Best Things to do in Carolina Beach | North Carolina

Located on the southern part of the NC coast, Carolina Beach is just under four hours from Charlotte and one of our all-time favorite beaches in the area! Like many NC beach towns, it’s located on a barrier island with the ocean to the east and the Intracoastal Waterway to the west. Carolina Beach is clean, crowds are wayyyy lower than nearby Myrtle Beach (about 2 hours south), and there’s something for everyone – plus, it’s only about 20 minutes from Wilmington if you need services that only a bigger city can offer. Keep reading for all of our fave things to do in Carolina Beach!

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Best Breakfast in Carolina Beach

Trio of pancake flavors at Kate's Pancake House

If you’ve been to Carolina Beach before, it’s very likely that you’ve been to or at least heard of Kate’s Pancake House – it’s a Carolina Beach institution! The restaurant is small and ALWAYS has a wait, but it’s definitely worth the wait. One of the most popular options on the menu is Kate’s Trio of Pancakes, where you can choose any three flavors. Lexie had the Oreo, the S’mores, and the Boston Cream and was hard-pressed to pick a favorite.

A cajun chicken omelet from Kate's Pancake House

While they’re known for the pancakes, their omelette selection is fantastic with MANY to choose from. I had the Cajun Chicken Omelette – it did not disappoint, and their home fries are probably the best I’ve ever had!

Smiling girl with pancake things to do in Carolina Beach

Ellie ordered the Choose Three from the kids’ menu where you can pick any three choices: baby pancakes, bacon, sausage, home fries, grits, toast, or egg. She went with baby pancakes and both meat options and gobbled it down. Be aware; drinks are not included with the kids’ meals, so that will be an extra charge if your kiddo wants one.

Best Dinner in Carolina Beach

Exterior of Havana's Restaurant in Carolina Beach

While I honestly haven’t had a bad meal in Carolina Beach, Havana’s Restaurant is definitely my favorite for dinner.

Cajun bacon wrapped shrimp on a skewer over corn salsa Best of Carolina Beach

We started with the Cajun Shrimp appetizer: cajun bacon-wrapped shrimp topped with sriracha aioli served over roasted corn salsa, and it was excellent. I loved every single thing about this appetizer! I also ordered a cup of Clam Chowder (New England, not that gross Manhattan stuff! ????), and it was probably the best I’ve ever eaten.

Pasta dish with andouille sausage, chicken and shrimp things to do in Carolina Beach

For my entree, I ordered the French Quarter Pasta: andouille sausage, blackened chicken, shrimp, peppers & onions, tossed in a Creole cream sauce over spinach fettuccini. Oh my goodness, was this delicious! Honestly, every single thing our group ordered was fantastic, from the Cha-Cha Salmon to the Lousiana Mac & Cheese.

Best Pizza in Carolina Beach

Smiling girls with Michaelangelo's Pizza best pizza in Carolina Beach

Pizza is one of our favorite foods to order when we’re traveling because it’s relatively inexpensive, everyone likes it, and it’s easy to eat anywhere. Michaelangelo’s Pizza has locations in Wilmington and Carolina Beach, and it’s one of our favorite beach lunches.

We had it delivered to the hotel and ran to the lobby to pick it up and bring it down to the beach. Our pizzas were still piping hot by the time we got everything situated and started eating!

Best Late Night Snack in Carolina Beach

Britt's Donut Shop things to do in carolina beach

Another Carolina Beach institution, Britt’s Donut Shop, has been making donuts in Carolina Beach for over eighty years. The hot glazed donuts are often on the Top 10 Donuts in the US list and for good reason. They’re simple but absolutely delicious and perfect for a late-night snack after a long day at the beach, but make sure to bring cash because Britt’s is CASH-ONLY.

Best Ice Cream in Carolina Beach

Trademarked Squigley cone at Squigley's Ice Cream and Treats in Carolina Beach

There’s no shortage of ice cream shops in Carolina Beach; in fact, there are many on the Carolina Beach boardwalk, but for the absolute best ice cream, you need to venture off the boardwalk and visit Squigley’s Ice Cream and Treats. Their trademarked Squigley® starts with a base of vanilla ice cream and then has 2-3 items (fruits, candies, baked goods) “Squiggled” into a custom flavor using their patented machines. Served in a homemade waffle cone or cup, the Squigley® is ridiculously good and comes in over 4000 different flavor combinations. Squigley’s Ice Cream and Treats is CASH-ONLY but does have an ATM if you forgot to pack cash.

Best Beach Rentals in Carolina Beach

Tony Silvagni Beach Rentals at Carolina Beach- chairs and umbrellas on the beach

Thank you so much, Tony Silvagni Beach Rentals, for hooking us up with beach chairs and umbrellas! As always, all opinions are honest and my own.

After years of lugging beach chairs and umbrellas to the beach – while also trying to wrangle five kids and their gear – I finally realized that beach rentals are really the best thing ever. You can have chairs and umbrellas set up on the sand and waiting for you when you get to the beach for a really reasonable rate. No lugging gear down and staking out a spot, and no lugging gear back to the car or hotel at the end of the day!

If you’re in Carolina Beach (or neighboring Kure Beach), Tony Silvagni Beach Rentals is your go-to shop for chairs, umbrellas, boards, bikes, surf lessons, and everything in between. Make sure you spring for the MVP special so that they don’t pick up your gear until 7pm (instead of 5pm) – those two extra hours are two of the best since crowds are typically lower and the sun is just starting to set.

Best Non-Beach Attraction (technically in Kure Beach)

Things to do with kids in Carolina Beach- NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher

The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher is our pick for the best Carolina Beach area attraction. It’s on the small side as far as aquariums go, but the exhibits are well organized and informative. Most visitors spend about two hours exploring the aquarium though it’s certainly possible to spend considerably more time, especially if you’re going to take advantage of a tour.

You can’t go wrong with a trip to Carolina Beach – it’s the perfect seaside getaway on the southern NC coast.  Have you been to Carolina Beach?? What’s your favorite North Carolina Beach??

Things to Do in Wilmington with Kids | North Carolina

Wilmington, a small city on the southern coast of North Carolina, has something for everyone, making it a great vacation destination! There are so many fun things to do in Wilmington with kids! There are historic buildings to explore, a battleship full of US military history, an aquarium (nearby), and three amazing beaches to check out: Wrightsville, Carolina, and Kure.

