Fabulous Long Weekend for Families


Use this itinerary to make a Boone Area family weekend even more fantastic by taking three days or longer. The energetic itinerary below can easily be the core of a relaxed week-long warm-season vacation in the Boone Area.

Base yourself almost anywhere in the broader Boone Area and this itinerary works nicely. Click on our Places to Stay pages to make the perfect lodging choice. Many local hotels, motels, and resorts have a kid's favorite-a pool-and some resorts even have tennis courts and their own trails.

Get to bed early for a full day of fun!


Take a scenic loop of the High Country, starting in Boone, with Grandfather Mountain as your peak experience.

Find your way to Blowing Rock on US 321. (Mystery Hill, with its nostalgic "gravity-defying phenomenon," makes a fun stop on the way).

Hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway and head south, taking a few leisurely stops on the way, if desired.

  • Cone Manor House, Parkway Milepost 294, has great crafts and views.
  • Price Lake Overlook, a left at Milepost 296.7, surveys a beautiful lake with your destination, Grandfather Mountain, towering beyond. Briefly pop across the dam and into the woods on the trail - or keep driving with the mountain looming above.
  • Rough Ridge Parking Area, a right at Milepost 302.8, permits a short, rocky scramble on the Tanawha Trail to boardwalks where huge views drop to Piedmont NC with Grandfather Mountain State Park soaring overhead (out-and-back, 30 minutes). Check out the Rough Ridge trail guide!
  • Linn Cove Viaduct. Cross the famous viaduct then turn left into the visitor center (now closed) at Milepost 304.4. A short handicapped-accessible paved trail peeks under the serpentine span (out-and-back, a mere 15 minutes).


Exit the Parkway right at Milepost 305.1 and turn right on US 221 for one mile to Grandfather Mountain.

Stop at the first overlook on the way in - the famous peaks spike the sky.

Lunch. Just beyond, hit the Grandfather Mountain Picnic Area if you brought lunch. Walk the nature trail to work it off after. Or keep going (crags and views invite stops if you wish) to the Nature Museum and head right into the restaurant for lunch (save room for dessert!).

Explore the top-notch museum and gift shop, and perhaps watch a nature film in the theater. Grandfather Mountain's many indoor areas are fun even in drizzle-or snow flurries! Then wander outside to natural habitats for elk, bears, cougars, otters, and eagles. Head back to your car but stop at the fudge shop, first!

The Swinging Bridge is next. When the road swerves back and forth - that's Forrest Gump Curve (yep, it's in the movie). Pull left into Cliffside Overlook, the curve is just below.

If only climbing a mountain on foot will do - go for it! Park at Black Rock Parking Area and take the Bridge Trail to the very top (moderate footing, 20 minutes up-a great adventure for the active, 8-and-above crowd). If you want one of the East's real adventures, awe your active teens with a 2-3 hour loop hike over MacRae Peak where ladders climb cliffs on the Grandfather Trail. (Not for beginners.)

Or drive to the summit parking area, enter the Top Shop, and find your way across the Mile-High Swinging Bridge, justifiably called "Carolina's Top Scenic Attraction." (The bridge is handicapped accessible - parents should closely supervise young children on the rocky peak beyond.)


From Grandfather take US 221 right to a right turn in Linville on NC 105. On the way, turn into Grandfather Mountain State Park's Profile Trail to see how hikers scale the mountain's highest peak, Calloway. Wander the riverside trail a short distance if you like.

It's a beautiful drive back to Boone. If you're cooking your own dinner in a nice condo or cabin - the Grandfather Mountain Trout Farm has fresh, prepared fish - or catch your own and let them do the hard part!

Evening - If you're still kickin' after dinner (June 27th through August 12th, 2023) - Horn in the West outdoor drama makes an exciting, historically insightful spectacle under the stars in the cool High Country evening. Arrive early and explore the frontier cabins next door at Hickory Ridge History Museum. (If you're a history buff, explore our History Travels & Tours page for more great insight into the High Country's past). Or relax and wander around downtown Boone or Blowing Rock and just enjoy an ice cream cone or a warm cookie.


Train your eyes on an early start. Whenever you get going, head to Tweetsie Railroad, the Boone Area's premier family fun park. 


Many visitors bee-line it to the Western-themed ride on an authentic steam train - actually the Boone Area's first high-tech link to the outside world from the late 1800s to 1940. Ride along behind Engine #12 - the real deal listed on the National Register of Historic Places. When the shrill-whistled train screams out, you'll know why early mountain residents nicknamed it "Tweetsie." The train crosses a trestle, circles a mountain, and may encounter bandits during the 20-minute round trip.

