9 Fun Things to do in North Carolina with Kids

We went on a road trip to North Carolina with the kids to experience some outdoor adventures, such as hiking, horseback riding, and river rafting, as well as eat some great food and visit breweries. We stayed in Burnsville and also visited Asheville while we were there. This is our guide for things to do in North Carolina with kids and hope it serves as a guide for your own travels.

Related: How to Plan a Vacation with Kids, Tips for a Multigenerational Family Vacation, Tips for Flying with Kids, and Tips for Traveling with Kids.

Burnsville

We rented a house in Burnsville on Mt. Mitchell through AirBnb. The road to the house was very long, steep, and winding. Not accustomed to driving on mountains, my husband drove very carefully. He was driving so slow that a cyclist past us on the road!

Homeplace Beer Co.

Homeplace Beer Co., Burnsville, North Carolina
Homeplace Beer Co., Burnsville, North Carolina

My husband and I enjoy going to breweries and their laid back atmosphere makes them child-friendly, especially ones with outdoor areas. I researched breweries in Burnsville and found Homeplace Beer Co. We went one afternoon and ordered some beer and took it downstairs to their outdoor area, where the kids were able to play corn hole and run around playing tag together.

Hiking

Things to Do in North Carolina with kids
Trail to Setrock Creek Falls, Burnsville, North Carolina

Being from Miami we rarely get to experience elevation of any kind. So we enjoy hiking when we get the chance. When we went my daughter was only 8 and since she’s not accustomed to hiking, we only went on easy trails.

Setrock Creek Falls and Roaring Fork Creek Falls are in Pisgah National Forest at the base of Mt. Mitchell. They are little-known creeks recommended by our AirBnB host and near where we were staying. We went to the falls on 2 separate days, but you could easily do it in 1 day, as long as everyone is up for it. They are both very kid-friendly, but I wouldn’t say stroller friendly.

Setrock Creek Falls

Things to do in North Carolina with kids
Setrock Creek Falls, Burnsville, North Carolina

About a 1/2 mile easy hike from the Black Mountain Campground, Setrock Creek Falls is a cascading, 75-foot waterfall. On the day we went the water flow was low, but wonderful to experience. There are large stones where we were able to sit and have a small picnic while taking in the view and listening to the wonderful sound of the water.

Hiking in North Carolina with Kids
Setrock Creek, Burnsville, North Carolina

It was a bit confusing when we went, so hopefully these instructions will help. Walk into the campground and cross the bridge. Follow the yellow markers or “blazes” and cross a footbridge. There will be a gravel road where you will keep walking for a few hundred yards until you reach the falls. In total it’s about one mile there and back.

Note that you will come across blue blazes (trail indicators). Don’t follow them. They are for the Mt. Mitchell Trail, which is a 5.6 upward climb to the summit. We started walking up this trail and we noticed it was a bit steep. Luckily there were some people walking down and told us we weren’t on the correct path!

Roaring Fork Creek Falls

Roaring Fork Creek Falls, Burnsville, North Carolina
Roaring Fork Creek Falls, Burnsville, North Carolina

About 2.5 miles from Setrock Creek Falls is Roaring Fork Creek Falls. The walk to the 50-ft high waterfall was very easy. There was another family there and their kids were swimming in the water. Being from Miami, it was too cold for us. But, it is possible, just take some water shoes as the rocks can be slippery.

Things to do in North Carolina with kids
Roaring Fork Creek Falls, Burnsville, North Carolina

When you arrive at Roaring Fork Creek Falls Trailhead, park on the left at the gated entrance. The sign for the half-mile trail to the falls is on the right. After passing some old concrete bunkers, which we now know used to store explosives, there is a small bridge and a trail on the right by a stream. After a short walk, you’ll find the base of the waterfall.

Mount Mitchell State Park

Things to do in North Carolina with kids
Mt. Mitchell State Park, Burnsville, North Carolina

At 6,684 feet, Mount Mitchell has the highest peak east of the Mississippi River. Hiking up the over 5 mile trail to the summit would have been too much for us, so we chose to drive up the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway to NC 128 and to Mount Mitchell State Park. We walked the 1/4 mile paved accessible trail to the observation deck. From there we experienced breathtaking panoramic mountain views.

