When you live near the beach, you might crave a different kind of escape. If hiking in fresh mountain air, splashing in cool mountain streams & exploring waterfalls sounds kinda like heaven, then North Carolina might be calling for you. There are many areas of the North Carolina mountains to visit and you really can’t go wrong. We personally love the Asheville/Brevard area, known as land of waterfalls & nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Downtown Asheville has the perfect mix of quirky coffee shops, yummy restaurants, breweries, galleries and bookstores.
Did you know that Asheville has the second highest number of breweries in the US? The whole downtown area is easily walkable and has a great laid-back and family friendly vibe. Fave spots include:
- The French Broad Chocolate Lounge
- Named for the French Broad River, everything chocolatey you could possibly want from pot de crème to macarons to ice cream.
- Malaprops Bookstore
- Excellent selection for kids and grownups alike, with a yummy café to grab a coffee and pastry after you snag some books.
- Tupelo Honey
- Delish southern cuisine with a fresh twist.
- Biscuit Head
- Biscuits, jam bar, good coffee in funky West Asheville.
- Mast General Store
- Camping supplies, old-fashioned games and candy, clothes/decor.
Explore the outdoors at the Pisgah National Forest just outside of downtown Asheville.
Just a short 45 minute drive from downtown Asheville, the Pisgah National Forest is somewhere we visit every single trip. Our favorite activities:
- Sliding Rock
- Hands down our favorite place for adventuring. Sliding rock is a 60-foot waterfall fed by a cool mountain stream. Brave souls can slide down and plunge into the 8 feet deep pool at the bottom. Be warned, the water is a chilly 50 degrees in summertime. Pro-tip: there is a fast side (on the right when looking at the waterfall) and a slow side (on the left when looking at the waterfall. The fast side has more water flowing down and also makes for a bumpier ride into the 8 ft pool below. However, the slow side requires a bit more scooching but ends in a much shallower pool. Lifeguards are monitoring during the summer season.
- Looking Glass Falls
- About 5 minutes from Sliding Rock, this 60-foot waterfall is stunning. It is easily accessible with steps and also viewable from roadside. Once you get to the bottom of the steps, you may choose to hike the stream and swim at your own risk. There is almost always a rainbow at the bottom of the falls.
- Tubing down the Davidson River
- If you’re interested in seeing the gorgeous Davidson River up close, you can rent a tube at the entrance to the park and float on down. This float is not quite like tubing our beloved Itchetuknee as the streams in NC are full of smooth stones. This will be a bumpy ride at times, but is simply gorgeous and such an adventure for older kids. If you’re not quite ready to tube down the river, there are a few swimming holes where you can splash and float around.
Take a tour of The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC.
Many things are overrated, however, we do not believe the Biltmore is one of them. The home itself is over 150,000 square feet and the estate is 8,000 acres, think southern Downton Abbey. Many people choose to purchase the audio tour, and there is even a kids’ version. My 9-year-old was very into the experience and my 3-year-old picked a rose out of the garden. The property has a snack area, several stunning gardens and a winery, hotel and stable area. We found our experience well-worth the price of admission and can’t wait to check it out at Christmas time.
Asheville Treetops Adventure Park is a great adventure for the kids.
If you are looking for more adventure in the great outdoors (and are not afraid of heights), Asheville Treetops Adventure Park is a must see. It includes the treetops adventure which is a mix of obstacles, rope course and zip lines. Zip-line Canopy Tours, a legit zip-lining experience geared toward older kids/adults, KidZip, a zip-line course for kids, and the KOLO bike park. Of course, you know your kiddos best, but our physical and adventurous 9-year-old loved Treetops Adventure and KidZip. It’s pretty cool how they learn safely and independently operate a 2-caribeener system. We can’t wait to try out the bike park next time we go.
Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or just enjoying that small town charm, Asheville has a little bit of everything for you. We’ll see you later, the mountains area calling.
Looking for more road trips from Jacksonville? Be sure to check out some of our favorites!
Jacksonville Road Trips with Kids
Mattie Shepherd moved to Jax Beach from Cincinnati about 3 years ago. She was a school psychologist for 9 years and enjoys using behaviorism on her husband and 2 daughters (JK, kind of). Mattie co-leads a Daisy Troop, is very proud to be on PTA board and cheers LOUDLY watching her daughter play ALL the sports. Mattie loves exploring Jax, especially in search of parks, coffee, cocktails and delish food. At home, she likes baking with her girls, dreaming of buying a fixer upper and covering it with #shiplap, and cropping messes out of her Instagram shots.