It’s a Kid’s Life on The Highlands-Cashiers Plateau

Locals and seasoned vacationers alike agree that when on the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau there is no shortage of things to do with the kids. Outdoor adventure excels here in our beautiful four season environment. Here are just a few ideas sure to please you and your children; as well as provide ways of creating fun-filled family memories.




Just a short drive away from Highlands, the Scaly Mountain Outdoor Center offers activities for the entire family, including tubing during the winter & summer seasons, downhill snow skiing, gem mining, and trout fishing.



Spend a day checking out Highlands – from the trees on a zip line. Highlands Aerial Park canopy tour truly offers something for everyone. No matter the individual age of your family or group members, Highlands Aerial Park has activities for everyone, so bring everyone including the kids.



Adventure Depot’s trips are limited to small groups and offer a variety of exciting activities to make your trip to the North Carolina mountains an event to remember. Adventure Depot offering of activities include: whitewater rafting, hiking tours, rappelling, whitewater kayaking, canoe tours, llama trekking, driving tours, fly fishing guides, horseback riding, golf packages, and biking tours. Additionally, the company offers rentals and gear for all outdoor activities that you may not have prepared for. These include bikes, canoes, and kayaks as well as adventure gear and fishing supplies including rods, reels, and flies.




When it comes to expanding and using their artistic skills, young artists get special attention at The Bascom. Throughout the school year, art classes give children a chance to be creative, but the fun doesn’t end there. When summer arrives, the diverse art classes are expanded to entertain and educate students from preschool to teenagers.

Artventure Summer Camp: is designed to inspire joy, pride, and confidence for children in kindergarten and first grade. Classes use paint, paper, scissors, glue, crayons, pastels, papier-mâché, fabric and clay. Work is inspired by personal experiences, observation and imagination.

Art Odyssey Summer Camp is geared to children in grades two through five. It encourages children to develop their own personal expression of art and explores a more in-depth use of materials and artistic techniques. Projects include papier-mâché, clay, sculpture, painting and printmaking.

Art Attack Summer Camp is designed for older kids in grades six through nine. Students works in mixed media including painting, jewelry, clay, graphics, cartooning, 3-D design and textile. There is emphasis on the art’s influence on society, on the different forms of art and how visual art affects people.

Artrageous is a young adult independent summer study for high functioning disabled adults. Students come with a pictures or enthusiasm for a project and work in the medium of their choice. The Bascom welcomes participants no matter what level of expertise or high functioning disability.




Four miles from Main Street in downtown Highlands headed towards Franklin on Highway 64 West , discover a great place for a picnic, a walk in the woods, or even an overnight camping excursion with the kids in mind.

Cliffside Lake. A pretty park with a picturesque lake for fishing and swimming. Six short, easy walking trail also add to the fun for a day out in the outdoors. Additionally park amenities include two covered picnic shelters and bathhouse with cold showers. It is advised that picnic shelters should be reserved.

Van Hook Glade. For those looking to enjoy a outdoor camping experience with the kids Van Hook Glade is a cute campground offering twenty camp sites managed by the Forest Service. Additionally, the campground offers parking spurs, outdoor fireplaces, tables and tent pads. Water hydrants and drinking water is available within walking distance of each site. Bathroom facilities are available but no showers.




Gem mining at its best. Located 9 miles from Highlands on Highway 64 West (Franklin Road), kids can pan for gemstones, enjoy snacks, and browse the large gift shop. The staff will also cut gemstones and create jewelry for the kids. There’s a covered pavilion where the mining takes place and it is perfect for all weather fun. The pavilion is also ADA accessible. They will also cut gemstones and create jewelry.




Carpe Diem Farms, situated on 44 acres, provides a tranquil, natural environment for solitude and holistic programs to enrich the lives of those seeking personal growth through equines . The facility has served over 1,200 visitors in their after school and summer camp programs for children, as well as weekend workshops for adults. The centerpiece of the program is their herd of seven horses, their equine staff and colleagues.



One of the best equestrian trail programs in the southeast, perhaps even the country. The facility also offers comfortable vacation cabins with fireplaces and views. Looking for a rustic wedding venue or fun, unique meeting location? Arrowmont Stables also has a charming rustic lodge for weddings, receptions, parties, and meetings.