Wilmington with Kids

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USS North Carolina Battleship Wilmington

As a WWII battleship, the Battleship North Carolina participated in every major naval offensive in the Pacific theater. She became the most decorated US battleship of the war with 15 battle stars. Over the course of WWII, she survived many close calls and even a Japanese torpedo hitting the hull. Though the Japanese claimed to sink the ship six times, the Battleship North Carolina survived WWII (with only ten men lost in action!) and was later given to the people of North Carolina in the 1960s. In 1962, she became North Carolina’s memorial to WWII veterans and the 11,000 North Carolinians that died serving their country during WWII.

kids on bunks of USS North Carolina Battleship

Today, you’re able to visit the ship and explore up to 9 different levels on a self-guided tour. You get to climb up and down the ladders and narrow staircases, “play” with the guns, try out the super comfy beds and check out the kitchen and mess decks.


Wilmington with kids Alton Lennon Federal Building

Wilmington is often regarded as the Hollywood of the East, and over 500 films and TV shows have been recorded in the Wilmington area. Favorites like Iron Man 3, We’re the Millers, Under the Dome, Sleepy HollowDawson’s Creek, and One Tree Hill were all filmed here. One of the best ways to get a feel for the film industry in Wilmington is the Hollywood Location Walk, a 90-minute walking tour of Wilmington filming locations.

The Alton Lennon Federal Building and Courthouse (above) has been used in various TV shows and movies, including Dawson’s Creek, One Tree Hill, and Matlock.


Lucas Scott house Wilmington One Tree Hill

While you do see some One Tree Hill filming locations on the walking tour of Wilmington, many are only accessible by car, making it the perfect naptime adventure! You can load the kids up in the car and then go see Lucas, Haley, Nathan, Peyton, and Brooke’s houses.


Wilmington with kids standing on Riverwalk

The Wilmington Riverwalk is a great place to explore with kids. At nearly two miles long, the Riverwalk runs from Nun Street to the Isabel Holmes Bridge. There are fun shops to explore, restaurants to enjoy, museums, and even some American history to learn- Orange Street Landing is part of the National Parks Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.


Cruise the Cape Fear River in Wilmington with kids

Cape Fear Riverboats offers one-hour scenic cruises of the Cape Fear aboard the CAPTAIN J. N. MAFFIT and JACOB’S RUN. These narrated cruises explain the importance of the Cape Fear River historically and ecologically and interesting information about downtown Wilmington. You’re welcome to bring your own food and drink on the boat (or purchase from their dockside restaurant, Anne Bonny’s Bar and Grill), making them super kid-friendly!


touch tank at the NC Aquarium Fort Fisher - one of our favorite things to do in Wilmington with kids

The NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher is part of the North Carolina Aquarium System that also has aquariums in Roanoke Island, Pine Knoll Shores, and Jeanette’s Pier in the Outer Banks.

Albino alligator at NC Aquarium

The Fort Fisher aquarium focuses on the Cape Fear River system into the open ocean and even has an albino alligator! While the aquarium is nowhere near as big as the Georgia Aquarium or the Monterrey Bay Aquarium, it is still really well done and a great place to spend the morning or a rainy afternoon.


The Carolina Beach boardwalk is every kid’s dream. A Ferris wheel, rides, and special events (like fireworks!) beckon vacation-goers and locals alike in the summer. Combine the award-winning boardwalk area with miles of pristine beaches, and it’s a great place to spend a day or a week!

Britt's Donuts in Carolina Beach North Carolina

And if you’re looking for the best of Carolina Beach, make sure to stop by Britt’s Donuts— double check their hours as they’re only open seasonally- for the best donuts around! They’ve been open since 1939 and make hot and delicious donuts by hand as they’re ordered. It’s a must-do if you’re in the Wilmington/Carolina Beach area!

Girl eating Britt's Donuts on balcony by beach


Girl looking towards water at Wrightsville Beach

The town of Wrightsville Beach has cute shops and delicious restaurants along with over 40 different public beach access points. Not all have bathrooms, so be sure to check the beach map if proximity to a bathroom is essential and then head to the beach for some fun in the sun!

Girls in waves Wrightsville Beach so many things to do in Wilmington with kids

Wrightsville Beach is much more of a locals’ beach than Myrtle Beach or even nearby Carolina Beach, and thus, it doesn’t have as many activities or as many people. But that makes it a whole lot easier to have a stretch of beach to yourself! Especially if you go around sunset when everyone is headed off to dinner.

Have you been to Wilmington, NC? What was your favorite place to explore?

Christmas in Charlotte | North Carolina

While you might not think about North Carolina as being super Christmas-y, given that we rarely have a white Christmas, there is actually PLENTY to do to celebrate the holiday season. If you’re planning to celebrate Christmas in Charlotte this year, here are some of our favorite, can’t miss Charlotte Christmas events – as well as things to do nearby!

Best Christmas Events in Charlotte pin

Singing Christmas Tree

Charlotte Singing Christmas Tree

The Singing Christmas Tree has been a Charlotte tradition for decades. In fact, this year marks the 68th annual performance of the Carolina Voices Singing Christmas Tree. This year, they’ll be performing at the Halton Theater on the Main Campus of Central Piedmont Community College!

Tickets range from $13-$50. The show is seventy minutes of fun and is sure to get the whole family into the Christmas spirit! And back this year, the popular Singing Christmas Tree for Kids show is offered on Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon. Tickets are still available for all of the shows:

  • Fri December 9, 2022 – 7:30PM
  • Sat December 10, 2022 – 11AM (Kids), 3PM, 7:30PM
  • Sun December 11, 2022 – 1:30PM (Kids), 4PM

Speedway Christmas at Charlotte Motor Speedway

If you’re looking for Christmas lights in Charlotte, then Speedway Christmas at Charlotte Motor Speedway is the perfect place! From November 18 – January 8, Charlotte Motor Speedway is transformed into an amazing drive-through light show with over four million twinkling lights, many of which are synchronized to music. On weekends (Thurs – Sun), check out the infield Christmas Village with vendor displays, fire pits, a movie theater, and visits with Santa!

Purchase tickets online and if you’re planning to visit on a Friday/Saturday night, consider upgrading to the Express Lane which allows you to bypass much of the line.

  • Fri November 18, 2022 – Sun January 8, 2023 – 6-10PM
  • Closed December 24
  • Tickets range from $30-40 depending on the day of the week; Express Lane is $70

WinterFest at Carowinds

WinterFest at Carowinds Christmas lights in Charlotte

Gather the whole fam for a sleigh-full of fun as Carowinds transitions into a winter wonderland at WinterFest. The park is covered in millions of lights, there’s a 70-foot Christmas tree – one of the largest in the area, and the whole park is bursting with Christmas spirit. From holiday-themed shows to deliciously festive foods, there’s something for everyone at WinterFest. Check out this post from our first visit to Carowinds WinterFest!

