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Posts Tagged ‘North Carolina’

Half a Million People Are Traveling to Tryon for the World Equestrian Games™ and We Live Just an Hour Away

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Are you planning on attending the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 and looking for all the information you need for your visit? Do you live in the Upstate region and are considering attending the games? We have put together this comprehensive guide that will give you all the information you need for the 2018 Games in Tryon including where to stay,  where to eat, where to park, and what else you can do in the Tryon area.

Update 9/12/18: PHOTOS from the first day of competition are here. A FREE Community Day is happening at the games on Monday, September 17th as well. There are no competitions that day but everything on the grounds – including kids activities like the carousel-  are open!

Half a million spectators are expected to flood into North Carolina in September for one of the largest horse competitions in the world, the  FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 (WEG) in Mill Spring, NC.. The economic impact is enormous, which could trickle into the Upstate’s economy – organizers expect the games to generate $400 million into the greater Carolinas.

John Lummus is president and CEO of Upstate SC Alliance and told the Upstate Business Journal that he “anticipate[s] a great deal of eyes will be on Tryon and nearby communities like Asheville [N.C.], Greenville, Spartanburg, and the surrounding retreats.”

In a word, these games are going to be huge. They are happening at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Tryon, NC, only an hour from Greenville. This is the place that our readers just love! They have Saturday Night Lights events over the summer that are free of charge and include lots of kid-friendly activities like a carousel, face painting, pony rides, magicians, and a horse show.

Tryon International Equestrian Center Saturday Night Lights

What are these games?

The World Equestrian Games™ are held every four years in the mid-Olympic cycle, the largest event of its kind. The events showcases the core disciplines of reining, vaulting, driving, endurance, dressing and para-equestrian dressage, show jumping, and eventing.

The games happen from September 11-23. The 2014 games in Normandy attracted over 1,200 horses, almost 1,000 riders and 575,000 spectator. Again, this is huge.

Each discipline will have its own competition and a schedule of events are here. If you’re not familiar with horse competitions, here is what each discipline means in regular people terms:

Dressage is actually an Olympic sport and has been compared to ballet, where horse and rider work together to create a beautiful performance in tune with music of the rider’s preference.

Driving is probably the most exciting for the spectators as they watch a three-man team navigate four horses that are pulling a carriage through a specially designed course that includes water obstacles and sharp turns. The phases for the driving competition are split up into three days: Dressage, Marathon and Cones.

Endurance is exactly as it sounds: a test of both horse and rider through 100-mile course to challenge the speed and endurance of both. Mandatory rest periods and vet checks are enforced to ensure the welfare of rider and horse.

Eventing is another Olympic discipline that tests the jumping, dressage, and endurance of horse and rider over a three-day period of competition.

Jumping is the third Olympic discipline, and arguably the most popular, as it showcases the rider’s ability to control the horse as it soars over obstacles.

Reining is the only western discipline for these games and looks most like what rodeo horses do when they spin, ride in fast circles, and pull off immediate stops. This competition will happen at the indoor arena at TIEC.

Vaulting is essentially gymnastics on a horse and has its origins in the circus. There are individual, team, and freestyle competitions where the rider performs gymnastics moves on the back of the horse as it rides.

Para-Equestrian Dressage is the same as dressage except riders are scored by their division of functional abilities. The bond between horse and rider are perhaps even more evident as these special athletes demonstrate the relationship with their horse.

Are these events kid-friendly?

Yes, but some more than others. At Saturday Nights Lights, the horse competition is usually jumping and dressage and spectators are requested to stay quiet as to not spook the horses. It’s pretty amazing though to watch but sometimes the smaller kids have trouble keeping quiet.

But other disciplines are more conducive to louder environments and are exciting for the kids to cheer along. For example, Reining events encourage a loud and rowdy crowd. The Cross-Country phase of Eventing and the Marathon phase of Driving are done in an open, outdoor atmosphere and is exciting as spectators watch horses galloping through.

And Vaulting – gymnastics on a horse – is performed to might and often includes colorful costumes, both of which kids will likely love.

Kids are welcome at all events though so don’t be shy about checking out one that sounds like your family will love. Also, Reining and Vaulting are performed indoors, which could be great options if it’s a hot day. There are covered seating in the big arena outside as well.

