Three Waterfalls in North Carolina

When I think of North Carolina, my first thought is of the numerous and beautiful waterfalls.  Some can be seen from the street and others take a little walk or hike to get to.  While we were staying at the High Hampton Inn and Country Club in North Carolina, we took one of the rainy mornings to drive around and visit some waterfalls.  The High Hampton Inn provided us with a map of the area waterfalls and some of the staff shared their favorite waterfalls.  We visited three waterfalls in the Cashiers area: Dry Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Silver Run Falls. 

Dry Falls is really not that dry at all…hardy har har!

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You can walk behind Dry Falls.

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Then we stopped to snap a picture of Bridal Veil Falls.  You can drive under Bridal Veil Falls and at one point the highway actually went under the falls.  It isn’t that way anymore.  A few years ago, the road was damaged and closed.  It looked open when we were there, but I was going to take any chances!  We just stopped at the pull off on the side of the road.

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Our last stop was Silver Run Falls.  You have to take a little walk to get to this waterfall.  It is kind of hard to see because all you see a a little sign like the one above and it seems like you just park on the side of the road. 

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Thank you to Debbie at Delicious Baby for hosting Photo Friday!  Stop by to see great photos from travelers all over!

Three Days in Asheville, NC with Kids

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Today I am joining Monday Dreaming with Mara over at Mother Of All Trips.  We just got back from a three day trip to Asheville, North Carolina.  You might be wondering why I am dreaming of returning for another three days in Asheville.  While I was at the Type  A Conference (which was an incredible conference and I have notes and notes to share with you over the next week), my husband and kids explored Asheville.  Although I was glad to be at the conference, as I look at pictures of their adventures I also wish I was able to join them.  I guess we will just have to return so I can take part in the hiking, kayaking, and wandering!

Three Days in Asheville, North Carolina

Day One – The Great Outdoors

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Day one began with breakfast in the hotel.  When we look for a hotel, we try to find one that offers breakfast because it helps with the budget!  Make the drive to Chimney Rock State Park.  Chimney Rock State Park is a place where you can spend just a few hours or all day.  My family spent practically all day here!  They hiked both the Hickory Nut Falls Trail and the Great Woodland Adventure trail.  They also explored the nature center.  After a long day of hiking, they just grabbed something quick to eat and headed back to the hotel for some pool time.

Day Two – More Outdoor Fun

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On day two, they loaded up with more sunscreen because they were going to go kayaking!  Originally, the plan was to check out Rafting with My Kids but it was about an hour away from the hotel and after their long day yesterday he decided it probably wouldn’t be a good idea.  Instead, they decided to spend the day at the Asheville Outdoor Center.  They spent the morning kayaking the one hour trip.  Both kids got to paddle themselves and my husband said he didn’t really have to do much of the work! 

Know Before You Go: There are several kayaking, tubing, rafting and paddle board options.  They chose to do the one hour kayak option.  Daddy J said the kids had just started really enjoying themselves and then it was over.  He wished he had done one of the longer trips.

The Asheville Outdoor Center also offers gem mining but they decided to skip it because everyone was getting whiny for lunch.  After a picnic lunch in the car, they drove to the Western North Carolina Nature Center.  This nature center offers animal exhibits and hands on learning activities throughout that kept my family busy for several hours.  After dinner, we headed to Pritchard Park to catch a drum circle.

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Day Three – Around Downtown Asheville

After a conference session in the morning, I met up with the family to explore Downtown Asheville.  We hit downtown right at lunchtime so we had a hard time getting into one of the local restaurants.  As we walked past a Jimmy John’s sandwich place, I recalled a friend talking about how great it was.  We had lunch there and for the first time in a long time my family ate their lunch without one complaint!  After lunch, we walked across the street to the Pack Place Education, Arts, and Science Center and played at the Health Adventure*.  The Health Adventure is a children’s science museum with hands on exhibits that entertained the kids for three hours while mom and dad were able to relax.  We have been to lots of children’s museums and although this was one of the smaller ones, it kept the kids entertained the longest!  When we got tired of playing, we wandered down to check out the splash pad in front of the Courthouse and then it was time to head home for dinner!

Spending that third day with my family and looking at the pictures have just made me want to return to Asheville to spend more time exploring the outdoors with them.  More in depth posts on each activity will be posted soon!

 *Disclosure: We were given free admission into the Health Adventure because I was a Type A Conference attendee.

High Hampton Inn and Country Club – Cashiers, North Carolina

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Driving through the mountains of Cashiers, North Carolina my children couldn’t wait to be at our destination.  After eight hours in the car, we finally arrived at the High Hampton Inn and Country Club.  The first thing we saw was the golf course and the Inn which would be our home for the next two nights.  The High Hampton Inn is perfect for those who are interested in unplugging and enjoying time together as a family.  We were thankful to be invited to the opening week of the 89th season of this lovely mountain lodge.