  • Select nights from Monday November 21, 2022 – Sun January 1, 2023
  • Tickets start at $33 – purchase ahead of time, online for the most savings
  • Military and passholder bring-a-friend deals are also available
  • 2023 Carowinds Season Passes (on-sale now) include unlimited admission to WinterFest 2021

Christmas Town USA

The quaint town of McAdenville, on the outskirts of Charlotte, is known throughout the country as Christmas Town USA. Every year, the town transforms into a Christmas wonderland with homeowners covering their houses in lights. For nearly 70 years, visitors have flocked to McAdenville to drive the 1.3-mile route through the town to see the Christmas displays.

  • Wed December 1, 2022 – Sun December 26, 2022
  • 530-10PM EVERY night

Holidays at the Garden

Daniel Stowe Holidays at the Garden Christmas lights in Charlotte

Located at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, Holidays at the Garden is a beloved Christmas tradition. The garden is transformed with hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights and is a magical experience. Stroll through the light displays at your own pace and while you’re there, don’t forget to grab dinner from one of the food trucks!

  • Wed – Sun evenings from Fri November 25, 2022 – Sat December 31, 2022 – 5-9PM (closed Christmas Eve/Day)
  • Purchase tickets online – limited tickets may be sold onsite depending on availability
  • Adults – $20; Senior 60+ – $18; Children 2-12 – $10; Members receive a 25% discount

Ice Skating at National Whitewater Center

Ice skating totally screams holiday activity and the rink at the Whitewater Center is the largest around. It covers over 24,000 sq feet and has four distinct skating areas, including two ice trails. The newest addition is the skating trail in the Upper Pond.

  • Ice skating is available from mid-November – mid-February
  • Tickets are $25; otherwise, ice skating is included in the All Access Day and Annual Passes

Christmas at the Library

Billy Graham Christmas at the Library Charlotte Christmas Events

Every year, the Billy Graham Library puts on an impressive holiday event. Christmas at the Library features a live nativity, story-time, carolers, horse-drawn carriage rides (additional charge), an optional Christmas dinner, and the Journey of Faith tour (that is also offered during daytime hours).

  • Mon November 28, 2022 – Fri December 23, 2022
  • Mon – Thur 5-9PM
  • Fri – Sat 5-10PM
  • Advance reservations are required and are going quickly

Kersey Valley Christmas

Kersey Valley Christmas

While it’s not technically IN Charlotte, Kersey Valley Christmas near High Point/Greensboro is TOTALLY worth the drive! We were invited to check out all of the Christmas fun they’re offering and I have a feeling this event will be an annual tradition for our family. One of my favorite aspects is that aside from photos with Santa/the Grinch, your admission ticket includes unlimited access to all of the activities!

Smiling Kids at Kersey Valley Christmas Christmas lights near Charlotte

And they have LOTS of activities to choose from!! The Kersey Valley Express Train Ride and John Deere pulled Christmas Wagon Ride both offer views of the million-plus Christmas lights on the property. But they take totally different routes so make sure to do both!!

Christmas in Charlotte Kersey Valley Christmas

The Kiddie Zipline and Cow Train were a hit with Ellie and the bigger kids loved the jumping pillows and the 200ft Dual Super Mega Ride*n*Slide. If you’re not visiting with littles and you skip the activities that are geared towards little ones, there’s still plenty of fun at the Kersey Valley Christmas experience!

  • Select nights from Fri November 25, 2022 – Fri December 23, 2022
  • Fri – Sat 530-10PM
  • Sun 530-9PM
  • Dec 19 – 23 530-9PM
  • Tickets are $35.94 (including tax + service fee) for ages 4+
  • Senior tickets (65+) are available for $24.67
  • BOGO tickets are available for military with ID at the ticket booth

What’s your favorite Christmas in Charlotte tradition? We’re always excited to check out new places (or new to us!) so leave your suggestions in the comments!

Biltmore with Kids | Asheville, NC

At the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains is the Biltmore House, the largest private home in the United States.  Almost three times the size of the White House, the massive French Renaissance chateau took six years to build and officially opened in 1895. In 1930, Biltmore opened to the public to increase tourism during the Great Depression. And the rest is, as they say, history! Visiting Biltmore with kids is one of our favorite things to do in Asheville and we were so excited to have a chance to visit again when we were in Asheville this winter.

Thank you so much to Biltmore for hosting us- we received complimentary admission, but all opinions are honest and my own. This post may contain affiliate links, and we may earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you!) if you choose to purchase when you click on the links. Thank you for supporting Love Dwells Here!!

Biltmore is doing everything possible in order to keep as much of the estate open while still adhering to state, local, and CDC guidelines. The safety of guests and staff is of the utmost concern so they’ve enhanced their cleaning procedures, decreased the capacity limits within the house, as well as decreased the restaurant capacity. Additionally, face coverings are required both indoors and outdoors where 6-foot distancing can not be maintained for guests over 2 years of age. Even with all of the changes, we did not feel like it negatively affected our visit – in fact, the capacity restriction made our visit more enjoyable!


Biltmore House with kids

Admission to Biltmore includes a self-guided tour of the Biltmore House. Timed reservations are required for entry though they will accommodate those without reservations if space is available. You can explore the estate grounds before and after your timed house tour reservation, so we recommend getting there early.

Biltmore audio tour for kids and adults

It is well worth the extra money to spring for the Biltmore Enhanced Experience that includes the audio-tour. The tour is engaging and informative, and there’s even a special audio tour for kids, narrated by the Vanderbilt’s dog, Cedric.

Girl listening to the Biltmore audio tour in the massive Banquet Hall

Upon arriving in the next room on the tour (like the Banquet Hall above), you key in the number for that room, and the audio starts. This allows you to easily start and stop the tour as you move through the house at your own pace. At seven, Ellie did great with the whole thing and could start her recording by herself; younger kids may need a bit more assistance.

Kids in the Biltmore library

The library will always be my favorite room in the Biltmore House. Can you imagine having a library of this magnitude?! It reminds me of the library in Beauty and the Beast – and interestingly, there’s a copy of the book on one of these shelves!

Biltmore Estate library Napoleon's chess set

The chess set on the right was given to George Vanderbilt for his 21st birthday and once belonged to Napoleon Bonaparte. The amount of history within the walls of this house is just astounding.

Learning about Biltmore

We’ve visited Biltmore Estate several times over the past few years and I absolutely loved exploring with the capacity restrictions in place. By going first thing in the morning and during the week, it felt like we had the whole place to ourselves!

Biltmore roof tour Asheville NC

In addition to the self-guided house tour and audio tour, Biltmore also offers guided tours. Next time we visit, I want to do the Rooftop Tour where you get to go out on the rooftop and balconies.

Grand staircase Biltmore House smiling kids

Another one of my favorite places in the house is the cantilevered Grand Staircase next to the giant 1700 pound chandelier. There are windows flanking the staircase as it goes up two floors and the whole thing is just exquisite.

