Top 10 Family Friendly Destinations in the Southeast
Summer vacay is looming to a close, but there still is time for a last minute escape. Instead of driving here and there, how about a destination city, where there are many family activities to choose from in a close vicinity? Here’s a list of the best family-friendly destinations of the Southeast for that last minute break:
- Bryson City, North Carolina. This small hiker town with it’s close proximity to Nantahala Gorge is home to some awesome outdoor activities, from tubing to whitewater rafting, zip-lining, kayaking in lake Fontana and of course, the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad. Sign up with a local outfitter and get transport to the Gorge for some extreme sports. Be sure to check out Everett Street Diner for their awesome breakfast before you go!
- Asheville, North Carolina. Asheville may be known as an artist mecca, but families artsy or not, are made just as welcome there. For the adventurous, try rafting on the French Broad River. For a good leg stretch, why not check out the Biltmore Estate. With 8,000 acres, there are plenty areas to roam, from their livery stables, deer park and wine cellars to the grand manor house itself with its extensive gardens. And if running through the gardens is your family thing, check out the North Carolina Arboretum.
- Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. There’s a whole lot going on in this Appalachian foothill town, chose from the excitement on the parkway, from go-cart racing to wacky mini-golf, to Lumberjack dinner shows, then meet the sweetest workers in the world at Dollywood-(just how do they do it?) and you are just close enough to beat a retreat to the wilds and peace of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (use the Gatlinburg by-pass road to dodge the rush hour traffic). Check out the Top 10 Things to Do in Pigeon Forge.
- Chattanooga, Tennessee. Chattanooga is a family town where you can actually ride the Chattanooga Choo Choo. There’s also the Incline train up the mountainside. But if you are not a train fanatic, there’s always the Tennessee Aquarium, Ruby Falls: a waterfall in the depths of a cave, and of course on the mountaintop, you can see Rock City.
- Atlanta, Georgia. The southern city with vibe- and peaches! Everything seems to have a peach attached to it in Atlanta. Check out the Atlanta Zoo, climb Stone Mountain and try their ultimate sky-hike, an aerial obstacle course (if you dare). There’s the Georgia Aquarium, the Cocoa Cola Experience, and the Underground, a mall built under the city of Atlanta in the original Atlanta! Yes, bizarre but cool.
- Dahlonega, Georgia. Yes, this is a small town, but it’s a great base for North Georgia adventures. The former gold mining town has gold mines to explore (one is inside a restaurant called The Smith House), a cute downtown and tubing. A drive north takes you to hikes in the Chattahoochee National Forest, such as Dukes Creek Falls and Raven Cliffs Trail, and also tubing in Alpine Helen. Head west from Dahlonega for Amicalola Falls, The Edge of the World (yes, really) and Devils Elbow. A great place for outdoor enthusiasts.
- Amelia Island, Florida. With a fort to explore and miles of white sandy beaches at Fort Clinch State Park, Amelia Island is a family-friendly destination. Check out the pirates in downtown at Fernandina Beach, and head south to the Talbot Island State Parks (Big Talbot & Little Talbot) for fishing, kayaking, and beachcombing. Bring the sunscreen! Here are Amelia Island’s Top 5 musts.
- St. Augustine, Florida. 450 years worth of occupation cannot be wrong. Check out the fort, Castillo de San Marcos, and the ancient city. The Pirate Museum is a favorite for kids and a way to beat the Florida sun, but if it’s sun you crave, check out nearby Anastasia State Park for beaches and fishing. There are 219 steps to the top of the lighthouse for the fearless, and ghost tours held in the city nightly. Here’s St. Augustine’s Top Ten List.
- Tampa, Florida. A gulf coast city, Tampa has a little bit of everything, from the Florida Aquarium, Lowry Park Zoo to the roller coaster thrills of Busch Gardens and the nearby beaches of Clearwater and St. Pete. There’s even a science museum! Here are some ideas to get you started: Top 11 Family Fun Things to Do in Tampa.
- Orlando, Florida. The city of mega-theme parks, there’s a variety to choose from Mickey Mouse’s home at Walt Disney Resorts, to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, and an aquarium with roller coasters at Seaworld. But don’t forget the small stuff: try multi-level go-cart racing at Fun Spot, the Orlando Eye for a night time view of Orlando and Gatorland, where you can zip-line over ginormous gators (or just watch other people do it if you are a chicken like me). In the effort to compete with the Mega Theme Parks, many of the nearby hotels have upped the ante with water slides, lazy rivers and more. Check out Ways to Make Your Magic Kingdom Family Trip Easier here.
There you have it, our list of the Top Ten Family Friendly Destinations of the Southeast.
Where will you be headed next? Do you have a favorite family destination place? Feel free leave a comment below. Thanks and have a great week!