Fun Travels Across the United States
7 Reasons to Celebrate Spring at Wilmington’s Island Beaches: Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach
Civil Rights Takes a Front Seat in Greensboro
Whitewater Center Offers Mega Zip, Play All Day
The new 1,100-foot-long zip line at the U.S. National Whitewater Center can accommodate up to four people simultaneously and offers a bird’s eye view of the largest expanse of whitewater at the Center. If you’re craving more adventure, take on the rapids, explore additional high ropes courses and trails, or grab a GPS and take part in the facility’s latest treasure-hunting craze eco-caching. Now with the Center’s AllSport Pass, guests can buy one Pass and play all day. For details check web site www.usnwc.org; 704-391-3900
Watani Grasslands Reserve Opens at North Carolina Zoo
The North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro opened an $8.5 million expansion of its elephant and rhinoceros facilities called the Watani Grasslands Reserve. The project was developed in support of a nationwide effort by zoos to improve the captive care and breeding of both species. The zoo is the nation’s largest walk-through natural-habitat zoo. 800-488-0444; www.nczoo.org>www.nczoo.org
Where to Stay
Located in Asheville, N.C., Biltmore was the vision of George W. Vanderbilt. Designed by Richard Morris Hunt, America’s largest home is a 250-room French Renaissance chateau, exhibiting the Vanderbilt family’s original collection of furnishings, art and antiques. Biltmore estate encompasses more than 8,000 acres including renowned gardens designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of American landscape architecture. Today, Biltmore includes Antler Hill Village, which features the award-winning Winery and Antler Hill Farm; the four-star Inn on Biltmore Estate; Equestrian Center; numerous restaurants; event and meeting venues; Biltmore For Your Home, the company’s licensed products division; and Biltmore Inspirations, Biltmore’s home party business. To learn more about Biltmore, go to www.biltmore.com or call 877-BILTMORE.
The Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville positions guests just steps away from the gates of The Biltmore Estate. Old world charm provides a unique atmosphere for the Tudor-inspired boutique hotel where guests have a contemporary Kessler Collection hotel experience. Despite its rustic ambiance, the hotel features modern luxuries, 104 well-appointed guest rooms and suites with a Poseidon Spa and more than 5,700 square feet of event space. www.bohemianhotelasheville.com; 828-505-2949
What to See & Do
North Carolina Arboretum
The North Carolina Arboretum is a 434-acre public garden offering 65 acres of cultivated gardens and 10 miles of hiking and biking trails, a greenhouse complex and the finest bonsai collection in the Southeastern U.S. www.ncarboretum.org
Blue Ridge Parkway -- New Destination Center
• This 12,800-square-foot, $9.8 million facility opened in April 2008 with exhibits highlighting the natural and cultural diversity and traditions and recreational opportunities found on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The center, built to the latest energy-saving standards, has a 70-seat auditorium with an HD film and classroom space for groups. The Federal Highway Administration recently named the Parkway an All-American Road.
What to See & Do
North Carolina Maritime Museum
Treasure-seekers discover bountiful booty with a firsthand look at exhumed relics from Blackbeard's flagship, Queen Anne's Revenge, from 24-pound colossal cannon balls and a small-shot brass blunderbuss barrel to a heavily-encrusted bronze bell and an extensive array of vessel anchors.
Old Burying Grounds
As one of the oldest cemeteries in North Carolina, the historic site offers ghostly pirate excursions where discoverers stumble upon quirky gravesites from a little girl buried in a rum keg to the cannon covered tomb of a privateer. Cloaked in centuries of old Live Oak trees, there is an air of mystery and sorrow wafting throughout the grounds.
Beaufort Historic Site
Treasure abounds in North Carolina's third-oldest town, with double-decker bus tours of the old jail, courthouse, apothecary, art gallery and Old Burying Ground, as well as Blackbeard's haunts and his home, the Hammock House, in his old stomping grounds.