All tickets include entry to the World Equine Expo™, which includes lot of fun activities and a kids zone. You can also buy these tickets separately.

Are tickets available?

Tickets are sold for individual disciplines, day passes, weekend passes, and all access passses. They can be purchased online. Tickets include access to all the grounds, restaurants, vendors, exhibitions, and entertainment. Parking will be an extra fee, which has not yet been released by the organizers.

Children two years old and younger are free but must sit on the lap of a ticket holder. If parents or guardians want that child to sit by themselves, they need to buy a ticket for them.

Day passes start at $20 per person. Individual competition passes start at $30 and some include more than one day and time for that individual competition.Passes for individual competition qualifiers are more expensive, upwards of $300. For the bad daddy of tickets, the All Sessions Full Games Pass is $1,380.

All tickets bought online are charged a service fee (8.5%) and sales tax (6.75%).

Tryon Internation Equestrian Center World Equestrian Games

Lodging

The Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) is only an hour from Greenville but maybe you want to stay up there for a few days or you have friends coming to town and want to check out the area near the games. There are certainly places to stay near Tryon, from hotels to AirBnbs and apartments. The official games website has a listing page of all area rentals that you can view here.

For a family-friendly place that has activities everyone can enjoy, Lake Lure is 18 miles from where the games are held. A quick Google search turns up several cabins, resorts, and vacation rentals in the area. This local website has information on where to stay as well. If you’re the outdoorsy type, there are several campgrounds in the area like Rutherford Mountain, Hitching Post, Hickory Nut Falls, or Creekside Mountain.

Asheville is an hour away from the TIEC so staying there is also an option for visitors. Hendersonville is a 30-minute drive away and other nearby towns are Landrum, SC, Flat Rock, NC, and Saluda, NC.

Many Greenville and Spartanburg hotels have reported rooms are already filling up for those dates so if you’re thinking of getting out of town and offering your own home for VRBO or Airbnb, maybe you can make some money during the games by hosting visitors.

Places to Eat Near Tryon International Equestrian Center

There are several places to eat on site at the TIEC. From full restaurants to coffee shop and general store, they have it.

Blue Ginger Sushi & Noodles: traditional sushi, rolls, sashimi and more

Campagna Italian Cuisine: wood fired pizza, Italian grill

Legends Grille: Seafood and steak

Roger’s Diner: classic diner fare, milkshakes, gluten free and diary free options

Siesta Cantina: Mexican cuisine, tacos, burritos, salads and margaritas

Mane Street Coffee: pastries and treats, serving North Carolina’s Larry’s coffee

The General Store: Ice cream, deli, along with groceries and donuts

Nearby Columbus, NC is about 8 ½ miles from Tryon. Google maps says that’s about an 11 minute drive, and there are a number of restaurants in Columbus. Here are a few with top reviews!

Mountain View BBQ & Deli: This Columbus favorite serves pulled pork, bbq ribs, brisket and more

Southern Manners: Open for breakfast and lunch, sandwiches, pastries, milkshakes

The Brick Pizzeria: Pizzeria with a variety of appetizers, salads and traditional Italian dishes

Rutherfordton, NC is a little farther from the Equestrian Center but at 12 miles away (an approximately 20 minute drive) it is still a good option for a meal. We’ve listed a few with great reviews.

Rutherford Thai: Popular Rutherford restaurant serving Thai food for lunch and dinner

Mi Puebltio: Mexican restaurant serving salads, nachos and combos loaded with traditional Mexican favorites

Scoggins Seafood and Steakhouse: Lobster, prime rib, steaks, chicken, salad bar, and a lot more!

Parking

General parking will not be available at the TIEC for this event. Parking will be available at nearby lots with shuttle service. It will not be free parking. More information on parking is still To Be Announced, check the World Equestrian Games™ FAQ page for updated parking information.

