3 Family Fall Getaways in the North Carolina Mountains

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The hot temperatures have subsided, the leaves have started to turn, the apples trees are ready for harvest, and the water cooler talk has turned to college football. It must finally be fall! Now is a great time to get the family together to enjoy an easy scenic hike, go apple picking, pitch a tent, or stroll down Main Street. So pack up the family and check out these 3 great fall getaways to Asheville, Brevard, and Bryson City, NC.

Family Fall Getaway to Asheville, NC

Asheville is my family's “go to” for a weekend trip. It’s an architecturally appealing, fun, artsy town with great restaurants and what seems like a craft brewery on every block. In the fall, you’ll almost always find a weekend festival going on, and it’s surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains with lovely hiking trails.

Where to Stay:
Renaissance Asheville has a good location and is probably the best price-point hotel downtown. Stay downtown if you can, so you can walk to restaurants and save the hassle of parking for another day.

Lake Powhatan Campground in Pisgah National Forest is located 30 minutes from downtown Asheville. Tip: You can make reservations in advance.

Craggy Gardens is an easy hike located on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 364. This hike offers big rewards with amazing 360 views and only a short hike of less than a mile to the top. The trailhead is located 20 miles (about 35 minutes) from downtown Asheville.

The Craggy Pinnacle Trail is another popular and easy hike less than 5 minutes north of Craggy Gardens. Drive north from the Craggy Gardens parking lot, through the tunnel, and take your first left into the parking area. The Pinnacle Trail offers another 360 degree view at the summit after only 20 minutes of walking.

If you are visiting in September or October, take the family apple picking at a local orchard. Stepp Apple Farm and Justus Apple Farm are two of the best. They are located just 40 minutes from downtown Asheville and are well worth a visit.

Family Eats:
Asheville has no shortage of fantastic local restaurants and breweries, and children are welcome at many of them. Here are some favorites:
BBQ: Buxton Hall  
Breakfast: Early Girl Eatery
Beer and Food: Wicked Weed
Tacos: White Duck Taco
Pizza: Asheville Brewing Company

Family Fall Getaway to Bryson City, NC

Bryson City is a really cute and fun outdoor town. Its downtown has quaint shops and restaurants, and the Great Smoky Mountain Train Depot is right in the heart of it. Within a 20 minute driving radius of downtown, you have great lakes to swim or canoe, rivers to raft, and hikes to waterfalls. Plus, two breweries, a bookstore, an outdoors store, and good restaurants are all within walking distance of its downtown. You just can’t beat it.

View from the Road to Nowhere

View from the Road to Nowhere

Where to Stay:
The Aloft in the Smokies has 4 condos (“lofts”) located above the McClanahan’s Collectibles store downtown.  Park the car and walk to all the restaurants, the Nantahala and Mountain Layers breweries, the Train Depot, and shops.

The national park campground at Deep Creek can be super crowded. Try the Lost Mine Campground for its excellent location near the Nantahala Outdoor Center.

Great Smoky Mountain Railway departs from downtown and offers scenic train excursion trips through the North Carolina mountains along the Nantahala and Tuckasegee Rivers, across valleys, and through tunnels. It’s absolutely gorgeous in the fall. 

smoky mountain railroad.jpg

The "Road to Nowhere" is only 15 minutes from downtown and was originally built to replace a road flooded when Fontana Lake was formed by the damming of the Little Tennessee River. Funding ran out before its completion but not before a two lane tunnel was constructed through a hillside. Today, the road ends at the mouth of the tunnel, and Lakeshore Trail continues on the other side. The kiddos will love walking through the dark tunnel, and you can continue as long as you’d like on the Lakeshore Trail (it's 42 miles long) .

Family Eats:
Anthony’s Restaurant bakes fantastic pizza. You can eat on their outdoor patio or order it as takeout and watch the game next door at Nantahala Brewery.

Breakfast: Everett Diner is located downtown and serves up classic diner fare like french toast and biscuits and gravy. A kids menu is also offered.

Sandwiches: The Filling Station offers up all types of sandwiches including “frozen sandwiches” (filled with ice cream).

Ice Cream: Soda Pop’s Ice Cream counter with its fun old time diner decor offers the perfect treat for all. You will leave happily with sticky smiles.

For even more to do in this fun mountain town, see our free detailed trip itinerary to Bryson City.

Fall Family Getaway to Brevard, NC

Brevard, NC is a charming mountain town with a walkable downtown filled with shops (including a great toy store), restaurants, antiques, and art galleries. It’s located just 33 miles from Asheville. It’s also home to Dupont State Recreation Forest, which offers plenty of hiking and mountain biking trails to explore. The Hunger Games movie was filmed at Triple Falls in Dupont, the most recognizable mountain scenery in the movie.

Where to Stay:
If you’d like a unique, retro-style hotel, check out the recently renovated Sunset Motel.

Davidson River Campground is a large, fairly crowded campground located on the Davidson River. The campground location can’t be beat--it’s tucked away yet close to town. Bring bikes to enjoy the trail along the river.

Stroll down Main Street to window shop and enjoy the the relaxing downtown vibe. Make sure to check out O.P. Taylor’s Toy Store. Browse through two floors loaded with toys for kids of all ages. Fun for adults too with lots of retro toys, a race track kids can play with (and you too), and a terrific selection of LEGOs.

                                                Triple Falls

                                                Triple Falls

In Dupont National Recreation Forest, hike to High Falls and Triple Falls and visit the Covered Bridge. The hikes are easy and short--perfect for the family. Pack a picnic, relax, and channel your inner Katniss at Triple Falls where the stars filmed many scenes. Tip: Arrive early if you can as it can get crowded on weekends.

Family Eats:
Lunch: Roll into town and head to Rocky’s Grill & Soda Shop with its authentic 1950’s old fashioned lunch counter. Enjoy a burger and an ice cream float or one their famous milkshakes.

Breakfast: Cedar Mountain Cafe is located near the entrance of Dupont. Everything is made in-house and it’s super yummy. 

Dinner-Magpie Meat and Three provides your southern food fix here. If you can, sit outside where they have a fire pit and play corn hole.


Beer: Oscar Blues Brewery offers a nice outdoor patio, and a food truck serves burgers and tacos during the evening. You can also schedule a free tour of the brewery.

Coffee: Bracken Mountain Bakery is your go to coffee source.

If you’d like to explore other family destinations or want more details and suggestions on where to stay, eat, and play when visiting these mountain towns, visit our website at: www.simplyawesometrips.com.

Asheville, NC- Weekend Getaway Guide
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