Planning Your Summer Family Vacation in North Carolina: 5 Places That You Must Check Out

girl hiking in mountains

Spring has officially arrived, and summer is just around the corner, which means it’s the perfect time of year to start planning your family vacation. If North Carolina is your vacation destination, here are some places to see and things to do that will not only create memories but will get you and your family to enjoy and explore the great outdoors.

Go for a Hike and Catch the Wildflowers in Bloom

If the Asheville area is on your list, taking a hike and seeing hundreds of different wildflowers in bloom is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The best time to catch many flowers, such as lady slippers, trillium, evening primrose, and jack-in-the-pulpits, blooming is between April and June.

Whether you hike Craven Gap Trail to Ox Creek Road along the Blue Ridge Parkway or head to Grandfather Mountain State Park, you’re likely to see some of the biggest collections of North American wildflowers in their natural habitat.

Grab your flower identification book, download an app, or ask a guide to identifying a flower. Never pick wildflowers; just appreciate with your eyes.

Slip Down Sliding Rock

Pisgah National Forest is a definite “must visit” if you are in the Asheville area, even just for a day visit, and if the temps are agreeable don’t pass up the chance to slide down Sliding Rock. Sliding Rock is a 60-foot natural water slide that ends in an 8-foot deep pool of water.

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Sliding Rock is open year-round, but the best time to experience the natural water slide is between Memorial and Labor Day. There are lifeguards available and changing rooms on-site. For just $3 per person, you can have an exhilarating family-friendly adventure. If you’d rather be a spectator, there are observation decks to watch others slide down Sliding Rock.

Don’t forget to take a hike on the family-friendly hiking trail, Pink Beds Loop, while visiting Pisgah.

Mine for Gemstones

If you’re ready to take from hiking, Emerald Village is a great day trip activity and just opened for the season. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, about an hour drive from Asheville, you can mine for gems, pan for gold, and take a black light tour of the mines.

Ride the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

Whether you have a young train fan in your family or you want to explore a fun way to see the Smoky Mountains, check out the opportunities in Bryson City, NC. The Nantahala Gorge Excursion takes you on a four and a half trip to the Gorge and back.

Visit a State Park

One of the best ways to experience the great outdoors of North Carolina is to visit one of the many state parks in the region. Visit for the day or camp out for the week, state parks like Chimney Rock or Mount Mitchell are full of all-ability experiences from hiking to spending time on the water.

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Always check a park’s official website before visiting to see if there are any restrictions, closings, or rules and regulations that may affect your trip.

A Few Notes on Safety Behind the Wheel

Driving is the easiest and most convenient way to travel, especially if you’re planning a trip that requires camping or other outdoor gear. As you pack up your gear, pack for the weather and keep in mind that some areas are cooler (such as Mount Mitchell) than hanging out in downtown Asheville.

To keep you safer behind the wheel, always keep your view free from obstructions (a car top carrier can be a helpful way to stow away outdoor gear) and always eliminate distractions. You want to avoid any accidents during your summer family vacation trip!

Whether you’re searching for directions or using an app, always pull over safely and use your phone rather than trying to navigate and use your phone at the same time.

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