Travel With Kids

Fun Learning Adventures Your Kids Will Love In North Carolina & Virginia

With everything from farmland and hills to beaches and mountains, North Carolina and Virginia are delightful destinations for your family. You’ll never be bored in these lands of history, sunshine, and hidden trails.

Whether you’re looking for a beach getaway, a mountain hike, or a city adventure, you’ll find it all between the streets of Charlotte and the hills of Arlington. As a North Carolina native, I’ve got three getaways for adventure and delight for your whole family.

  1. Asheville, NC

One of our favorite getaways is the Asheville region of the NC Mountains. With easy highway access and hidden treasures, you can’t go wrong in the area. The top of the list of adventures is always going to be a day at the Biltmore Estate. Its old-world charm and delightful gardens are a sight to behold for every generation.

Flower in Biltmore Gardens (Photographer: Lesli Gibbs)
Flower in Biltmore Gardens
Biltmore Greenhouse (Photographer: Lesli Gibbs)
Biltmore Greenhouse

To enjoy a lovely day, your family can visit Biltmore Village at the gates of the Estate and check out the world’s nicest McDonald’s. If you’re looking for more of Asheville’s nature-loving flavor, take a stroll through downtown Asheville and have lunch at either Tupelo Honey or the Early Girl Eatery.

For more mountain fun and challenges, head south a bit from Asheville, and pick your seasonal adventure. In the spring, take a nice long hike up the mountain and stand on top of Chimney Rock. For a fun summer adventure, visit DuPont State Forest and go for a swim at Hooker Falls (yes, that really is the name!), one of several falls along the Little River. In the fall, the area is filled with apples and you can enjoy the Hendersonville Apple Festival or a day in the orchards at Stepp Orchard. Hendersonville also has designer bears all over downtown from spring to October as part of a charity event. Take a morning for a “bear hunt” and stop in at Kilwin’s Chocolates when you’re done!

Hooker Falls (Photographer: Lesli Gibbs)
Hooker Falls
  1. Atlantic Coastline

For an incredible maritime adventure, you’ll be thrilled to find a plethora of experiences along the Atlantic. Colonial Williamsburg tops the list for historic learning, and your kiddos can round out their history lesson with a day at the neighboring Busch Gardens.

Continue your adventure by visiting Norfolk and Virginia Beach. Norfolk is the Atlantic hub of the U.S. Navy and the largest naval station in the world. You can tour the base and then you can check out Nauticus National Maritime Center and tour the Battleship Wisconsin. Virginia Beach is the home of an aquarium, a military aviation museum, and a boardwalk along the shore with a huge statue of King Neptune.

Further down the coast and over the border into North Carolina, the adventure continues with the wild lands of the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is home to the world-famous Corolla Wild Horses, reptiles of all sorts, and many mammals like deer and squirrels. There are no roads into the Refuge, so you’ll have to pack for the day and truly go off the beaten path to see the wonders of this natural coastline.

  1. Charlotte, NC

Known as the Queen City, Charlotte is filled with southern charm and opportunities for families to play together. On the north side of town, you’ll find Lazy 5 Ranch, where your family can take a hayride and feed everything from giraffes to ostriches.

Animal at Lazy 5 (Photographer: Lesli Gibbs)

Trekking through downtown, or Uptown as the locals call it, is a fun adventure for every family. Start your day at the literary steps of ImaginOn, Charlotte’s children’s library and theater, have lunch next door at the Seventh Street Public Market, and then spend your afternoon playing and learning at Discovery Place.

Uptown Charlotte (Photographer: Lesli Gibbs)

On the south side of town, you and your crew can get outdoors and visit a 19th Century Living History Farm at Kings Mountain and take an easy hike around the mountain. If you’d like a little more of a challenge, head next door and hike to the top of Crowder’s Mountain, the highest point in the NC Piedmont.

For more locations filled with great learning adventures for children, see links below:

Article Links:
Asheville – https://www.exploreasheville.com/
Biltmore Estate – http://www.biltmore.com/
Biltmore Village – http://www.historicbiltmorevillage.com/
Downtown Asheville – https://www.exploreasheville.com/iconic-asheville/downtown/
Tupelo Honey – https://tupelohoneycafe.com/
Early Girl Eatery – https://earlygirleatery.com/
Chimney Rock Park – https://www.chimneyrockpark.com/
DuPont State Forest – http://www.dupontforest.com/explore/hooker-falls/
Hendersonville Apple Festival – http://www.ncapplefestival.org/
Stepp Orchard – https://www.facebook.com/SteppsHillcrestOrchard/
Hendersonville Downtown – http://downtownhendersonville.org/
Kilwin’s Chocolates – https://www.kilwins.com/stores/kilwins-hendersonville
Colonial Williamsburg – https://www.colonialwilliamsburg.com/
Busch Gardens – https://buschgardens.com/williamsburg/
Norfolk Naval Station – https://www.visitnorfolk.com/things-to-do/tours/tour-norfolk-naval-base/
Nauticus Maritime Center – https://nauticus.org/
Battleship Wisconsin – https://nauticus.org/battleship-wisconsin/
Virginia Beach – https://www.visitvirginiabeach.com/
Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center – https://www.virginiaaquarium.com/Pages/default.aspx
Military Aviation Museum – http://militaryaviationmuseum.org/
Virginia Beach Boardwalk – https://www.visitvirginiabeach.com/explore/attractions/boardwalk/
Currituck National Wildlife Refuge – https://www.fws.gov/refuge/currituck/
Corolla Wild Horses – https://www.outerbanks.com/corolla-wild-horses.html
Charlotte – https://www.charlottesgotalot.com/
Lazy 5 Ranch – https://lazy5ranch.com/
ImaginOn – https://www.imaginon.org/
Seventh Street Market – http://www.7thstreetpublicmarket.com/
Discovery Place – https://www.discoveryplace.org/
King’s Mountain – https://www.nps.gov/kimo/index.htm
Crowder’s Mountain – https://www.ncparks.gov/crowders-mountain-state-park

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