Rutherford County's location in the North Carolina foothills makes it an ideal spot to home base for almost any weekend outing. If you're looking to rent a mountain or lakeside cabin, a quick search of the VisitNCSmallTowns website renders more options than you can wave a walking stick at.
If prefer the amenities of a hotel or resort atmosphere, Rumbling Bald Resort offers multiple packages that can include golf, fitness, and even private beach access. The 1927 Lake Lure Inn & Spa offers historic hotel and cabin accommodations, is walking distance from all the water activities that Lake Lure has to offer, and within easy access of Chimney Rock State Park.
The Esmeralda Inn in Chimney Rock also boasts both hotel and private cottage lodging, and offers packages that include bonuses like discounted access to Chimney Rock State Park, horseback riding, or lake activities. Want to get a little closer to nature with your accommodations? The River Creek Campground in Rutherfordton offers tent, pop-up, RV, and cabin sites; as well as access to the Broad River for fishing, swimming, or tubing. The Foothills Family Campground in Forest City has full hook-ups as well as RV pull through, tent, and cabin options, access to hiking trails and their fishing pond, and even offers firewood delivery straight to your campsite. Finally, no campground list would be complete without 4 Paws Kingdom Campground. In addition to amenity-full campsite options from cabin to RV, they also offer dog parks, swimming ponds, an agility park, and grooming stations all for man's best friend. There's no better place if your weekend adventures include your furry faithful companion by your side.
No memorable weekend outing is complete without great food options that include equally fantastic views. If family-friendly dining is at the top of your list, places like the Esmerelda Inn, Lake Lure’s LaStrada restaurant, Larkin’s on the Lake, or the Riverwatch Bar & Grill in Chimney Rock Village offer a fabulously kid-friendly menus to go with their scenic views. The Shake Shop in Spindale holds claim to the title of ‘Rutherford County’s Oldest Eatery’, and their incredible cheeseburger specials and crazy thick and delicious shakes prove why it’s consistently a local favorite.
Fagan’s Farm in Ellenboro serves up the freshest grilled yummies daily and has an onsite produce store stocked full of their own farm fresh goodies, and Granny B’s Bakery and Sub Shoppe in Spindale is the perfect spot to grab anything from freshly made subs and pizzas to delectable donuts and pastries.
Looking for canine-friendly dining locations? Medina’s Village Bistro in Chimney Rock Village sits on Main Street along the Rocky Broad, and always welcomes furry family members on their covered patio. They offer dine-in or carryout breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, and even have a special menu just for four-legged friends! The Tiki Bar & Grill at Geneva Riverside in Lake Lure welcomes canine companions to hang out and enjoy their island-style menu on their riverside patio with their human companions, and Hickory Nut Gorge Craft Brewery or Burntshirt Vineyards Tasting Room and Vineyards in Chimney Rock are perfect places to kick back and enjoy a spectacular panoramic view with munchies and a locally crafted brew or glass of wine with your furry best friend by your side.
Hiking is always a favorite activity in the Rutherford county foothills, and there is literally no shortage of trail options for every ability level -- many of the area’s trails even offer both hiking and mountain biking options. Check out Buffalo Creek Park in Lake Lure. It's 1,527 acres of multiple trails for hikers and cyclists, is dog friendly, and its Weed Patch Mountain Trail links to Chimney Rock State Park at the incredible Eagle Rock.
Speaking of Chimney Rock, this state park boasts a myriad of walking and hiking trails that offer adventure seekers of every ability-level the chance to explore nature at its most breathtaking. Hike along the magical Hickory Nut Falls Trail to the base of a 404-foot natural waterfall. Families will enjoy wandering along the Great Woodland Adventure Trail to learn about the region's many animal friends at their discovery stations, then exploring the Animal Discovery Den full of local 'wildlife ambassadors'. Before beginning any of the park’s hiking journeys, kids should make sure to grab a TRACK brochure. It’s designed for kids and highlights family-friendly points of interest along each of the hiking trails, plus allows them to register and log their hikes on the park’s website to earn prizes.
If you’re looking for a trail that's an easy walk, check out local favorites like the Bearwallow Mountain Trail, the Purple Martin Greenway Trail, or even the 13.5-mile Thermal Belt Rail Trail for those that prefer a combination of local towns and scenic beauty during their journey. It’s perfect for walkers, runners, or cyclists and you can easily rent bicycles or grab gear before embarking on your trail journey at Openbox Bikes and Fitness in Spindale.
If you prefer to spend your weekend exploring local shops and boutiques surrounded by historic inns, corner cafes, and mountain vistas, then Chimney Rock Village is the place to be. Transport yourself far away from the modern bustle of e-commerce to a place that offers locally-owned stores that entice all 5 senses. Lose yourself in the local artisan wares of Native’s Rest, Willow Creek, Chimney Sweeps, and Featherheads. Find a myriad of fashionable trinkets and baubles at April’s Boutique, Gayle’s Chimney Rock Shop, and John Bull Trading, or fill up on old-time hospitality with a side of homemade preserves at Bubba O’Leary’s General Store. You can even take a break with a scenic cup of joe or pint of locally-crafted brew at one of the cafes and eateries along the village’s Riverwalk that runs along the Rocky Broad parallel to Main Street. It’s a shopper’s paradise that’s sure to bring home charming memories of a day well spent.
For the perfect balance of water sports and mountainous beauty, check out the Lake Lure Adventure Company. This family-owned group offers more lakeside water activities than you could ever hope to cram into a single weekend. From pontoon boat, kayak, and paddleboard rentals, to wakeboarding, wakesurfing, tubing, kneeboarding, waterskiing, and even guided fishing outings; they know how to make playing lakeside a splash-tacular version of fun!
If fishing is your favorite version of water play, then you’ll appreciate Lake Lure Fishing Excursions. They offer private morning or twilight excursions, and you can even bring your furry family member along for the ride if they’re well behaved. Be sure to purchase a NC Fishing License for anyone in your group that’s 16 or older, and book your trip in advance.