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Need help planning a trip to Highlands & Asheville, NC

Saint Louis...
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Need help planning a trip to Highlands & Asheville, NC
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My husband, two teen boys and I will be flying in to Charlotte, NC in June & driving to Highlands to stay in our friends cabin for a week. I’ve been researching white water rafting -doesn't seem to be any near Highlands. (we did it once in CO, beginner level). We’d also like to do a guided jeep tour of the mountains & rent Ebikes. We’ll have

Lakeview lake near our cabin for kayaking & fishing but we need advice on other activities & Im trying to research in advance to make the most of our time & cut down on driving time each day. Also looking for affordable family restaurants, brewery tours etc.

We’d also like to visit Asheville an hour and a half away and see the Biltmore and hike the Blue Ridge Parkway so we may stay a night or two there. Any suggestions greatly appreciated!

8 replies to this topic
Wilmington, North...
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1. Re: Need help planning a trip to Highlands & Asheville, NC
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Have you checked out the Nantahala Outdoor Center?

https://noc.com/

Some other suggestions of things to do around Highlands.  (Tripadvisor has Things to Do pages for most areas.)

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g49215-Activities-Highlands_North_Carolina.html

From Asheville I'd plan a loop tour to include a portion of the BRP.  Keep in mind it will be busy and slow on the weekends.  Consider a trip to include Blowing Rock and the many attractions between there and Asheville including Mt. Mitchell, the highest elevation east of the Mississippi.

https://www.romanticasheville.com/BlueRidgeParkway.htm

Raleigh, North...
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2. Re: Need help planning a trip to Highlands & Asheville, NC
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The NOC has a day pass which includes rafting, zip line and mountain biking (I don't think they have ebikes), which is a great option for your teens. There nice spots by the river with food/drinks to rest for you if you don't want to do the zip line or bikes with your kids. If you are arriving in summer, you can go tubing at a place like Headwater Outfitters, which is closer to Highlands, and less expensive than NOC (but the NOC is fun to visit).

If you wanted to stay in Asheville for a couple of days staying at Biltmore (they have a couple of hotels) would likely work out well for you. Your kids can then wander around the grounds freely and you don't have to get a ticket for Biltmore if you don't want to see inside the house. Staying just outside at Biltmore Village in any of the chain hotels would be fine too. Downtown is maybe more interesting, but I would say is better for older people, so if your kids are 16+ or you like more trendy restaurants you could be better downtown, but Asheville is fairly small so you can drive between these areas easily.

I'm not convinced that hiking on the Blue Ridge Parkway is going to be significantly better than hiking around Highlands, so I wouldn't inconvenience yourself too much. There are more tourists in Asheville, so more options for tours, ebikes, restaurants etc, so you might want to visit it for that reason.

North Carolina
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3. Re: Need help planning a trip to Highlands & Asheville, NC
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I would also recommend the Nantahala Outdoor Center. There is also a zip lining facility close to Highlands near Sky Valley, Ga. With all due respect to the other posters, 1) Blowing Rock is a 3.5 hour drive from Highlands, 2) staying at one of the hotels at Biltmore gives you NO access to the grounds unless you just want to walk around the hotel. They advertise that you can use the facilities but you have to buy a pass to the house to use them. If you are flying in and out of Asheville, drive back there for a couple of days before you fly home.

Melbourne, Florida
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4. Re: Need help planning a trip to Highlands & Asheville, NC
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Graveyard Fields on the BRP is a nice easy hike, include a side trip to Sliding Rock and Looking Glass Falls.

https://www.romanticasheville.com/waterfalls.htm

If you drive all the way to Cherokee you could return via Maggie Valley and visit Socco Falls on the way.

Saint Louis...
7 posts
5. Re: Need help planning a trip to Highlands & Asheville, NC
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Thanks for the great suggestions!

Saint Louis...
7 posts
6. Re: Need help planning a trip to Highlands & Asheville, NC
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Thanks for the great tips!

Raleigh, North...
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7. Re: Need help planning a trip to Highlands & Asheville, NC
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Post #3 is incorrect about the Biltmore hotels. It's a resort with activities and you would expect hotel guests have access to it, and they say so on their website. I called the hotel to verify, in case I was missing something, and they confirmed that you have access to everything except the house (which is worth visiting, unless you are stressed about or high risk for covid) which requires a separate ticket. It's a long drive through the grounds to get out of the Biltmore forest, so it might be less convient than staying in the city for everything other than Biltmore.

North Carolina
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8. Re: Need help planning a trip to Highlands & Asheville, NC
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I stayed at the Inn at Biltmore. All of the information on the web site indicates you have access to the entire property without buying a ticket to the house. All of their literature says the same thing. But, when you get there you find that, other than taking a walk, you have to have a ticket to the house. That is the case for horseback riding, canoeing, etc. I don’t care what they told you on the phone.

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