Extra Things to Do in Tryon and the Upstate

If you are looking for fun things to do in addition to attending the World Equestrian Games™, you have several nearby options. Tryon is a lovely town with art galleries, golfing, and picturesque views – you can easily spend a day just exploring the town itself! Here are some ideas to make the most out of your visit:

Go Back to Nature

The area surrounding Tryon offers excellent hiking and outdoor adventures. For example, families should check out The Gorge in nearby Saluda for an amazing zipline canopy tour. If a zipline tour over the gorge is out of your comfort zone, head to Pearson’s Falls for hiking and scenic waterfall views or to Chimney Rock State Park for amazing views of Western North Carolina.

Pick Some Apples

September is the ripe apple-picking time, and Western North Carolina is home to several outstanding apple orchards where you can pick your own bushel. Sky Top Orchard in Flat Rock is a popular venue for families.

Play Like a Kid

Tryon is situated close to two super fun children’s museums. Kid Senses Interactive Children’s Museum is located in nearby Rutherfordton, and Hands On! Children’s Museum is located in nearby Hendersonville. Both are only a short car drive away from the equestrian center. Additionally, if your kids near to run off some energy indoors, Mountain Play Lodge is close by in Arden.

Tour the Wineries

Within minutes of the TIEC are several award-winning wineries, such as Mountain Brook Vineyards, Parker-Binns Vineyards, Overmountain Winery, and others, that offer wine tastings and more. To get an idea of where to start, check out the WNC Wine Trail. It will tell you where to find the area’s best wineries.

Be a Tourist

The location of the World Equestrian Games™ could not be any better. Your family can hop in the car and tour several nearby towns and popular tourist destinations, such as the Biltmore Estate in Asheville. Plus, Tryon is only 40 minutes from Spartanburg, South Carolina and 1 hour from Greenville, South Carolina. Visit Kidding Around Greenville and Kidding Around Spartanburg to find out the many fun things to do with kids here. We’d love to have you visit the place we are proud to call home!

Will your family visit Tryon for the World Equestrian Games™ this September?

This website post was a collaborative effort by Kidding Around Contributors Kristina Hernandez, Jennifer Curry and Maria Bassett. 

The Davidson River Campground Is Lots of Fun for Kids & Adults

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Are you looking for the best place to camp in the Pisgah National Forest? We visited the Davidson River Campground near Brevard and think that you should consider it for your next camping trip! This campground offers not only hiking but also easy access to tubing.

For even more great camping choices see our list of 12+ Campgrounds Near Greenville that Are Perfect for Kids.

What is the Davidson River Campground

The Davidson River Campground is located in the Pisgah National Forest (off 276) just outside Brevard, NC. It is about an hour and 15 minutes from Downtown Greenville, moments from major grocery stores and dining, and yet seems an entire forest world away. Campers can enjoy wading in the knee-deep Davidson River, diving into the brisk swimming hole, hiking on beautiful mountain trails, tubing down the lazy waterway, fishing for trout, biking through the forest, or simply enjoying the quiet serenity found in the park’s many shaded campsites.

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Your Kids Can See Elk at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center in Cherokee

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Did you know there are elk in the North Carolina Smoky Mountains? We didn’t! After hearing in passing about the elk herd, we decided to load up the kids and set off on an adventure to see what we could find. And find them we did at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, along with some other great educational gems.

Elk were originally native to the Smoky Mountains, but over 200 years ago the population died off to extinction in the area. However, back in 2001 a project was begun to reintroduce the elk to the Smoky Mountains. Since then, the herd has multiplied. Cherokee, NC offers excellent viewing of these impressive animals in their wild habitat.

You can find more day trip ideas on our Day trips in Western NC page.

Find a place to stay near Oconaluftee. This article contains Stay22 affiliate links.

Oconaluftee Visitor Center

One great place to view the elk is the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. This spot offers a wealth of opportunities for homeschool students. The field next to the visitor center is known for elk viewing. In addition, the center boasts a small indoor museum about the history of life in the Smoky Mountains and an impressive outdoor museum consisting of original farm buildings built in the early 1900s.

There is no admission fee.

The best time to observe elk

First, observing the elk. We arrived at the center around 10 am, and we were disappointed to hear from the rangers that the best time to view the elk in the field is either first thing in the morning, about 7 am, or in the evening, approximately 6 – 7 pm, as elk prefer the cooler temperatures.

