In the shadow of Grandfather Mountain, outside of Linville, NC, is a beautiful open space called MacRae Meadows. Since 1956, the Highland Games, celebrating the region's Scottish heritage, have been held here (usually in mid-July). If you go to Linville, be sure to visit the "Everything Scottish" store on Rt. 181 (Newland Hwy) across from the post office -- it is one-of-a-kind and will give you a good introduction to what the Highland Games are all about. Although MacRae Meadows (and adjacent campgrounds) may be closed for much of the year, you can still park at the gate and walk in and enjoy the view. This is a great place to take photos (especially in the fall). Kids will enjoy climbing around the interesting outcroppings and enormous boulders on the far side of the park.
Directions: From the the stop light in Linville, take Rt. 221 towards Blowing Rock for 1.8 miles. Take the third entrance for MacRae Meadows/Campground on the left. If you come to the entrance for Grandfather Mountain Park, you've gone too far.