Outdoor activities are year-round in the Carolinas but there is no doubt that this region kicks it into high gear as the weather warms and Spring spreads its green blanket of color across the land. That being the case, we thought we would share some of favorite family friendly destinations that would be great outings for families with small children. There are a lot of good spots to choose from but we managed to prune the list down to the top 15 based on the following criteria:
- The destination and approach had to be generally kid safe. While no outdoor destination is 100% safe (still keep an eye on those kiddos), we wanted to find places with minimal exposure to cliffs, ledges, etc.
- We ruled out road-side destinations. If you are taking the family on an outing, it needs to be an outing. Nothing too short but not too long either.
- They had to be great destinations, places that stand out above the rest. While we feel everything featured on our website is great, let’s face it…some destinations are just better than others. We took a stab at picking out some of the regions top destinations.
Our picks (in no particular order)
Hooker, Triple, and High Falls of the DuPont State Forest
Little Bradley Falls
King Creek Falls
Currituck Banks Reserve
Tory’s Den and Falls
Twin Falls (SC)
Roaring Fork Falls
Riley Moore Falls
Silver Run Falls
Congaree National Park – Boardwalk Loop
Log Hollow Falls
Price Lake Loop
The DuPont State Forest is one of those places that you absolutely have to visit. Located between the North Carolina towns of Hendersonville and Brevard, it is a wonderful place that is extremely family friendly and a great destination to take your kids. If you have never been, then the easy hike to Hooker, Triple, and High Falls is a great place to start. Three epic waterfalls in one easy trip that your family will LOVE. Go there this weekend!
A short and very pleasant hike in a beautiful section of Saluda, North Carolina. The approach brings you to the base of the falls where there is adequate room to sit back and enjoy this treasure of the forest. Pearson’s Falls is on private property and there is a small entrance fee to visit the falls. The fee isn’t too much and is well worth the experience.
Another waterfall in Saluda North, Carolina that is one of our favorites. The hike to the falls is a little longer than some of the others on this list (about 2 miles total) and there are a couple of creek crossings so it is probably not best for small children. However, the trail is relatively flat and ends up at the base of one very beautiful waterfall.
A picture perfect waterfall in the upstate of South Carolina. A very short and easy trail through an absolutely gorgeous forest will bring you to the sandy banks of King Creek at the base of the waterfall. The sandy shore is perfect for taking off the boots and cooling your feet on a warm Carolina Summer day. The kids will love it!
A pleasant and flat walk through an undisturbed barrier island estuarine system and maritime forest on the North Carolina coast. The majority of the hike is on a boardwalk with benches and informative plaques making it both enjoying and potentially educational.
One of the most popular family trails in North Carolina and along the Blue Ridge Parkway. For good reason too! The waterfall is both epic and easy to reach. There are also a number of trails of varying length and difficulty that should accommodate the needs of most families. Note that the closest viewing area puts you above the main waterfall but there is a short stone fence. Be mindful of the conditions if you take small children to Linville Falls.
What kid (or adult even) doesn’t like a good cave? Tory’s Den looks like a cave out of a cartoon. It’s perfect and exactly what you would expect. It isn’t that deep either but the kids will love it. Note that the view to Tory’s Falls is a little bit exposed so be careful with the kids if you choose to view the falls.
A very short and relatively flat hike to a beautiful South Carolina waterfall located less than an hour from Greenville. While some people choose to walk up to the base of the falls, excellent views are possible from the large covered observation deck.
The hike to Roaring Fork Falls is along an old dirt access road that is very wide and easy to traverse. You end up at the base of this unique waterfall that is very long and beautiful and it makes its way down the mountain.
One of our favorite waterfalls of South Carolina. Riley Moore Falls is relatively short, only about 12-15ft high, but it is very wide, has great flow over the falls, and you can’t beat the large sandy beach at the base of the falls. It is absolutely beautiful and is a great place to take the family for a picnic. Keep in mind, however, that this spot can be popular during the warm summer months. If you want peace and quiet, this spot is best visited in the cooler months.
Another easy and beautiful North Carolina waterfall that is close to the South Carolina border. The large and shallow pool at the base of the falls makes this a popular spot in the summer months but the view can be enjoyed throughout the entire year.
The boardwalk loop trail at the Congaree National Park is a wonderful family hike that starts at the main visitors center which also has a small museum. Come prepared with mosquito repellant though as they can get a little think in the summer (they even have a mosquito meter at the park).
Deep in the southern Pisgah National Forest north of Brevard but surprisingly easy to reach. The hike to the falls isn’t too long and is relatively flat. You end up right at the base of the falls with a decent sized area to relax and enjoy the moment.
As we state in our video about Otter Falls, this is a magical spot in the forest. The trail system is very nice and you need to experience the waterfall. It is so beautiful! There is a bit of a decline to reach the falls (meaning you hike up on the way back) but it is short and really isn’t too difficult. The observation area around the falls is large and inviting. You will want to linger at Otter Falls.
One of the more beautiful and picturesque lakes along the Blue Ridge Parkway which just happens to have a great trail that loops around it. You can also rent boats at the lake if you would rather explore its beauty from the water.
Whew! That is a lot of places but hopefully it gives you some good ideas for summer destinations and road-trips. Be safe this Summer!