Scavengers discover a carouser's life at Blackbeard's home in Beaufort boasting ghostly pirate legends leading back to the 1700's where visitors uncover the screams of an unruly, English woman Blackbeard hung on an oak tree outside the home.
Cool Off at the Orchid Conservatory, Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
The $12.5 million Orchid Conservatory opened in January and is the area’s only public conservatory devoted to the display of tropical plants. An 8,000-square-foot, five-story sparkling, crystalline structure, the Conservatory surrounds patrons in a lush environment of color, fragrance, sound and the world’s finest orchids and tropical plants. At least 200 orchids are always on display, and the conservatory’s computerized environmental system (worth a story on its own) keeps the temperature inside at least 10 degrees cooler than the temperature outdoors through the use of misters, fans, vents and sophisticated air return systems. 704-825-4490; www.dsbg.org
Scream Time Zip Line Offers Thrill-Seeking Adventure
High speed adventure meets the High Country at the new Scream Time Zip Line, which opened a few miles northwest of Boone and features nine different zip lines. Scream Time provides the thrill of zipping 60 to 130 feet above the earth in a secure harness attached to an incline cable. The main tour consists of six lines ranging in length from 460 to 800 feet, where riders weave their way down the mountain. The 2,000-foot-long super zip has three parallel lines allowing people to race straight down the mountain at speeds of 60 to 70 miles per hour. www.screamtimezipline.com Also, check out the Zip Line Tours on YouTube: www.youtube.com
About Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC)
Nantahala Outdoor Center is the nation’s largest outdoor recreation company. Over a million guests visit NOC annually to embark on a diverse collection of more than 120 different river and land-based itineraries, learn to kayak at NOC’s world-renowned Paddling School, travel abroad with NOC’s Adventure Travel program, test the latest outdoor gear and shop at its LEED-certified flagship retail stores or enjoy NOC’s resort amenities such as its three restaurants and multi-tiered lodging. A privately-held company, NOC is one of the largest employers in Western North Carolina and 22 Olympians including two Olympic Gold Medalists have called NOC home. NOC has been recently recognized by The New York Times as the “Nation's Premiere Paddling School,” “The Best Place to Learn” by Outside, and as “One of the Best Outfitters on Earth” by National Geographic Adventure.
Cape Lookout Lighthouse
After visitors encounter the pirate prodigies on the Crystal Coast, explorers unwind with a more relaxing expedition by taking a gentle ferry ride to the seashore to view the historic Cape Lookout Lighthouse where pirates once pillaged and buccaneer chronicles are revisited with activities including shelling, clamming and exploring the lighthouse on the island surrounded by the Atlantic shores once sailed by notorious pirates.
North Carolina’s northeastern Piedmont region is an area rich in beauty, and the inspiration for The Umstead Hotel and Spa’s new nature-focused programming. The AAA Five Diamond, Forbes Five Star retreat has unveiled two enrichment experiences one focused on epicurean pursuits, the other wellness that underscore its deep appreciation for the natural world.
For foodies looking to dig deeper into their culinary journey, the Farm Fresh package puts a spotlight on The Umstead’s core culinary philosophies. During a private farm tour of the nearby Culinary Farm on SAS Campus, Herons’ Executive Chef Steven Greene and Culinary Farmer Maggie Lawrence shed light on the inner workings of a world-class restaurant that is grounded on fresh-picked, hyper-local fare. After collecting ingredients from the farm, guests are treated to a signature seven-course Kaiseki dinner by Chef Greene, inspired by the traditional Japanese style of artful presentation, but served in a decidedly Umstead style. In addition, guests will taste a selection of special label wines from the extensive cellar at The Umstead during a private wine class with Sommelier Hai Tran. Available in spring and autumn when the farm’s bounty is at its most replete, the one-night package includes luxurious accommodations in a Lake View Suite and starts at $3,000 based on double occupancy.