Accommodations

High Hampton Inn, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, offers all sorts of lodging choices.  There are over one hundred guest rooms and suites.  There are also a number of cottages scattered throughout the property.  We stayed in a pretty room with two beds, two bathrooms, a sitting area, and balcony with an amazing view of the mountain and lake on the top floor of the lodge.  There is wireless internet service, televisions, and phones in some of the public areas of the lodge but you won’t find any of that in your room.  What you will find by way of entertainment is a few board games (if there aren’t any in your room, stop by the front desk) and some books collected over the years. 

Dining

Meals are served buffet style in the Dining Room three times a day.  If your room is booked on the American Plan, all meals are included with the room.  These meals are not your typical buffet style meals.  Some of the dinner choices included chicken wellington, prime rib, locally caught rainbow trout, a salad bar and soup as well as a variety of desserts.  My children were ecstatic to see that lunch was a full taco bar one of the afternoons we were there.  If you plan on exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains during the day, you can order lunch boxes the night before to take with you.  One thing to note is that dinner guests are to adhere to a more formal dress code.  Men are supposed to wear a collared shirt and jacket to dinner and women and children are expected to dress accordingly.  At first, I thought that this would be a huge inconvenience but it was rather nice to spend all day mucking around the hiking trails, come back to the room for a hot shower, and to have a nice semi-formal dinner with my family.

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Be sure to stop by the lodge for Afternoon Tea where you can pick up some sweet tea and a cookie or two!

Golf Course and Spa

The High Hampton Inn Golf Course is an 18 hole golf course that is beautiful.  The tees, fairways and greens blend in with the nature around them and you can even see one of the greens out in the lake from the lodge!  The golf rates are reasonable and there are packages offered with a stay.  There is a driving range, which can even be used in poor weather, and there are golf schools available. 

The Spa and Health Club has a number of workout machines that you can use for your daily workout, outdoor yoga classes, and a rock climbing wall.  You can also get a massage, pedicure and manicure or a number of other treatments. 

Activities for the Family

As we explored High Hampton Inn, family summer camp was the phrase that came to mind often.  There is no shortage of outdoor and indoor activities for each member of the family. 

The grounds surrounding the High Hampton Inn are a family’s playground.  There is a lake with a diving platform in the water and a boathouse with canoes and paddle boats for rent.  A small section of the shallow part of the lake has been blocked off so that little ones can play under the watchful eye of their parents.  There are fly fishing schools offered at the lake.  Right next to the lake is a playground where we spent most of our time (it was much too cold to explore the lake!), as well as a few swings and a tetherball court. 

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Unfortunately, we visited during the first week of the new season so there was not much going on.  During the summer months, there are all sorts of activities for children and teens.  There is a teen room with scheduled activities and parents can drop off their children for an additional fee at the Kids Club where they will play games, do crafts, take nature walks and more.

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My children loved visiting with the resident miniature donkeys, Fred and Ed.  You can stop by the front desk/dining room and ask for a carrot or an apple to bring them when you visit.  Sometimes the donkeys even give carriage rides!

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We thoroughly enjoyed our nature walk on the Lake Trail.  The weather was pretty crummy while we were there but when we had a patch of sunlight we decided to take a walk.  The walk loops around the lake through the trees.  It is a nice and easy walk that both my 4 and 6yo were able to complete the loop without complaining.  There are miles of private hiking trails.  You can get a cardio workout on the Fitness Trail or head to the top of the Chimney Top Mountain or the Rock Mountain.   Pick up a trail map when you check in. 

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The High Hampton Inn and Country Club is located in the beautiful area of Cashiers, North Carolina.  Though you won’t have much reason to leave with meals, the lake, and more, you will probably want to explore the area. The Highlands and Cashiers area has many beautiful waterfalls around what seems like every corner.  The front desk and the concierge will help you find trails around the Cashiers and Highlands area as well.  Be sure to get a waterfall map!  It is about an hour and a half from the Biltmore Mansion in Asheville. 

The High Hampton Inn rooms are a bit more than we would normally spend on a hotel room, but don’t forget to add in the fact that you are receiving three meals a day for each member of your family.  Although we just got back from the High Hampton Inn last week, we had to leave daddy at home.  I would love to return in the early fall with my whole family.  This kind of trip is exactly the type of trip my husband would plan if I left it up to him.  I am dreaming about exploring the waterfalls as a family, seeing the leaves change colors (something we don’t get here in Florida) and perhaps trying our hand at fly fishing!

Disclosure: Thank you to the High Hampton Inn for providing my family with two complimentary nights and meals.  All opinions are my own without any outside influence.

Sky Top Orchard – Flat Rock, North Carolina

Sometimes, the vacations that we dream of are not always the vacations we get.  Things go wrong.  Kids pitch fits in front of thousands of tourists in the middle of the city square.  You thought that your spouse put the diapers in the diaper bag and he/she thinks you put the diapers in the diaper bag…of course, you find out at the worst time that neither of you put them in the bag!  The picture on the website doesn’t look like the room you are standing in.  The attraction that your kids are thrilled to see happens to be closed for remodeling but you forgot to check on the website.  We have all been there. 

