Travel by Car: Asheville
Tucked in the Blue Ridge Mountains, this lively mountain city offers an active outdoor community and a bustling art and music scene. Thanks to Art Deco skyscrapers, buzzing cafes and eclectic bistros, Asheville has been dubbed "Paris of the South." Not only does it possess a cosmopolitan flair, it also reflects a laid-back mountain vibe that lures visitors from far and wide.
A must-see is America's largest home: Biltmore Estate, a French Renaissance-style mansion with 250 rooms. Marvel at the two-story library, gilded elevator, indoor swimming pool and bowling alley. Children can pet baby animals in the estate's farmyard, or drive across obstacles on the Land Rover Kid's Adventure Course.
Go Bellayaking, a new way to travel down a river that was created in Asheville, by paddling while on your stomach using webbed gloves. This provides a great way for beginners to explore a river. Riders advance to their knees, then feet.
Experience a unique aerial obstacle course at Asheville Treetops Adventure Park.
Kayaking through the trees or snowboarding on open air are just two of the 50 unique challenges offered, which range from beginner to advanced skill levels. Kids as young as age 7 have tried the challenges.
In Pisgah National Forest, take a slide down Sliding Rock. This 60-foot all natural well-worn rock has delighted young and old for years and offers a great way to cool off on a summer afternoon. There is a nominal $1 parking fee.
Animals and plants native to the Southern Appalachian region can be seen at Western North Carolina Nature Center. You'll find 60 species of animals including river otters, bobcats, cougars, and red and gray wolves. Children can also snuggle up to farm animals and hop on a red tractor. For more ideas, go to exploreasheville.com.
Road trip bonus: A quick 2.5-hour drive from the Triad, Asheville is a great vacation getaway for families who don't want the expense of long-distance travel. Before crossing into the city limits, take a ride along the Blue Ridge Parkway, commonly known as "America's Favorite Drive." It's a perfect place to take in stunning vistas and have a relaxing picnic.