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Posts Tagged ‘North Carolina’

Dig for Gems in a Creek at Emerald Hollow Mine in Statesville, NC

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Emerald Hollow Mine near Statesville, NC is the real deal when it comes to gem mining – you get tools, buckets, and all the things you need to search for gems in the creek and dirt. And it’s really fun! 

Thanks to Visit Statesville for setting up our experience at Emerald Hollow Mine.

I’ve been gem mining before and it’s fun but I had never gone real gem mining, like digging in creeks and dirt to search for precious stones until I went to Emerald Hollow Mine near Statesville, NC, just a little over a two-hour drive from the Upstate. 

This place is incredibly unique. It’s the only emerald mine in the world where the public can prospect for gems. In fact, it was also here at Emerald Hollow Mine in 1998 that the largest emerald in North America was found, named the Carolina Queen. Its estimated worth is about half a million dollars. The area where the mine is located has been dubbed the “most complex geological zone in the world” by famous geologists Kunz and William Hidden. 

I’ll tell you all about the neat things you can do at this mine plus give you some tips on how to enjoy it with your family. 

Creekin’ at Emerald Hollow Mine 

This was my favorite thing we did at the mine and one I’d love to go back and do again. There is a small creek that runs through the property and guests are allowed to get in it and dig for gems. You don’t need to dig deep and the tools – a sluice box and nylon trowel – are provided for you. 

You basically just get your tools and walk down to the creek. It’s only a couple minutes by foot and there are picnic tables set up along the creek that you can use for your shoes and towels or lunch and water. There’s a video you watch before you go down to the creek that suggests to look around the little waterfalls or where the creek turns to search for the gems. 

My two daughters and I found a nice spot, got in the water and started digging up some of the sandy bed with our trowels and putting it into the sluice box. We didn’t find anything for a while so moved to another spot. On our way, we asked another guest if he had found anything and he had! He showed us a small emerald and amethyst plus some other pretty gems that I forgot the names of. 

Ok, so there’s hope for us, I thought. We picked another spot and got to work. After a few minutes, I saw a speck of green and found an emerald. I was so excited! We ended up finding a couple of topaz stones also before heading up to the sluice to do our buckets of gems. 

We spent probably an hour in the creek but you can easily spend all day there, especially on a hot summer day. You have to get in the shallow water and many people there were way more prepared than we were (I’ll tell you in a bit what you should bring – none of which we brought). 

Diggin’ at Emerald Hollow Mine 

There are also spots at the mine where you take a shovel and bucket and just go digging in the dirt. We were seriously not dressed for this occasion but tried it anyway. You have to walk about a quarter of a mile into the woods and from there, it’s very easy to spot where to dig. 

There are big holes and troughs everywhere, which is kind of fun to see. My girls and I hike a lot but of course, never see this kind of stuff on the trails. We dropped down into some of the holes and started throwing dirt into our bucket. As we had to carry it back to the sluice to see what we found, we only filled it halfway since it was really heavy. 

We saw much better-prepared guests with wagons hauling their tools and buckets out of the woods. I made a mental note of this for next time. 

Sluicing at Emerald Hollow Mine 

Sluicing is what you probably think of when you think of gem mining. This is having a big bucket next to you as you sit on a bench and put the dirt into a box with a metal bottom with small holes while water runs over it. You find the gems, wash them off, and see what pretty things you’ve found. 

You can totally do this at Emerald Hollow Mine. We had three five-gallon buckets, which was a huge amount for us. We ended up just getting through two of them since it can take awhile, especially with kids who scoop slowly. 

The gems you find don’t necessarily come from the mine’s property but the dirt does so you may find some native stones. 

Lapidary at Emerald Hollow Mine

Admittedly, I didn’t know what a lapidary was when I went to the mine. I had wondered previously if it was possible to find someone to make jewelry out of the gems you find when you go gem mining but I did not know that kind of work is called a lapidary. 

Well, Emerald Hollow Mine has the only lapidary within a five-state radius and it’s seriously cool. Their services are in such high demand that they are currently running about eight months out for orders. But all the gems you bring them to use for jewelry is what they use. They don’t order anything from anywhere else. 

