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Posts Tagged ‘North Carolina’

25+ Hendersonville, NC Things to Do: Fun Days Start Here

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Are you looking for things to do in Hendersonville, NC? Just over the border into North Carolina is the mountaintop town of Hendersonville, NC. There are lots of things to enjoy, but the thing Hendersonville, North Carolina is most famous for is their apple orchards! If you are planning a trip to Hendersonville, we’ve got all the info you’ll need to fill your day with fun, or enjoy a day trip or weekend getaway any time of year.


We Love Adventures in Hendersonville, NC


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Discover the Magical Mountaintop Town of Beech Mountain, NC

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Have you visited North Carolina’s Beech Mountain? If you’re planning a North Carolina mountain getaway, you’ll want to check it out! We were lucky enough to be invited to the annual Land Of Oz attraction, and while visiting, we discovered Beech Mountain is a mountaintop town with a magic of its own.

Looking for more adventures in North Carolina? Kidding Around has tons of recommendations for fun in North Carolina!

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Riverside Retreat in Saluda, NC: Easy and Fun Family Getaway

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Only an hour from the Upstate, Wilderness Cove Campground in Saluda, NC feels a lot further away. Let the river soothe you to sleep, hike the Green River Gamelands, or go tubing over the summer at this fun campground. 

Thank you to Wilderness Cove Campground for inviting us out to do this review. 

I have tubed down the Green River a few times and have always loved it. Staying on the Green River is just as much an adventure and one you can do right at Wilderness Cove Campground all year long. 

We’ll tell you what they offer, things to do in the area, and how to book your trip. 

About Wilderness Cove Campground 

You may already know about this place because it’s one of the big tubing outfitters on the Green River. But maybe you didn’t know they offer riverfront cabins, bigger family cabins, tent sites, and glamping tents. Wilderness Cove Campground is owned by Outdoor Adventure Retreats, a family of campgrounds throughout the Southeast offering unique access to outdoor recreation, led by Andrew Garcia and Ben Cohen.

They offer tubing over the summer and the campground is open all year. They also offer some neat classes like fly fishing.

Accommodations at Wilderness Cove

The campground is right along the Green River but not all the rentals can hear those soothing sounds. We stayed at one of the small riverfront cabins where we could hear the river, which was awesome. The cabin has a full bed plus a loft, which has a twin bed. There’s a fire pit, Keurig, and a mini-fridge but these are rustic cabins. It’s basically camping but indoors with beds and electricity.

Heating and air are provided, as well as linens, but you’ll have to walk to the bathhouse or pit toilets. 

The bathhouse is nice. It was clean and had both toilets and showers. Bring your own towels and flashlights. 

The glamping tents are a lot closer to the bathhouse but we didn’t stay in those so I can’t give a firsthand review. They did look pretty awesome though. 

Here are how many people each place/site can accommodate: 

  • Glamping Tent – 3 people (max of 2 adults)
  • River Cottage – 3 people (max of 2 adults)
  • Large Glamping Tent – 4 people (max of 2 adults)
  • Standard Cottage – 4 people (max of 2 adults)
  • Double Glamping Tent – 6 people (max of 4 adults)
  • Deluxe Cottage – 6 people (max of 4 adults)
  • Green River Guest House – 7 people
  • Individual Primitive Campsite – 4 people
  • Group Primitive Campsite – 20 people
  • RV Sites – No preset limit. Up to 2 adults and 3 children included at no extra charge. After that it’s $5 extra per person.

The campground does have WiFi but we found it to be a bit spotty at some points. Cell service is minimal at the campground. 

Things to do at Wilderness Cove Campground 

The campground is located adjacent to the Green River Gamelands, which has almost 17 miles of beautiful trails. I’ve hiked all through there and the Narrows trail is my favorite because you can watch the kayakers tackle the huge rapids (it’s extremely steep to get down and up though – there are ropes). But there are miles of other trails to hike at all levels.

You can access the Gamelands across the street from the campground itself. Or you can hike the six-mile round trip hike to Milton Bradley Falls. The trailhead is just steps away from the riverfront cabins and camp store. 

And, of course, over the summer, you can go tubing on the Green River. Tubing season is usually Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day Weekend. 

If you have a NC fishing license, you can fish in the river as well.

If you love kayaking, you can rent a kayak from Wilderness Cove and run the river. We saw some kayakers who had ran the river that day staying at the campground. The Green River is well-known for its kayaking opportunities.

