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“The Best Trip Ever” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Earthshine Discovery Center

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Earthshine Discovery Center
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1600 Golden Road, Lake Toxaway, NC 28747 (Formerly Earthshine Mountain Lodge)   |  
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Athens, Georgia
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“The Best Trip Ever”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 8, 2012

I took my college students for an eco-tourism field trip last Fall and was very impressed by the Earthshine's amazing facilities, courteous staffs, and delicious foods. If you are looking for a family vacation destination and want to give your kids an educational exposure (e.g., knowing history of native people, understanding/appreciating nature, leadership development, team work etc.) this is the place to go. Many of my students described the experience as "Best Trip Ever". In fact, after reading the best seller book "last Chile in the Wood: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder" by Richard Louv, I was looking for a place like Earthsine to bring my own kids.

  • Stayed October 2011, traveled on business
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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47 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
    42
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    2
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (6)
Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
Athens, Georgia
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 7, 2011

It was an unexpectedly great trip to the Earthshine Mountain Lodge. I was expecting a lot less and I was pleasantly surprised by amazing service, friendly people, incredible scenery, great food, and an overall wonderful experience!

  • Stayed October 2011, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Charlotte, North Carolina
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 9, 2011

Used the experience to bond with my thirteen year old "Grandson Tyler". We stayed for i night only, but the Lodge were able to be flexible and managed to squeeze in full activities.
We enjoyed High Ropes, Water slip & slide, Scavenger Hunt, Zipline, River Hike.
Tyler especially enjoyed meeting Steve and his collection of friends in the "Rabbit Hole", this nature education room is excellent for inspiring teenagers.

The room was comfortably "rustic" though showing a bit of age. The food was great especially the unlimited PBJ sandwiches and drinks. Great thing is once you are there no need to open your wallet.
The staff without exception were just exceptional, majority being there for many years.

Room Tip: We were able to request a noon check in and a late check out, due to mid week timing. This enabled...
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  • Stayed July 2011, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Miami
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 9, 2011

This place is magic! Staff is very kind and do their job with love and care. I honestly thought when I found this place that it was to good to be true. However, it ended up being the best vacation ever without one down side!
I think we will go, year after year after year after year.....

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Greensboro, North Carolina
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 8, 2011

What a wonderful time we had! I had heard about Earthshine from friends, but you don't really get it until you're there the first time.

The setting is wonderful. When you sit out on the porch, you have a beautiful view of the mountains. The entire lodge is secluded in the woods, and you're truly out in the middle of nowhere.

The people are wonderful, too. It's a place where you get to know people--the people who work there, and the other guests that you share a dinner table with. One woman was my guide on the high ropes course, a native-American woman in tribal village, and dressed up as the Easter bunny for the Easter egg hunt. My other high-ropes instructor was also in charge of the evening activity, and the kids hung on his every word.

Earthshine is magical for kids. Our daughter is 11, and was totally enchanted; so were smaller kids who were there. At 11 (and younger), the kids can pretty much run around to their heart's content. And since we were there at Easter, there was a huge Easter-egg hunt that all of the kids loved.

What a range of activities:
- Ziplining--fun for the entire family; really a stand-out course
- High-ropes--also fun for the entire family if the kids are old enough. There's a challenge for everyone, though.
- Pioneer village--we made candles and learned about blacksmithing. Hands-on and fun!
- Evening activites--one night was a campfire, the other was coloring Easter eggs.
Indian village--also hands-on and fun!

And did I mention that the food is incredible, too?

I think this is a stand-out vacation opportunity for families with kids 5-13. Younger than that, and they may not be able to participate in much. And older than 13--I'm not sure when they'd be too cool to find it fun. But in that age range, it's great! My daughter is already twisting my arm to go back.

  • Stayed April 2011, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Saint Augustine, Florida
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 8, 2011

We can't say enough about our time at Earthshine - it was the perfect mix of activity and relaxation. Our two boys - six and two - stayed active and occupied by the three scheduled activities per day, which still left time for resting when needed or time to play with new friends. We loved that all of our meals were taken care of and we appreciated that the fabulous staff people were around at all times to answer questions, lead us in activities and occupy the kids (nearby) after meals.

