Blowing Rock: Endless family friendly fun!
I plan to maybe one day transition from throwing the kids’ birthday parties, to just simple get togethers and family trips/experiences. In an effort to change, this year I decided to do it ALL. We spent the weekend of September 21st/22nd in one of my favorite cities in North Carolina: Blowing Rock. The next weekend (Friday/Monday) we spent celebrating the kids actual birthdays with individual special days with mom. The following weekend they each got a birthday party on separate days. Because I must be nuts, obviously.
Disclaimer: Much of what I am writing about was compliments of Blowing Rock, NC and the noted local businesses for the purpose of this post. All opinions are completely honest and 100% my own!
Anyway, I LOVE Blowing Rock.
I remember visiting with my mom when we went on a camping trip together a few years before she died. We hiked, slept in tents, cooked over a fire, and checked out the shops in town. It was an awesome trip and I’m really glad I got to make those memories with her!
A couple years after that, I went back with my brand new husband for our mini honeymoon. We visited Boone and Blowing Rock and had the best time in those short two days before we went back to real life.
About a year after that, I took my son up to visit my best friend who lives in a nearby town, Hickory (another favorite). He was about 6 months old and on that trip he got to go on the swings for the first time, and he sat in a high chair for the first time too.
I was really excited for the opportunity to take my family to Blowing Rock a couple of weeks ago and we are all so appreciative of how well they treated us!
September is a little early to experience fall in the Blue Ridge Mountains, but if you look hard enough you will catch glimpses of the leaves changing. If you’re lucky, you will experience a chill in the air from time to time as well. Our weekend in the mountains was still a bit on the warm side, although we did get away with wearing long sleeves and not sweating like crazy!
We decided to make a long weekend out of our trip, so we left Friday morning and drove 3 hours into the mountains of North Carolina. Our first stop was to check into our hotel, the Meadowbrook Inn. They weren’t quite ready for us, so we walked a couple of blocks down the road to the beautiful park in the center of Blowing Rock. There is a gazebo, loads of benches, swings, a play structure, and restrooms. It’s the perfect spot for people watching, because you can sit on a bench facing the main road and watch shoppers pass by for as long as you please!
We didn’t stay at the park long. We were ready to see our room! They were ready for us by the time we got back, and they showed us to our room in the separate building as they told us a bit about the hotel.
Our room was SO nice. It’s a small condo style ‘room’ with a balcony and stairs that wind down to your very own private indoor pool! It definitely felt like we were living in luxury! Leopold was SO excited to swim! It was the perfect size for our small family to splash around in, and it was so warm!
Our room was a pretty good size for our small family, as there was a king sized bed in the bedroom, and a fold out couch in the living room. The suite had one (pretty large) bathroom and a luxurious bathtub and shower! We even got fancy robes to wear during our stay. They provided the pack and play for us (even though Finley wouldn’t sleep in it), and left us the sweetest mugs with my favorite chocolate!
The hotel has resident ducks you can feed (the duck food is free at the front desk) and a community garden where you can take any herbs or veggies you need. Our room only had a bar area with a microwave and mini fridge so we weren’t going to be cooking but it is such a neat concept!
After our quick swim, we got dressed and drove just a bit up the road (about 3 minutes in the car) to our dinner reservations at the Timberlake Restaurant inside the Chetola resort.
Dinner was incredible! I branched out and got ‘Elk Chop’ and it was pretty delicious! The kids even enjoyed their meals and Finley ate enough for both of them! We got a couple desserts and Leopold got to try crème brulee for the first time. Our dinner was complimentary thanks to Timberlake Restaurant! We did pay for our drinks and gratuity, so in the end we ended up spending more money than we usually do for a night out, but it was worth the splurge!
They had us come in around 5pm and sat us by a big window. It was nice eating so early because we were one of the only ones there, which took a lot of the pressure off as far as worrying that our children would disturb those around us. We did end up taking our dessert outside to eat though! They had a fire going and with the cooler weather it was so nice!
After a VERY rough night of sleep we got up as early as we possibly could to spend our day at Tweetsie Railroad.
(The beds were very comfy but Finley absolutely refused to sleep in the pack and play and slept miserably next to me. Leopold came in eventually and James switched with him to go sleep on the fold out couch. I ended up sleeping long ways across the foot of the bed. Like a dog.)
We went to Tweetsie earlier in the summer and had an equally fun time, but with friends and missing James. You can read about that here!
Leopold and I let daddy and Finley sleep in a bit and we had our own little breakfast date! The breakfast at our hotel was awesome, and feeding the ducks was an added bonus!
The weather couldn’t have been better (okay a little cooler and I wouldn’t have complained) for a day in the mountains. It was warm without being hot, and sunny without being too bright. Since we have been to Tweetsie before, Leopold knew exactly what he wanted to do this time! We started at the top of Tweetsie and worked our way down, meaning we immediately hopped on the ski lift and rode up to the top of the mountain. Riding the lift was MUCH less stressful on this particular trip! Last time it was just me and two kids. This time I only had Finley and she was strapped onto my chest thanks to my Kinderpack! James took Leopold on the ski lift behind us (faced his fear of heights…didn’t love it).
At the top of Tweetsie you find a petting zoo where you can feed the animals (we didn’t do that this time), some live shows, a playground, an overlook, gem mining, a couple small gift shops, and RIDES. Leopold’s favorite is the “scrambler” which I think has a different name officially. He surprised me last time we went by loving this super fast, spinning ride! He went on it about 3 times this go around! The mouse train was another one he loved last time, but it was closed down during our trip.
