Category: Outdoor Fun

Family Fun for Free (or almost free)

Looking for ideas for keeping your kids entertained this summer without busting your bank account? Check out my feature for WNC Parent: “Asheville’s free family summer fun.”

2013 WNC Insider Guide — Pre-Order at a Discount!

This one was a no-brainer for me. For starters, my friend Sherri Lane owns this business and she is the most caring person I know. She’s giving generously this year to Eblen Charities, which I support wholeheartedly.

The WNC Insider card gives folks a chance to buy local at a discount. What’s better than that? I quickly bought mine. Now it’s your turn. Here are the details:

Pre-ordering is now underway at a special price of $30 — with $10 going to  Eblen Charities for every purchase! You can save all year – with 2-for-1 and other offers at great restaurants, theatre, entertainment, adventure activities, consignment stores, automotive, and more. It is a great value and a win for all! Click on the webpage for details.

FREE Admission at the Cradle of Forestry

The Cradle of Forestry, located in Pisgah National Forest on Highway 276 near Brevard, N.C., offers FREE admission for EVERYONE on TUESDAYS!  It’s also FREE for EVERYONE on National Get Outdoors Day and National Public Lands Day.  KIDS ages 15 and younger are FREE EVERYDAY, except during special events (kids $3.00 / adults $6.00). Check the website for their calendar of events.

Regular admission rates for visitors 16 and older are $5.00 per person (adults $6.00 for special events). It’s a great place to explore!

Asheville Tourists BOGO and Free Entry

There’s no dispute here — I LOVE the Asheville Tourists and they are offering some great promotions June 14 and 15.

Tuesday is Buy One Get One Free General Admission with a Kraft Cheese Wrapper or your BiLo Advantage Card.

Then on Wednesday, seniors over the age of 65 get a free ticket thanks to Humana and it’s also Goodwill Industries Night. Fans bringing three articles of new or gently used clothing will receive a free general admission ticket for that night’s game.

December Dollar Days

Grandfather Mountain has a great money saving deal for residents in six high country counties. The price of admission is just ONE DOLLAR for residents and employees in Mitchell, Avery, Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany and Wilkes counties.The discount is also extended to students of colleges and universities in the High Country and to guests traveling in the same vehicle with those eligible for the December discount. Please present a driver’s license, college ID, or local utility bill as proof of High Country residency. An employee identification badge or pay stub can be used to show employment at a High Country business.

Also, instead of paying $1 in cash, the High Country visitors are encouraged to donate 1 -2 cans of food per person to gain admittance. All donations will be distributed to High Country Food Pantries.

The Mountain is open every day in December except Christmas Day, weather permitting. The hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with ticket sales ending at 4 p.m. For current weather conditions, phone the Entrance gate at 828-733-4337.

Free Sledding Hill at Beech Mountain

Sledding conditions are great at Beech Mountain (elevation 5,506 feet) in the N.C. High Country. The best news: Kids 12  and under can sled FREE daily at the Beech sledding hill, located next to the Chamber of Commerce. Parents may ride with smaller children.

Plastic sleds are required. Folks are encouraged to bring their own sleds, or they may be purchased at stores on the mountain.

The sledding hill is operated by the Beech Mountain Parks and Recreation Department. It is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (weather permitting) with safety
personnel on duty. A loud speaker plays music and hot chocolate is available at nearby restaurants.

Parking and restrooms are provided by the chamber. People are encouraged to call the chamber at (800) 468-5506 to receive live updates on sledding conditions.

Additional info on the Beech Mountain sledding hill is available at: www.beechmtn.com.

National Alpaca Farm Days

Alpacas look similar to llamas, and have thick, luxurious coats. September 26th and 27th are National Alpaca Farm Days, during which Alpaca farms around the country are opening their gates to the public, so that everyone can meet these fascinating creatures. In Asheville, Venezia Dream Farm  is hosting the event. Come to this free event, either day, from 11AM to 3PM, and learn all about alpacas and their fiber.

276 Jones Cove Rd, Asheville, NC 28805. PH # 828-298-9166

FREE day at the WNC Nature Center

Asheville City residents will be admitted FREE of charge (with ID) to the WNC Nature Center on Saturday, July 25, 2009. For directions and other info, check the Nature Center’s website.

Gem Mining at Emerald Village

This morning my kids and I headed off on a rock hunting adventure. We had heard that the Crabtree Emerald Mine in Little Switzerland is open (for a fee) to anyone who wants to come in and dig around to see what they can find.

We headed to Emerald Village where I signed waiver forms for the three of us and paid the fee. It is $20 a day per person, BUT it’s FREE for kids 12 and under. Since my kids are 9 and 11, I was able to get a bargain! Of course, I didn’t think to bring tools, so I wound up renting a set for another $20. The set included a bucket, goggles, shovel, pick axe, hammer, two trowels, a hand rake and a pick.

The women at the counter cautioned about copperheads in the area and also advised me that the mine site, while only about 4 miles away, was truly out in nature — no bathroom facilites or food services out there.

We spent about 2 hours digging around the pit to no avail. A seasoned rock hound who was digging at the site showed us some emeralds he had found in order for us to see what we were looking for. The kids got hot and tired before we found any. I think their enthusiasm waned the longer we went without finding anything.

So, we headed back to Emerald Village and bought salted buckets of gemstones to sift and wash in the flume. Now, this was really fun! My kids found a wide range of gemstones in their bucket: amethyst, sodalite, rose quartz, smoky quartz, garnets, rubies, emeralds, tourmaline, adventurine, rainbow moonstone, jasper, sunstone, and others that I can’t recall at the moment.

My 9-year-old daughter wanted to find a tiger’s eye stone. And she did. It’s small, but it’s her prized possession of the trip.

I found the act of sifting through the stones truly relaxing and it put me into the “now.” I became focused on the act of searching for stones and any other thought (or worry about deadlines, etc.) simply dissolved.

The sky was an amazing lapis lazuli color. The weather can only be described as the ultimate summer day — not too hot, not cold, not humid, not buggy. Just bliss. Simply bliss.

I rank the day as one of our most fun ever, and it gave me a top ranking from my kids who said: “You’re the best mom in the world for bringing us here.” :)

Street Dances in Hendersonville, NC

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In addition to the Friday night “Music on Main” concerts in Hendersonville, you can also kick up your heels in town on Monday nights.

The 91st Annual Street Dance kicks off July 6 and runs every Monday night through August 31. The dances will be held 7 to 9 p.m. at Visitors Information Center, 201 South Main Street.

The Street Dance comes alive with people square dancing and clogging to a band playing traditional bluegrass music. Special appearances by area clogging teams make for a entertaining, foot stomping evening.

Lively instructions are given to the dancers by a local caller. At 6:30 PM, caller Walt Puckett will teach audience members some basic square dancing, such as the Right Hand Across, Open the Garden Gate, and the Shoe Fly Swing moves mean in traditional Appalachian square dancing.

Bring a chair, but leave your pets and alcohol at home. FREE Event.

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