Have you heard of High Hampton Inn? I only learned about it this year, but as soon as I read about this family-friendly resort in the mountains that focused on lake fun, hiking, waterfalls, and un-plugged fun for adults and kiddos…I couldn’t wait. Turns out it was even better than I expected. Here’s everything you need to get prepared for your North Carolina visit!
Getting to High Hampton Inn
High Hampton Inn sits in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Cashiers, NC. We took 85N to South Carolina. Then just over the border, along Lake Hartwell, we followed US23N into Cashiers, North Carolina. From Atlanta city-center, it is 150 miles or about 2.5 hours.
The glorious thing about being in the mountains during summer is the weather! While our friends at home were feeling temps in the 90s, we were enjoying the high 60s/low 70s most of the weekend. It did get into the mid 70s one day and the staff said this was rare and over-bearing, but it still felt heavenly to us! And guess what? We came home with zero mosquito bites!
Check in and Accommodations
Guests of High Hampton Inn can enjoy staying at the inn or in a cottage, or you can enjoy one of the High Hampton Mountain Vacation Homes. Our family stayed in a cottage, so that is how this perspective reads, but the homes looked amazing! All the facilities and activities are available to vacation home renters, except the meal plan.. but you can add that on if you prefer.
Rates for an inn or cottage stay are per-person based, as the room also includes all meals. As you can imagine, there is a premium for staying Friday or Saturday night and in the summer time, but the resort is very affordable. There is a two-night minimum. Check-in is at 3pm and check-out is at 1pm.
The rooms are flexible, with multiple configurations available. Our section of the cottage included two separate rooms. One section held two queen beds and the entrance to the bathroom, and the other section included a queen bed and a child’s size trundle bed. We also enjoyed a balcony overlooking the grounds, which we shared with the other family on our floor of the cottage. Southern-style rockers included.
Don’t expect to stay in your room catching up on HGTV. There are no TVs and Wi-Fi is iffy. It’s all for the best, though – there is just SO MUCH to do! FYI, our room was also without a mini fridge or microwave, so if that is necessary for you please ask when you make a reservation.
One more thing to note – there is also no air-conditioning! With the ceiling fans, we didn’t need it even in the middle of summer, but it does come as a surprise. Our room included a box fan which we used at night to help circulate the air, but no one ever complained of the heat – even the 8 yo who is sensitive to it. There are heaters, though, for winter visitors!
On-site Activities and Planning
The joy of being at High Hampton Inn is spending time outside with the family. There are just SO MANY activities for everyone. There are planned activities like llama walks and hay rides, sports that require a bit of forethought like paddle boarding or fishing, and to-dos that are great for spontaneous play, like hitting the playground or visiting Fred and Ed, the donkeys! My recommendation? Make a plan but keep in flexible! Here is what we enjoyed (and a bit of what we saved for a second visit.)
Hampton Lake is where we spent most of our time! It’s 35 acres and just breath-taking. There are no motors allowed on the lake, but there is still plenty to do.
- Elliot, our youngest, loved the wading pool and sandy beach The wading pool is corralled so it makes momma and kiddo feel a little safer, and it keeps the water toys from floating out into the lake.
- Cooper and Dad were busy playing in the roped off swimming area of the lake, which included two docks for jumping and splashing, as well as several old paddleboards for balancing fun.
- One of my favorite things was taking out the canoe for a spin around the lake. You don’t want to swim in the main part of the lake or jump out of the canoes because there are large tree stumps that could hurt, but boating was fantastic for young kiddos. There are also kayaks and peddle boats. There is a nominal fee for use of this equipment, but you can easily charge it to your room.
- The swimming area also included lounge chairs, towels and life jackets for all ages (all free to use.)
- Guests can also check out a fishing The lake is filled with rainbow trout, bass and bream. Because the lake is private, you don’t need a license, there is no closed season, and there is no state fee.
- Interested in fly fishing? Make a reservation for a fly fishing class in one of their stocked ponds.
Hiking on the property is another way to adventure.