Heralding the healing powers of nature, the Wellness in the Woods Retreat focuses on the abundant natural beauty that surrounds The Umstead and its serene woodland setting. This spa-minded escape includes a private outdoor yoga session, guided hike through neighboring William B. Umstead State Park, and a “Walk in the Woods” four-hour spa day at The Umstead Spa, which includes guests’ choice of full body Babassu Sugar Scrub or Swedish Massage plus a European Facial, a classic Manicure and Classic Pedicure, and champagne. With daily breakfast of farm-fresh cuisine and Lake View Suite accommodations, the two-night package is available in spring and summer, starting at $4,500 based on double occupancy.
All packages are subject to availability. To book a signature travel experience at The Umstead, call (866) 877-4141. For more information contact the hotel at
The Umstead Hotel and Spa Invites Travelers “Into the Woods”
About The Umstead Hotel and Spa
The Umstead Hotel and Spa is a singular, sophisticated triumph in North Carolina’s northeastern Piedmont region, an area rich in beauty and rooted in innovation. The state’s most highly rated hotel, it boasts stunning interiors punctuated with privately curated fine art, 150 spacious guest rooms and suites, world-class cuisine, a stimulating spa, gracious staff, and a serene woodland setting. The Umstead is a recipient of both the AAA Five Diamond award and Forbes Five Star rating. For more information or reservations, visit www.theumstead.com or call (866) 877-4141.
The Carolina Inn
Recognized as one of America's "cultural resources worthy of preservation," The Carolina Inn, located in the heart of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill campus, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Carolina Inn is architecturally significant, blending elements of antebellum Southern plantation houses with Georgian and neoclassical features. www.carolinainn.com
What to See & Do
Carowinds changed the landscape for thrill seekers in 2010 by opening the tallest, fastest and longest roller coaster in the Southeast. The Intimidator, inspired by racing legend Dale Earnhardt, is a $23 million steel coaster that stands 232 feet tall at its highest point and has a first drop of 211 feet at a 74-degree angle. Riders race their way around 5,316 feet of track at speeds up to 80 miles per hour. Adding to the overall ride experience on Intimidator is the use of open-air, stadium-style seating on the trains, which are fashioned to mirror Dale Earnhardt’s No. 3 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. The design gives all riders an unobstructed view of all the thrills and excitement of Intimidator’s seven steep drops one for each of his NASCAR championships. Intimidator is Carowinds’ 13th coaster.
For more information check web site www.carowinds.com; or call 704-587-9050
A historic mill in Charlotte’s Uptown Village has been renovated and turned into the N.C. Music Factory. Nightclubs Butter Lounge, the toast of Manhattan, and dance club heavyweight, "Crobar" opened this year in addition to Live Nation’s Fillmore Music Hall in the entertainment complex in uptown Charlotte’s Fourth Ward. The concert promoter also exclusively books the Music Factory’s 5,000-seat outdoor boutique amphitheater as well. In addition to its music venues, the N.C. Music Factory will be home to offices, recording studios, and a host of bars and restaurants. Several have already opened and more are opening this year. www.ncmusicfactory.com; 704-987-0612
Go and celebrate the taste of over 100 unique, diverse and flavorful wines from 13 Wineries!
Allison Oaks Vineyards, Beny Parsons, Black Wolf Vineyards, Cerminaro Vineyards, Cypress Bemd Vineyards, Dennis Vineyards Winery, J Wesley Vineyards, Woodmill Winery, Old North State Winery, RagApple Lassie Vineyards, Stoney Mountain Vineyards, Uwharrie Vineyards, Hinnant Family Vineyards.
For details check web site www.uncorkthefun.com
General Tasting Glass: $18 in advance or $20 On-site
includes unlimited wine sampling, all performances, cooking demonstrations and a souvenir wine glass.
$10 Designated Driver Ticket
Includes admission into the event only.
Group Tickets $16 (per ticket) for groups of 15 or more (must order by phone 800-830-3976)
Kids - 12 and Under are FREE!
