It's no secret that many of our children are starved for nature.
There's even been a book written about it: Last Child in the
Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. If
your kids (or you) are in need of healthy dose of nature, head to
Nestled in Mother Nature's arms in the heart of the Blue Ridge
Mountains, Asheville itself is a quirkly little town with lots of
fun stuff for adults and great spots for foodies, including the
incredible Tupelo Honey
Café. But more on that later.
Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of kid-focused stuff to do in
the town of Asheville, a hippie, artist, foodie town that, as the
tour guide kept reminding us, "is a little bit weird." The coolest
kid spot, the Health
Adventure Children's Museum, is now closed and moving to a mall
on the outskirts of town.
Kid-friendly Asheville is out in the wilds. On of the closest
spots, which comes highly recommended from the home schooling moms
who had their kids on a field trip at the Health Adventure
Children's Museum, is DuPont State Forest. We wasted no time
The 10,000-acre park has several entrances, waterfalls and 100
miles of trails. With limited time (we had to get to the airport
for our flight home that afternoon), we chose judiciously and
headed for the Hooker Falls parking area. A nice 2-hour walk along
groomed trails took us past three of the parks' majestic
waterfalls: Hooker Falls, High Falls and Triple Falls. (Note: Keep
a tight grip on the kids. The water is moving faster than it
appears and the rocks are slipperier than they look. A fellow hiker
told us there have been some not-so-happy endings to stories about
folks who got too close to nature here.)
For a more citified version of nature, head to the North Carolina Arboretum on
the aptly named Frederick Law Olmsted Way in Asheville. (You
remember his name from your Chicago history class--he designed
Marquette Park, Jackson Park, Washington Park and the University of
Chicago campus as well as the planned community of Riverside. He
was big in Asheville, too, as the designer of the breathtaking Biltmore Estate grounds.) The
arboretum has 10 miles of hiking and biking trails and a series of
Where to Eat in Asheville
If you work up an appetite with all that hiking and tree
hugging, head back to town for a bite to eat. Asheville is a foodie
paradise. If you've got picky eaters, head first to the Tupelo
Honey Café and order the sweet potato pancake. Just don't tell the
kids that's what it's called. If you don't tell them, they'll never
know there is anything even remotely healthy hiding inside that
plate-sized pancake. Add a little honey and you could get away with
calling it dessert. The restaurant gets bonus points for a kids'
menu that "believes kids' menus should bust out of the basic hot
dogs and chicken fingers rut!"
If you're just in the mood for a snack, head to the Gourmet Chip
Company. This newest addition to Asheville's food scene
offers…gourmet potato chips. Yep. They peel 'em, fry 'em and then
gourmet 'em. We were so stuffed from our sweet potato pancake that
we couldn't cope with more than a taste. Be adventurous. There's a
whole blackboard full of innovative chip ideas and each order is
made while you wait.
The kid-friendliest spot we found was the soda fountain of the
F.W. Woolworth's. It's
an art gallery now, but the owners have restored the soda fountain
to the days of old, with a kid-friendly menu of ice cream treats
Cindy Richards is the mom of two who gets her muse from traveling the world, usually with kids in tow. She also writes for TravelingMom.com, where she also serves as editor.
See more of Cindy's stories here.
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