One of the coolest things about Earthshine was that all of the vacationing families, automatically AND without effort, fell into an easy camaraderie during their stay. Within hours of being there, both kids and parents alike were eating together, playing together and enjoying each other's company - not to mention looking out for each other's children.

As for the activities - they were perfect for a wide range of ages. From the adventurous creek hike to the s'mores on the hill - my two year old had a blast alongside a thirteen year-old visitor. Other highlights included: a HUGE slip and slide, rock climbing wall (all four of us did it, but only the six year old and the forty-eight year old made it to the top!), Pioneer Days (black smithing, making apple cider, candle-making, etc), Cherokee Days (pottery, grinding corn, learning to use bow and arrows and tomahawks), "gem mining" in the creek, critter hunts, visits to the on-site nature center - The Rabbit Hole, and so much more. For ten year olds to adults - the zipline course and the high ropes course were a wonderful challenge and a ton of fun. And the best part was - after you conquered any fears you may have had doing both - you can do them again and again throughout your stay!

During "down-time", there was still plenty to do... the residents goats were always a pleasure to hang out with (my son's favorite part of the trip!), a common area upstairs in the lodge was stocked with arts and crafts, puzzles, great old wooden blocks, board games, checker boards, a small library and a comfy reading/sitting area in front of a beautiful fireplace. Of course, the mountain views from the porches off of individual rooms or the main lodge area was also great for down-time, especially sipping the fresh-brewed iced tea or any of the other beverages available twenty-four hours a day.

Over all, this trip was truly the best family vacation we have taken with the kids. We made lots of friends and lots of memories during our six-day stay at Earthshine. We will definitely be back.

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 1, 2011

Wow. I can't believe I didn't review this place back in 2010 when we were there. I must have had some subconscious motive to keep it a secret, because it's just that wonderful. On to my review!

Our family (two adults, one child) stayed at Earthshine for five days in July of 2010. We had a lodge room, which included a full sized bed, a small bathroom, and a lofted sleeping area with two twin beds. It also included a gorgeous view of the fields outside our room. What a way to wake up every morning.

The lodge rooms are definitely rustic. I'd describe them as "pioneer chic". It's not the kind of decor I would normally enjoy, but it was really homey and perfect it in this setting. There are no TVs in the rooms--in fact, there are no TVs anywhere on the property, as far as I could tell. We also had trouble getting reliable access to service on our iPhones. Was that a drawback? Nope. It turned out to be a godsend. We all just literally unplugged and enjoyed being together.

Because our son was 2 at the time, we could only do about half of the activities that were available, but we still had a blast. We got to track turtles with a cool electronic tracker. We got to hike a creek together and look for colorful river stones (which the staff had quietly hidden in obvious places for the kids to find). We got to do the awesome homemade water slide, which totally beats any waterpark I ever went to as a kid. Every day was something new, and we enjoyed every activity.

The staff were uniformly enthusiastic, welcoming, and courteous. We especially enjoyed our time with Steve, who took us turtle tracking and showed us all the cool animals in the wildlife center. I was fighting an infected wisdom tooth while I was there, and the staff offered helpful suggestions and regularly asked me how I was feeling. They really made our trip memorable.

Last but not least, the food was super yummy. We are all vegetarians, and they gladly offered vegetarian entrees at every meal. They also had a nice salad bar at lunch and dinner with quality greens and simple dressings. One cook was definitely better suited to cook for vegetarians than the other, but the meals were all delicious.

We are looking forward to going back again this year!

Room Tip: Ask for a lodge room looking out over the field
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  • Stayed July 2010, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Earthshine Discovery Center

Address: 1600 Golden Road, Lake Toxaway, NC 28747 (Formerly Earthshine Mountain Lodge)
Phone Number:
Location: United States > North Carolina > North Carolina Smoky Mountains > Lake Toxaway
Amenities:
Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Kitchenette Restaurant Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 3 Specialty Lodging in Lake Toxaway
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Number of rooms: 13
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Remember that sense of wonder and adventure that gave childhood its magic? Well, get ready to feel it again. Escape to a storybook place guaranteed to exceed your expectations. Your family can unplug and reconnect with one another in an environment free of digital distractions. Earthshine is "unforgettable." ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Earthshine Mountain Hotel Lake Toxaway

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