Things to do Nearby 

Hendersonville is just a short 25-minute drive from Wilderness Cove and there are so many things to do there: apple picking, snow tubing, free museums, the Team ECCO aquarium, more hiking, and shopping. We have a big list of Things to do in Hendersonville to give you ideas. 

Flat Rock is also close by, where you can play with the goats at the Carl Sandburg Home or hike on the property for free. Grab a pizza or baked good at the Village Bakery on your way home. 

Saluda, NC is close as well. The small town has great restaurants like the Purple Onion and Wildflower Bakery. 

We didn’t do this although I’d like to but the Gorge Zipline is just down the street from Wilderness Cove. I love ziplining and this place has excellent reviews. 

Wilderness Cove is also not far from the Blue Ridge Parkway, Pisgah Forest, and miles and miles of amazing trails to enjoy. Since we went during leaf season, we headed up about an hour and 15 minutes to the Blue Ridge Parkway near Craggy Gardens to see some fall foliage and we were not disappointed. I love staying at places that are great base camps for adventures. 

Booking Your Stay at Wilderness Cove Campground 

You can book your stay online at the Wilderness Cove Campground website. Note that some accommodations are pet-friendly. 

Prices per night start at around $91/night for the riverfront cabins and glamping tents. Tent and RV sites are cheaper while the cabins that hold more people go up from there. 

Please drive slowly down to the river. The road is very curvy and sometimes you can’t see around the curves. 

Wilderness Cove Campground
3772 Green River Cove Road, Saluda, NC
Facebook | Wilderness Cove Website

Kidding Around's Travel Guide to North Carolina

Loving North Carolina? Here’s our huge North Carolina Travel Guide

Hands On! Children’s Museum in Hendersonville, NC is the Perfect Day Trip

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Have you visited Hand On! Children’s Museum in Hendersonville, NC? It’s the perfect place for kids to play and learn with parents and grandparents. The small footprint of Hands On is great for a kid-size adventure without being too overwhelming. You’ll find Hands On! along Downtown Hendersonville’s beautiful Main Street, beside Black Bear Coffee.

The orchard at Hands On

Hands On! Children’s Museum

Hands On! Children’s Museum has a target audience of children aged ten and under. The museum is all located on one floor which is great for parents keeping track of multiple kids.

The smaller front section contains a fire truck play area, a dinosaur dig exhibit, an art area, and a Kilwin’s Ice Cream-themed pretend play area.

Fire truck at Hands On in Hendersonville, NC

Behind that, you’ll find the larger open play space where kids can pretend to shop at the grocery store, cook a meal, and pick apples. There’s also a pretend play doctor’s office with a baby care station, a dentist’s office, an engineering area, and a theater.

The middle of this Hendersonville children’s museum features a beautiful mountain play area with a fun stairway that leads to a slide in the rocks. The bubbling sounds of both a natural-looking waterfall feature and a fun water play area add to the natural mountain scene and fill the whole museum with the calming sounds of running water.

Mountain area at Hands On

Babies and Toddlers at Hands On! WNC

There is a small area set aside just for babies and toddlers at Hands On! In this area you’ll find soft mats, a low table and chairs, many sensory toys suitable for toddlers and babies, plus blocks and puzzles.

Rocking chairs in this area overlook the mountain in the center of the museum.

Admission and Hours at Hands On! Hendersonville, NC

Your $10 admission allows you to enter and leave the museum for a full day. Every person pays admission – even adults. Infants are $4. Hands On! is open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 9 am – 5 pm. (Closed Sundays and Mondays, except for special holidays and seasonal breaks.)

Memberships are available and if you think you would make the trip to Hendersonville more than a few times a year, a membership could be the perfect option for your family. (Remind grandparents that museum memberships make great birthday and Christmas gifts!)

Classes, Parties, and More

Hands On! offers regular classes that are often free with your admission. Classes range in topics from science to reading to crafting. Summer is filled with weekly class options – and the convenient part for parents is that one child can attend a class while the other children play. Throughout the year there are weekly classes – such as storytime and science classes, plus other weekly options.  Be sure to check their Hands On website or Facebook page for all the details.

Hands On! also offers an easy and enjoyable option for birthday parties. They provide a party room for the cake and gifts and then, of course, the museum is all the entertainment you will need for your birthday guests.

