Are you ready to take the family on an adventure they won’t soon forget? If so, check out a few of our picks for best family adventures in the Boone area. We’ve got everything from ziplining to nature hikes to picnics by a beautiful river. What more can you ask for?
Valle Crucis Community Park (Valle Crucis): Valle Crucis Park, a 22 acre park just behind the landmark, nearly 130-year-old Mast General Store, is a family friendly hotspot. There’s great birding in the park that includes a small wetland pond and a scenic stretch of the Watauga River. Take the easy, paved 1-mile loop along the stream on Wednesday morning and join the weekly bird hike with local authority Curtis Smalling. Also, each Friday night from May to September the park offers Music in the Valle-a free, family friendly music concert series featuring local acts. Can’t get much better than that.
Directions from Boone: Take Hwy NC 105 S for 4.8 miles to right on Broadstone Rd. Head 2.8 miles to right on to a dirt road just before the site of the Mast General Store, which is a must-visit when in the area.
Linville River Picnic Area (Blue Ridge Parkway): If your idea of a relaxing afternoon involves grilling out beside a fast moving stream brimming with hungry trout, then the Linville River picnic area is your spot. The area features a wide-range of different grills at various locations throughout the 1 acre park offering visitors a chance to take in the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains while enjoying the amenities of a developed recreation area.
Directions from Boone: Take Hwy 105 S and follow for 17 miles to Linville to a left onto Hwy 221 S. for 3 miles to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Head south (right) to mile marker 316.5. Add on the Chestoa View Loop Trail if you’re looking for a great place to relax with your family on a less-popular path. Don’t miss the stone steps down to a dramatic cliff-top perch (mesh fencing prevents approaching too closely). The real appeal here is a very quiet, nearly-mile-long loop that circles a lofty, flat summit high above surrounding valleys. The loop leads right from the path down to the viewpoint. (Parkway MP 320.8).
Wiseman’s View (Linville Gorge): For those looking to experience a taste of what the Linville Gorge has to offer, we have two recommendations on short hikes that end in great views. Get started by heading to the Linville Falls, which can be accessed by a moderately steep 1-mile hike to the top of the two-tiered Linville Falls. An additional .5-mile hike leads to an overlook of the falls and is well-worth the effort. This spectacular waterfall drops more than 60 feet and the multiple different viewpoints allow visitors to get right next to the falls to hear the sound of the powerful falls as it plunges downstream, and also view it from a distance to see the natural beauty of the wilderness setting. After the Falls, a short drive down the gravel road takes visitors to the Wiseman’s View Overlook where long-range views of the Linville Gorge offer great vantages of Shortoff Mountain, Table Rock, and Hawksbill Mountain. The area is a popular viewing location for the Brown Mountain Lights, an unexplained phenomena that has been drawing visitors to the area for nearly a century in hopes of seeing the flickering and phantasmagorical lightshow.
Directions from Boone: Take 105 S and follow for 17 miles to Linville to a right onto Hwy 221 S. Follow for 10.5 miles to the town of Linville Falls. Take a left before crossing under the Blue Ridge Parkway onto Hwy 183. Follow for .8 mile to Old 105/Kistler Memorial Highway and the Linville Gorge entrance on right. Parking for Linville Falls is immediately on the left, while a visitor’s center with maps and info is on the right .2 mile in. Continue on Old 105/Kistler Memorial Highway for roughly 4 miles.
Mt. Jefferson State Park (W. Jefferson): West Jefferson is a small town with a lot of character just a short drive from Boone. The nearby Mt. Jefferson State Park provides visitors with a great opportunity to drive up and check out the view from one of the highest mountains in the area (4,684 ft.) Several short trails near the summit offer informative signs on local flora and fauna with great views, beautiful wild flowers, and the chance to view the elusive Peregrine Falcon.
Directions from Boone: Take Hwy 421 S for 10 miles to a left onto Hwy 221 N. Follow for 14 miles to right turn onto Mt. Jefferson State Park Rd. Follow 3.5 miles to the state park.