Through collaboration between the Charlotte business and cultural arts communities, the Queen City has added another landmark to its ever-expanding skyline. The Wells Fargo Cultural Campus features a variety of museums and performance space in Uptown Charlotte. The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, an $18 million, 35,000-square-foot museum featuring modern art opened in January 2010. www.bechtler.org; 704-975-8330. The development also includes the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts & Culture with 50,000 square feet with galleries, classrooms and a gift shop. For more information check web site www.aacc-charlotte.org; or call 704-374-1565.
NASCAR Hall of Fame Now Open in Charlotte
The 150,000-square-foot, $195 million NASCAR Hall of Fame is an interactive, entertainment attraction honoring the history and heritage of NASCAR. The high-tech, four-level venue, designed to educate and entertain race fans and non-fans alike, includes exhibits and interactive displays, a state-of-the-art theater, a Hall of Honor to commemorate inductees, restaurant, retail outlet, and TV and radio studio. For more information check web site www.nascarhall.com
New EpiCentre Energizes Downtown Charlotte Night Scene
This groundbreaking mixed-use development has launched phase one on Trade Street. Highlights include an open-air 25,000-square-foot rooftop bar called Pavilion (pavilionatepicentre.com) and the upscale, three-level bowling lounge called StrikeCity. The dueling piano bar, Howl at the Moon (www.howlatthemoon.com/charlotte_tonight.) and swanky dance club, Suite (www.suitecharlotte.com), now crank up the night scene. Superstar Dale Earnhardt Jr. recently debuted a bar and live music venue called Whisky River (www.whiskyrivercharlotte.com) complete with a mechanical bull and belt buckle-trimmed bar.
Where to Stay
Charlotte Opens First LEED-Built Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte at Bank of America Center, opened in October 2009 in the heart of Uptown, as the first LEED-built hotel Ritz-Carlton and for the city of Charlotte. The contemporary 147-room hotel is set in a sleek 18-story building designed to attain LEED Gold environmental certification from the Green Building Council. Guest rooms at The Ritz-Carlton begin at 506 square feet and offer uniquely upgraded air quality, thanks to a state-of-the-art air transfer system that efficiently circulates large amounts of outside air into rooms and suites. Further energizing its green commitment, the hotel uses a sophisticated Natura Water Purification System, diverting 73,000 plastic bottles from landfills, saving more than 104 barrels of oil, eliminating nearly 49 tons of CO2 emissions and saving almost 605,000,000 BTUs of electricity each year.
Sarah P. Duke Gardens
Fifty-five acres of landscaped and woodland gardens feature more than 2,000 kinds of plants, five miles of walks and pathways with bridges, courts, lawns, waterfalls, ponds and pavilions. Includes Blomquist Garden of Native Plants and Asiatic Arboretum.
Fayetteville"s New Site Offers Self-Driving Trails
Fayetteville’s Convention and Visitors Bureau has created 10 packaged self-driving trails. The trails explore 10 themes including the Civil War, African-American Heritage, American Independence and Religious Freedom. Maps with detailed history, site descriptions and detailed site-to-site driving directions are available on the Cultural Heritage Trails section on the website. Visitors are also able to design custom trails including downloadable audio files. 800-255-8217; www.visitfayettevillenc.com
Built in the early 1800s in an attempt to thwart Blackbeard and other pirates that cruised the waterways off of the Crystal Coast, Fort Macon stands as a well-built monument with centuries of history. Ghosts of war veterans are said to haunt the fort to protect from attack.