Stone tunnel under Biltmore House

The kids love the stone tunnels in the basement of Biltmore House. They’ve all read the Serafina books and imagine that they’re haunted.

Basement swimming pool at Biltmore

Way ahead of its time, Biltmore House had a pool in the basement, complete with underwater lighting – at a time when most houses didn’t even have electricity! How cool is that?! I seriously cannot imagine living here in the early 1900s. Crazy!


Warming up with a hot chocolate

We stopped by the Bakery for hot chocolate and coffee to warm us up on this freezing cold day. The kids enjoyed their liquid warmth as well as a quick mask break. Just a reminder, masks are required indoors, and anywhere distancing cannot be maintained outdoors.

Masked girl posing for a picture

Ellie turned our walk around the grounds into a personal photoshoot. Every two feet, she was like, “oooh, take a picture of me here” or “how about one like this!” Given that I take a ridiculous amount of pictures, I’m glad she’s still into it and requests it on her own sometimes.

Kids in the Biltmore gardens

The massive koi ponds in the Italian Garden were iced over first thing in the morning – and we didn’t see any fish. I wonder if they move them somewhere else when temps are below freezing. This area of the estate is full of color in the spring/summer/fall, so if you’re planning to check it out, I would probably skip a winter visit. If you’re not looking for color, Biltmore does have 20+ miles of hiking and biking trails and the low winter crowds make it the perfect time to get out and explore.

Biltmore garden view

The Gardens were open, but we just drove by. It didn’t look like much was blooming though I know they’ll be full of color in a couple of weeks. And if you come in the late summer (like Aug/September), there are giant fields of sunflowers that seem to go on for miles on the drive towards Antler Hill Village.

View of the western North Carolina mountains from Asheville

I don’t think that I could ever get tired of views like this. Can you imagine what it must have been like to be the Vanderbilts and enjoy this view every day?!


Biltmore accessible shuttle from parking lot

First things first, Biltmore Estate is MASSIVE. It’s spread out over 8000 acres and is so big that you can’t see the Biltmore House from roads surrounding the Estate. You have to purchase a ticket to get on the property and then drive several miles into the estate to even get to the parking lot. Currently, Lot A and Lot B are open, and you can take the 8-10 minute walk from either one to Biltmore House. Lot B has an accessible shuttle available for those that need one.

Masked girl on Biltmore shuttle

Estate-wide shuttles are currently suspended, so you’ll need to use a personal vehicle to get around the estate. However, once they’re running again, you can use the shuttle system to get between the parking lots and Antler Hill Village.

All the stairs in Biltmore House

Because of the historic architecture,  Biltmore House is not super accessible friendly – or stroller friendly. The sprawling residence includes three floors and several flights of stairs to do the entire tour. If a member of your party cannot fully tour the house due to disabilities, there is a reduced-price ticket available. We recommend baby-wearing and leaving the stroller in the car (or even outside the house) for this tour.


Smiling girl with ice cream cone

Antler Hill Village, a five-mile drive from the Biltmore House parking lot, connects the past with the present and is where you’ll find much of the dining and shopping on the estate. Even though it was freezing outside, the kids still wanted a few scoops of ice cream, so our first stop was the Creamery – yum!

Teens with ice cream cones at Antler Village

Antler Hill Village was not crowded at all. We sat outside and enjoyed our cones, and instead of people watching, we relaxed and watched the birds. The Biltmore Estate Winery is located at Antler Hill Village and offers free tastings of their delicious wines (they have grape juice for the under 21 crowd!). Did you know, it’s the most visited winery in the country?! I didn’t do a tasting this time since it was just me and the kids, but I wanted to make sure to mention that they moved to a reservation system to control crowds. There are QR codes on signs throughout the estate that you can scan and then book a reservation on the day of your visit – there are no advance reservations at this time.

Model trains at Biltmore

We caught the tail end of the Biltmore Gardens Railway exhibit in Antler Hill Village and the kids were captivated. Really, we all were. I never realized how fun it could be to watch miniature trains!

Vanderbilt model trains Antler Hill Village

The display features replicas of iconic train depots from around the country – and they were constructed out of leaves, bark, and twigs! So cool!!

Biltmore Estate model trains

Starting in April 2021, you’ll be able to see the train displays in the Conservatory in the Walled Garden.

Due to the cold weather, we did not stop at the Farmyard even though I know the kids love visiting all of the animals. When we visited in the summer, we spent over an hour playing with the baby chicks and following the lambs and goats around. It’s a must-do if you have aspiring farmers or petting zoo enthusiasts in your house!


  • Timed reservations are required so make sure to get your tickets ahead of time – you can save up to $8 per ticket if you purchase online!
  • As of right now (March 2021), kids 9 and under are free.
  • While the Biltmore Estate is stroller-friendly, the house itself is not. If you have little ones that normally ride in a stroller, you’ll either need to babywear or carry them through a good part of the house tour.
  • Don’t forget to make a wine tasting reservation when you arrive if you’re interested in the Biltmore Estate Winery.

Have you visited Biltmore before? Do you prefer self-guided or guided tours when you’re traveling??

Visiting Asheville in the Winter

Located in the Western North Carolina mountains, Asheville is an eclectic city full of art, food (+ breweries!), and is the perfect starting point for exploring the nearby Appalachian mountains. Perhaps contrary to popular belief, there’s plenty to do in Asheville in the winter, so it’s worth braving the cold temps for lower crowds and amazing views.

Thank you so much to Hampton Inn & Suites Biltmore Village for hosting us- we received a complimentary stay, but all opinions are honest and my own. This post may contain affiliate links and we may earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you!) if you choose to purchase when you click on the links. Thank you for supporting Love Dwells Here!!

What to do in Asheville in the Winter


Looking Glass Falls in the Pisgah National Forest

One of my favorite things to do in the NC mountains is hunt for waterfalls. This part of the country is FULL of waterfalls- in fact, it’s known as the “Land of the Waterfalls.” However, since we’re not avid hikers, nor do we have stellar winter gear, when we go out looking for waterfalls in the winter, we stick to those near the road that don’t require a great deal of hiking.

Smiling kids in front of waterfall

Looking Glass Falls just north of Brevard on US 276 is a perfect example of a roadside waterfall – you can literally see it from the road! You’ll know you’re there when you see the cars pulled off to the right side of the road and people walking around the viewing platform. While this high vantage point offers a great view, it’s even better if you walk down the stairs to the lower viewing platform to get up close and personal.

Smiling girl at waterfall near Asheville NC

I’ve heard that Looking Glass Falls gets crowded during the summer, and people use it as a swimming hole. There’s obviously none of that during the winter though I’m guessing some brave souls probably venture out on the rocks. In the winter, make sure to watch out for ice on the stairs and the trail, as they can get quite slippery with the ever-changing weather.