Worley’s Cave (Elizabethton): Clamber through massive corridors, splash through an underground river and explore the gigantic rooms of Worley’s Cave. With more than 37,000 feet (8-10 miles) of mapped passages on two levels, the cave, also known as Morril’s Cave, is home to an incredible variety of geologically unique cave formations. The upper level of the cave is the site of many aptly named formations, such as the crystalline “Cave Troll”. A fast-flowing river courses through the lower level and is home to a wide variety of rare species, including the elusive white crayfish. For the complete caving experience, take a guided tour with Rock Dimensions. Their knowledgeable guides provide a fun, exciting, and safe way to experience the thrill of underground exploration. Call ahead for reservations: (828) 265-3544.
New River State Park (Jefferson): Rugged hillsides, pastoral meadows and farmlands surround what is believed to be one of the oldest rivers in North America the New River. Its waters are slow and placid. Its banks are fertile and covered with wildflowers. Dedicated as a National Scenic River in 1976, this gentle river is the centerpiece of New River State Park. The New River area still maintains an old-fashioned charm. Mountain roads are narrow and winding, dotted with small farms, churches and country stores. The river itself is tranquil, offering good bass fishing, trout streams, excellent birding and inspiring mountain scenery. But perhaps the best way to absorb and appreciate the river’s peacefulness is from the seat of a canoe as it glides across the slow-moving waters. Four areas with access to this waterway make up more than 2,200 acres of New River State Park and provide spots for camping, canoeing, picnicking and fishing.
Directions from Boone: Take US-421 S for 10 miles. Turn left onto US-221 N. Continue straight to stay on US-221 N. Turn left to stay on US-221 N. Turn right to stay on US-221 N. Turn right ontoNew River State Park Rd. Destination will be on the left.
Grandfather Mountain (Linville): The wildlife viewing area at the Grandfather Mountain Visitor’s Center offers families a great way to introduce their young children to some of the many animals found in the wilderness around the High Country. Visitors can watch black bears, mountain lions, deer, otters and eagles in a fenced, natural setting. The mile high swinging bridge, nature museum, long range views, and miles of well-maintained hiking trails provide hours of fun outdoor adventure.
Directions from Boone: Take 105 S and follow for 17 miles to Linville. Turn left onto Hwy 221 N for 2 miles to entrance.
Gem Mining (Foscoe): There’s just something about panning for gems that takes kids back to the frontier days when the gold rush ruled the land. As the first gold rush state, North Carolina has a rich history of mining. Here in the mountains, Sapphires, Rubies and Quartz were the rare finds that miners sought, and to this day those remain the most popular gems to be found. Share the experience with the kids, and be thankful there’s no need for dynamite these days. Options abound in the High Country, but we like the The Greater Foscoe Mining Company because of its proximity to Holloway Mountain Road, which is a great access point for the Mountains to Sea Trail (below).
Directions from Boone: Take 105 S and follow for 7.7 miles and look for the gem mine on the right across from Country Retreat Family Billiards, which offers food and games for all ages.
Mountains To Sea Trail (Foscoe): One of the area’s most scenic hikes is found between the rocky escarpment of Grandfather Mountain and Blowing Rock on the Mountains To Sea Trail. This 3.7 mile section passes through a pastoral setting of rolling mountain meadows with beautiful views. Because of the grassy setting, the trail isn’t always immediately obvious while hiking through these meadows. Keep your eyes open for a low wood post bearing the MST’s white circle blaze and hiker.
Directions from Boone: Take 105 S and follow for 7.5 miles. Turn left onto Church Rd beside the Foscoe Country Store. Travel .7 miles to a left onto Holloway Mtn Road and follow the winding gravel road for 1.1 miles to where the MST crosses the road with parking on the left.
Experience a Zipline: One of the hottest adventures in America right now is ziplining. Just outside of Boone in Seven Devils is one of the Country’s longest courses at Hawksnest. Their course offers over 4 miles of cable riding with heights over 200 feet and speeds up to 50 mph. They currently offer 19 different cables including 4 super or mega zips that are over 1500 feet. Tours are 10 cable, 9 cable or do-it-all 19 cable tour. Sitting at an elevation of 4400 the expansive views are the real pay-off. The course is set-up over wide meadows, creeks and a lake with northern facing views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Children as young as 5 years old are able to participate. Be sure to come back in the winter to check out their 20 lane snow tubing park as well.
Directions from Boone: Take Hwy 105 S for 10 miles to the town of Seven Devils. Turn right on Seven Devils Rd. and follow up mountain for approx 3 miles which dead ends into Hawksnest parking lot.