Affordable family fun is only a two-hour drive from Charlotte into North Carolinas High Country. Two natural wonders are barely four miles apart nestled, quite literally, in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. It is very easy for your family to see an active limestone cavern and the states most popular waterfall, making this a perfect day trip from the Queen City.
Inside Humpback Mountain, your family will get a peek into the subterranean world to view limestone formations up to 6 million years old, one resembling an alligator. In a constant state of geological activity, the active limestone cavern features stalactite and stalagmite formations alongside an underground stream. Informative half-hour tours depart minutes apart. Visitors will learn about the mountains history, resident creatures and view magnificent features such as columns, canopies and icicle-like forms. The friendly tour guides take pride in their work and have come up with unique names for some of the formations.
With a constant year-round temperature of 52°, light jackets should be considered. During a rainy period, a waterproof jacket would be ideal to stay dry from the water dripping inside the cavern. Ponchos are available for purchase at the gift shop. The tour route is mostly smooth, but the dripping water could make the walking surface slick, sneakers or other non-slip shoes should be worn.
During winter and early spring, you may get to view an Eastern Piptrelle Bat, which hibernates here, hanging from the ceiling. Granddaddy long-legs spiders seek refuge from winters blast inside the cavern and could be viewed as well.
This spectacular three-tiered waterfall plunging into Linville Gorge is the most popular waterfall in North Carolina, because of its easy accessibility along the Blue Ridge Parkway. There are several trails ranging from easy to strenuous leading to various views of both the upper and lower falls. A visitors center with restrooms and a picnic area are located at the beginning of all of the trails. Trails maps can be viewed here with distance and level of difficulty information. The most popular trail is a moderate 0.5 mile walk to the Upper Falls Overlook which is very doable for families.
Meandering through the High Country, this scenic drive from Charlotte will take you pass antique stores, gem mines, and an ice cream shop. Make unexpected stops to stretch your legs and take in some local roadside attractions.
Visit English Farmstead Cheese, North Carolinas only self-reliant cheese factory. Cows are born and raised at the dairy, milked at the farm, and the cows milk cheese is made on site. Open Friday and Saturday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Show caverns ticket stub for a discount on products. Its approximately 16 miles from the caverns. Go to their website for more details, www.englishfarmsteadcheese.com.
Linville Caverns has reasonable ticket prices and is open year-round. Please dont let Linville Caverns name fool you. Its physical location is Marion, NC, not Linville. For the caverns hours and detailed directions, look on their website www.linvillecaverns.com.
Linville Falls is free. Please note the Linville Falls Visitors Center is opened from May to October and weekends in April including restrooms. For more information on the waterfalls, look on the following website http://www.romanticasheville.com/linville_falls.htm.