Icicles on side of road in NC mountains

And speaking of ice, check out the icicles that we found on the side of the road! Since we don’t get a ton of snow at our house and rarely have icicles longer than an inch, the kids were really impressed!

Dry Falls in the winter with kids

With fresh snow on the ground, we headed to Dry Falls, another roadside waterfall in western North Carolina. Located in the Nantahala National Forest, this one is about 80 miles southwest of Asheville, so you do need to plan ahead if you want to visit while you’re in town.

Kids standing behind the waterfall at Dry Falls

Dry Falls is unique since you can actually walk behind the falls and stay fairly dry. Have you ever stood BEHIND a waterfall?! Totally cool, right?! There’s an accessible viewing platform right off the road, but if you’re more daring, head down the stairs and take the short trail to the falls.

Trail behind the falls at Dry Falls in Nantahala National Forest

Check out all the ice back there! We hoped to see a totally frozen waterfall, but it wasn’t quite cold enough to freeze completely. The icy view and chance to go behind a waterfall was well worth the drive out there. If you visit Dry Falls in the winter, you must be VERY careful as the pathway can get VERY icy. And I know that firsthand since I slipped on ice and fell flat on my back!! Ouch!!


Happy girl in a pink beanie in the snowy forest

We don’t get a ton of snow in the Charlotte area, so anytime the kids have a few inches of snow to play in, they’re happy campers. And the chances are pretty good that you’ll be able to find snow if you visit the NC mountains in the winter.

Snowball fight between sisters Asheville in the winter

After checking out waterfalls and driving on curvy mountain roads, they were more than ready to get out of the car and have a snowball fight.

Child playing with a snowball

There’s something about watching a child play in the snow and seeing the magic in their eyes that makes me all warm and fuzzy. Which is good because it was freezing, and unlike the kids, I wasn’t running around in circles.


Masked girls at the Biltmore Estate

The Biltmore Estate is the largest personal residence in the country (it’s 175,000 square feet!) and one of the main things people associate with Asheville. And for good reason- this place is HUGE and a whole lot of fun!

Teens doing the audio tour at Biltmore Estate

We did the audio tour on our visit, and even though we’ve been several times as a family and the kids have been on school trips, we all learn something new every time we visit. There’s a separate audio tour for kids narrated by Cedric, the Vanderbilts’ Saint Bernard, and it kept Ellie entertained throughout the house.

Happy family enjoying hot chocolate at a table at Biltmore

Since it was a chilly winter day, we stopped at the Bake Shop for hot chocolate and coffee to warm up – and we moved to a sunnier table right after this picture was taken. Check back for next week’s post with more about our day at the Biltmore Estate.

Where to stay in Asheville NC

If you’re anything like our family, you’re looking for somewhere to stay that won’t break the bank but still has plenty of room for the whole family. When you visit Asheville, look no further than the Hampton Inn & Suites Biltmore Village. With a prime location only a block away from the Biltmore Estate, this hotel is centrally located so that you can explore Asheville and beyond.

2 queen + sofa bed room at Hampton Inn & Suites Biltmore Village

And with a 2 queen + sofa bed studio suite, there’s room to bring the whole family.

large bathroom with stand-up shower in Asheville

Now that the kids are older, I absolutely love hotels with a stand-up shower instead of the shower/tub combo. And I definitely appreciate that the sink is separate from the toilet/shower in order to maximize the space when getting ready.

Breakfast room at the Hampton Inn Biltmore Village

Breakfast is up and running at Hampton Inn & Suites Biltmore Village again. During the week, breakfast is limited and more of a grab-and-go concept, but on the weekends, it’s reminiscent of Hampton Inn’s breakfast pre-COVID with a few slight changes. There are wrapped breakfast sandwiches and more single-serve offerings than before, but there were plenty of breakfast options, and at this location, the waffle makers were available.

Smiling teen with a hotel waffle for breakfast

Once the kids saw that there were waffle makers, they each had to make a waffle! Who knew that hot and fresh waffles were what they’d missed the most?!

Breakfast room at Hampton Inn & Suites Biltmore Village

There’s a spacious seating area open for breakfast. If it had been a smidge warmer, I think we would have eaten outside by the fire one morning just to change it up.

Hotel Pool at Hampton Inn Biltmore Village

Of course, we had to check out the pool! It was a basic indoor hotel pool, but that didn’t stop the kids from having a blast and asking to go every time we had a free minute. There is currently a maximum capacity of 10 (I think partly because the pool is indoors), and since we’re a larger group, we tried to keep our visits short so that others could have a turn as well.

Hotel shop at Hampton Inn Asheville

Like many hotels, this one has a cute little shop by the front desk. Besides having the usual sweet and salty snacks, they also had a selection of local Asheville products. I love when even big hotels jump on the shop local train and support their neighboring businesses. All in all, we had a FABULOUS stay at the Hampton Inn Biltmore Village and will definitely stay there again next time we’re in town.

Where to eat in Asheville

Delicious burgers from Juicy Lucy's Burger Bar & Grille in Asheville NC

If you’ve been following for any length of time, it should come as no surprise that we’re self-proclaimed foodies – especially the kids! So when they heard that there’s a burger bar in Asheville serving up cheese-stuffed burgers, it was quickly added to the must-do list! And honestly, Juicy Lucy’s Burger Bar was well worth the wait for a table. They have an extensive menu that even non-burger-loving fans would like, though the burgers are most definitely the star of the show. And make sure to get your burger Juicy Lucy style!

Pizza from Apollo Flame Bistro Where to eat in Asheville

We enjoyed a late-night pizza dinner in our hotel room, thanks to a late soccer game and snowy weather. But let me tell you, the pizza from Apollo Flame Bistro was DELICIOUS – like some of the best we’ve ever had, and we’ve eaten LOTS of pizza!! The kids were hesitant to order pizza from a Greek restaurant, but they were quick converts. We opted for a Mediterranean pizza and a pepperoni pizza plus added on a large Greek salad, and it was all SO GOOD!

French Broad Chocolate Lounge Asheville with kids

Always a must-do when you’re in Asheville, the French Broad Chocolate Lounge, has been serving up all things chocolate for over a decade in Asheville. We waited in line for about 15 minutes to get inside – and there’s almost always a line to get in, pandemic or not. Once inside, with the smell of chocolate swirling around, we eyed all of the sweet treats before settling on a giant slice of chocolate cake, a brownie, chocolate creme brulee, a scoop of ice cream, a root beer float (for the girl who claims she doesn’t like chocolate!) and a latte. All were tasty and eaten in no time.