What to See & Do
The International Civil Rights Center & Museum opened Feb. 1, 2010 in Greensboro in the original F.W. Woolworth’s building where the protest started. The protests, which continued for six months until the luncheonette was desegregated, sparked other protests in cities across the U.S. The original luncheonette and chairs are a focal point of the museum. It features 14 signature exhibits and a changing gallery with artifacts and archival installations on the civil rights movement. This includes an exhibit that allows visitors to experience the conversations of the four young men in the re-created North Carolina A&T dorm, prior to their historic act. For more information check web site www.sitinmovement.org; or phone 336-274-9199
Where to Stay
The Proximity Hotel
Newly opened, this boutique hotel, according to owner Dennis Quaintance, “is arguably the greenest hotel in the United States.” The hotel has applied for five-star LEED certification. See how grace, beauty and sustainable travel and dining come together. Learn why the New York Times and Travel + Leisure are already talking about this new destination. www.proximityhotel.com/tour.htm
Old Edwards Inn and Spa
Old Edwards Inn and Spa is located in the charming, historic mountain town of Highlands. The inn features world-class service that anticipates your every desire in a cozy yet elegant setting. www.oldedwardsinn.com
Named 2015 Travel + Leisure World’s Best #1 Hotel in North Carolina
2015 TripAdvisor #6 Hotel for Romance in The United States
2015 TripAdvisor #5 Hotel in The United States
For more information check web site oldedwardsinnandspa.cmail20.com© 2016 Old Edwards Inn And Spa | 445 Main Street | Highlands, NC 28741
Spring Savings Package
Enjoy the perfect combination of Spa, fine dining and the allure of Highlands in May. To book this savings package, call 866-526-8008, (packages cannot be booked online).
Available May 1 - May 24, 2017 | Weekdays (Sun.- Thu.) Only
Two Night Package
This Special Package includes:
Two Nights for Two Guests in Deluxe Accommodations
Three-Course Dinner for Two in Madison's
Two 50-Minute Spa Treatments OR Two Rounds of Golf per package
And Old Edwards' Renowned Luxurious Amenities, like the Champagne Arrival
Spa appointments and dinner reservations must be made at the time of package booking to ensure availability.
Rates And Details
From $400 per night Midweek May ($800 two nights)
Rates are based on double occupancy and do not include taxes, gratuities or alcoholic beverages.
Old Edwards Inn & Spa
445 Main St
Highlands, NC 28741
Phone: (866) 526-8008
Old Edwards Inn and Spa in Highlands, NC is one of only two hospitality providers in North Carolina to be awarded the cardinal designation from NC Green Travel Award.
The NC Green Travel Award is designated by Dogwood Flower and Cardinal symbols. To achieve a Dogwood, properties must meet or exceed the bar-setting green practices, which are outlined in the NC Green Travel application. Old Edwards Inn and Spa was awarded three Dogwoods and Cardinal under the program. "
Three Dogwoods for NC Green Travel" is the highest award, created to give special recognition to businesses that clearly meet the requirements of a green property. The Cardinal designation is a special designation for properties that exceed the top score of 150 points. By exceeding that score by 25 points, Old Edwards Inn and Spa received the Cardinal emblem in addition to the three Dogwoods award. The NC Green Travel Awards are given by the North Carolina Division of Environmental Assistance and Outreach (NCDEAO) and the Center of Sustainable Tourism at East Carolina. NCDEAO is a governmental branch of the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDNR) that strives to protect the natural resources of North Carolina. The NC Green Travel awards is designed to encourage the tourism industry to “go green” by recognizing businesses that have established an energy team, recycle material, excel in water efficiency, practice energy conservation, and strive to practice green standards.
As a luxury wellness resort with a focus on organic culinary and spa programs, Old Edwards Inn and Spa has been working toward more sustainable and energy efficient operations throughout the property. To this end, they have:
Established a sustainable farm bringing organic and local food to their guests.
Installed Icynene insulation reducing their energy bills by 50%.
Replaced all T-12 bulbs with T-8 bulbs, an energy efficient alternative.
Implemented an optional towel and linen re-use program for guests, which has been very well received.
Participated in soap recycling.
Conducted an Energy Assessment with the help of Waste Reduction Partners.
Installed two plug-in vehicle charging stations.
