3 Hours 3 Days: Taking A Trip To Highlands, NC

Jonathan highlights some fun spots to take a mini vacation this summer.

With back-to-school quickly approaching, many families are hoping to squeeze some R&R before your schedule gets hectic again. Well, scratch vacation planning off your to-do list, I’ve got you covered. Today’s trip takes us to a town nestled inside a national forest. Let’s go!

Day 1
In search of the area’s top tourist attractions, I checked Yelp, TripAdvisor, and even the local Chamber of Commerce’s website – and the answer was crystal clear! Highlands is the home of waterfalls!

  • Bridal Veil is the only waterfall in the state that you can drive a vehicle behind. That’s either very scary or quite convenient, depends on your point of view. Want to stay dry? Dry Falls offers a natural shelter or sort – an overhanging bluff allows you to walk up under the falls bypassing almost every drip and drop of water.
  • Swimmers take a leap into Quarry Falls, but remember it’s known by another name, Bust Your Butt, Falls.
  • Dry off and rest up back in town!

Day 2

  • The Park on Main is where elegance meets efficiency. After reading through all  70+ plus Google reviews it was obvious – this hotel is intentionally dog-friendly. You’ll save money here too because your furry friends get to spend the night for free.
  • Look, but don’t touch as you explore Highlands through a cultural lens. This rustic log cabin is home to the Museum of American Cut and Engraved Glass – inside more than 400 pieces of engraved glass from the American Brilliant Period.
  • Add a bit of P.E. this history class field trip as you peruse down The Highlands Heritage Walking Trail.
    An eclectic mix of 51 old churches, shops, and homes all come together to tell the story of this self-described “Southern Mountain Town Founded by Northerners.” Move at your own pace and stay physically-distanced. You can pull this interactive tour guide up on your smartphone!

Day 3

  • That smartphone won’t help you find the region’s oldest gems, but your fingertips will still come handy as you help your kids do their dirty work. Dig and discover sapphires and rubies at one of the eight gemstone mines within a half-hour of Highlands.
    I found out, you can fill your buckets to brim for around 30 bucks. Finders, keepers, right? These gemstones are now your souvenirs.

Here’s what you need to know before you go:

  • QC Morning Producer and Photojournalist Brian Stephenson recently spent some time in Highlands. He recommends grabbing a bite to eat the “Ugly Dog Public House.” Go there for Sunday brunch or just to grab a burger.
  • Parents will be glad to know to the Park on Main Hotel also provides babysitting services.
  • And finally, Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort is only an hours’ drive north of Highlands. So, keep that in mind, if you’re looking to explore other attractions nearby.

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