After we wore ourselves out at the top of the hill, we decided to head down for more excitement.
Leopold and I braved the ferris wheel on the side of the mountain, and I didn’t think I was that afraid of heights, but I admit I was freaking out a little bit on that thing! Leopold was so brave though, and loved every minute! Last time he told me he didn’t want to ride it because he’s “scared of high”. He faced his fears though, and now we have a little daredevil on our hands!
We rode as many rides as we could, stopped at the gift shop to grab Leopold a cute cowboy hat and pop gun that he wanted last time (this WAS a birthday trip after all), then went up a little bit to get some lunch. We were lucky enough to have our lunch break during one of their shows, and this one was a can can dancer show! Leopold wasn’t that into it and Finley slept in the Kinderpack, but I enjoyed it!
Lastly, we took the huge steam engine ride through the mountain and got to experience a (cheesy but fun) cowboy show. Finley didn’t cry at the gunshots this time, but Leopold did get a little soot in his eye from the smoke!
My Tweetsie tips:
>Wear good shoes! It’s a lot of walking and a lot of trekking up and down hills to get around the park (and even into the park).
>Go for two half days instead of a full day! If you go after 3pm (they close at 6) you can get in the next day on the same ticket. This helps if you have little kids who might not be up for a full day of excitement, or if you want to break your days up a bit.
>Pack snacks: Like any theme park, the food prices are where you will spend the most! The food at Tweetsie is semi reasonable but still on the pricey side. I’d suggest packing snacks and buying a small lunch there, or packing sandwiches and having some ice cream or a snack.
That evening (after a quick rest at the hotel) we drove out to Mystery Hill for their Firefly Nights. It was really fun getting unlimited access to the tomahawk throw, blow darts, archery, and knife throwing! We did that for as long as we could with two little kids in tow, and decided to call it a night. For dinner we stopped by the grocery store and got a meat, cheese and crackers tray. It filled all of our bellies and even lasted long enough for us to have a mid morning snack the next day!
Our second night was not AS rough but not a picnic either. Our baby just isn’t a great hotel sleeper (yet).
We said goodbye to the Meadowbrook Inn and after one last breakfast there, we hit the road.
We still had some Mystery Hill tickets, so we decided to stop there first. They were super generous to give us their ultimate package which gave us a little taste of everything. I have passed by Mystery Hill many times going in and out of Blowing Rock, and I’ve always been curious about it! Honestly, the huge dinosaurs on one of the buildings are what drew my eye. It was even cooler than I imagined!
There are some weird mysteries at Mystery Hill for sure. I could try to explain it, but no one really knows why it is how it is! The best way for you to understand is to check it out for yourself. There is a guided tour at first, that takes you to the room where the big mystery is. Balls roll up hill, water runs uphill, and honestly you just feel WEIRD. It isn’t about the way the floor is, or a trick of the eye (which is what I thought at first), it is just strange! Seriously, if you are passing through Blowing Rock or have considered going to Mystery Hill, do it. Just do it.
After all the crazy mystery things, they take you to a few other rooms that remind me of a mini science museum. There are lots of things for kids to look at, interact with, and learn from. Also, bubbles!
In addition to the main attraction, there is a dinosaur museum, gem mining, old timey photos, tomahawk throwing, artifact museum, and more! We were so exhausted and the kids were so done, we didn’t stay long enough to do every single thing they had to offer, but we had so much fun with what we did do! Leopold LOVED the gem mining!! We got some pretty cool gems out of our buckets, and they sit down and tell you all about what you found when you’re done.
James and I grabbed coffees from their coffee shop and decided to drive about 25 minutes through the mountains to explore Grandfather Mountain.
Grandfather Mountain is another one of my favorite places. I try to go there every time I visit Blowing Rock for an extended period. Last time we went was on our honeymoon four years ago! It has so much to offer nature lovers! You can hike, or drive all the way to the top. Last time we did the ‘small hike’ which honestly at that time we were probably still too out of shape for (and I was pregnant). This time, we drove. No way were we going to attempt the “easy” climb/hike with two tired little ones. Not today, not for a long time. The drive up gives you amazing views of the mountains and is a little unsettling for someone like James, who as I’ve mentioned is afraid of heights. He handled it like a champ, though! On the way up you can stop in various spots to take in the view, do some hiking, and in one place you can stop and get some photos with a huge rock called “split rock” that looks like it’s cracked down the middle.
Before you get to the top of the mountain, make sure you stop at the nature museum/cafeteria/gift shop! There is a nature preserve there where you can walk around and see animals indigenous to the area like black bears, elk, otters, and eagles.
When we left Grandfather Mountain, we said “See you later” to Blowing Rock and drove straight home. Family trips are so good for us, but there is nothing like going home!
Thank you so much to Blowing Rock for showing us such a good time and to all the local businesses who showed us hospitality and kindness.
Have you ever been to Blowing Rock? What do you love about it, if so?
If not, do you think you would like to visit?
If you wanna know:
Some notes on clothes from our photos…
Tweetsie outfits on the kids: RAGS to Raches
Finley’s cute little black shoes: Sojo Moccs
Rainbow “matching” PJ’s and the kids hoodies at Grandfather Mountain: Primary.com
Finley’s dinner outfit at Timberlake: Finn and Emma onesie + Monkey Feet Moccs
Best snack cup ever: Munchie Mug
Our favorite baby carriers: Kinderpack
Lion King romper and shorts: Foraged Color