Every year around this time, Charleston gets hot. Like really, really hot. So we escape to the mountains, always trying to find somewhere new to explore. This time we landed upon Blowing Rock, North Carolina. So the truth is, Thomas the train and Tweetsie Railroad is what brought us to Blowing Rock otherwise we probably would of never looked twice. (see my last post for a fun video of our trip to Tweetsie). But I am glad we came. It is a cute town with a really cute little downtown area. And besides the obvious attraction, which was Thomas the Train’s yearly appearance into this town, there are several other fun attractions and side trips you can make out of Blowing Rock. The first obvious stop is The Blowing Rock. You have to pay a small fee of $7 per adult but it has a cute little lookout trail and you really could feel the wind being pushed back up the mountain. And I of course decided to wear a skirt that day so the wind was blowing my skirt right on up. Tip: wear shorts. Duh. In these photos below it looks like Liam is literally inches form the side of the cliff but I PROMISE the camera angle just makes it appear so. The trail is actually right to the right of that rock and only a foot or two down from where they are standing! Another perk of staying in Blowing Rock is the proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway. This parkways is consistently listed in traveling guides’ Top Ten road trip list and its easy to see why. There are so many pull over view points and you can just see mile after mile of mountain summits. We have been to Asheville, NC a few times but never really spent time on the parkway. This was the perfect opportunity because as we left Tweetsie Railroad around 3:00, Liam immediately fell asleep and instead of fighting it we let him sink into a good car nap and that gave us the chance to put on some tunes and just cruise around until we felt like it was time to turn around. We also happened to stumble upon the Linn Cove Viaduct, which was built as the final piece of the parkway. It is built along the side edge of the mountain and there is a little walking trial out from a view point parking area so you can get a better look. Its about a 20 minute drive from Blowing Rock and was my favorite stop on the parkway. Since Liam was still asleep we drove into Boone which is about 20 minutes or so from Blowing Rock and has lots of shopping options if that’s your thing. A fun college town and I can definitely see why it attracts a large number of students each year. Plus everyone was wearing Birkenstocks so they are pretty much my people right there.
Once you are back in Blowing Rock, check out the downtown. Super small but has that quiant mountain town feel. We got lucky as we arrived on Friday, there was a free outdoor concert at the Ragged Garden’s which turns out is a reoccurring event every Friday night in the summer. Liam could care less, Will hates crowds, but I loved it. Once you have walked past the free music at Ragged Garden’s you will dead end into main street at Blowing Rock City Park. The park has a nice outdoor playground. We are always on the hunt for a good playground when we travel with Liam. So this was what we found. It is a pretty big park with a cute gazebo too. Other things in town to do (that we did not do) would be the touristy Mystery Hill or one of the many Gem Mines. There is also a Mile High Swinging Bridge but we opted out of this due to our fear of Liam freaking out. And also because he was still asleep in car. #priorities.
As for lodging, we had a hard time finding an Airbnb that we really liked and was close to Blowing Rock. Most of them were in Boone. But we did find a hotel that was kid friendly, right in town, and had free breakfast: The Green Park Inn. The rate was $123 a night before taxes and included a full sit down hot breakfast. Which was pretty good. We felt like the vibe there was a little older but it was the perfect spot to lay our heads at the end of two long days.
The last thing I will discuss is FOOD! I feel like we always forget to look ahead into the food options and on our last night we were so hungry and every where had a wait! But that’s the thing about small towns: the resturant options are small too. But we still found some great meal options. For dinner the first night we ate at Foggy Rock. Nothing to write home about but it was filling, kid friendly, and not overly expensive. The second night for dinner we ended up going back to the hotel and ordering room service from the two restaurants at the Inn: The Chestnut Grille and The Divide Tavern. Actually really good burgers and fries, and we got to eat them in our underwear so turned out to be a blessing in disguise that all the restaurants in town had a wait.
Overall we give Blowing Rock two very enthusiastic thumbs up. Not sure if we will venture back there anytime soon, simply because we love Asheville, NC so much and that is our go-to mountain get-away town, AND I feel like Tennessee is calling my name, but definitely worth exploring at least once in you are nearby. Plus who are we kidding, you never know when Thomas the Train will end up back in Blowing Rock so we may be there again sooner than we think!
happy travels! Priscilla