The Appalachian Mountains: you know there’s hiking aplenty in these mysterious mountains, but many people aren’t aware of all the other amazing things to do in this region of the country. Within a short drive of just about everywhere on the East Coast, Appalachia boasts an unlimited supply of things to do and see. Here are seven favorites to consider as you plan your next family adventure.
Museum of Appalachia, Norris, Tennesee
Start your journey at the Museum of Appalachia, located just outside of Knoxville, Tennesee. Your family can explore quilts, pottery, gun making, musical instruments and toys. This year, the museum’s Porch Musician Project brings local Appalachian music to the porch steps each day. Visitors can experience live local music daily, with instruments such as the banjo, fiddle, dulcimer, or harmonica.
Tour the outer grounds for a taste of what life was like in Pioneer Appalachia. Indulge your taste buds at the museum restaurant where Miss Faye cooks a country meal each day with produce fresh from the Farm Garden.
The museum is open 364 days a year, hours vary depending on daylight, and child’s admission is only $5!
Shaker Village, Pleasant Hill, Kentucky
Located less than 30 miles from Lexington, this amazing site is a preservation of the Shaker community which once called these 3,000 acres home. Tour the grounds, taking in the living history sites and museums, as you learn about the Shaker way of life.
There’s a comfortable inn to stay in, an amazing restaurant, shopping, picnic areas and more. Check the website for event and ticket information.
Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia
Tucked away in the lush rolling hills of West Virginia sits the historic site where the famous raid by John Brown took place in 1859. This tiny town sits at the lowest point of the state, surrounded by both the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers.
Make a day trip there to see the many museums and living history sites. The community is rich in history and culture. The Harper's Ferry Historical Association's Bookshop has a great supply of books, artwork, postcards and items for kids of all ages.
Luray Caverns, Virginia
Unbelievable calcite formations line these enormous cavern rooms.Breathtaking scenery, amazing pools and the world’s only Stalacpipe organ can all be seen at this beautiful getaway.
Tours begin each day at 9:00 and last about 20 minutes. Tickets are $19 for adults and $9 for children, and include admission to the car and caravan museum. Under 6 are free.
Biltmore Estate, Asheville, North Carolina
America’s largest home took six years to build before it was officially ready in 1895. Take a tour and be amazed at the 4 acres of floor space and over 250 rooms. Wine from the vineyards, a tour of the gardens, a stay at the inn and spa--this is a luxurious and fabulous retreat in the heart of one of the most interesting cities in the Appalachian mountains.
Tickets are around $50 per adult, but kids visit free through Labor Day. Check the website for specials, hours, and pricing.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennesee and North Carolina
The most-visited National Park in the country, this retreat got its name from the haze that hangs over the mountains. There’s hiking, picnicking, camping are more. Special places to see include: Clingman's Dome - the highest mountain in the park, Mount Le Conte - the third-tallest mountain in the East, Cades Cove - a ghost town, and Cataloochee Valley - the former site of a native settlement. Many visitors choose to hike the trails of this national park in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, for the close proximity to family fun. Gatlinburg boasts an aquarium, Ripley’s museum, water parks, rides, shopping, amusement parks, dinner shows, and more.
Called the folk art capital of the country, this tiny town boasts an amazing collection of handmade gifts and art. From quilts to carvings, you can find almost anything on the streets of this quaint little town with its unusual history. Berea College was founded here, as the South’s first interracial and coeducational college. The town continues to be a haven for progressively minded artists and students alike, making this a must-see stop in an Appalachian tour.