Walk along the Oconaluftee River

However, determined to enjoy our day anyway, we walked on the easy trail along the Oconaluftee River. The river was crystal clear and we enjoyed skipping stones and our leisurely walk. After walking a short while, we turned around to head back to the car to pick up our picnic basket. But our walk was interrupted by a few large park natives, elk. We were treated to a small group of 14 elk. One of them was a large bull with an impressive set of antlers.  They were just a few feet off the trail! It was thrilling.

The bugle sound the bulls make to attract the females is unforgettable. This occurs mostly in September and October.

Be careful to view the elk safely

We climbed down the river bank to avoid getting too close to the bull. However, other walkers did not make the same decision. Another walker decided to approach the bull to take a picture and we watched the him rear up and toss his antlers. Fortunately the bull turned and ran, leading small herd away. (Note that especially in mating season, bull elk can be very aggressive. Approaching them closely is NOT recommended. It is actually illegal to approach them willfully within 50 yards. Stay on the trail and be mindful of getting too close. The Smoky Mountains National Park has some information about viewing the elk safely, you can find that here.)

Mountain Farm Museum

While the elk were extremely exciting to see, we also really enjoyed the small museum in the visitor’s center and the Mountain Farm Museum adjacent to the center. Both of these places allowed us to get a glimpse of what living in the mountains in the early 1900s was like. At the entrance to the Mountain Farm Museum (outdoors) look to the right of the opening in the fence and you will find a covered box with self-guided tour booklets. This will give you a lot of information about the individual buildings themselves, as well as their role on mountain farms at this time. We really appreciated that the buildings in the farm museum were original and not replicas, so we were able to examine the construction and see elements like pegs used as nails, and the dovetail construction of the cabin walls. Here we viewed a cabin, chicken coop, meat house, wood shed, pig pen with pigs, apple house and many other buildings utilized by mountain farmers in the 1900s.

Admission to this site is completely free, and the travel time is a little over 2 hours from Greenville, making this a really fantastic day trip.

Homeschool Field Trip Expansion Ideas for Elk

This section contains affiliate links.

As a homeschool trip, this site offers both science and history opportunities. If you’d like to augment the trip, check out some books or search the internet for information about elk or mountain farm life in the 1900s. You might also enjoy the following:

Read Little Farm in the Ozarks, by Roger Lea MacBride. This story is a continuation of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series, focusing on her daughter, Rose. It is set in Laura’s mountain farm in the Ozarks, in the same time frame as the buildings viewed at the Mountain Farm Museum.

Read Little House in the Ozarks: The Rediscovered Writings, by Laura Ingles Wilder. This is a collection essays Laura wrote for a newspaper during the late 1800s and early 1900s about her life as a farm wife on an Ozark Mountain farm. This is NOT a Little House series story and was not written for an audience of children, so parents may wish to read through first and make sure it is accessible and acceptable for their children.

This article from American Forests offers a lot of information about the project to reintroduce elk to the area. It contains a lot of information, but is quite long, so parents may want to go through it with children and select a few points to focus on.

For an alternative view, read this article about the struggle farmers in the area have with damage caused by the elk (you can view an example of this damage on the farm museum’s apple trees). Consider holding a mock debate in your home between siblings, or kids vs parents, about the benefits to the elk and the park vs the viewpoint of the farmers and the damage the animals cause.

Here is a brief minute and a half long video showing the elk at Oconaluftee with a little bit of information about the herd from the wildlife biologist for the Smoky Mountains National Park. You can hear the male elk bugle at the beginning of the video.

Oconalufee Visitor Center

Oconaluftee Visitor Center
1194 Newfound Gap Rd, Cherokee, NC
828.497.1919

Open every day except Christmas Day

How do you think your kids would feel about a road trip to visit elk?

See Red Pandas, Black Bears, Gray Wolves, and Pet Goats & Sheep at This Nature Center Near Asheville

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After I saw photos from the Western North Carolina Nature Center in Asheville, NC, I knew that my family would have to go. We love outdoor adventures and seeing animals, so I knew that my kids enjoy a visit. When we decided to finally visit, the WNC Nature Center was even better than I anticipated. If you haven’t been, you need to schedule a visit. And guess what? If you already have a Greenville Zoo membership, you can get half off admission to the WNC Nature Center.

Find a place to stay near Asheville, NC. This article contains Stay22 affiliate links.