We met a couple there who had several pieces made by this lapidary and they were currently picking up many more pieces that day. One ring the woman had was made there and it was beautiful! 

They can also mail you the pieces when they are finished so you don’t have to go back and pick them up. Prices start around $45 and go up from there.  

Tips on Enjoying Your Time at Emerald Hollow Mine 

There are several things you can do or bring to make your time even more fun than it will already be at the mine. 

I spoke with the employees at the mine plus, considering my own experience, and these are the things I suggest you bring with you if you are going to be digging in the dirt or the creek:  

  • Wagon
  • Garden tools
  • Picks
  • Hammers
  • Waders, water shoes, or hiking boots
  • Towels
  • Change of clothes
  • Bug spray
  • Lunch 
  • Water 
  • Waterproof cushion
  • Some type of container to keep your finds in

Well-behaved pets on leashes are also welcome at the mine. There are minimal snacks and drinks at the mine so it’s best to bring your own. An employee recommended a nearby restaurant, Yellow Deli, which is open most of the year and very tasty. 

Admission at the Emerald Hollow Mine 

The mine is an active mine site, which means everyone must have a permit to enter, whether or not you are participating in digging. Permits cost $25/adult and $10/kids (ages 4-11). That includes as much time as you want and all the tools. You can also come and go as you please during the day. 

For the sluice, you choose which enriched bucket you’d like and that determines the cost. They range from $7 up to $1,000.

Emerald Hollow Mine is open daily 8 am – 8:30 pm but call them if you want to come after 4 pm as their hours may change. They are only closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. 

484 Emerald Hollow Mine Drive, Hiddenite, NC
Emerald Hollow Mine Website

A Day in Brevard, North Carolina: Things to Do, Places to Eat, and Outdoor Adventures

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Just a 50-mile drive from Greenville is the little town of Brevard, North Carolina. With unique little shops, great restaurant options, and a scenic drive, this destination just might find itself penciled onto your day trip adventure list. Spend the day in Brevard exploring this mountain town with small-town vibes, and maybe even catch a glimpse of one of Brevard’s most prized residences, a white squirrel!

Spend the day in Brevard, North Carolina.

Fall foliage is not the only incentive to make the trek from the Upstate to Brevard. The beauty of the mountains envelops you long before you reach the actual town. The scenic drive up Highway 25 is dotted with produce stands, complete with pumpkins, and antique shops. Highway 64 through Hendersonville will carry you straight into downtown Brevard, NC. Though a bit longer, this route is preferable to Highway 276 for me. I am not a fan of corkscrew-shaped roads.

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

If you’re planning a trip to WNC, use our handy guide to find things to do, places to visit, and where to eat on your WNC adventure!

What’s Happening in Brevard, NC?

october, 2023

Shopping on Main Street in Brevard

Once in Brevard, North Carolina, there’s no shortage of things to do. Main Street is lined with eccentric shops and unique eateries. There are no parking garages, but it’s rarely an issue. Unlike Greenville, you are allowed to park in the lots of just about every public building and business. You cannot imagine how convenient that is until you are looking for a place to put your car.

If you are in need of some new outdoor gear but want a more local experience, then DD. Bullwinkle’s Outdoors will help you find what you need. They have backpacks, shoes, clothes, and survival gear to help you brace for your next adventure, Pisgah National Forest!

This mini-Gatlinburg is a haven for anyone who loves collectibles, trinkets, and other items that cannot be found at your local mall. Brevard is home to the original O.P. Taylor’s store. Your kiddos will love the two-tier toy wonderland.

The original O.P. Taylors

I can’t write an article about Brevard without mentioning the absolute coolest store on the block. It’s called The Children’s Center. TCC is a not-for-profit clothing store that supports children in Transylvania County who are at risk of being abused and/or neglected. This store is THE place to shop for the little members of your family. It is a special home for name-brand clothes and handmade gifts for less.

