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Tips for Visiting Highlands, North Carolina with Kids

little boy following his bigger sister through the woods on a sunny winter day in North Carolina

Highlands is aptly named. Nestled at 4118 feet above sea level, it is the highest town east of the Mississippi River and has a cool climate to match. I would definitely recommend visiting Highlands, North Carolina, with your kids, especially if you love the outdoors and slower paced travel.

The small town’s population swells from less than 1,000 to over 18,000 during the summer months, when many in the Southeast want to escape the sweltering heat at lower elevations.  We recently made a long weekend getaway to Highlands with the kids, and we have lots of fun info to share.   

Planning a visit to Asheville? Add a trip to Highlands, and this would be a great way to extend your trip to make a full week of it.

Things to do in Highlands with Kids

Highlands, North Carolina, seems geared toward couples vacations, but it is truly a wonderful destination for a family trip.  Even though the town is extremely family friendly, it definitely isn’t toddler-centric.  It took a bit of research and mishaps to figure out the best options.

We spent the days mostly enjoying the outdoors and taking in the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains. It’s no secret that we love spending time outside, whether at the beach or hiking, so we loved our time here in Highlands.

  • Check out the nearby waterfalls:  Dry falls and Bridal Veil falls are located right off the highway for easy viewing.
  • Hike- There are a multitude of hikes in the area, ranging from easy walks to serious all day hikes.  We did three different hikes of varying difficulty, all with our kids.
two toddlers looking at Dry Falls
checking out Dry Falls
  • Walk around the cute downtown area. There are plenty of great shops to check out while you walk around.
  • Visit the Village Green in nearby Cashiers, complete with a small hike and an great playground
beautiful white Episcopal church in Highlands, NC
downtown Highlands
church building in downtown Highlands, NC
gorgeous architecture
  • Visit a brewery- Satulah Brewery has a small outdoor area, equipped with picnic tables and corn hole boards.  It was a great place for a picnic dinner and fun for the kids.  
  • Visit the botanical gardens
  • There is a fun little green space in the middle of town with an amphitheater
huge playground area in Cashiers, NC to visit with kids
Village Play | Cashiers

Kid Friendly Restaurants in Highlands, NC

Highlands, North Carolina, definitely seems to cater to couples, so there are multiple fine dining options.  However, this wasn’t an option we wanted to even contemplate on this trip.  With an almost two year old, there was no way we’d be making our way to half of the options in town.  Instead, we found a few casual places that were perfect for a visit with little ones.  

The one thing I wish we’d taken is our travel high chair.  A few restaurants didn’t have high chairs, which caused us some grief when our little one was all over the place.  

  • Mountain Fresh Grocery- we ate here three different times over the course of a weekend, from breakfast to dinner.  This grocery turned gourmet deli/bakery/pizzeria offers something for everyone.  We ate in and got takeout, and every single thing was delicious and freshly prepared.  There are no high chairs, so plan accordingly.
  • Bake My Day- this adorable bakery has delicious breakfast options.  Our kiddos had waffles, while we enjoyed an elevated egg sandwich and the carnivore omelette.  The staff was super sweet with our little ones.  The bakery options in the cases looked super tasty as well.
family waiting on breakfast at Mountain Fresh Grocery in Highlands, NC
anxiously awaiting our French toast | Mountain Fresh Grocery
  • Ugly Dog Public House-  We ate dinner here the first night.  They had several kids options.  David had a burger and I had a quinoa salad with grilled chicken.  It was seriously some of the best grilled chicken I’ve ever had, especially added on top of a salad.  We sat in a banquette area, so we didn’t get a highchair.  It says online they have them, but I can’t be sure as we weren’t offered one (but we didn’t ask either).
  • Buck’s Coffee-  this is much more of a coffee shop with a few prepared sandwich and bakery options.  We grabbed a few things on our way out of town for a picnic later on.  Our sandwiches were simple, but tasty. 
  • SweeTreats Deli- we had their ice cream, which the kids loved.  They have two flavors: vanilla or chocolate.  You then pick from a multitude of add-ins, which they will blend into the ice cream as you wait.  They also offer a deli, but we didn’t try it. 
  • Kilwins- ice cream and sweet treat from fudge to cookies

Where to Stay

  • 200Main is the family friendly hotel owned by the Old Edwards Inn.  It has great reviews and is worth checking out
  • We rented a cute house in an adorable neighborhood just a half mile or so from downtown.  It was a great option, as it allowed us to take our dog.  There are lots of options, in various price ranges online.
our adorable mountain house
kitchen
living room with fireplace

Looking for more information on Highlands? Check out the Highlands Chamber of Commerce for events and fun happenings around town.

Also, make sure to check out our other posts for hiking with kids.

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