- Don’t miss the llama hikes! On Thursdays and Saturdays you can hike with the llamas to the base of Rock Mountain. It’s so much fun for the kids! If you’re not up for hiking then get to the lawn on Thursday evenings where they make a special appearance for photo ops.
- We also enjoyed the self-guided High Hampton History Trail. You can grab a handout in the lobby and walk the historic property to see the stables, the frog pond, the sawmill, the school house and so much more. There are 24 “stops” in all, each with signage giving you some background. Markers 1-21 are about 1.5 miles. Add the last three stops for a total of 5.5 miles.
- Ever since reading Hiking Atlanta’s Hidden Forests I’ve been interested in Georgia’s Champion Trees. Well North Carolina has them, too, of course, and there are plenty on the High Hampton Inn property. Grab a brochure about them in the lobby and keep an eye out for them or take the Tree Trail.
- North Carolina’s largest surviving American Chestnut is on the property at 81 ft tall and 43 inches around.
- The Bald Cypress that was near our cabin is the world’s largest known Cypress towering at over 3,400 feet. It was gorgeous!
- There are several hiking and waterfall trails near High Hampton Inn – see the “nearby attractions” section below.
Playground and Lawn & Board Games were great ways to wind down the evening.
- We played croquet, cornhole and soccer in the lawn overlooking the lake.
- We cooled off with board games in the lodge, including checkers, puzzles, matching games and old-fashioned skittles (with which the boys totally became enamored!)
- Don’t miss old-school indoor horse racing in the evenings at the lodge. I’m not going to give it away…just say that you shouldn’t miss it!
- We also played on the playgrounds, including the unique ropes and logs climbing structure by the lake, swings, tether ball and beach ball.
- Near the parking lot you’ll also find bocce ball and shuffle board. This was a great place for multiple families to congregate after dinner and let the kids play together. We had a lot of fun!
- Grab an apple from the lodge and head over to the donkeys. They love getting a special treat!
Children’s Programs are available during the summer, Monday – Saturday. Our boys didn’t participate since our goal was to spend time together. But, if you are looking for a break, a trip to the spa, to hike a more strenuous trail, or some extra-incentive to keep the kids busy then I must say it looked like fun! You’ll find more information here.
Dining and Snacks
Meals are included at your High Hampton Inn stay, and they are diverse and delicious. You can enjoy dinner on the day of your arrival, and breakfast on the day of your departure. The days in between include breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Meals are served buffet style between set hours, and you are free to dine anytime during that meal period. When you first arrive, you will be escorted to your table. This table will be YOUR family table for the remainder of your visit.
Please take note that breakfast and lunch are resort casual, but dinner takes an old-school turn. You’ll want to dress up – jackets and ties are required for men. I dressed my boys in khaki’s and dress shirts, while I wore a sundress each evening.
If you are visiting in summer, take a look at the host stand for any change in this code. Because the temps reached the high 70s one day on our visit, they relaxed the code and allowed men to dine with dress shirts only – no jacket or tie. Sunday evenings are more casual, as well, though we noticed that most visitors ignored this and still dressed up.
If you want to take an excursion during lunch, complete a form (near the host stand) the night before, and the kitchen will prepare you a to-go lunch.
Dinner is not until 6:30pm each evening, but there are two ways we held the boys over.
- Snacks are available at 4pm in the Lodge each afternoon. They include cookies or sandwiches (PB&J) plus tea and lemonade. This was great for us because we used it to wind the boys down before dinner, grabbing a snack and then playing a board game before going in for a shower and to prep for the evening meal.
- Hampton Market is also a small convenience store with sodas, beer, snacks, and sandwiches. You can make a purchase or charge it to your room.
I’ll also note that “fries and chicken fingers” were not on the buffet every evening, but all you have to do is ask and they will prepare them for your kids. This was necessary for mine, as they are picky eaters – but the staff happily obliged.
Adult beverages are available at Hampton Market (beer and bottles of wine,) but we preferred to grab a cocktail at Rock Mountain Tavern. It is located on the bottom floor of the Lodge and opens 5pm – 10pm.
