Whether we’re ready for it or not, summer is coming to an end. Don’t get us wrong, we’ve been anticipating the fall foliage and all the things that come with autumn – pumpkin patches, Halloween – but nothing beats an adventurous summer in the mountains. Put this article in your back pocket and save it for next summer, or try to fit all of these in the last week of summer. Either way, you’ll need this complete list of High Country summertime activities.
There’s no escaping visiting the Grandfather Mountain if you’re in The High Country since it’s one of the most visited destinations. Drive up to the top to see the 360-degree view of the mountains and snap your epic photo on the Mile High Swinging Bridge. With endless walking and hiking trails, nature museums, and wildlife, the whole group will appreciate this half-day trip.
It doesn’t feel like summer unless you’re visiting the farmers’ markets every weekend. Each High Country farmers market is unique to its town and area and is open all different days of the week. They’ve all got one thing in common though – locally grown produce, unbeatable homemade goods, and the friendliest faces.
The NC Mountains has plenty to do when to comes to water-based adventures. Envision this: one hour you’re tubing, kayaking, or rafting down a river and the next minute you’re hiking 2.5 miles to visit gorgeous waterfalls. But wait, you want something a little more relaxing? Hang out shoreside on the Wildcat Lake or picnic at Valle Crucis Park River. It’s a truly endless search to find places to cool off in The High Country. Highlights: Linville Falls, Crabtree Falls, Hebron Rock Colony, and Elk River Falls. Locally tested and approved.
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From camping off the Blue Ridge Parkway to “glamping” campgrounds, The High Country has the best variety of campsites. (There’s even a place where you can camp in a tiny home!) A few of our favorites include Honey Bear Campground, Julian Price Memorial Park and Campground, Flintlock Campground, Blue Bear Mountain Camp, and Buck Hill Campground.
One thing The High Country doesn’t fall short of is the number of waterfalls to spend a half day or full day. From 4-mile round trip strenuous hikes to dog-friendly and walkable trails, there’s a variety of levels depending on your mood. No matter the waterfall, be prepared to be in absolute awe of the beauty these waterfalls hold. Some local favorites include Harper’s Creek Falls, Crabtree Falls, and Catawba Falls.
The absolute golden child of The High Country is being part of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The parkway may span nearly 500 miles, but we think The High Country has some of the best views, or at least be driving distance from them. Driving with the top down is a definite must-do in the summertime (and fall for the foliage!). The best way to experience the Parkway is just to drive and stumble upon these epic views, but for some guidance, check out these overlooks: Elk Mountain, Ravens Rock, Thunder Mill, Sim’s Creek, and of course the epic Linn Cove Viaduct (pictured above).
The High Country is a friendly place, but it’s especially friendly when it comes to families. When hiking and camping just aren’t cutting it for the kids, switch things up with a trip to Tweetsie Railroad, Gem Mountain, or a one-of-a-kind experience at Mystery Hill. If you’re looking for more adrenaline, head over to High Gravity Adventures for zipline excursions or for more low-key fun, Clawson-Burnley Park and Children’s Playhouse. If there’s one thing we know, it’s that your kids will never say, “I’m bored” here.
The best part of being in the outdoors is hanging out with our fur-ever family and The High Country is the perfect place to take them along on your hikes. No matter your experience level, there’s a hike for every human and every pup. Try these trails: Boone Greenway Trail, Rhododendron Trail, Green Knob Trail. Don’t stop there. After your hikes, there are plenty of dog-friendly establishments in downtown Boone and Blowing Rock to enjoy local craft beers and live music.