Where to Eat in Brevard

Whether eating breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you’re certain to find something in Brevard, North Carolina to please the pickiest palate (bet you can’t say that five times fast). Our crew likes to eat a big breakfast before leaving on a day trip, so we usually snack for lunch and enjoy an early dinner. This brings me to my next recommendation.

Have you heard of The Square Root restaurant? I immediately fell in love with this back alley surprise. In addition to the atmosphere, they have one of the most realistic children’s menus I’ve seen. Your kiddos can enjoy their PB&J or corn dog while the adults at the table savor a more upscale entrée. My personal favorite was the juicy cheeseburger with a pickle and a side of fries. Don’t forget to walk across the alley to Downtown Chocolates for dessert!

Maybe you need a pick me up after all that walking. Then, head to Cup and Saucer for a nice espresso and a sweet treat. They sell fresh baked goods, but also specialty coffee, beer, and wine.

You will also find one of the several breweries in Brevard, so there is no shortage of beer if you are looking for it. Ecusta Brewing Company is pretty well known in the area, and they are pretty close to Pisgah Forest, making it a nice stop after a day outdoors. Brevard Brewing Company is just down the street from O.P. Taylor’s if you’re looking for something within walking distance of the downtown area.

Intersection of Main Street and Broad Street in Brevard, North Carolina

Outdoor Things to Do in Brevard, NC

In addition to all the food and merchandise, Brevard has historical sites you do not want to miss and practically sits in the backyard of Gorges State Park. The park offers weekly activities as well as monthly special events. You can visit their website for a full listing of family-friendly fun.

You can also travel a quick drive out of town to Looking Glass Falls, one of the most accessible waterfalls near Greenville. There are several waterfalls near Brevard (the Land of Waterfalls is close by in Cashiers), so you won’t have to travel far for an epic adventure after your day Downtown.

One of our favorite adventures in Brevard is riding lazily down the river with Brevard Tubing. You get to ride in a hot pink tube down the Broad River, while being lazy and enjoying the beautiful scenery, sounds like a plan!

Tubing on the French Broad River
Look at how relaxing this is

If you want to continue your outdoor adventure, we highly recommend the natural waterslide, Sliding Rock. Here, you can slide down a natural rock formation and plunge into the chilly mountain water below. We promise, your kids will want to do it over and over again, and you will too.

One of the best outdoor places in Brevard is at Dupont State Recreational Forest. Here you can hike, mountain bike, and even swim. There are multiple waterfalls, and did you know that they even filmed portions of the Hunger Games at Triple Falls?

Grab your binoculars and go on a sight hunt of Brevard’s most prized locals, white squirrels. There is a large population of white squirrels in Brevard, and you will see everything from stores named after them, to souvenirs. Hopefully, you’ll catch a glimpse, because they are super cute! There are larger populations in Silvermont, around Brevard College, and Franklin Park, so pack a picnic.

The second week in September is usually the Art is the Air Plein Air Festival in Brevard. Several artists will spend the week painting all over Brevard and then showcase their work on Saturday afternoon. Be sure to visit the “wet paint” tent to see all their amazing work!

Now that I have piqued your interest, it’s time for you and your family to plan your next road trip.

Cuddle with Fluffy Alpacas at Serenity Alpacas in Statesville, NC

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If you love fluffy alpacas, a trip to Serenity at Stony Point Alpaca Farm just outside Statesville, NC, about two hours from the Upstate, is the place to go, especially if you’re planning a trip nearby! Thank you to Visit Statesville for setting up our trip to their beautiful town. 

I love alpacas, especially the fluffy kind with big eyes that look like they are judging me. Even better when I can get up close with them, which is exactly what you can do at Serenity at Stony Point Alpaca Farm in Statesville, NC, just two hours from the Upstate, SC. 

We spent a couple of hours at this really cool farm and learned more than we could ever write in one story. Valerie, one of the owners, has a wealth of knowledge about alpacas and I left with a greater appreciation of these cool creatures. 

About Serenity Alpacas 

Serenity Alpaca Farm is just outside downtown Statesville, North Carolina, a quaint little town full of local shops and restaurants. While the town is actually known for its vibrant hot air balloon community, there are lots of local gems like the alpaca farm. 