Asheville is one of those places that you can visit repeatedly and do something different each time you’re in town, especially when you visit in different seasons. There’s a happening art scene that we didn’t check out due to the cold temps but Explore Asheville has a great route to see many of the murals. When the weather warms up (and the pandemic slows down), I want to do one of the LaZoom comedy bus tours – the humor is PG-13, but they also do a Kids’ Comedy Tour for all ages. Have you been to Asheville before? Any recommendations for places to visit?

Road Trip to Carolina Beach with the Mazda CX-9 Signature

Ever since my parents and my sister (+ her fam) moved to North Carolina, we’ve been talking about doing a Girls’ Trip but it’s never worked out. This year, even in the midst of a pandemic, we found a way to make it work and we had THE BEST time spending a few days in Carolina Beach, North Carolina!

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Smiling family in Mazda CX-9 Signature

We partnered with Mazda to drive the 2020 CX-9 Signature SUV and I was seriously impressed! There was plenty of room for the six of us and our luggage (I originally wasn’t convinced it would all fit, but it did – thank you, packing cubes!!). Once we got everything loaded up, we hit the road . . . to Starbucks, obv . . . and then to the beach!

Girl in carseat with headphones and iPad in Mazda CX-9 Signature

Ellie’s car-seat went in easily and she was super excited to have a cupholder in the center console where she could reach it!

two girls eating a picnic lunch

Since we’re not really doing the indoor dining thing right now, we got take-out and ate it outside at a closed Chick-fil-A – yay for traveling on a Sunday when Chick-fil-A is closed!

three girls happy to be at the beach

And before long, we arrived at the Courtyard Carolina Beach! It’s just under four hours from our house to the beach so it’s perfect for a long weekend getaway.

two girls coloring in a hotel room

The littles broke out the coloring supplies while the adults unpacked and got everything settled. This Melissa and Doug Color-by-Number set turned out to be the favorite- and it was easy for them to share.

two girls enjoying a snack on an oceanfront balcony

Hannah and Ellie made off with the bag of Gardetto’s and enjoyed their snack on the balcony, taking in the beautiful ocean views.

girls at the beach, one in a mask

The Courtyard Carolina Beach sits on the Carolina Beach boardwalk so it’s super convenient to not only go to the beach but also to walk to the restaurants and attractions (when they’re open again) on the boardwalk.

Carolina Beach from above

Looks like it’s going to be a great day at the beach!!

Beach chair rental at Carolina Beach

One thing that I’ve learned after traveling to the beach countless times with so many kids is that it’s so much easier to rent beach chairs and umbrellas at the beach instead of lugging all that gear around! Yes, it does cost a bit more than bringing your own, but I’ve always found it to be well worth the money. Plus, you don’t get a bunch of sand in your hotel room and car from sandy gear.

Relaxing at Carolina Beach

She loves a good beach day!

2 girls running around the beach

While there were others at the beach, people did a wonderful job respecting boundaries and gave a wide berth when walking by or setting up their beach gear.

two girls on an empty beach

These two are already making plans to live at the beach when they grow up – it’s most definitely their happy place!

two girls eating pizza at the beach

We ordered pizza for lunch and had it delivered to the hotel lobby- and Auntie Janne ran back to the hotel to grab it and bring it to the beach. It was an awesome choice for a physically distant, outdoor meal, and the pizza was still piping hot when we started eating!

Girl eating Britt's Donuts on oceanfront balcony

Britt’s Donuts is a Carolina Beach institution and we enjoyed them several times on our trip! Our hotel was less than a five-minute walk from Britt’s and hot donuts were the breakfast of choice while we were there.

Girl with boogie board

Back to the beach! We rented boogie boards one day and the kids (both big and little) had a blast with them.

Girl doing beach yoga

Ellie used one to do some beach yoga. ????

Girls getting italian ice from cart on beach

The Island Ice Factory and Italian ice carts were another favorite on this trip and we enjoyed delicious treats from both!

two girls pulling boogie boards in crashing waves

These two girls loved pulling the boogie boards around . . .

Carolina Beach kids

And sitting or laying on them while the waves crashed.

adult and child boogie boarding

Auntie Janne and Lexie were much more adventurous and took the boards out farther!

Three adults and three children at the beach

This trip to the beach was just what we all needed. It was a great break from the monotony of life at home and constantly being stuck in the house. It was a literal breath of fresh air – the salty, beach kind, that’s my absolute favorite, and I’m so glad that we finally had the chance to make our girls’ trip a reality!

Mazda CX-9 Signature

On our way back to real life, we stopped to grab a quick lunch in Wilmington.

Smiling girl eating nachos outdoors

We originally planned to get our food to-go and eat at a park, or in a parking lot, but they had an open patio area that worked out perfectly.

Mazda CX-9 Signature overhead camera view

One of my favorite features of the Mazda CX-9 Signature is the overhead camera view. I’m used to having a back-up camera (and honestly don’t know what I did before I had one!) but the overhead view allows you to see so much more!

Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD

Check out this beauty! The Mazda CX-9 Signature is the perfect SUV for a road-trip with the family. It’s not super big but still manages to have plenty of room for 6 people + all their gear – and trust me, we don’t pack that light! ????

I was really impressed with all of the safety features in this crossover SUV: lane-keep assist, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring- so many features to help keep your family safe! Plus, with a turbo, this thing is so much more fun to drive than my usual minivan!

Are you team SUV or team minivan?? Let me know in the comments!

Spend A Day on Nantahala Lake

Part of the draw of glamping at the yurts at stayNantahala is the proximity to Nantahala Lake, a three-fingered lake in Western North Carolina often considered to be a hidden gem. Located at an elevation of 3000 feet in the Nantahala National Forest, the lake is over 250 feet deep and is one of the deepest in the state.

Girl sleeping on pontoon while boy is pulled on inflatable tube Nantahala Lake north carolina

Thank you so much Lakes End Marina for hosting us- we received a complimentary rental and lunch, but as always, all opinions are honest and my own.

Lakes End Marina is where you’ll want to go to rent a boat and it is super easy- you can do the whole thing online. When it’s time to pick up your rental, stop by their office at the marina, sign a few forms and waivers, and you’re good to go. Rentals are available hourly, by the half-day, by the day, or by the week and they truly have something to fit every need.

Girls playing cornhole on banks of Nantahala Lake

The kids enjoyed playing cornhole on the lawn while I got everything set up. We were the only people out there but I imagine that the marina can be a lively place to hang out when restrictions are not in place.

Lakes End Marina Nantahala Lake

We rented a pontoon boat for the afternoon (230pm-630pm) and it was the perfect amount of time for our family. The staff at Lakes End Marina was phenomenal and gave us a quick boating lesson before we headed out. In North Carolina, boating licenses are required if you were born on or after January 1, 1988, and since that didn’t apply to any of the adults in our group, we were fine without a boating license.

