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Planning a Family Vacation to Asheville, North Carolina
January 11, 2008
Category: Vacation Planning Ideas
When planning a family vacation to Asheville, North Carolina, it’s a great idea to include some fun things to do with the kids. There are many activities that the younger set will love in Asheville and in and around Western North Carolina.
Here are some best picks:
Visit Chimney Rock Park
Chimney Rock Park is a favorite destination for Asheville-area visitors. It features unique outcroppings of rock and is approximately a one-hour drive from Asheville. An elevator takes visitors to the top of the ‘chimney’ where there is easy access to high-elevation trails. The ‘chimney’ is a 315-foot monolith located at 2,280 feet. On a clear day, it provides 360-degree views up to 75 miles away.
Two popular hikes include: Exclamation Point at 2,480 feet; and Hickory Nut Falls trail - a 30-minute, moderate hike that ends at a waterfall.
If smaller children are present, elevation hiking may not be an option. Instead, take a short walk on the Great Woodland Adventures Trail. This trail is flat and short and includes interactive, sculpture exhibits about regional plant and wildlife.
After exploring the park, families can visit the gift shop; share a snack; or enjoy the Western North Carolina views from the observation deck.
Tour the Biltmore Estate
No family vacation to Asheville, NC would be complete without a visit to the Biltmore Estate. Activities that engage children are plentiful.
At Riverbend Farm, children can experience life on the farm as it was in the late 19th century. Actors dress in period costumes; barnyard animals are present; craft demonstrations take place; and a kitchen garden is available for viewing. A nearby creamery is a great place to take a break and enjoy an ice cream.
Depending on the season, a variety of outdoor activities are available. Carriage rides, horseback riding, river float trips, and biking are popular ways to tour the 8,000-acre estate. Families can also stroll through Biltmore Gardens, informal and formal gardens, as well as the American Rose Garden where over 250 varieties of roses thrive.
Discover the ClimbMax Climbing Center
At the ClimbMax Climbing Center in downtown Asheville, children can practice rock-climbing skills in a safe, supervised environment. The Climbing Center is set-up with indoor walls that replicate actual rock climbs. Children may participate in bouldering or unroped climbing, no higher than 12 feet. Visitors may also choose to partake in ‘Staff Belays,’ where trained and certified professionals assist with roping, knotting and harnessing participants. The ClimbMax Climbing Center is an interactive environment that children will remember long after their Asheville visit.
Picnic at Mount Mitchell
Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi River, stands at 6,688 feet. Families can drive the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway to this destination, about one hour north of Asheville. Extra clothing is recommended because the temperature is likely to be 20-30 degrees cooler. The observation deck provides 360-degree views and families can take part in an interpretive program about the history of Mount Mitchell and its native wildlife, flora and fauna. A gift shop is on site and a restaurant and snack bar provide tasty offerings. Plenty of outdoor picnic areas are also available. Plan a half-day or full-day trip and enjoy the beauty of Western North Carolina.
Learn About NC Gems and Minerals at the Colburn Earth Science Museum
The Colburn Earth Science Museum in downtown Asheville has a superior collection of minerals, gems, petroglyphs, and more, from North Carolina and around the world. The collection includes 350 samples of gems, fossils and crystals from North Carolina and gives an overview of the history of mining in the state.
As a great follow-up excursion to a museum visit, the museum has a gem-location map that identifies the best gem-finding counties. It also provides a list of mineral mines where children can dig for crystals and gems that are abundant in the Western North Carolina region.
Staying at hotels can be expensive when planning a family vacation, especially when you factor in the cost of eating out. Renting a suite at one of the new Asheville condo hotels is a great option. Families can cook, have food delivered and enjoy family time in a spacious, Asheville hotel condo; The Residences at Biltmore is one such option.
One thing is for sure, there are lots of things in Asheville for kids to get excited about. An Asheville family vacation includes adventure, exercise, fresh air, and most importantly – fun.