Dinosaur at Hands On

More to Do in Hendersonville, NC

Downtown Hendersonville has so many fun things to do. Hop out of the museum for lunch at one of the family-friendly Main Street restaurants. Options like pizza and sandwiches and an iconic soda fountain shop across the street can make Hendersonville a great day trip destination. Right next door to the museum is Black Bear Coffee Shop with great coffee beverages, treats, sandwiches and a lot more. And, McFarlan’s Bakery is right across the street. Pick up some donuts, cookies, pastries, or even a whole pie to bring home!

Gather a few of your girlfriends and strap the kids in their booster seats. A day at Hands On! will be a day the kids will really remember and love

Hands On! Children’s Museum
318 N. Main Street, Hendersonville, NC
828.697.8333

Has your family ever visited the Hands On! Children’s Museum?

Don’t miss our full guide to Hendersonville, NC Things to Do.

Visiting Statesville, NC: Alpacas, History, Hot Air Balloons, Family Fun

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Statesville, NC is a hidden gem just two hours from the Upstate, SC that has something for all interests! If you’re looking for a new place to explore, Statesville could be your next destination.

Thank you to Visit Statesville, NC for inviting us to experience their beautiful town.

Have you been to Statesville, NC? I had never been until now and wow, what a cute little town full of interesting places to visit and things to do – perfect for a family trip and not far from the Upstate, only two hours. 

I’ll tell you all about why you should visit Statesville and things to do there to make it a memorable weekend with your family. 

About Statesville, NC

Statesville was founded in 1789 and is full of history. And if you’ve ever heard of Statesville, it’s likely because you have been to the Carolina Balloonfest in October. This is the biggest Hot Air balloon festival in our region. In fact, so many pilots live in the Statesville area that the town is known as the Ballooning Capital of the East. Of all the neat things to put a town on a map for, this is by far one of the coolest distinctions. 

hot air balloon
Hot Air Balloon

This was my first visit to Statesville and it was one surprise after another. We toured an alpaca farm, interacted with cool animals at a rescue ranch, and learned all about how people did laundry in the 18th century (which is far more interesting than you’d think) at Fort Dobbs. Statesville is only two hours from the Upstate and can definitely be done as a day trip but I think it’s also a hidden gem for a family getaway for a few days. 

Things to do in Statesville, NC 

We packed as much as we could in our two-day adventure but there is a lot more to do in Statesville ,NC!

Serenity Alpaca Farm

Imagine being surrounded by fluffy alpacas, getting to interact with them (after they judge you), and learning all the cool facts about these amazing creatures? That’s what you can do at Serenity at Stony Point Alpaca Farm. We loved our visit here and learned so many neat things about alpacas. Plus, I got to hold a baby alpaca, which was easily a highlight of my entire year. Take a tour here and you’ll easily fall in love with alpacas. Read our full review of Serenity Alpacas for all the details.  

226 Walker Valley Drive, Stony Point, NC 

serenity alpaca farm
Holding a baby alpaca

Galaxy Arcade 

For some family time playing games together, head to the Galaxy Arcade in downtown Statesville. They have lots of old-school video games, pinball, virtual reality, air hockey, and a back room with lawn games. Bring quarters or break your dollars at the machine on site. 

209 W Front St, Statesville, NC 

Ft. Dobbs Historic Site

I love history but I really wasn’t expecting the treat that Fort Dobbs Historic Site brings. We had a tour from Jason, who dressed in period clothing despite how hot it was, and gave us an amazing tour of the replica fort, which includes tables, chairs, beds, and guns from the 1700s when the fort was in operation during the French-Indian War. It was so, so cool! Both my kids also really enjoyed learning about the history and talking to the men and women who worked there making shoes, cooking over open fires, and crafting spoons and tools. This was one of our favorite stops and I’d definitely recommend heading here during your trip to Statesville. Guided tours are $2/adults and $1/kids. 

438 Fort Dobbs Rd, Statesville, NC

Rescue Ranch 

A beautifully large property that houses over 80 rescue animals, Rescue Ranch offers both private and public tours with hands-on animal experiences. Plus, the massive, inclusive playground will be an absolute hit with the kids as it has climbing apparatuses, zip lines, swings, and spinning things (I have no idea what they are called). We loved meeting all the cool animals like the fainting goats, tortoises, and snakes but our favorites were the bunnies, birds, and miniature horses. Bring a picnic and stay awhile! Tours last about 90 minutes and are $20/adult and $10/kids for the public tours and $30/adults and $15/kids for the private tours. No pets allowed. 