Rented pontoon from Lakes End Marina NC mountains

They have a variety of boats at Lakes End Marina and given the current COVID-19 situation, they’re paying extra attention to high touch point areas when they clean the boats. We rented a 12-passenger pontoon boat and it was plenty of space for us to spread out, and speedy enough to pull everyone around on an inflatable tube!

Smiling family leaving Lakes End Marina Nantahala Lake in pontoon rental

Pulling out of the marina and ready for a fun afternoon on the waters of Nantahala Lake. Life jackets are included and children 12 and under are required to wear one at all times.

Teen enjoying inflatable tube from pontoon rental Lakes End Marina Nantahala Lake

It was an overcast afternoon- we were keeping our fingers crossed that the rain would stay away. With a high in the low 70s, I was concerned that the kids would say the water was too cold to get in (especially with the lake depth!) but I didn’t hear a single complaint!

Beautiful pine island Nantahala Lake in the NC mountains

Nantahala Lake is absolutely breathtaking and I can see why it’s considered a hidden gem- the water is very clear and the surrounding hills are covered in trees.

Picnic lunch from Lakes End Café and Grill at Nantahala Lake

We found a secluded cove and stopped to enjoy our late lunch from the Lakes End Café– and boy was it delicious!! Lexie LOVED the Cobb Salad and proclaimed it one of the best she’s ever eaten!

Picnic lunch from Lakes End Café and Grill at Nantahala Lake

Ben and I split the Turkey Club Wrap and Buffalo Chicken Wrap (with a side of buffalo wings!) and both were exceptional- I honestly don’t know which one I liked more!

Smiling faces enjoying lunch from Lakes End Grill at Nantahala Lake

The sandwiches/wraps from Lakes End Café were hearty and well-made- perfect for enjoying out on the water.

Boy on inflatable tube at Nantahala Lake

After our delicious lunch, it was back on the water where the kids took turns out on the inflatable tube.

Teen on inflatable tube at Nantahala Lake

Not being a boater, I was slightly concerned that a pontoon boat wouldn’t go fast enough for the kids to get a thrilling ride, but I was totally wrong!

Kids on inflatable tube at Nantahala Lake

Ben and Hannah took at slow at first, but then Hannah kept wanting to go faster and faster and faster!

Teen on inflatable tube at Nantahala Lake

The kids have now added a pontoon boat to the family Christmas list… I think we’ll stick with renting from Lakes End Marina for awhile though!

Smiling family on pontoon rental from Lakes End Marina Nantahala Lake

Cruising around Nantahala Lake was a relaxing way to spend the afternoon and so different than our usual packed days of traveling. It was nice to be able to unwind and enjoy each other’s company as well as enjoy the beauty of the lake.

Grandpa on inflatable tube at Nantahala Lake

Even Grandpa got out there for some tubing fun!

Girl on inflatable tube at Nantahala Lake

Hannah is such a daredevil! After riding once with Ben, she was pumped up and wanted to do it all by herself- and had a blast!

Smiling girl enjoying fruit cup from Lakes End Café and Grill at Nantahala Lake

Even though she’s a year older, Ellie is more risk-averse than Hannah, and enjoying a fruit cup from the safety of the boat was more her speed.

Banana pudding from Lakes End Café and Grill at Nantahala Lake

Mmmm… I’m still dreaming about the Banana Pudding from Lakes End Café. Some of the best I’ve ever had!

Sun shining over Nantahala Lake with kid on inflatable tube pulled by pontoon boat from Lakes End Marina.

All in all, it was a perfect day at the lake for our family. Four hours was long enough that we were able to explore most of Nantahala Lake and the kids all got several turns on the inflatable, but not so long that people were starting to get bored or needed a bathroom break. The kids are already talking about going back and renting one of the lakeside cabins and getting a boat for a week, and I totally support that idea! There’s a waterfall on the southern end of the lake that I want to hunt down next time we visit.

Things to Remember at Lakes End Marina

  • Reservations are necessary and they do book up several weeks in advance so make sure to reserve your boat online or by phone (828) 321-3001.
  • Life jackets are included with your rental- kids under 12 need to wear them at all times.
  • Pick up a picnic lunch from Lakes End Café and Grill before you head out- you won’t regret it! And don’t forget to get dessert, too!

Follow Lakes End Marina on social media:
Facebook | Instagram | Website

Follow Lakes End Café and Grill on social media:
Facebook | Instagram | Website


Glamping in North Carolina

Given the current COVID climate and the fact that all of our summer plans were canceled (no big road trip, no camps, no nothing), I wanted to find somewhere that we could get away for a few days while still maintaining our distance from others. I know lots of people are camping this summer since you can ensure that you’re not around people, and while the kids are outdoorsy- in that they go to summer camp every year- I am not the biggest fan of camping. I mean, I enjoy being outside, and I LOVE campfires, but I’m not a fan of sleeping on the ground, or not having running water (or a/c!), or bugs. But glamping? I can totally get behind that! Did you know that there are quite a few places to go glamping in North Carolina?!

north carolina glamping

Thank you so much stayNantahala for hosting us- we received a complimentary stay, but as always, all opinions are honest and my own.

With just a little research, I found these fantastic yurts at stayNanatahala near Nantahala Lake and surrounded by the Great Smoky Mountains. They’re less than four hours aways away from our house just north of Charlotte and PERFECT for a long weekend of glamping in North Carolina!

beautiful yurts at stayNantahala for glamping in North Carolina

After a beautiful drive through the mountains, we pulled up, and I was shocked at how gorgeous the setting was. I mean, I’d seen pictures on their website, but the view far exceeded my expectations: flowers were in bloom, and everything was so GREEN!

creekside setting of yurts at stayNantahala North Carolina glamping

There are four separate yurts on the property, and each one comfortably sleeps 4. Each yurt has a huge deck overlooking the creek and a PRIVATE hot tub! We were traveling with my parents as well as my sister and niece and reserved three of the four yurts.

kitchen and living room inside the yurt

Every yurt has a full kitchen with everything you could possibly need (a full-size refrigerator is to the right of this picture). There are place settings for four plus a wide range of pots, pans, cookies sheets, measuring cups, sharp knives, etc. I was surprised to see that each kitchen also has a Keurig AND a regular coffee maker, and we definitely took advantage of both.

master bedroom with queen bed stayNantahala

The master bedroom has a queen bed, a full dresser, a flat-screen tv on the wall, and a private balcony. I wondered how the bedrooms would work given the domed ceiling, and while the bedroom walls don’t go all the way up to the top, they do offer privacy but not a ton of noise reduction. It worked fine for our families, but we never had all three TVs on at once or anything like that.

second bedroom with 2 twin beds glamping in north carolina

The other bedroom has two twin beds and another wall-mounted flat-screen TV and is perfect for the kids in your family.

gorgeous bathroom inside the yurt

The bathroom was gorgeous- I want a shower like that in my house! With yurt glamping, there’s no running to an outhouse in the middle of the night; everything you could possibly need is right inside the yurt! Not pictured: the washer and dryer right outside the bathroom just in case you need to do laundry while you’re traveling!

gas firepit by the creek

The yurts are located at the convergence of Otter Creek and White Creek, and while all four yurts offer the same bedroom configurations and private hot tubs, each location is slightly different. Yurt #1 is Tranquil Haven, and it definitely has a secluded and private feeling. Yurt #2 is called Otter Creek, and it shares a community fire pit (stayNantahala even provides the firewood!) with Tranquil Haven. This one is across the creek in the picture above and is probably my favorite location of the four.

