynesville, NC for a fun day trip with your family!

Media tickets were provided for this review, which was updated in January 2024.

The drive up to Winchester Creek Farm in Waynesville, NC is probably worth the trip alone. The beautiful scenery of mountain peaks and valleys, eventually wind their way to the feet of the Smoky Mountains, where the farm is situated. Winchester Creek Farm, about a 90-minute trip from the South Carolina Upstate, has alpacas and many miniature animals like cows, horses, and donkeys, as well as super fluffy sheep and an adorable little Juliana pig. 

And if you’re making a trip to Asheville, NC, be sure to check our guide of everything to do, eat, and see while you’re there!

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