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Boone Summer Vacations Include Zipline Adventures, Secret Caves, and Daniel Boone. For active families Boone in the North Carolina High Country is just about perfect. Cool air, starry nights, miles of pathways for biking or hiking, friendly people, and unique attractions without long lines to seep away valuable family vacation time. Sky Valley Zipline Experience for Families, Boone NC

Here’s the scoop. Outside Magazine rates Boone, as one of the best small towns in the US because of the community’s overall quality of life which includes proximity to hiking, biking, running, paddling, and skiing. Add to the active list Tweetsie Railroad, Grandfather Mountain and “Horn of the West” and it makes a great summer family vacation. 

My short list of things to do with kids serves as a start to planning the perfect summer in the North Carolina High Country. Otters at Grandfather Mountain, Boone, NC

Walk on a mile-high bridge. Grandfather Mountain towers over the beautiful Carolina Piedmont offering cool sites and a few thrills for those who chose to cross the 228-foot bridge – the highest suspension footbridge in the U.S. The International Biosphere Reserve operates a world-class nature museum, and conducts seasonal interpretive programs as well as maintaining natural habitats for deer, bears, cougars, eagles, and otters. Bonus Points: When burning off excess energy is part of the plan, the swinging bridge is the perfect starting point to hike the loop or to continue along well-marked trails to valley floor. The meadow vistas over Banner Elk are awesome, and the views of the face of MacRae Peak impressive. Sky Valley Zipline Tree Top Tours Boone NC

Zip and soar above-it-all. For a natural bonding adventure ziplining cannot be beat and the Boone area has a great venue that offers high energy thrills and the chance to get a bird’s eye view while swooping through tree tops and across meadows. Sky Valley Zip Tours near Blowing Rock, NC offers a three-hour outdoor zip-lining adventure which runs rain or shine. On the day we were there it rained but no one seemed to mind. It just added to our bragging rights. They have ten ziplines, and a swinging bridge above a waterfall to add to the adventure. Fly and glide 300 feet above the valley floor on the 1600-foot line known as Big Mama. Bonus Points: Every tour is accompanied by two Zip Rangers who act as coaches along the way and a photographer to capture all the crazy "whoa!" moments.  

Look inside a mountain. Linville Caverns within Humpback Mountain is a terrific spot to share with children.  Guides lead small groups along well-light walkways, bridges, and through tunnels to see a fascinating array of stalactites, stalagmites, and an occasional blind cave trout. The tours are definitely cool because Mother Nature keeps the temperature at a crisp 52 degrees F all year long. Bonus Points: Checkout the bubbling brook near the parking lot home to tadpoles, minnows, rocks and dragon flies waiting to be observed.

Find your own gemstones.
The North Carolina High Country is known for mining and the region’s native gems include rubies, sapphires, aquamarine, tourmaline, and emeralds. Though not easy to find in nature it is still possible to have the thrill of gem mining in the area. At Spruce Pine Gem Mine gemstone flume mining is a great family activity all year long.  At the Museum of North Carolina Minerals (milepost 331) any rock hound will be gleeful to discover the interactive displays dedicated to Blue Ridge area minerals and gems and views of mountains from the inside out. 

Become a Junior Parkway Ranger. The Blue Ridge Parkway’s free kid’s booklet offers entertaining and educational games, puzzles, and activities. Completion of the booklet earns a badge and Junior Ranger certificate.  Pick up one at any Parkway location or request one before your trip. Bonus Points: Fisher Peak Music Center (milepost 213) features the story of Appalachian ballad-based music including hillbilly music, bluegrass, and contemporary country music. During the summer months musicians play daily and there’s a Saturday night concert series from June to autumn in the outdoor amphitheater. 

Explain why water flows up.
The Mystery Hill family entertainment complex make kids think twice and question what they think they are seeing. The house often gives educated adults pause as well. Perhaps most memorable is the gravitational anomaly created by a stronger than average magnetic pull to the North Pole. It is science and a bit freaky. The Hall of Mystery is populated with puzzles, hands-on experiments and optical illusions including shadow making, a Bubble-Rama exhibit, a magic light bulb, and a flying mirror. Bonus Points: With the same ticket visitors may also browse Appalachian Heritage Museum, a historic 1898 home featuring authentic insight into 19th century life in the mountains, plus more than 50,000 Native American artifacts.  Horn in the West Outdoor Drama Boone, NC

Go for the drama.
 Each summer from June to August Boone’s outdoor drama “Horn in the West” retells the story of Daniel Boone’s adventures in North Carolina’s High Country. It is a factual yet entertaining tale about pioneers and the pivotal role they played in supporting the efforts of the American Revolution at the Battle of Kings Mountain. Bonus Points: Checkout Hickory Ridge Homestead Living History Museum where docents depict 18th century the daily lives of pioneers. Look for the classic collection of log cabins - including one owned by Squire Boone, Daniel’s father. Candle making, pioneer life skills, corn husk doll making and hearth cooking workshops are part of the draw. 

Hop aboard the historic steam train.
Ride the rails and enjoy Tweetsie Railroad’s interactive Western-themed, three-mile journey through the scenic mountains. Enjoy the Wild West Adventure in which little ones are encouraged to pretend to be a cowboy, cowgirl, Indian, or an engineer. Passengers are invited to clog, pan for gold or spend time with deer and goats at the petting coral. Amusement rides throughout the park provide extra thrills and live family-style entertainment adds to the fun. Bonus Points: Annual events include Thomas the Tank Engine visits and October's Ghost Train.
Location on the planet. The East’s highest mountains provide a surprising Southern climate of cool summers and snowy winters and Boone is within easy access to the Blue Ridge Parkway, the most popular unit of the national park system. Explore Boone CVB 815 W. King Street Boone, NC 28607.

Make it happen. Checkout the “Long Weekend” itinerary for families and effortlessly create your own spring or summer vacation. Toll-free 1-800-852-9506, (828) 266-1345 or

Content researched and posted by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Curator of the Good Stuff for the Family Travel Files. Images provided by Sky Valley Zip Tours, Boone CVB. Copyright updated 2016.

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