RAL Guides    Lifestyle

#Roadtrip: 30 outdoor adventures in the Carolinas

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The Blue Ridge Mountains by Asheville // @oliviaphotography____

30 Outdoor adventures in the Carolinas

We’re not buying into the Pumpkin-Spice hype. It’s going to be warm in the Carolinas for another few months – which for us – means it’s still summer adventure time until Christmas. 

Here are 30 outdoor excursions to shake up your weekend adventuresRight at home, and up the mountain. 

Take a hike | We would tell you our favorite trails, but there are just too many. Here is AVLtoday’s ongoing must-try hiking guide. 

Road bike 22 miles of trails | Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail | Greenville | Cruise through downtown Greenville S.C., through Furman University’s historic campus on to Traveler’s Rest on railroads-turned-paved trails. Don’t want to bring your bike? There are tons of rentals right off the trail.

Try the fastest zip line in the country

Try the fastest zip line in the country | The Gorge Zipline | Saluda, N.C. | Take your pick of 11 zip lines that stretch through the tree canopy + travel down 1,100 vertical ft. | $97 

Swim in a natural spring-fed rock quarry | Carrigan Farms | Mooresville, N.C. | Cool down with a day of open swimming at the granite quarry or test your adventurous side and cliff jump into the water | $15 (cash or check only)  

Forage for your own food in the AVL wilderness | No Taste Like Home | Asheville, N.C. || A 3-hour tour will take you into nature with guided foraging, cooking demos, and make your own snacks/dinner with your finds | $75/adult, $30/child

The World’s largest man-made whitewater river

Whitewater rafting on the World’s Largest Man-Made Whitewater River | U.S. National Whitewater Center | Charlotte, N.C. | Choose between the more intense adventure rafting (for ages 11+) or family rafting for a more chill experience (ages 8+) | $59/adult day pass (access to all land + water activities)

Jet ski on lake Keowee | Endless Adventures | Sunset, S.C. | Rent a few jet skis and spend a day feeling the wind through your hair | $260/half day, $360/full day

Try out bellyaking | Bellyak, Inc. | Candler, N.C. | Get up close + personal with the rapids on a bellyak (a kayak where you lay on your stomach) – if you’re feeling spontaneous, try their whitewater bellyaking class | $95/person (minimum of 3 people)

A perfect hike for the whole family | Tom’s Creek Falls | Marion, N.C. | Waterfall views, streams to explore, and pools to wade in – all in less than a mile, so the kids won’t be exhausted and cranky afterwards | Free

Learn how to outdoor rock climb | Thrifty Adventures | Spruce Pine, N.C. | A 6-8 hour full introduction to rock climbing outdoors for anyone aged 5+, with tutorials in knot-tying, climbing techniques, lingo, and safety | $95/weekends, $85/weekdays (bring $8 cash to rent shoes)

Sunset kayaking or paddleboarding on Lake Norman | Aloha Paddle Sports | Cornelius, N.C. | $35 for a 90 min. guided tour (and they’ll take pics of you at sunset for the ‘gram.)

    • They also offer paddle board yoga on Wed. – Sat. at Lake Norman for $15with your own board, $25 to rent

Tandem kayak the French Broad River | Asheville Outdoor Center | A 7-mile kayak trip (that you can also float or paddleboard), with views of the Biltmore, plenty of wildlife, and a perfect picnic stop at Hominy Creek Park | $60/tandem kayak, $38/single kayak

Learn how to fly fish | Hunter Banks | Asheville | Wade or float WNC’s streams and fly fish for anglers on a half- or full-day guided trip | $200 – $450 to wade, $350 – $450 to float

Go to the beach (while being in the mountains) | Lake Lure Tours | Lake Lure, N.C. | 50 min. away | Take a day of fun under the sun (and under the mountain peaks) on the beach or cool off at the water park | $9/adults, $8/seniors, $7/kids

Hike the trails at Anne Springs Close Greenway | Fort Mill, S.C. | 2 hours 15 mins away | 40+ miles of hiking, mountain biking + horseback riding trails in a nature preserve open 7 days a week, from 7 a.m. to sunset | $5

Explore 1,460 acres of wildlife and nature | Latta Plantation Nature Preserve | Huntersville, N.C. | A preserve for heritage + endangered species – bring your camera to snap shots of bald eagles, wild turkeys + red foxes (and birds at the Carolina Raptor Center), or spend the day hiking and horseback riding by Mountain Island Lake | Free

Visit the butterflies at Butterfly Bungalow | Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden | Belmont, N.C. | Visit the 380-acre garden’s butterfly exhibit + learn about their journey from caterpillars and which butterflies are native to our area | $3 + garden admission

Take an RTV tour through the mountains | Navitat | Asheville | See the Blue Ridge Mountains’ best vantage points from a high-speed RTV on a 1.5-hour guided tour | $39.95

Take a scenic drive up to Pretty Place | YMCA Camp Greenville | Cleveland, S.C. |Roll the windows down, bring your camera, and soak in the mountain views (just make sure to check the calendar to see if there’s an event scheduled that day) | Free

Ride horses through the water like a cowboy | Riverside Riding Stables | Lake Lure, N.C. | Try a two-hour river ride on horseback (14 and up) with a scenic ride up to Bald Mountain | Call for rates + reservations

Two mountain trails for experienced hikers | Crowders Mountain State Park | Kings Mountain, N.C. |  Crowders Mountain (2.8 miles one way) and King’s Pinnacle (2 miles one way) are both strenuous hikes, but worth it for both views from the summits | Free

Stand up paddleboard through AVL’s River Arts District | Wai Mauna Asheville SUP Tours | Asheville | A 4-mile paddle through the hub of breweries, art galleries, and top-notch restaurants Pro tip: Try it at sunset for extra ambiance. | $80

Did we miss your favorite outdoor activity in the Carolinas? Drop us a note in the comments below. ⬇️