Valerie and Javi own the farm and Javi is from Peru, where alpacas are from, so it works out well. When they bought the acreage, Val asked Javi what kind of animals they should have and he immediately suggested alpacas. It was a done deal from there. 

The farm currently has about 36 alpacas but several of the females are pregnant, which is a whole other story. I’ll give you the short version in a minute. 

Serenity Alpacas gives public tours almost daily and does a lot of community events and shows where they compete to see who has the best alpacas. I need to find one of these and be a judge. 

The farm is large and very clean. They even have a place down by a creek on the property where people will soon be able to reserve for camping. It’s truly gorgeous. 

There is a playground for the kids and a covered picnic area where tours begin and guests can hang out and enjoy the alpacas as they check you out. 

Alpaca Cool Facts 

I’ve been to a couple alpaca farms and I always, always learn something new when I go. Our visit to Serenity Alpaca is no exception. So here are few things I learned: 

  • Female alpacas are usually bred 21 days after giving birth. They are meant to be pregnant all the time. If they aren’t, they are prone to uterine infections. 
  • Gestation for cria’s (baby alpacas) is about 380 days. Heck no, says this human mom. 
  • The younger the alpaca is in age, the fluffier their coats are, which makes for softer fibers. 
  • Alpacas are shorn every April. 
  • A baby alpaca is called a cria. Or just a really cute fluffball. 

Touring Serenity Alpaca Farm 

Once you hit the gravel road not far from downtown Statesville, you are almost to the farm. Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted by Valerie, who will talk to you all about the alpacas. If she has any alpaca scarves or stuffed animals, she’ll show you. These items are so incredibly soft. I had to use my willpower not to spend a lot of money buying winter hats and scarves. 

On the day we went, several alpacas were hanging out at the playground and near the covered pavilion where we were learning about alpaca fibers and checking out the handspun scarves and hats. They were just wandering around, eating, and playing. It was really fun to watch them. 

When Javi, Val’s husband and co-owner of the farm, stopped by, he picked up a two-month old cria and asked if we wanted to hold it. Hold a baby alpaca?! Oh my gosh, I almost lost my mind. Getting to hold the little guy was so soothing. He was the perfect little alpaca and gave great snuggles. I could feel anxiety leaving my body. They should really do alpaca therapy here. 

After holding the cria, we learned more about alpacas while walking down to the campsite next to the spring-fed pool. They are almost ready to list it out for rent. The space is very private and beautiful and perfect for a nice little camping getaway. 

We met some of the alpaca boys, whose only job is to get the ladies pregnant. They were also nice and fluffy and one liked to give kisses. Of course, he did. 

We fed some of the female alpacas some grain treats, which they absolutely loved. It gave us another chance to get close and personal with the animals, which we really enjoyed. They aren’t small but they are gentle. 

Tours last about an hour but ours went a bit longer since we just got to talking about the farm and the animals and since I had a lot of questions. There’s a whole other world out there of alpaca farmers that I just didn’t much about. Pretty fascinating. 

Overall Review of Serenity Alpaca Farm 

Being that I already loved alpacas, touring Serenity Alpaca Farm was amazing. Valerie is so knowledgeable and Javi gave me a baby alpaca to hold. It really doesn’t get much better. 

Val is also a great tour guide and an open book about her life on the farm and the intricacies of raising alpacas. I also loved how much you got to interact with the animals. They are super friendly and funny and curious. Smaller kids may be a little nervous because the animals are about the size of a 12-year-old or a bit taller. My daughters really enjoyed them though and had fun interacting with them. 

Alpacas are curious creatures so we had times where they’d sneak up behind us. It was so adorable! Being with the animals is calming and truly relaxing. If you’re in the Statesville, NC area, I’d certainly recommend a trip to Serenity Alpacas. 

Touring Serenity Alpaca Farm 

Tours are ongoing at the farm but you do need to make a reservation ahead of time. 