Yurt #3 is Creekside Cove, and it shares a community firepit with Yurt #4 Spring Ridge. Each of the four yurts has its own propane fire pit and charcoal grill (remember to bring charcoal and lighter fluid, though grilling tools are available). There is a dog run next to Spring Ridge, so it’s perfect for families traveling with pets!

smiling girl glamping in north carolina

The kids loved all of the big rocks lining the parking area- they honestly spent hours climbing around and playing on the boulders!

hanging out in the yurt stayNantahala

We were pleasantly surprised to find board games in the cabinet below the TV. We packed (and played!) a few of our own, but the kids had a blast playing Checkers and Chess and created elaborate competitions.

relaxing in the yurt glamping in North Carolina

We all really appreciated the space in the yurt. When traveling with kids, it’s essential to ensure that everyone can get away a little bit and have some time to themselves. I was impressed with the use of space in each yurt, and each one felt much bigger than I’m sure it really was.

creekside location stayNantahala

The creekside location was ahhh-mazing. We all were lulled to sleep by the sound of rushing water each night, and it allowed us to all sleep later than we expected. Because the yurts have a skylight at the top of the dome, some members of our group (Dad… I’m lookin’ at you!) were concerned that they would be up with the sun at 6am. Even though the rooms did start to get light, no one in our group was up before 8am, and I really think it has everything to do with the sound of the creek!

kids in the hot tub glamping in North Carolina

The kids (and adults!) loved having a hot tub on the deck of each yurt! At the end of a long day, there’s nothing better than relaxing in the hot tub and enjoying the sounds of the creek rushing by. We rarely take advantage of the hot tub when we’re traveling at a hotel because they’re often too hot for the kids, and I can’t enjoy it kid-free after they go to bed. With a private hot tub, we could control the water temperature and keep it cooler for the kids and could use it after they were in bed since it was right outside the yurt- totally a win-win!

Stay Nantahala yurts

This is Yurt #2- Otter Creek and my personal fave! I can’t wait to come back in the fall and experience this with fall color! Can you imagine a more peaceful setting?

making s'mores while glamping in North Carolina

After a fun day on Lake Nantahala, we returned to the yurts and made s’mores over one of the propane firepits. While a real wood campfire is always my preference (and there were two wood-burning firepits fully stocked with wood), propane is so much quicker!

making s'mores outside the yurt

We started the fire, and in no time, the whole family was circled around the firepit, making sweet s’mores with sticky fingers and faces.

s'more on fire!

This little one sure does love her s’mores. She stayed out by the fire long after everyone else retreated inside the yurts for showers and bedtime!

We had a fantastic few days at the stayNantahala yurts, and I honestly cannot wait to go back again. It was the perfect escape from reality, and we were able to spend time together but safely away from others.

Things to Remember at stayNanatahala Yurts

  • StayNantahala provides nearly everything you need! Linens, towels, dishes + cooking supplies, washer/dryer, central air conditioning, and heat are all included.
  • Check-in is at 4pm, and check-out is at 10am, and it is completely contactless. Before arrival, you will get a key code for the lockbox on the back deck of your yurt, and that’s it- you’re good to go!
  • Cleanliness has always been important at Lakes End, but due to COVID-19, there is definitely increased attention to disinfecting high-touch surfaces. stayNantahala is following all CDC guidelines regarding disinfecting and cleaning, and we found each of the yurts to be very clean.

Follow stayNantahala on social media:
Facebook | Instagram | Website

WinterFest at Carowinds

Now that Halloween is over for another year, here in North Carolina, it’s time to get ready for WinterFest at Carowinds!  Every year, the park is transformed into a magical, winter wonderland covered in 5 million twinkling lights, and the transformation is breathtaking– I never thought that our local amusement park could pull off such a magical feat!

Magic at WinterFest

The night begins with the tree lighting show at 5:30pm, at the giant, 70-foot Christmas tree.  A full cast of singers and dancers, as well as Snoopy and his friends, countdown to the opening of the park and then the tree lights up and the Christmas-y family fun begins!

WinterFest Rides

Even though the big roller coasters are not open during WinterFest (due to the cold temps!), many of the attractions are still open and running.  Of course, we ALWAYS ride the carousel since it’s Ellie’s fave!

The swings in the County Fair area of the park are always a hit as well!  It’s so much fun to go on the rides in the dark and see all of the Christmas lights throughout the park.

WinterFest Snacks

Carowinds really upped their game in the seasonal snack department last year and I cannot wait to see what they add this year!!  Our kiddos LOVED decorating the giant Christmas cookies from Mrs. Claus’s Kitchen.  You do have to pay extra for them but at $14 for 4 ginormous cookies and unlimited frosting/toppings, we found it to be an excellent deal!!

Plus, they have to-go boxes if you can’t finish eating your creations– they’re REALLY big!  They made for a great snack throughout the night.

WinterFest Fun

The Christmas lights adorn nearly every tree in the park, as well as many of the walkways, and they do a great job getting you into the Christmas spirit!  They also make a great background for your Christmas card photos!

There is a really fun petting zoo that our crew adored!!  Lots of goats, plus donkeys and a camel!!

We all had a great time at WinterFest last year and cannot wait to go again this season!  It is easily one of our favorite places for Christmas fun in the Charlotte area!

Things to Remember When You Visit WinterFest

  • WinterFest at Carowinds is a ticketed event unless you have a Gold or Platinum season pass.  If you buy your Gold Season pass now, it includes unlimited visits to WinterFest in 2018, plus admission to Carowinds for ALL of 2019- such a great deal!!
  • Tickets start at $26+tax and vary depending on the night you’re attending.  Check online for the latest deals!
  • This year, WinterFest kicks off on November 18 and runs Fri-Sun through December 9.  Starting December 14, WinterFest runs every night through the end of the year (except December 24-25).
  • Lots of people dress up for Christmas-y fun at Carowinds- we either wear Christmas-y shirts or sweaters!
  • Check the weather because it can get REALLY cold once the sun sets!

What’s your favorite holiday event in your city??


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