One of my favorite things about living in Raleigh is our close proximity to the beaches and mountains of North Carolina; no matter the season, it feels like we are just a short road trip away from a new adventure. This time, for our most recent excursion around the state, we headed west to the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains to explore the small town of Blowing Rock, NC. And beside my usual million pictures, this time, I also managed to make a little video which I have included at the bottom, after you see all those million pictures of course! =)
On Monday morning before leaving for the trip, we dropped off Asha and Arjun at school around 8:00am so that we could finish our packing without distractions. The sight of our luggage for the 2-night-3-day trip was monumental! I guess that’s what you get when you plan for every possible activity including hiking, swimming, and skiing!
Thankfully, with the magic of a minivan, we made it all fit like it was no big deal! By 10:00am, we were packed, caffeinated, and ready to pick-up the kids. In those two hours at school, they had managed to workout most of their morning wiggles and were okay to sit in the car for the next several hours. The TV in our van is reserved for long trips only, and with a combination of napping, Tarzan, and playing car-games, we got to Blowing Rock without any stops, in under 4 hours (195 miles).
Blowing Rock is a tiny town with barely 1300 residents. BUT, because of its prime location between Grandfather mountain, Appalachian Ski Resort, and Boone (home to Appalachian State University), I imagine it gets a steady stream of visitors all year round. No where was this more evident than in the number of restaurants, antique shops, and boutiques that lined the compact downtown area. It was a bit cold, but we had fun walking around anyway before settling on an early dinner at Blowing Rock Brewing Co. Once back at the hotel, we went swimming in the heated indoor pool and then called it a night by 8:30pm. Falling asleep while watching TV in a hotel room used to be one of my guilty indulgences. Alas, until I win the lottery to get two rooms each time we travel, I will just be thankful to catch up on some Zzzzzs.
The next day, we woke up to a chilly but beautiful morning. From our balcony we could see the lake covered with fog and it all seemed very whimsical and pretty! After a breakfast at the Inn, we spent the rest of the day driving on winding roads and exploring the vistas of Grandfather mountain. First, was the walk across the swinging bridge. At a mile-high, it was breathtaking, if not a bit scary too because of the cold howling winds! We had bundled the kids in the gift shop, including putting Ajay in a sling, and Arjun in a hiking carrier (that child of mine has the worst wiggles especially in very dangerous places). This bridge is a big draw for tourists in the high season, and I’ve heard of how crazy busy it gets here in the warmer months. But on that day, we had the whole place to ourselves and it felt thrilling!
After the bridge, we spent some time in the nature museum and walking around in the outdoor zoo/natural habitat; both were pretty solid and worth checking out especially if you have kids. The zoo habitat area had bald eagles, cougars, and even bears among other things. Apparently, one of the bears decided to ditch its hibernation and so we got luckily to catch a glimpse of it!
For the drive back from the mountains I sat in the third row with Asha and was promptly reminded of how easily I get car sick (and it’s worse in a minivan for sure). The kids fell asleep in the car by that point and it gave us just enough time to find a place to eat a late lunch. I was so hungry that I was willing to settle for one of the small diner/provision stores at the base of the mountain , but props to Devang who always has the good sense to wait and find these amazing local spots! He took us to downtown Boone to eat at PROPER and it turned out to be one of the best meals I have had in a long time (I am still dreaming about their Lima beans and Chicken). We were lucky to have the place mostly to ourselves which meant that we could linger without worries. In fact, the staff was super nice and kept bringing toys and markers and such for the kids. After almost 2 hours of being there, we still had to pry them away. We ended the evening with a walk on King St and a pit stop at the grocery store to grab a few items or dinner. We ate in our room, watched a movie, and went to bed!
On our last morning, we finished our breakfast and walked around Lake Chetola to bid farewell to the ducks and swans. Then with some good coffee and donuts from the Local Lion, we were back on our way home!
I feel like we packed so much for such a short trip! Thanks for indulging me and reading this very long post. If you care to get more details and links of the places we visited, definitely check out my recent post for Raleigh Mom’s Blog. There, our trip to Blowing Rock is the first in a series I am starting called the Traveling Circus, with the hope to encourage area parents to travel more with kids.
And here’s the video I promised!
Hope you enjoy it and don’t forget to share your thoughts and travel philosophies, and tell me where you and your family are headed next! Cheers!