Tickets are $10/adult, $5/children 5-12 and ages 4 and under are free. Please leave pets at home and wear shoes you are comfortable getting a little dirty – it’s a working farm. 

To book a tour, use their online calendar or give them a call.

If you’d like to have a birthday party there, that’s doable. I mean, I’d love to have a birthday party at an alpaca farm. Just saying. 

Serenity at Stony Point Alpaca Farm 
226 Walker Valley Drive, Stony Point, NC 
Serenity Alpaca Farm Website | Serenity Alpaca Farm Facebook 

Head to Asheville for a Fun Day at Eliada Corn Maze

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Have you tried a corn maze yet this fall? The Upstate has many corn mazes to choose from, but local mom Lacey took her family up into North Carolina, near Asheville, for the Eliada Corn Maze. Her family had a fantastic time and she’s told us all about it here in this review. 

The 2023 Eliada Corn Maze is open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays between September 29th and October 29th. We recommend checking the Eliada Corn Maze website for the most up-to-date information regarding ticket availability and available time slots. Media tickets were provided for this review in 2015, but we’ve updated it with 2023 information.

Nothing says autumn like rows and rows of corn. Every year, we try to make it to at least one corn maze. In years past we’ve tried a few mazes in Hendersonville, and we’ve always been pleased with our options. This year, however, our family took the corn maze game up a notch and drove a little farther north right up to our neighbors in Asheville, and visited the annual Eliada Corn Maze.


Relax in a Hammock, Pan for Gold, and Make S’mores at Gold River Camp in NC

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If a unique family or couple stay is in your future, Gold River Camp & Cabins in beautiful Marion, NC should be on your list for their location, outdoor entertainment area, and beautiful accommodations. Overnight accommodations were provided so we could do this media review. 

When Kathryn and Trevor first visited the land that is now the site of Gold River Camp & Cabins, they drove home in silence, each guessing that the other also knew that they had found the spot they wanted to not only call home for themselves but build their dream cabin and glamping village at. It was a done deal. 

Two years later, Gold River, which sits along the banks of the Second Broad River, has several glamping tents, two tiny riverfront houses, and several cabins for guests. Kathryn and Trevor live on-site with their two adorable children and have created an escape that many of us have been searching for – a place to reconnect as a family or couple and just get away from our busy lives. 


10 Fabulous Things to Do in Gastonia, North Carolina

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Looking for a town to explore on a day trip? Just an hour from the Upstate is Gastonia, NC. We discovered this town is full of things to do. There is a fabulous museum, parks, and some of the best milkshakes in the country according to USA Today. Since Gastonia is so close to the Upstate it makes a great day trip!

Looking for more fun in the area? Check Out The Ultimate Guide To Fun With Kids in Charlotte, North Carolina

Mile high swinging bridge at Grandfather Mountain

Looking for more day trip ideas near Greenville, SC? We have your Ultimate Guide to Day Trips Near the Upstate.


See Dinosaurs, Critters, Minerals, and More At The Schiele Museum of Natural History In Gastonia, North Carolina

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Have you visited the Schiele Museum of Natural History & Planetarium? Located in Gastonia, North Carolina the museum makes a great day trip. Expect to have a spectacular time exploring exhibits on dinosaurs, minerals, animals, critters, nature and so much more! If you haven’t been yet, you should definitely add it to your museum bucket list.

Schiele Museum of Natural History and Planetarium near Gastonia, North Carolina

Thank you to the Schiele Museum for providing admission to the museum so we could bring this review to our readers! The words and opinions in this article are those of the writer.

Read our Guide to Fun in Gastonia, NC for more fun you can have while visiting the museum.


Foothills Equestrian Nature Center Provides the Love of Horses Through Equine Therapy

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Do you know a special needs child or adult who could benefit from a unique friendship? Did you know that the Foothills Equestrian Nature Center offers an Equine Therapy program only 40 minutes from the Upstate? The program works with children and adults who have autism and other physical, cognitive, and emotional disorders, giving them a beneficial activity to engage in. We have information about their therapeutic riding program and the cost of lessons, so you can get your little one into their program as quickly as possible.