Things to do in North Carolina with kids
Balsam Nature Trail, Mt. Mitchell State Park, Burnsville, North Carolina

After leaving the deck we walked through the Balsam Nature Trail, which we accessed from the parking area. Along the trail there were signs with information about the area. Because of the higher altitude there are many flowers and animals that you would find in colder climates.

Horseback Riding

Things to do in North Carolina with kids: Horseback Riding
Horseback Riding, Burnsville, North Carolina

We wanted to horseback ride on this trip and I selected Bucktown Stables in Burnsville on Wolf Laurel Mountain, since it was near where we were staying and allowed children. I was able to reserve a day or two ahead of when we wanted to go. When we arrived they matched us up with our horses and a helmet. They gave us some instructions on how to ride, since my daughter and I had never ridden before.

We went on a trail through the property and when we came to a fork in the path our guide asked us if we wanted to continue or return. We were having a nice time and weren’t tired, so we decided to continue. We were even able to trot up a hill, which was scary and exciting at the same time. My daughter had such a great time that she wanted to do it again in the future.

My husband and son white water rafting

White Water Rafting

We’ve been waiting for the kids to be old enough to go white water rafting. We did it in Switzerland when we were backpacking through Europe in our early 20s. My daughter, who was 8 when we went to North Carolina was still on the young side and she’s more precautious. After some research I found Edge of the World. The rapids aren’t that rough, it includes lunch, very kid friendly, and not very expensive.

The kids had such a great time. We met up at the company’s office where they outfitted us with our life vest and gear and assigned us to a boat depending on the group size and ages. Afterwards, a bus took us to the launch location on the river. On the way there they entertained us with jokes and shenanigans. We met a family that do this every year because their kids love it so much.

Each boat has a guide and they sat us according to our age and skill level and they showed us what to do. But really the guide did most of the work. We stopped at a small beach and picnic area where they served lunch and drinks and there were toilet facilities. From there they gave us the choice to ride a big rapid over and over again. My husband and son did it multiple times. After everyone had enough (or it was time to go), we got back in the raft and continued riding on the river to where the bus was waiting to take us back to their office and our cars.

Asheville

Known for its historic architecture and breweries, Asheville is in western North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. We went 2 times while in North Carolina. Once to visit the Biltmore Estate and once to go to a brewery, walk around, and have dinner.

Biltmore Estate

Biltmore Estate, Asheville, North Carolina

The Biltmore Estate in Asheville includes a historic house and gardens on 8,000 acres that belonged to the Vanderbilt Family. It’s one of the must do things when going to Asheville and I knew the kids would enjoy seeing and learning about the house.

Tickets tend to sell out, especially during peak season, so I purchased them online a few weeks in advance. It was a timed ticket and we were a little late, but they let us through.

There were audio tours for adults and ones directed towards kids. My daughter’s audio guide was narrated by the family dog and he pointed out different aspects of the rooms than what the adult version was discussing. We appreciated learning about the history of the house and seeing the indoor pool, workout room, and private living quarters.

After the house tour we walked around a little. We were tired so we didn’t go to the gardens on the side of the house. I really wish we would have though as I’ve heard they are very beautiful.

Burial Beer Co.

Burial Beer Co., Asheville, North Carolina

No trip to Asheville would be complete without a visit to one of the many breweries in this city. We decided on Burial because of the beer and the outdoor area. They rotate their beer selection and when we got hungry we picked up some tacos at a food truck around the corner. The kids enjoyed playing in an old truck decorated with stickers.

Asheville Bee Charmer

After the brewery we drove downtown and walked around. We found this boutique, Asheville Bee Charmer, where they sell gourmet honey blends. They offer tastings before you purchase them. We liked them so much we purchased 4 different bottles.

These are just some fun things to do in North Carolina with kids and it proved to be a great vacation. My kids still talk about it today. We experienced some great times together and created stories to last us a lifetime.