Installed LED lighting across all three properties.
Implemented paper recycling program, to grow and include plastic and metals.
The Resort created a Policy Statement that describes their reasoning for maintaining a green initiative, "Old Edwards Inn wants to protect our shared environment in order to constantly improve the quality of our establishment for the betterment of our employees, guests and other stakeholders." To this end, they also support the local Nature Center and Biological Station whose mission is to protect and sustain the unique ecological environment of the Highlands Cashiers Plateau.
To learn more about Old Edwards Inn and Spa, visit www.oldedwardsinn.com, or call 866-526-8008.
Grandfather Mountain’s New Environmentally Friendly Fudge Shop Opens
Grandfather Mountain has launched many initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint. One of the most apparent to visitors will be the new fudge shop, which is powered by solar energy... and almost "off the grid" in terms of traditional energy uses opened July 4th. Other efforts include an on site garden to produce food for animals kept onsite and educational sessions. For the complete list, contact Luke Appling at email@example.com and 828-737-0833.
The Andy Griffith Museum houses the world’s largest collection of Andy Griffith memorabilia. Mount Airy is the boyhood home of Andy Griffith and was the inspiration for Mayberry in the classic ’60s TV show. The museum is filled with a treasure trove of items collected by Emmett Forrest, a schoolmate and friend of Griffith. Items include the iconic signs from the show’s courthouse doors that read: “Sheriff” and “Justice of the Peace,” and the oversized keys to the jail. The collection also includes items donated by the widow of actor Don Knotts, who played Deputy Barney Fife, and by actress Betty Lynn, who played Thelma Lou. Lynn moved to Mount Airy in 2007 after several visits to the Mayberry Days Festival, which is a large annual celebration that brings thousands of fans and actors to the city. Throughout the year Mount Airy features many attractions based on the show including Floyd’s City Barber Shop, Snappy Lunch, Squad Car Tours, Opie’s Candy Store and the Old City Jail. For more information check web site www.andygriffithmuseum.com; or call 336-786-1604
Named America's Best Beach, Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach on Ocracoke Island, North Carolina takes the number one spot on Dr. Beach's annual America's Best Beaches list of 2007.
The island, embraced by the Cape Hatteras National Seashore on North Carolina's Outer Banks, is known for its clean water, sand and unspoiled natural beauty. At 16 miles long and a half-mile wide, Ocracoke is a sun-swept wilderness, once a favorite haunt of Blackbeard the Pirate and the place where he met his demise.
Today also marks the first time a beach outside of Florida or Hawaii has been named to the top position on Dr. Beach's celebrated annual top-ten list."We are proud that Ocracoke Island has been recognized as the home of America's best beach," says North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley. "The unmatched beauty of our coast has for decades been a favorite of visitors who truly wish to get away - to relax among the quiet natural shorelines, explore the native wildlife, meet unique people and hear the compelling stories of the Outer Banks."
Pamlico Sound and the Atlantic Ocean surround Ocracoke Island; it is accessible only by water and air and sits 26 miles from the North Carolina mainland nestled against the Graveyard of the Atlantic (a coastal area famous for the many seagoing vessels that wrecked there years ago because it was difficult to navigate). The island's remote location invites visitors looking for a pristine place to swim, fish, surf and explore. No chain hotels exist on the island.
International beach expert Stephen Leatherman made the #1 designation. Known as "Dr. Beach," he is the nation's foremost authority on beach quality and ratings. He has gained international renown for his annual list of top-ten beaches in America, which he has released since 1991. More than 650 beaches throughout the United States are judged on a list of 50 criteria under four main areas: physical factors such as sand color and quality, and number and size of waves; biological factors such as color and condition of the water; presence of wildlife and pests; and human use and impacts such as lifeguard protection, far-reaching views and traffic.