For several weeks leading up to my trip to Asheville, North Carolina, the number one thing I was looking forward to was a visit to an apple orchard where we could pick our own apples off the tree!  I hadn’t been apple picking in years (like 15 years).  We tried to go last year when we were at Homestead Farm  in Poolesville, MD but we got rained out.  I did several web searches to find apple orchards and I sent messages out on Twitter to get reviews for the best orchard farms.  This was a well-researched trip.  What I didn’t expect when we arrived at the perfect apple orchard (perfect because it was right off the highway we take out of town, down the street from the Carl Sandburg home which I wanted to visit as well, and on top of a mountain so it would offer amazing views), was this:

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That is an apple tree in case you couldn’t tell.  That was pretty much all we could see of the apple trees.  I was only about ten feet away from the tree when I took that picture.  That is how close I needed to get before I could actually see the tree.  Those beautiful vistas the website claims?  Well, I believe they are there but we didn’t get to see them.  The morning fog was so thick that we couldn’t see anything on our drive up to Sky Top Orchard

We reached Sky Top Orchard and at first glance we thought it was closed.  We got out of the car and realized that it was not closed but we were the only customers there for awhile.  Even though we decided not to brave the weather and pick apples, we wandered around the orchard for awhile just enjoying the morning walk in the fog.  Once we decided that the scarecrow was in fact a scarecrow and not a real person, we headed back into the store area to pick some apples…from the table.  We also picked up apple cider (frozen for the long car ride home!) and a caramel apple to share during a stop.

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There are tables and tables of so many different kinds of apples so you don’t have to pick your own if you don’t want.  These fresh apples were so delicious.  We just used the last few to make caramel apples this morning. 

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There are also lots of pumpkins for sale.  We spent time digging through a gigantic bin of little orange pumpkins.  All were one dollar and all looked exactly the same but Little S wanted to find the perfect ones.  We found the perfect ones!

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Today, I am dreaming about those vacation moments that don’t always go as dreamed.  Just because those moments don’t go exactly like I planned doesn’t mean that there are no redeeming qualities from the vacations.  Even though we were so disappointed that we didn’t pick apples, we had such a great time sharing this mother daughter moment.  Okay…I am not going to lie.  I am also dreaming about picking our own apples from an orchard as great as this one but I guess I will have to tuck that dream away until next apple picking season.

If you are in the area and it is a sunny day, I recommend a stop at the Sky Top Orchard.  The orchard has many activities besides apple picking: ride a tractor pulled hayride, hop behind wooden cut-outs for pictures, visit the barnyard animals, see cider and donuts made, and much more.

Stop by Mother of All Trips to see what others are dreaming about.

Flat Rock Family Vacation on raveable

A Peaceful Place

“Do you wish a ticket to go away and come back or do you wish a ticket to go away and never come back?” the ticket agent asked wiping sleep out of his eyes.

“We wish a ticket to ride where the railroad tracks run off into the sky and never come back—send us far as the railroad rails go and then forty ways farther yet,” was the reply of Gimme the Ax.

Rootabaga Stories, Part One (Odyssey Classic) by Carl Sandburg, Maud Petersham, and Mishka Petersham

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As I walked around the grounds of Carl Sandburg’s home, through the misty morning rain, I had a burning desire to grab my journal and favorite pen and start writing.  I can only imagine which spot was Carl Sandburg’s favorite spot to write when he had to get out of the house. 

Visit Delicious Baby to see other Photo Friday Friday submissions.  Travel around the world while never leaving your desk!

French Broad Chocolate Lounge – Asheville, North Carolina

On our last night at the conference in Asheville we joined another family travel blogger, Mara at Mother of All Trips, for a chocolate dinner.  Yes, a chocolate dinner at the French Broad Chocolate Lounge.

Little S and I walked past the chocolate lounge several times.  It is kind of hidden on a side street surrounded by construction right now but be assured that it is open and it was worth the walk we took in the rain. 

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We stood for several minutes looking at the rows and rows of truffles.  Although Big S would choose a bag of chips over a chocolate bar, Little S gets her sweet tooth from me.  She wanted one of everything!

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I stared at the menu for about fifteen minutes before finally deciding on the unadulterated carrot cake.  Little S had the quintessential chocolate cake and we had hot chocolate to drink.  It seemed fitting on the yucky rainy day we were having!

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You would think that the best part of this visit was the chocolate, the cake and the wine but it wasn’t.  For me, the best part was the family-friendly environment.  I was a little worried about bringing Little S, who is trying to milk out her last month of the Terrible Three’s (which are WAY worse than the Terrible Two’s), to a place called the French Broad Chocolate Lounge.  I had heard people talk about it all weekend-the wine paired with cakes, liquid truffles, and relaxation.  I was pleasantly surprised that nobody blinked an eye when we walked in!  There is a box of toys for children to play with and that kept Little S occupied most of the time that we were there.  I think the quiet, relaxing atmosphere worked its magic on her as well…as soon as we got back to the hotel we spent about 30m in the pool and then we snuggled up in bed and watched a little TV before falling asleep.

Stop by Wanderfood Wednesday to see what everyone else is eating!

Asheville Things To Do on raveable