By Rachel Hoeing
Even though it is tough to say goodbye to summer, the crisp air and colorful leaves of the autumn season always bring a smile to my face. It seems like fall weekends always fly by and before we know it, winter has unleashed itself on us again. So, pull out your calendars now and set up some dates to explore different venues in our area before it gets too cold.
In no particular order, here are my top ten ideas for Day Trips that you and your family should venture to this fall season!
1. Blowing Rock
The Blowing Rock area is one of my favorite places to be each fall. The leaves are gorgeous and everyone seems to be outdoors. There are tons of things to do, but my favorites include: gem mining, hiking at Herbron Rock Colony, driving along the Parkway, attending festivals, visiting Tweetsie Railroad and shopping at the outlets.
2. Zaloo’s Canoes
If you have never been tubing along the river, this is a great place to start. Zaloo’s is open weekends in the fall through mid-October. It is located in Wilkesboro, NC. The only thing you and your children need to be able to do is RELAX! (I know that may be tough for some toddlers!) They have a choice of a two-three hour or a four-five hour trip. Two-three hours has always been plenty for us. Simply visit the website here and a call ahead to schedule your tubing day on the New River.
3. The Lazy 5 Ranch
This venue that is great any time of the year, but for this gal, I can only take so many animals and bugs when it is 90 degrees outside. Therefore, this ranch is a perfect place for me to visit when the weather cools down a little. Your kids will love feeding the animals and taking a wagon ride. Read more about the Lazy 5 Ranch here, which is located in Mooresville, NC.
4. Hill Ridge Farms
This is another great venue any time of year, but in the fall you love the pumpkin patch, gem mining, hay maze, train and more. Hill Ridge Farms is located just past Wake Forest in Youngsville, NC, which is 1 1/2 to 2 hours from most Triad locations. Read more about this best kept secret here.
Travel & Leisure called Asheville the “quirkiest US town,” so of course you’ve gotta check it out! While some might be able to fit in a full day, this is one trip where I would recommend staying the weekend. The Biltmore Estate is probably the most widely known attraction in the area. If you have the time, be sure to do the Butler’s Tour! You will have a whole new appreciation for the house. For some great tips on downtown spots to visit, restaurants, and the arts district, read our blog here.
6. Reynolda Museum and Gardens
Located right in Winston-Salem, this is a spot that all locals should put on their list! The gardens are of course the prettiest in the springtime, but we love to visit in the fall when we can sit out on the lawn on a picnic blanket, browse the farmer’s market, and follow the trails around the house. There are of course plenty of shops and restaurants in Reynolda Village as well. You can read more about the house itself here. It is always worth doing a tour.
7. Hanging Rock
We try to hit Hanging Rock at least once a year. It is great in the summer because there is a lake to swim, but the fall is much cooler for the hiking you may want to do. There are different hikes from which to choose. The easiest are the ones to the waterfalls, with the hike up to Hanging Rock itself being the most difficult (it is almost completely uphill with many many steps). Keep this in mind for little ones. Click here for additional tips and links to the website.
8. Stone Mountain State Park
Not to be confused with Stone Mountain in GA, this area is tucked away right here in NC. Located in Roaring Gap, NC, you can arrive at this destination in 1-2 hours from the Triad. This is one of the most peaceful and serene places for hiking, camping and enjoying nature. There is a 600 foot granite dome that you will see on your hike. The view is breathtaking! You can also fish and rock climb while you are here. This is one of my favorite places for tent camping, and also has spots for RV’s. Get more details here.
9. Chimney Rock State Park
Love, love, love this area, which is also close to Lake Lure. The park itself is amazing with numerous hikes and trails. You can rock climb, visit waterfalls, dine at the local restaurant and more. In addition, there is plenty of shopping on the main drag into the park. (Think general stores, souvenir shops, etc.) To see more details on planning your trip, click here.
I am biased because I went to Appalachian State, but the mountains near Boone are just gorgeous. It is right next to Blowing Rock, so if you choose to do a weekend, you can hit some of the venues I mentioned above as well as spend a day in Boone. One of our favorite things to do is tour the campus, which has changed significantly over the last 15 years. We love to visit the Mast General Store and stock up on clothing for mom and dad and candy for the kids! For lunch, our family loves Boone Bagelry and Macados. We also like to drive up to Howard Knob, which gives you an amazing view of Boone and the ASU campus. Right outside of town you can also visit Mystery Hill. In all my years of being in Boone, I have never been here, but have heard from many that it is worth popping by. Read our recent day trip to Boone blog here.
So there you have it! I actually probably could have written my top 20 spots since NC is so beautiful in the fall! Please share your favorite destinations with us below.