1424 Turnersburg Highway, Statesville, NC 

Hazy Red Vineyard

I had never picked muscadines in my life and only had them once or twice. My daughters had never had them so we were excited to try this new pick-your-own adventure. Meeting Lorne, one of the owners of Hazy Red Vineyard, was a lot of fun. His land had been in the family since the mid-1800s and they have been growing the muscadines only in the past decade or so. They have a few different kinds that they grow and pick and the season lasts from early summer to around mid-October depending on the weather. 

These muscadines were amazing. They were sweet and tart and juicy and addicting. I’ve never had muscadines like this before and was very happy to walk out of there with more than a gallon of them! Plus, their health benefits are spectacular. You need to put this place on your list when you visit Statesville. 

375 Jane Sowers Road, Statesville, NC

Emerald Hollow Mine 

This mine is super unique and fun. It’s the only emerald mine in the world where the public are allowed to prospect and it’s also where the largest emerald in North America was found. You can go digging in the creek or dirt for gems (we found a small emerald!) or use the sluice with enriched buckets. Whatever you choose, this is a place you need to visit. Read our full review of Emerald Hollow Mine

484 Emerald Hollow Mine Drive, Hiddenite, NC 

Creekin' at Emerald Hollow Mine
Creekin’ at Emerald Hollow Mine

Statesville Sculpture Garden

This is a cute little sculpture garden in downtown Statesville with some unique art. We liked walking around there after our dinner at Smokin’ Southern Cantina since it’s right across the street.

202 N. Center Street, Statesville, NC

Where to Eat in Statesville, NC 

There are several great restaurants in Statesville and we only visited a few places, which I’ll tell you about below. For more recommendations, you can see the Visit Statesville website.

Andrea’s Ice Cream 

We went here twice. First, we went to get ice cream and it was amazing. They have Blue Bell and the flavors are the absolute best. Then we went back again the next day to get their bagels (only made on Fridays and Saturdays) because I just adore bagels and will go to great lengths to get good ones. Don’t miss this gem when you visit. 

115 S Center Street, Statesville, NC

Lake Mountain Coffee

This is quite possibly the prettiest coffee house I’ve been in. It’s two levels and the second level looks down on the first floor. There is a lot of seating and they have excellent coffee and baked goods. My kids loved the muffins. They also have beer and wine so you can certainly relax here for any occasion. 

110 W Broad Street, Statesville, NC 

Smokin’ Southern Cantina 

A take on Tex-Mex cuisine with some pizza and burgers thrown in for good measure. The reason I’d recommend this place is because it has something for everyone, no matter their taste. We had quesadillas, fries, and nachos. Everything was good and it took a while to decide what to order because the menu was fairly extensive. I really wanted a margarita but held back – next time!

121 N Center Street, Suite 103, Statesville, NC 

Vanilla Bean Bakery 

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Vanilla Bean had boba tea so that’s what I got instead of coffee because I absolutely love boba (or bubble) tea. I had Green Tea with pomegranate popping bubbles and it was so delicious. They also have coffee and pastries and the staff were really nice and helpful. 

127 W Broad Street, Statesville, NC

Where to Stay in Statesville, NC 

We ended up staying in a beautiful AirBnB less than a mile from downtown Statesville but there are a lot of places to stay in the area. 

Visit Statesville recommends several hotels and AirBnBs on their website that you can check out and see what works best for your family. 

Overall Mom Review of Statesville, NC

I thought Statesville, NC was quite the gem of a town. We had so many new experiences and came away with a new appreciation for alpacas, rescue animals, muscadines, history, and real mining operations. Almost everything we did was new to us, which was awesome because my daughters and I are always looking for our next new adventure and Statesville delivered. 

I think going to the Carolina Balloon Fest would be an amazing experience as it’s the city’s most popular event but there are so many other reasons to visit this area, which is certainly within a weekend trip for families in the Upstate and even a day trip. 

So if you’re looking for that next adventure, consider heading up to Statesville to cuddle an alpaca, get dirty gem mining, and learn about history at Fort Dobbs while eating those freshly picked muscadines!


Visit Statesville
Visit Statesville Website | Facebook

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
828.635.1126
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?

may, 2024

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?

If you are heading to Brevard in October, be sure to check out Pumpkin Fest at Silvermont Park! Held annually by The Friends of Silvermont, the weekend festival offers a great adventure for little kids to enjoy the Halloween season while hunting for white squirrels through a paved trailed lit up by carved pumpkins. There is also live music, food trucks, and money raised goes to help restore the Silvermont mansion and park.

Pumpkin Fest in Brevard, North Carolina

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.

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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. 

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