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Fun & Free: No Dough

With over 170,000 acres of public lands to explore and a host of special events tailor-made for fun, Transylvania County represents one of the best vacation values you’ll find anywhere. Here’s a top ten list of fun and free things to do.

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Forest Discovery Center

If you’re fifteen or younger, you qualify for free admission to this fascinating learning center dedicated to the history of forest conservation and management. Located at the Cradle of Forestry inside Pisgah National Forest, the Forest Discovery Center is filled with informative and interactive displays – including a helicopter simulator that takes you on a fire fighting flight. To find out more about the center and the great Summer Songcatcher Music Series (also free) go to cradleofforestry.com.

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Sample Some Awesome Jams

Music jams, that is. Satisfy your music jones with free weekly hoedowns throughout the county. The best source is our monthly Get Out Guide, which you will find at most retailers, restaurants and attractions throughout the county.

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Take the Plunge

Okay, it costs a buck to access Sliding Rock, but that’s a small price to pay for the bragging rights you’re entitled to after taking the sixty foot plunge into a deep, cold pool at the base of this smooth, granite boulder. Located in Pisgah National Forest, Sliding Rock has become a rite of passage for thousands of kids and adults. It’s fun, it’s invigorating and the pictures your family snaps of you taking the slide will embarrass you for the rest of your life.

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Reach for the stars at P.A.R.I

On the second Friday of every month, the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute offers “An Evening at PARI,” which includes a tour of this former NASA facility and, weather permitting, the chance to view the cosmos through high-powered optical telescopes. Created by NASA during the early days of the nation’s space program, the Rosman Research Station became the nation’s primary east coast tracking facility. Ten years ago the site was acquired by the not-for-profit PARI, which is dedicated to hands-on education and research. It’s a fascinating place with a fascinating history, making it an excellent nighttime adventure for the whole family. Find out more on PARI’s website.

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Learn Where the Wild Things Are

The forest becomes an even more fascinating place when you learn who lives there. The Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education, located in Pisgah National Forest, will fill you in on all the inhabitants who call Pisgah Forest home, from bats and bears to beavers and bobcats. Thanks to funding from fees collected from hunters and anglers, admission is free and includes an interpretive trail, indoor exhibits and tons of individual and group programs. Learn more by visiting the NC Wildlife website.

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Hit the Trail

With several hundreds of miles of trails woven through Pisgah National Forest, Gorges State Park and DuPont State Forest, Transylvania County is a hiker’s paradise. Whether you are a casual day hiker or a hard-core, back-country enthusiast, there’s a trail that’s ideal for you. Pick up the National Geographic Pisgah Ranger District map at most any outdoor outfitter. This waterproof, tear-resistant map will last for years and shows most hiking trails, including lengths, difficulty ratings and blaze symbols, While it does cost a few bucks, the world that it opens up to you is priceless.

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Get in Touch with your Inner Child at O.P. Taylors

No matter how old you are, this delightful toy emporium will make you a child again. You can spend hours browsing the incredible selection of scale model trains, cars and flying machines. Owner John Taylor, a textbook example of arrested development, will gladly show you the latest webkinz or calico critters. And don’t forget to challenge him to a race on his awesome slot-car track. O.P. Taylors is located at 6 S. Broad, downtown Brevard.

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Go Nuts at the White Squirrel Festival

Every year during May, the citizens of Transylvania County pay homage to their famous bushy-tailed denizen. And every year is a music-lovers delight. Tap your toes and swing your partner to a lineup of exciting musical acts. Find out more about the festival that was voted “Best Spring Music Festival in WNC” by the Asheville Citizen-Times on the Heart of Brevard website.

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Brevard Music Festival

Each summer, the mountains echo with the sounds of Beethoven, Barber and Berlioz at the world-renowned Brevard Musical Festival. Between June and August, more than 80 performances take place at the Brevard Music Center and other area venues. While there is an admission fee for many of these events, there are several that are free and open to the public. Go to brevardmusic.org. Click the “free” button to see the many free events the Brevard Music is generously offering for your musical enjoyment. Another tip: pack a picnic lunch and stop by the Brevard Music Center campus practically any afternoon during the festival season to listen to the various orchestras and chamber music groups rehearse.

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Hunt a Waterfall

Transylvania County is home to the largest concentration of waterfalls in the United States. And getting to many of the most spectacular ones is easy. Check out our waterfall page for more info.