Just the Six of Us on the Road to Lake Lure, North Carolina
written by Beth Kilgore, travel writer, adventurous parent willing to travel with small children
Just before the triplets turned four, we found ourselves on our first family vacation. That’s right, triplets and vacation. Sounds like an oxymoron, right? Let me also add that along with our four-year-old triplets—two boys and a girl—we also have a seven-year-old son.
So, we are completely outnumbered. But, you know that feeling when you just have to get out of the house? Well, we’d done a “family” beach vacation the summer before along with our entourage—my parents, my brother, and my sister-in-law. This time, we wanted it to be just the six of us.
The six of us being myself, Beth, I’m an interior designer; my husband Jon, he’s a consultant; and our four kids, Nick, Abby, Will, and Zack. I like to call our lifestyle “controlled chaos.” And, we were headed to Lake Lure, North Carolina for spring break.
- How We Got There.
Lake Lure, NC is in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s about a six-and-a-half-hour drive from Williamsburg, and it ended up taking us just under eight hours to get there.
Pinterest, of course, had given me tons of fun ideas and activities for the car ride. And, I thought I was for sure going to keep my kids engaged and not just have them plug in the whole trip. Right?
I spent most of the drive climbing back and forth between the front and the back of the van, passing out snacks, activities, and water. It was exhausting and a mommy mistake. I’d learned my lesson the hard way.
On the drive back, each kid got their backpack full of supplies and snacks, and we put on a movie and headed home. So, all that said, my biggest tip (and advice to myself) is don’t fight it. Just go. And, let them be distracted by electronic devices and books. Traveling in the car with kids can be stressful enough.
- Where We Stayed.
Our mountain home, as the kids still call it, was a two-bedroom lock-off condo at the Wyndham Resort at Fairfield Mountains.
This place was perfect for us! It was two adjoining units, so we had a total of two bedrooms, two bathrooms, two living rooms, and two kitchens! Each kid had their own space to sleep, and my husband and I had our own room! The kitchen was fully stocked and there was a washer and dryer in the unit.
The whole place was older and simply decorated, but very clean. Oh, and if you’re a golfer, our balcony overlooked a beautiful golf course and mountain view.
The way it worked at this property is Wyndham only ran the accommodations. It partnered with the Rumbling Bald Resort on Lake Lure, which ran all the amenities. We could walk along the golf course paths and to the Wyndham check-in building, but it was about a five-minute drive to the other amenities.
- What We Did.
Spring break is off-season, so this destination wasn’t crowded at all. We had two really nice weather days (think a low of 70 and sunny) and two rainy days. Surprisingly enough, this quaint mountain town was still charming in the rain.
No matter the weather, there are so many fun things to do around Lake Lure. Here’s our itinerary to give you a starting point to help you plan your fun adventure!
We always like to spend our first day exploring where we’re staying. We jumped in the car for the five-minute drive to the Rumbling Bald Resort on Lake Lure. There are four on-site restaurants, an ice-cream shop, snack bar, boat rentals, mini golf, activity courts, a spa, indoor and outdoor pools, lazy river, and so much more. They even have a kids club in the summer for an extra fee. Our kids loved walking to get ice cream and playing giant Jenga on the activities court.
We decided that night to eat at one of the on-site restaurants, Legends on the Lake. They gave us a table right by the window, so we had a great lake view. There was a small lounge area with foosball, pool tables, and arcade games, so the kids were occupied while we waited for our food. You can’t go wrong with a glass of wine overlooking the lake while the kids play! This was a great start to our vacation.
We woke up to a morning drizzle. But, that didn’t stop us from exploring the cute mountain village of Chimney Rock.
Gem mining at Chimney Rock Gem Mine and Jewelry Co. The flume was outside, but under cover, so it rained the whole time we were there, yet we didn’t get wet! A gem flume is a trough of water that flows down to the river. You get buckets of sand and sift them in the water. The kids loved it and were surprisingly efficient at this task. (They’re for hire if you’re ever in need of good gem miners.) Also, when we got back to the hotel, the kids loved sorting and trading their gems.
Tip: Bring large Tupperware containers for each kid to keep their gems in.
The Riverwalk. With the rain at a drizzle, we decided to venture outside. Behind all the fun shops is the Riverwalk—a cute little path that goes along the Rocky Broad River. Our gem flume was right on it, so we started there, but there is also an entrance from Main Street.
There were rocks for the kids to climb and a bridge to go out on. They loved exploring, and with the canopy of trees, we didn’t even notice the rain.
Tip: Bring light rain coats for your trip because the mountains can have misty mornings and light rain. But, it definitely won’t stop the fun!
