I LOVE North Carolina.
I hope to live there one day, and ideally it would be somewhere pretty close to the mountains. It’s cooler but not TOO cold, they have all four seasons, and moving there wouldn’t take me too far from my family and friends. A lot of my friends have actually already moved to North Carolina so I know people in just about every region of the state.
One of those people is my best friend Tabitha! We met when we both worked at Riverbanks Zoo about 7 years ago now. It’s insane to me that so much time has passed since then! She lived in Columbia for a couple of years and then moved back to Hickory, NC where her family is.
Despite the four children we have between the two of us, we have done a pretty good job and staying friends and visiting each other. A few weeks ago she came to Columbia and we went to the zoo. Now it was my turn to visit her!
Thanks to Tweetsie for gifting me two tickets for the purposes of this review! My opinions of the park are still my own and not swayed by this fact.
This past weekend I drove the two and a half hours up to her (new) house so that we could go to Tweetsie Railroad together!
These days I very rarely leave the house anymore. Between the struggle of getting both kids and myself ready and out the door, the insane heat, my to do list, and Finley’s nap schedule, most days it just doesn’t happen. SO taking both kids up to NC for 3 days took a lot of “you can do this” pep talking.
The drive up was pretty terrible, to be honest. Finley cried most of the time and Leopold was still recovering from feeling sick and was whiny and angry about going anywhere. We stopped for a picnic halfway there and met up with some friends, which really helped break up the trip.
Finley did not sleep AT ALL the first night we were there. Okay she did sleep, but only from 3:30 AM to 5:30, then to about 9. She did not want to stay in her pack and play so for a lot of the night I had both kids in a day bed with me. Not a good nights sleep when you’re going to a theme park the next day!
Somehow, I survived the entire day with only one cup of coffee.
The drive to Tweetsie from Hickory was only about 45 minutes and so scenic! The kids kept saying “MOUNTAINS!” as we drove up the winding roads. I can only imagine how gorgeous it is during fall! My friend has taken her boys quite a few times since they live so close, but the last time I’ve been to Tweetsie was when I was 13 years old. That was about 15 years ago! I remember going and really enjoying myself, but my memories of it are few and far between.
Monday was the perfect day to visit, because the park was nearly empty when we arrived right around lunch time. There were a few people leaving the park so we managed to score a parking spot right in front! If you can’t find a spot at the top lot, you will have to park at the bottom and it’s a little hike up the hill to the ticket office.
Make sure you wear comfortable walking shoes! Remember, you’re in the mountains so there are a lot of hills and inclines to go up and down in the park. It is very stroller/wheelchair accessible though.
The weather was pretty nice for our visit, it was around 75-80 degrees while we were there from lunch time until 6pm. In the shade there were a lot of nice breezes, and of course when the sun peeked out from behind the clouds I got a bit hot and sweaty. This was in late July, so I imagine July and August are the peak seasons for heat.
My friend who goes a lot said “woah, it’s busy today!” and I thought…this? Busy? Compared to Disney World or even a busy day at the zoo there were hardly any people there! We didn’t have to wait very long at all for any of the rides which was REALLY nice.
Speaking of rides, the majority of the rides at Tweetsie are perfect for kids Leopold’s age. There are a handful that have a height max, so kids that are around 7 and up may be too tall for those. There were still a lot of rides for everyone, and bigger rides for the 7(ish) and up crowd. I was able to take Finley on a lot of things, which was really fun!
There are a smattering of rides on the second ‘level’ of the park, and a handful more at the ‘top’. There was also a big animal park that you can go into and feed the animals! They give you sugar cones full of animal food for .50 a piece, and you can buy more at the top of the hill if you need to.
Finley even fed a goat! She was NOT happy that it took the food out of her hand though. Might have traumatized her for life, but I have to give them SOMETHING to talk about in therapy, right? ;p
You can take the chair lift to the top of the hill (I braved it with both kids. It wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be…but I did have a tight grip on my wiggly baby) but they also have a bus to drive you up if you can’t/don’t want to ride the chair lift.
There are multiple places to eat at Tweetsie. We ate at the Feed and Seed restaurant and sat outside where we had a gorgeous view of the mountains and could see the train pulling out of the station every 35-45 minutes.
Everyone had a blast and we didn’t want to leave! We stayed until the very last minute and the kids all got a prize from the gift shop. Thank you so much Tweetsie for the tickets and the FUN!
I would definitely recommend going to Tweetsie Railroad for a day of wild west fun with your family. It’s a tad bit pricey to get in the door ($50 for adults and $32 for kids over 2) but you can easily go for the whole day! Your admission gets you access to all the rides including a ride on their steam train! This steam engine used to run from 1919-1940 from Johnson City, TN to Boone, NC. It takes you through the mountain where you get to see a live show put on by some cowboys and Native Americans.
The show itself is pretty cheesy and the acting isn’t professional by any means, but for my 3 year old and our friend’s 7 year old it was the bees knees! I think if it was TOO convincing and less cheesy it could be frightening for younger ones, so I’m glad it was the way it was. I will say there are a lot of loud sudden noises on the steam engine so if anyone in your group is sensitive to that, maybe ask where the best place to ride is, or skip it altogether. The loud noises are the train whistle and the gunshots, both of which terrified Finley!
The cowboy even handed out shotgun shells to the kids after the show. The ones he gave Leopold are now one of his prized possessions.
We made some awesome memories at Tweetsie and now we can’t wait to go back! Hopefully I don’t have to wait another 15 years!
You can visit Tweetsie’s website to plan your trip and make some fun mountain memories yourself!