The train's just the start. Back at Main Street, explore the shops and head to the Country Fair for a long list of family-friendly rides - some of them fair classics - to get dizzy, giggle, or gasp with excitement.

Take a chairlift to Miner's Mountain - then ride a train through "America's Only Cheese Mine!" Meet the friendly animals in the Deer Park, pan for gold or gems, or any number of other entertaining options. Shopping adds to that list, with fun family photos, routed wood signs, custom license plates, engraved glassware, and all sort of souvenirs.

Tweetsie is fun for an entire day for young kids (teens will love the train and rides but may want to move on sooner), so plan for lunch at any of nearly a dozen eateries and snack spots. When it's time to grab a seat make it at one of Tweetsie's five live shows featuring everything from a musical to magic, can-can dancing to authentic mountain clogging and traditional music.

There are great events at Tweetsie. They range from one of the Boone Area's best fireworks displays on July 4th and October's Ghost Train season to visits by Thomas the Tank Engine. The late-November and December Tweetsie Christmas event has become a popular High Country tradition.

Evening - If you're still kickin' after dinner (between late June and early August) - Horn in the West outdoor drama makes an exciting, historically insightful evening of spectacle under the stars in the cool High Country dusk. (If you're a history buff, explore our History Travels & Tours page for more insight into the High Country's past.) Or relax on a wander around downtown Boone or Blowing Rock and enjoy an ice cream cone.


The Boone Area's range of outdoor activities is second-to-none. The High Country offers nationally significant access to all there is to do in Eastern America's highest mountains.


Any number of Boone Area Outfitters can get you out on a scenic mountain river or stream. Float through the scenery on a tube if you like - it's a quintessential summer experience. Or navigate the current and small rapids in a canoe or kayakWhitewater rafting really ramps it up - and the action happens from within minutes of Boone to not far away. Depending on the river, you can take an outfitter shuttle or drive yourself. You can be your own guide, or join a group (lunch can be part of the plan).

The Boone Area's easiest paddling adventure? Pull into Price Lake at Boone Fork Overlook (Milepost 297.2) on the Blue Ridge Parkway and rent a rowboat, canoe, paddleboard, or kayak, and paddle the calm, scenic lake. Find a quiet cove, dock at a rock, and have a picnic on the shore beside the trail. Fishing is permitted.

Just want to enjoy the shoreline and revel in the water? Hike the shoreline path at Price Lake or Bass Lake on the Parkway (check out the Bass Lake trail guide). Visit New River State Park's multiple riverside access points. Or just take a dip at Wildcat Lake, one of the High Country's favorite swimming holes.


Bring your bike! (Or rent one at a Boone Area bike shop) The entire family will love the Boone Greenway. It has miles of paved paths along the South Fork of the New River and even more challenging trails for mountain bikers. The Boone Area's Rocky Knob Bike Park is a spectacular bike trail system, if the kids are older and mountain biking's on your mind. Even if your kids are younger, the park has an inviting and entertaining playground that's a real family favorite. And there's an easy, paved skills development area for youngsters. Check out this amazing facility.


There's everything from easy leg-stretcher strolls on the Blue Ridge Parkway (some suitable for toddlers) to serious summits to scale for active teens. See the Grandfather Mountain hike above on Day One - or explore our hiking guide. Check out the High Country's best waterfalls for some more hiking ideas. They're always an awesome sight - and there are easy destinations for even young families.


Have a real eco-adventure and take a zipline tour! There's nothing more fun or exciting than soaring above and through fields and forests, with dazzling scenery and the breeze in your hair.

That's a pretty busy three days! Don't forget-spread out this itinerary over a week and you still won't get bored.


Boone's Fun 'N' Wheels go-kart track is family-friendly warm-weather amusement.

Linville Caverns is only a twenty-minute scenic drive, mostly on the Blue Ridge Parkway, past Grandfather Mountain. Exploring North Carolina's only publicly accessible cavern is a cool subterranean adventure (literally) on the rainiest, warmest, or coldest day.

The Children's Playhouse is an exciting, innovative Boone attraction if your children range from infants to eight years old-especially on a rainy day! Rain or shine, you'll feel like a lucky local when you walk into this independent, non-profit children's museum.

Located near downtown Boone, The Children's Playhouse includes indoor play areas for rainy days-a pretend vet clinic complete with real x-rays, an art room, indoor "Romp and Stomp" with a ball pit and bouldering wall, and a pretend play area complete with dress-up clothes and a play kitchen-all tucked into a child-friendly space. Outdoor fun includes sand and water play, climbers, and gardening and art activities. Parents or caregivers must stay with their children. There is a small admission fee and infants one year or younger are free.