Jon found this little restaurant called Medina’s Village Bistro. This place was so cute—maybe six tables max! The staff was very friendly and great with the kids, who, at this point, were tired and hungry. It’s always nice when they get your table set up quickly, give the kids coloring pages, and get some food out promptly to feed them in a hurry!
That afternoon, the sun came out! So, we packed up and headed to the lakeside beach at our resort. Our kids love the beach, and so do I. It’s my spot. I enjoy sitting and relaxing with my toes in the sand while the kids play. And, the mountains surrounding this lake made for the most amazing view. We were having so much fun, we stayed late at the beach and had pizza in our room for dinner.
Fun Fact: Did you know that the famous Dirty Dancing scene where Johnny teaches Baby to jump up into his arms was filmed in Lake Lure? There’s even a festival each summer where fans come and reenact the scene. I can hear the music now.
We went up the mountain to Chimney Rock State Park! This state park has so many things to do. You could spend two days here. There’s an Animal Discovery Den where the kids can see snakes and other local animals. And, there are lots of trails to hike.
The most famous one is up to Chimney Rock, which is a 315-foot granite outcropping at 2,280 feet above sea level! Because our kids are younger, we decided to take one of the flatter trails to Hickory Nut Falls, and we still held their hands the whole time!
At the end of this trail, you end up at the base of a beautiful waterfall. Kind of amazing, kind of scary! Great picture for our Christmas card!
Tip: Bring lots of snacks and water for you and the kids. We spent more time up there than we anticipated, and there’s no place to eat up at the top of the mountain!
After our hike, we headed down the mountain for lunch at Old Rock Café. This homey little restaurant has a back patio that overlooks the river. The kids watched the lizards on the rocks, ate hushpuppies, and colored while they waited for their food.
Because I’m also a coffee lover, I had to stop for a cappuccino at Coffee on the Rocks before heading back to the resort to get ready for dinner.
We cooked dinner in the room that night as our kids sorted their gem mine finds and played with their recently purchased souvenirs from Chimney Rock. Then, we stepped right outside our condo to take a walk on the golf course before bed!
We woke up the next day to gorgeous weather. But, the report for the following day was calling for lots of heavy rain and high winds. Being up in the mountains with a car top carrier, we didn’t like the thought of traveling through that weather. So, we decided to head back to Williamsburg a day early. And, because we had the suite for one more night, we took our time packing up, while the kids ran outside and got some energy out! The suite was so well-priced, so Jon and I didn’t feel bad about leaving one day early! It was a win-win.
Tip: If you’re using a car top carrier, bag everything in giant trash bags and label what’s in them. I use masking tape and a sharpie. That way, our things didn’t get wet. And, it’s much easier to stuff in the top of the car, and I can grab just the bags I need instead of opening everything up.
- How Much We Spent.
My husband still brags about this trip. He says, “Cost-effective and fun!” And remember, we’re talking about a family of six here!
Accommodations: $392 for four nights in a two-bedroom condo.
Food: $100/day. With a full kitchen, we were able to make one to two meals per day in our suite. Our kids are early risers, but let’s face it; I don’t want to have to jump up for breakfast every day. I leave individual cereal cups out for them so they can grab it in the morning and let us adults get a few more minutes of sleep!
Experiences: $50/day. We splurged on the upgraded gem mining package, and we always cave and let the kids pick something from the gift shops. Otherwise hiking, swimming at the lakeside beach, and exploring the little town was all free!
- A Few More Tips.
- Take lots of photos (and not just the ones you’d Instagram). I photographed our room, things along the drive, the kids holding their souvenirs; everything I wanted to remember. Then, when I got home, I had all the pictures printed out in a book. My kids love looking back through the pages and remembering all the fun we had.
- Make a vacation supplies box. Now that I’ve done traveling with the kids a few times, I keep a vacation supplies box in my attic. It has all the essentials we usually take with us (paper goods, hand soap, laundry detergent, extra trash bags; you get the idea) and some kids toys that I only get out when we go on vacation. Have you heard of Zoob building sets? My boys will build with these for hours. And, they only come out when we go out of town. It’s a great distraction when you need them to keep busy in the room.
How’d we do?
So, I would say our first big road trip as a family of six was a success! Lake Lure definitely planted the travel bug in my kids. They always want to know, “When’s our next trip?”
We are excited to bring you articles written for us from Frugal Travel Mama at Tripbound, and her local travel-loving mama friends! Unfortunately, Tripbound was forced to close its doors as a result of COVID-19’s effects. We hope their legacy will continue through your travel adventures, they wrote many articles for us here at WilliamsburgFamilies.com to help you plan memorable family getaways!