When: August 2016
Where: We stayed with family in Linville, NC
Wear: Work out clothes – you walk around a lot and want to be comfortable (especially if you plan to do the hike as well). However normal day clothes work fine too. I wore a short sleeve shirt, workout leggings and brought a jacket for the swinging bridge area but I didn’t really need it.
For a last mini family vacation before the tears strolled down and I sent my first born to kindergarten, we took a weekend trip to Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina this August, and boy am I so glad we did. The views were breathtaking, the air was crisp and the time spent together was priceless.
Just a short hop, skip and 4 hour car ride and we were in Linville, North Carolina (thank goodness for the iPad). We stayed with family in a little cabin on a creek, and boy was it peaceful, listening to the sound of the water running, and not much else! We saw bears, caught crawdads, crossed swinging bridges, shopped old toy stores and ate lots and lots of candy – it was awesome. The best part, we got some serious family time, away from the hustle and bustle of the daily grind and the every pressing schedule. Let me share some of my favorites from the trip!
Grandfather mountain is a little gem on the East Coast with beautiful greenery, rolling hills and gorgeous mountains. It can easily be conquered in a morning, as we spent about 8:30am to 1:00pm here, and feel like we accomplished everything.
Upon entering you are given a CD for your car that you can play while you drive to the main area. It is informational as it gives you a history lesson and points out areas along the way. We toured the wildlife areas first, but we probably should have visited the mountain and swinging bridge first as clouds started to roll in later in the day. We saw otters, black bears, deer, birds and a cougar.
After the wildlife, we drove up to the swinging bride (you can take a hike, but it is steep and with a two year old and no carrier we decided not too). The views up here are gorgeous, and we just had to sit for a few minutes and soak it in. We crossed the bridge fine, it doesn’t move that much – we just held on tight to our toddler and our miss independent daughter did fine on her own. At the end of the bridge are open rocks that people walk out on another 100 or so yards out, but there is no fence, ropes, etc – its all at your own risk. At 5, she is very adventurous with little caution and wanted to proceed. We left the toddler behind on his on (not likely – with grandparents!) and took her out. The first half seemed completely harmless and she enjoyed it, but we stopped there and went back as it started to get more narrow and steep further on.
To end our morning there and allow for naptime, we ate lunch at the park restaurant, Mildred’s Grill. There were plenty of picnic tables around the park so I wished we would have packed a lunch and brought it with us, but it was also nice not to have to arrange for all of that in the morning and just grab a bite right there. It wasn’t a sit down restaurant with servers – you ordered at a counter and then brought your food to a table – which worked out perfectly for us with young kids. The food was good, reasonable and we enjoyed a meal outside by the hummingbird feeders and watch them fly about.
For our gear, we used a stroller around the wildlife area – paved trails made it easy. We carried Easton on the swinging bridge but a baby carrier could have been helpful, but not needed (it is not far at all). If you do the hike with a baby to the top of the mountain I would definitely recommend a carrier.
I honestly think the 4 hours we spent there was a perfect amount of time for the kids – we saw and conquered a lot – but I could have spent another 4 hours perched on that mountain enjoying the view (with some wine!).