Why the WNC Nature Center is so cool

The WNC Nature Center focuses on animals and plants in the southern Appalachian mountains so you’ll get to see animals that roamed this area eons ago up to the present day. The uniqueness of this aspect helps guests to understand more about their own environment and animals they may see in the area.

The center is built into nature with lots of shade, walkways, and natural playgrounds. It’s not huge so it’s very manageable for a day trip, especially with smaller children. The exhibits are interactive and fun for kids of all ages and the park is hardly commercialized.

The center is expanding though and has been building into their 2020 vision plan with new merchandise areas, a new (and beautiful) entrance, expanded parking and restrooms, and even a new name – which we don’t know yet.

What You Will See at the WNC Nature Center

You will start your visit in the Appalachian Station where kids can see a variety of small animals and reptiles. Children will also enjoy interacting with a textured wall and looking at rocks under microscopes.

Then, you will venture outside where you will follow paved and wooden sidewalks through animal exhibits. Most of the animals are behind glass or chain link fences but the exhibits themselves are large and full of animal play structures. These animal exhibits include: otters, raccoons, foxes, gray wolves, cougars, coyotes, bobcats, black bears, hawks, owls, and more. There is a brand new red panda exhibit with the cutest, fluffiest red panda ever. And the red wolf exhibit is an educational experience unto itself.

While exploring, you will also find the Trillium Nature Trail, a .6 mile nature trail to allow children to see the beauty along the Swannanoa River.

Kids will enjoy the Arachnid Adventure, a playground based on spider web jungle gyms. This playground also is surrounded by spiders hiding on the surrounding trees making a fun “eye-spy game”. There are also other playgrounds scattered throughout the park where kids use natural materials to build and play with.

Otter Falls also has a slide that kids can play on while they watch the active animals enjoy the water.

Your visit will end at the Western North Carolina Farm where kids will get to pet animals and even pretend to be farmers themselves in an interactive play zone with small wheelbarrows and tools inside the huge barn. Be sure to check out “water painting” nearby. A gem mine is also next to the barn and the buckets can be purchased in the little shop.

A new Songbird Garden is near the wolves and built like a big wall but cutouts to try to find the birds that are pictured on the wall.

Sensory Bags are available for free

For parents of children with autism or sensory processing disorders, free sensory bags can be signed out at the gift shop upon entering the center. They are sponsored by KultureCity, a national non-profit, and include headphones, a fidget toy, and a feelings chart.

Signs are posted throughout the park indicating areas to perhaps use the headphones. It’s great that the WNC Nature Center now has these available!

Should I bring a stroller?

If you’ve got small kids, bring a stroller or rent one ($10) there. There are lots of hills and little legs will probably get tired. There are plenty of places to rest and enjoy the animals and playgrounds but yes, strollers would be ideal.

Our Experience at the WNC Nature Center

We came later in the day, so we ended up missing the petting zoo (it closed at 4 pm) and didn’t have time to explore the trail. My kids had such a great time though that we hardly missed the extra activities. We easily spent two hours exploring and could have spent another 30 minutes if the nature center would have been open longer. We tend to be slow visitors to attractions, so your family may tour the center quicker especially if you don’t have small children who want to play in the play areas.

I really enjoyed that the layout and outdoor walkways seemed more like a nature walk than zoo. The animals were active in the cool fall air and most of them were easily visible. The paths were easy to follow, though it was confusing figuring out which way to turn to explore the center without missing any of the exhibits.

My kids favorite exhibits were the Otter Falls and the WNC Farm play area. I personally loved watching the cougars and was thrilled to get some wonderful photos even through glass. I was disappointed that glass and fences made it difficult and even impossible to get good photos of some of the animals, but at least the animals were easy to see in person.

Some concessions are available through vending machines and new concession areas will likely be opening in the next year.  The center also has plenty of picnic space for families wanting to bring a lunch. The WNC Nature Center is also right beside a large park with a playground, picnic shelters, and public pool. The center has restrooms in the ticket access, barn near the petting zoo, at the arachnid climbing playground, and in the Appalachian Station which are wheelchair accessible.