Foothills Equestrian Nature Center in North Carolina

The FENCE equestrian center is just over the state line in Tryon, North Carolina, and under 40 minutes from most of Spartanburg. We have all the information you’ll need to see why the drive could make a world of difference in a child’s life.

For over fifty years, horses have been used as a source of therapy for people with disabilities. The relationship built between the rider and the horse, helps those with disabilities lead fuller, more satisfying lives.

About TROT at Foothills Equestrian Nature Center

At the Foothills Equestrian Nature Center (FENCE), they’ve been offering TROT for over 18 years. Therapeutic Riding of Tryon offers lessons in small classes and individual classes. Each rider is accompanied by three volunteers to help guide the horse and as side walkers for safety.

Classes are available for children and adults and strictly follow the standards of PATH, the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International. Individuals in the North Carolina counties of Henderson, Polk, and Rutherford are welcome at TROT. South Carolina counties of Spartanburg and Greenville are also welcome in the program.

Benefits of Equine Therapy

Equine-type therapy is beneficial to so many. Horses provide a non-judgmental relationship in a rider’s life. It doesn’t take much to fall in love with these horses. Some of the challenges that can be eased by the companionship gained through the classes at TROT are eating disorders, PTSD, Autism, ADD, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Muscular Dystrophy, Multiple Sclerosis, and more.

Child looking at horse at the Foothills Equestrian Nature Center

Equine Therapy Course Information

The weekly therapeutic riding courses utilize specially trained horses and each rider has volunteers supporting them before and during the lesson. Typically, three volunteers are assigned to each rider to ensure their safety.

These courses are based on the needs of each student. They teach riders to do everything that goes along with riding a horse from start to finish. Each student spends hands-on time with the horse before each class grooming and learning how to saddle the horse. After each lesson, students help remove the saddle, clean their horses, and offer treats.

Courses are about thirty minutes in length and are encouraged to be taken weekly. You can choose to join one of two riding seasons TROT offers in ten-week blocks – March and early June, and another between September and early December.

For those who are unable to ride astride a horse, TROT also offers an unmounted course. These courses include caring for the horse and learning how it communicates, basic horsemanship, and relating the horse’s behavior to humans. The unmounted courses are typically an hour long.

Pricing of TROT

TROT currently charges $250 for a 10-lesson mounted session and $100 for a 10-lesson unmounted session. Financial assistance in the form of a “ridership” is available for those in need who meet certain criteria.

The peaceful surroundings at FENCE only lend to the therapeutic effects that the horses have. These majestic creatures are just waiting to help people feel better. For a child or adult struggling with an emotional or physical challenge – the victory of learning to care for, and/or ride a horse is life-changing.

Check out Foothills Equestrian Nature Center

3381 Hunting Country Road, Tryon, NC
Visit the FENCE website.

Here is the FENCE TROT Information and registration link.

We hope you share this info with anyone you think might benefit from equine therapy!

Eden Farms horse

Looking for more horseback riding lessons? These local stables offer horseback riding lessons for kids of all skill levels to learn about horses and how to ride them safely.

Get into the Fall Spirit with a Visit to Sky Top Orchard

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Fall is just about here! Time for corn mazes, fall festivals, and apple picking! One of the local favorites is Sky Top Orchard near Flat Rock, NC. Read on for local mom Jackie Vest’s tips and things to expect when you visit Sky Top Orchard, so you can make the most of your visit!

See our full list of Apple Orchards Near the Upstate. For more fall fun check out our Pumpkin Patch Guide and our Corn Maze Guide!

Guide to Fall in Greenville, SC

Looking for more fall fun? Here are over 30 things to do this fall near Greenville.

Experience Sky Top Orchard

The Sky Top apple season starts in August and runs through the Sunday after Thanksgiving, giving families plenty of opportunities to seek out their favorite varieties of apples. This orchard has over 22 different kinds of apples to choose from! They also churn out a regional sensation: apple cider donuts!

As soon as you pull up to the orchard and open your car door, you are drawn in with the delicious fried cidery-sugary smell wafting through the air. Plan on buying at LEAST a dozen. If you come on a busy weekend, you’ll need to wait in line for them, but don’t let that stop you!