The Highlands Nature Center is a part of the Highlands Biological Station. It’s a great place for children and adults alike to learn about the natural history of the mountains of the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau. The building is constructed of indigenous granite and chestnut timbers from the nearby Nantahala National Forest. Inside the facility, a variety of permanent exhibits include amphibians and live reptiles, and a beautifully finished cross section of an ancient hemlock, dating back to 1489. The tree’s age is dated by its growth rings. The Highlands Nature Center also serves as the starting point for several trails and access to the Highlands Botanical Gardens.

In addition, the center has an impressive lineup of programs that offer ways to learn and experience first hand our local wildlife. From Salamander Meanders that take place at night to tours of the gardens and trails to lectures by renowned conservation leader Bob Zahner. In the summertime, many of the classes are geared specifically towards kids. Here is a small sample of what you child may enjoy.

Mountain Explorer. Travel off the beaten path and go on hiking adventures to off-site locations in the Nantahala National Forest. Learn to read maps and use a compass while developing teamwork skills.

Junior Ecologist. Discover what field biologists do from studying pond life, assessing forest habitats, collecting insects, to taking inventory of small mammals.

WOW! (World of Wonder). Mother nature’s world is an amazing place, children can have fun and learn as they play nature games, hike through the woods, search for critters and explore ponds and streams.

Amazing Animals. What is a mammal? How do birds fly? Can a turtle come out of its shell? Are spiders insects?

Nature Works. What are the different parts of a forest? What do predators do and eat? What are the basic needs of wildlife? Children learn the inner workings of “mother nature” through various interactive games and activities.




The Highlands Parks and Recreation Department offers a fun filled summer camp for kids. The camps typically from mid-June to the end of August. Kids are engaged in a variety of activities including games, team sports, arts & crafts, and of course, swimming.



This kid’s camp is held daily each summer at the Cashiers/Glenville Recreation Center for kids ages 6-12.. Activities include pool and field trips,  games,  arts and crafts, and other fun programs. This camp is in session during June and July.



The Sapphire Valley Resort Summer Kids Camp occur from early June until early August. Kids enjoy a diverse program that emphasizes the outdoor activities. There’s a good balance between education and playtime. This includes an introduction to various sports including swimming, tennis, basketball, golf, and soccer. Camper are provided the opportunity to enjoy the various venues of Sapphire Valley Resort. Outside games and other activities keep the campers both entertained and engaged. Kid’s activities include nature walks, gem mining, scavenger hunts, and even water balloon games.

As many of the counselors return each season – the camp is well run and all the program has received rave reviews in recent years. Additionally, parents enjoy the added benefit that there is a nice ratio of leaders to campers, as the program strives to keep its summer camps professionally managed.





Theater isn’t just for adults in Highlands and Cashiers, children get to get in on the action as well as have fun on the stage. From full length performances to acting classes, the local theater groups strive to inspire young thespians.

The Highlands Playhouse children’s theater program typically occurs in July each summer and includes instruction by theater instructors for kids between the ages of 6 and 16. The The Highlands Playhouse Kids Program finishes each season with a community performance.

Have an experienced child actor? Both the Highlands Playhouse and the Highlands Cashiers Players productions include roles for younger actors. Auditions are held several months before each performance and those interested may contact the Highlands Playhouse or the Highlands Cashier Players for more information on auditions.




Since 1972, NOC has shared the outdoors with millions of locals and vacationers on their white water river rafting trips. The Nantahala Outdoor Center also offers kayak and canoe instruction, mountain bike adventures, and around the world planned adventure trips. Located in western North Carolina near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NOC is within easy driving distance from Highlands, Cashiers, and other parts if the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau. World-class staff leads whitewater rafting trips on nine of what experts tout to be the best rivers in the East. These include the Chattooga River, Cheoah River, French Broad River, Nantahala River, Nolichucky River, Ocoee River, Gauley River, New River and Pigeon River. For a fun-filled adventure with the kids be sure to put this on your to-do calendar while I the area.