Until dinner, it is casual dress. One night Dad popped down for a few Old Fashioneds and then brought them back to the main area of the lodge where we played games with the kids. On another night, we brought the kids down to the Tavern’s outdoor patio and let them have snacks and play lawn games while we enjoyed a drink outside.
Don’t miss the Bloody Mary Bar on Sunday at noon. You select your vodka, mixer, and accompaniments (like shrimp, bacon, pickled okra and much more!) It’s easy to charge to the room, as well.
Wine or cocktails are available for dinner; just ask your server and they will charge your room.
Also, because momma needs it, we brought a few bottles from home, with a corkscrew, and enjoyed wine on the balcony of our cottage in the evening. #justsaying
We are suckers for a waterfall hike! There are seven falls located near High Hampton Inn. Ask the concierge for a handout with directions from the Inn.
- Whitewater Falls is 411 feet tall – higher than Niagra Falls. You can park (fee area) and walk to the overlook for gorgeous views. Brave souls can take the trails above or below the falls, but they are strenuous.
- Silver Run Falls is about 40 feet high. You’ll probably pass it on your way into High Hampton. It’s a fun place to picnic and swim, if you can take the cold water.
- Little Sliding Rock is a world of fun! There is a small rock that kids (and adults!) can slide down into the cold water. There is also a pool of shallow water that younger kids can play in, and plenty of space for picnicking. We’ve posted our video below!
- Bridal Veil Falls no longer allows cars to drive under it, but it is still great to see. We have had more luck here in the winter than summer – our last visit showed no sign of water.
- Dry Falls is a must! A short walk from the car allows you to walk UNDER the waterfall! Yes, even us uneasy mommas can feel safe here, with a railing and wide pathway. We also watched river otter playing in the downfall below.
- Cullasaja Falls is visible from the road, but the street is narrow and windy so use caution.
- Glen Falls requires a short walk, and the falls can sometimes leave something to be desired BUT it is still worth the effort on a clear day because of the gorgeous view of Rabun Bald.
We didn’t hike any conventional hiking trails on this trip because of time constraints (which just means we have to go back!) Here’s the run-down, though. Again, ask the concierge for more info if you are interested.
- Rock Mountain. This might be one you do without the young kids. It’s 4,430 feet with amazing views. BUT, it is very steep. It’s less than 2 miles but takes the average adult about 2.5 hours.
- Chimney Top Mountain. Another steep on, worth the effort if you can do it. Rock Mountain offers only Western views, but Chimney Top (not to be confused with Asheville’s Chimney Rock) allows you to see in every direction from 4,618 feet, with 4 observation points. It’s only 1.6 miles to the top, but the average adult should allow 4 hours of walking time because of the grade.
- Lake Trail. This flat trail is great for families, and is only about 1.5 miles long, taking about 1 hour.
- Whiteside Mountain. This trail is about 10 minutes from the Inn, with excellent views from the observation tower and along the trail. It’s about 2.5 miles long and should take about 2 hours.
I take a lot of media trips. A ton. High Hampton Inn is one of the most peaceful, relaxing, enjoyable trips I have ever taken! If you want to unplug, reconnect with the kids, spend time outdoors, find a balance between “rough-and-tumble” and “prim-and-proper” then this is THE place.
Fun Fact: ABC filmed the TV remake of “Dirty Dancing” here. It’s set to air May 2017. It may not be the Catskills, but High Hampton Inn epitomizes the Kellerman Resort – with just a bit more edge and allure!
Disclosure: Thank you to High Hampton Inn for hosting us over the weekend. The opinions here are all my own…this place is most amazing!
PS. Looking for another family’s perspective? Read about Krystyn’s trip here with four young kiddos.
After 18 years in software development, Lesli bailed on the corporate scene. When she’s not traveling, she’s hiking in the mountains or checking out Atlanta’s culinary scene, whiskey in hand.
Lesli has two kiddos -Cooper and Elliot- plus two bonus kids currently at UGA, and she’s happily married to her soul mate.