Open: 7 days a week, 10 – 3:30 pm
Admission: $13.95/ adults ($1 off for seniors), $13.95/ youth (13-15), $9.95/ kids (ages 3 – 12) 2 and younger free, half off with Greenville Zoo membership
75 Gashes Creek Road; Asheville, NC 28805
828.259.8080
WNC Nature Center

Have you ever visited the WNC Nature Center? What did you think?

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.

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 127 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.

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?

Related Content: Where to Find Waterfalls Near Greenville | Davidson River Campground | Western NC Day Trips

KidSenses: Just an Hour from the Upstate

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For Fall break this year, my family decided to head up to western North Carolina for a day of fun. While we were up there, we stopped in Rutherfordton, NC  (one hour and a half from Greenville and under and hour from Spartanburg) to see the children’s museum KidSenses. I had heard other local parents tell me that it was a popular day trip destination from the Greenville/Spartanburg area and I wanted to see it for myself.

Review of KidSenses in Rutherfordton, NC

What Is KidSenses?

KidSenses is an interactive children’s museum with 16 exhibits. While at first glance the museum might look small from the outside, the space is packed with fun things to do for all ages of children.

Some of our favorite exhibits were:

Kid’s Pueblito – This Mexican diner was my daughter’s favorite exhibit. The space was bright and cleverly decorated with everything from small tables to food prep and beverage stations.

Zap Theatre! – My son said that the Zap Theatre! was his top choice and I agree that it was an unique experience hearing and watching a Musical Bi-Polar Tesla Coil play music. This particular exhibit has select showtimes so be sure to ask ahead of time for the schedule.

Alphabet Trail – My children were too old for this section of the museum reserved for ages 4 and under but I still peeked in to see what it looked like. The space had ample room to play, imaginary areas, and couch (perfect for feeding a baby or resting while the kids play). The area was completely closed off by a door and the museum staff assured me that they enforce the age limits. I would have happily retreated to this quiet corner back when my kids were smaller.

Bubble-Ology – This room was perhaps one of the most unusual exhibits at the museum. In it, kids could create all sorts of bubbles including a contraption that allowed you to stand inside a giant bubble.

HealthWise – This particular exhibit is not open at all times, but if you are lucky enough to catch it when it’s open you should definitely check it out. Inside, kids could don lab coats, goggles, and gloves to perform science experiments. If you have a child that is always wanting to mix everything in your kitchen cabinets to see what happens, this is the perfect place to let them experiment without the mess.

Lights! Camera! Action! – This exhibit included a full stage, complete with curtains, costumes, and a puppet theatre.

WFUN Studios – My kids enjoyed pretending to be newscasters in this mini studio that had everything from a working camera to a news desk and green screen. This exhibit is best enjoyed with two or more people as one person can pretend to report while the other person can control the background.

PetSenses – In this area, kids could grab a stuffed pet, groom it, weigh it, and even check the pet for ID chips.

In addition, there was also a mini grocery store, firetruck, art room, and more. With 16 exhibit areas, there was plenty for my children to explore.

Tips for Visiting KidSenses

We would recommend calling ahead of time to ensure that you aren’t visiting at the same time as a school trip.

There are only a couple options for dining in Rutherfordton, so pack a lunch or ask at the desk for a couple recommendations. There is however, a great ice cream and coffee shop right across the street.

We saw plenty of street parking on the day we visited.

My kids are old enough where I wasn’t worried about “losing” them, but some other parents told me that they did feel like they had to watch their children closely due to the fact that you could quickly scale a climber in the middle of the museum to get from one floor to another. The museum was pretty contained though with only one entrance. There is a back door but it has an alarm. Overall, I think that due to the smaller size, it would be easier to watch small kids than other similar museums.

KidSenses is in the process of adding a new division for youth ages 11 and up called The Factory. It will be located right behind KidSenses in a separate building. We still don’t have a date on when this new hands-on maker space will open, but it will certainly be a great addition for families with older kids.

Basic Information

KidSenses is located at:

172 N. Main St.
Rutherfordton, NC 28139

You can call them at 828-286-2120.

They are closed Sundays and Mondays. Tuesdays-Saturdays they are open from 9-5.

Admission is $8/person (children & adults)

Have you been to KidSenses? We would love to hear what you think.