Apple picking is an enjoyable activity for kids of all ages. While you may need to walk a bit to the row of choice, the picking is quick and easy work. Many apples are available low to the ground, easy picking for even the smallest kiddos. My boys (ages 5 & 7) hopped off the hayride, took off down a row, and filled up their bags before I even caught up with the little stinkers!

The orchard also offers plenty of play structures, Bee Train, a Gold Rush Gem Mine, a honeybee hive (in which kids can usually spot the queen bee behind the glass), a bamboo forest, some farm animals like sheep, chickens, goats, and peacocks, and plenty of delectable goodies in addition to the apples and cider donuts.

Pies, jellies, hot cider, fudges, and frozen apple cider slushies, to name a few! Outside food is acceptable and there are plenty of picnic tables or areas to spread a blanket – just be mindful of bees and limit sugary foods.

The orchard also does a great job accommodating large groups with hayride tours, apple picking, and educational programs which teach kiddos everything they could want to know about how apples grow through the seasons. This is a favorite field trip destination!

apple picking at Sky Top Orchard

Tips for visiting Sky Top

Be sure to check out Skytop’s FAQs for tips before you visit.

Bring cash or check – while they do accept credit cards, their wifi can be spotty so their credit card processing system isn’t always working.

Try to go on a Monday or early week. The weekends can get pretty busy.

Wear sneakers or other walking shoes that are okay to get dirty.

Bring quarters for feeding the farm animals.

Sky Top has real bathrooms now. No more having to use a port-a-potty.

Apple varieties are planted in accordance of when they are in season. They plant the earliest apples closest to the entrance and it progresses further away as the season goes on. In other words, the later in the season you visit the orchard, the further you will need to plan on walking to pick apples.

There are plenty of already-picked apples to choose from if you want all the fresh flavor without the work.

You must pre-pay for apples and you are required to pay for at least one peck per 6 people (around 10 pounds). A basket is provided.

Here is their picking schedule (which lists available varieties).

Sky Top Orchard is open 7 days a week from 9 am – 6 pm.

The orchard is located above Flat Rock, NC and here are directions to Sky Top Orchard.

We love this place and like so many others, we have made it an annual Mecca. I hope this has been helpful, see you at the orchard! Find our tips on picking apples with kids here.

When visiting Flat Rock, NC, consider our day trip guide to Flat Rock for more suggestions on activities in the area, including all that there is to do in very near Hendersonville, NC. Nearby attractions include the Team Ecco Aquarium, the Carl Sandburg House, and the Western NC Nature Center.

Has your family experienced Sky Top Orchard yet?

Take Your Family to Justus Orchard for Fun and Apple Picking

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Fall is just about here and you’re probably hunting the perfect activity to celebrate the season. Local mom Kristina loves Justus Orchard and is telling us why this is one fall road trip you’re going to make into your new family tradition. After all, Justus Orchard offers tons of fun activities for the kids and tasty treats too!

There are lots of great reasons to visit Justus Orchard in the gorgeous mountains of Hendersonville this fall: the apples are delicious, the scenery is peaceful and picturesque, the family who runs the business is very kind and have been running the orchard for four generations, and the apple cider donuts and slushies are delicious. I don’t even like donuts but put one of those in front of me and I’m not going to say no.

Justus Orchards is open every weekend for U-pick through mid-November. They have their delicious apple slushies, apple fritters, apple donuts, fried apple pies, and fruits and vegetables. They also have something new this year: an Apple Cider Float with Apple Crisp Crumbles on top! Yummy!

Their big playground is also open, plus all the farm activities like the cow train and a jumping pillow.

If you want to add on other activities in Hendersonville for your day trip, try the free train museum, the Carl Sandburg home, the Fairy Trail at Bullington Gardens, or the Team ECCO aquarium.

Apple orchards near Greenville, SC, U-Pick apples and apple farms near Upstate, SC

Looking for more apple orchards? Here are the best U-pick apple orchards near the Upstate.