Summer is supposed to be a break from school, sports, and busyness, but, often, it doesn’t really feel that way. Between summer camps, vacations, and preparing for the next school year, you may need a break from your break.
Still, there is plenty more you probably want to do before the kids go back to school. Living in western North Carolina means you are surrounded by things to see and experience. From exploring the great outdoors to fascinating educational sites, summer is a great time to do the things for which you’re too busy during the year.
Before summer gets away from you and the kids have to go back to school, here are seven things to experience with your family in our area.
Seven Things To Do With Your Family Before Kids Return to School
1) Go For A Hike
There are thousands of miles of hiking trails in western North Carolina. It’s probably not possible to do them all in a single summer, but a few to enjoy with your family include:
You can see Pisgah from several places in our area. The summit features a 270-degree view. Up the mountain, it can be up to 20 degrees colder than Asheville’s downtown. Once you’ve finished your hike, visit the Pisgah Inn for great food and more scenic vistas.
- Difficulty: Moderate, due to the elevation gain and a few rocks.
- Length: 3.2 Miles
- Elevation Gain: 757 Feet
- Type: Out and Back
Waterfalls at Dupont
The kid-friendly Hooker and Triple Falls paths are found in Dupont State Forest and feature two of North Carolina’s most well-known and impressive waterfalls. The Triple Falls-High Falls loop can be hiked starting from the Hooker Falls parking lot, crossing the river once halfway through, and ending at Hooker Falls.
- Difficulty: Easy
- Length: 3 Miles
- Elevation Gain: 500 Feet
- Type: Loop
Max Patch is one of the larger balds in western North Carolina. It is located in Madison County close to Hot Spring. From the parking lot to the peak, the relatively short trail is a steep ascent that leads to a grassy area.
You can have a picnic here, play football or frisbee, fly a kite, and set up a hammock there. Additionally, despite being short, the trail crosses the Appalachian Trail near the peak, opening up access to a number of other local trails.
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Length: 1.5 Miles (with the option to add many more miles)
- Elevation Gain: 325 Feet
- Type: Loop
Blackrock Mountain Trail
Due to its length and elevation rise, Blackrock Mountain is considered a challenging hick. The Blackrock Mountain trail traverses a ridge at a high altitude not far from Addie, North Carolina. The Great Smoky Mountains can be seen in all directions from this trail, which is more than a mile high. Blackrock is easily accessible from Asheville along the Blue Ridge Parkway in about one and a half hours.
- Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
- Length: 4.5 Miles
- Elevation Gain: 1,600 Feet
- Type: Out-and-Back
Montreat Rainbow Mountain Loop
This 3.4-mile loop is right here in Black Mountain and Montreat, North Carolina. It generally takes two hours to complete and is regarded as a moderately difficult route. This hike features amazing views of the Black Mountains and opportunities to see wildlife.
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Length: 3.4 Miles
- Elevation Gain: 900 Feet
- Type: Loop
There are countless other trails to hike near Black Mountain and Asheville. Hiking can keep you busy for the rest of summer.
2) Visit a Swimming Hole
Western North Carolina can get pretty warm during the summer. Highs in the nineties are not uncommon in the lower elevations of the French Broad River Valley. When it’s too hot for a long hike, you might need to choose a cooler activity. Our area is home to a number of waterfalls and cold water swimming holes, such as:
- Sliding Rock: Located in Brevard, as the name suggests, you can slide down this waterfall. It is a natural water slide into a natural swimming hole.
- Crabtree Falls: Located about an hour from Asheville on the Parkway, Crabtree Falls features a hike and a pristine swimming hole.
- Looking Glass Falls: Located close to Sliding Rock, Looking Glass is a stunning waterfall and great swimming hole.
- Sunburst Swimming Hole: Located near Waynesville at a campground by the same name, Sunburst is a lovely swimming hole.
There are few places in the world with as many natural swimming areas as western North Carolina.
3) Go Whitewater Rafting
On any given summer day, you’ll see people floating on rafts and in tubes down the French Broad River and any of the other waterways in our area.
While floating along the river might be soothing, whitewater rafting offers a bit more thrill. Kids of all ages will enjoy this exercise, though younger children may need to wait till they are a bit older. Our community is home to a number of whitewater rafting outfitters, and eastern Tennessee is only a few hours away from some of the best rafting on the East Coast.
4) Check Out a Museum
There are several museums that are as fun as they are educational. Two favorites include:
- The Asheville Museum of Science: The Asheville Museum of Science is the premier interactive science attraction in Asheville. With a variety of educational activities, AMOS is a must-see for the whole household. You can play geologist in the Hall of Minerals, alter real-time environments with their Terra Box exhibit, search for fossils, and interact with the Teratophoneus dinosaur skeleton.
- The Pinball Museum: The Pinball Museum is exactly what it says it is—a facility filled with 35 pinball machines and 35 vintage arcade games. And for only $15, you can play them for as long as you like; they are not simply antiques. Make sure to verify their hours and get there as early as you can because it’s first-come, first-served.
5) Spend a Day at the Park
Black Mountain and the Asheville area are home to a number of pristine parks with quality playground equipment, walking trails, beautiful views, and picnic areas. A few of the area parks worth visiting this summer include:
- Lake Tomahawk Park in Black Mountain, NC
- Lake Louise Park in Weaverville, NC
- French Broad River Park in Asheville, NC
- Carrier Park in Asheville, NC
- Richmond Hill Park in North Asheville, NC
- Lake Julian Park in Arden, NC
- Blannahasset Island Park in Marshall, NC
It’s worth visiting the downtown and business districts of the areas surrounding these parks as well.
6) Play GellyBall
Before the summer ends, you need to experience GellyBall.
“GellyBall is the revolutionary, lower-impact shooting game for all ages! Our commercial-grade, battery-powered blasters, launch hydrated gel orbs at targets or other players in a variety of game scenarios.” – NC GellyBall
What makes GellyBall so fun is that the ammo has a much lower impact than paintball or airsoft. We compare it to being flicked with a rubber band. That doesn’t make it any less fun for those used to higher-impact shooting games. GellyBall is fun for kids as young as five and adults of all ages.
Before your kids go back to school, take some time to experience GellyBall at Black Mountain Adventure Zone.
7) Play Laser Tag and Battle Cage
Laser tag is not what it used to be. In fact, the game has evolved into something you might not recognize. It is a lot more like a combination of Star Wars and FPS video games than what you remember. At Black Mountain Adventure Zone, our state-of-the-art blasters are lightweight and no longer have to be tethered to heavy vests.
Instead of vests, our players wear lightweight headbands that accurately count each hit. At the end of the game, players check their scores and count their points. Unlike video games, however, they’re actually running around, burning energy, and getting exercise.
Battle Cage is an exciting sword-fighting game that allows kids and adults to challenge their friends to a duel fitting of pirates and gladiators.
Birthdays, reunions, graduations, or just family-friendly fun – whatever your event, BMAZ is the place! The party room looks over the arena for spectators to enjoy the games as much as players. Contact us for a part or visit during open play hours this summer!