The natural, untouched beauty of Ocracoke Island's sand, clear sunshine, good waves and clean water caught the attention of Dr. Beach years ago. Visitors have come for the same reasons. In addition, they want to see the Ocracoke Lighthouse, Banker pony herd and reign of Blackbeard:*
What to See & Do
The second-oldest operating lighthouse in the nation. Completed in 1823, she stands 75-feet tall with a 25-foot diameter at the base and a gracefully tapered 12-foot top. The building is solid brick and was used by some residents as shelter during bad storms.
In 1565, Sir Richard Grenville's ship Tiger ran aground on Ocracoke Island. Some speculate this may have been the origin of Ocracoke's famous Banker pony herd. The ponies were documented on Ocracoke since European settlers came to stay in the 1730s. In the late 1950s, Ocracoke Boy Scouts cared for the ponies and had the only mounted troop in the nation. By law, the free-roaming animals were penned in 1959 to prevent over-grazing and to safeguard them from traffic after Highway 12 was built in 1957.
Teach's Hole or Channel-
In the late 1700s, Blackbeard fought his last battle here. Legend has it his headless body swam around the boat three times before sinking to Davy Jones Locker.Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach is part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and can be accessed from the Lifeguarded Beach public parking area 1⁄4 mile north of Ramp 70 on N.C. Highway 12 just outside Ocracoke Village. It offers public parking, beach access, restrooms and changing areas. Lifeguards are on staff Memorial Day to Labor Day, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The length of lifeguarded beach varies with lifeguard availability. The Park Service recommends that swimmers stay within sight of manned lifeguard stands. Red warning flags are posted at lifeguarded beaches when swimming conditions are hazardous.
There's much more to see and explore around the island, including charter fishing, outstanding bird watching, camping, stories of Civil War and World War II ocean battles and more. Getting to Ocracoke Island is now easier; a new summer ferry schedule began May 22 and will last through Labor Day weekend. There will be four departures from both Swan Quarter on mainland Hyde County and Ocracoke Island versus the two departures that are in effect the remainder of the year.
Ferry service is also available from Cedar Island and Hatteras.Extensive information on Ocracoke Island's attractions, history and accommodations, the Outer Banks, and other North Carolina beaches is available at web site www.VisitNCcoast.com.
Local web sites such as www.ocracokevillage.com and www.hydecounty.org are also available.
Natural scenic beauty, 300 miles of barrier islands, relaxation, adventure and Southern hospitality come together in North Carolina.
Call 1-800-VISIT NC (1-800-847-4862) or go to www.VisitNC.com to plan your next getaway.
On the Trail of Blackbeard
A new book by Kevin Duffus touts the idea that history’s most famous pirate, Blackbeard, was a native son of North Carolina. While historians debate just who Blackbeard was, visitors can retrace his steps at several sites in North Carolina. The book, The Last Days of Black Beard The Pirate discusses how he met his demise off Ocracoke Island and may be buried there (www.ocracokevillage.com). Blackbeard spent his final days near Bath negotiating for his freedom. Visitors to this historic city can walk the same paths and re-live the history in North Carolina’s oldest town www.originalwashington.com/attractions/bath.php.
Blackbeard’s Lodge -
Come sit on the porch swing and enjoy the island breeze at America’s Best Beach, Ocracoke Island. Relax in the warm and comfortable lobby where you’ll find a grand piano and a wood-burning stove from the 1800s. Each of Blackbeard’s Lodge’s 38 guest rooms, suites and apartments has its own distinct character. Find it in the heart of Ocracoke Village. www.blackbeardslodge.com
Pirates of the Crystal Coast of North Carolina -- The Real Pirate Deal.
Earning more than $200 million in the first two weeks, Pirates of the Caribbean -- At World's End has driven a pirate craze, which is now in full force across the nation -- but adventurer-seekers experience an authentic pirate haven at the Crystal Coast, North Carolina's Southern Outer Banks. Home of the most infamous pirate of them all, the Crystal Coast played host to Blackbeard and his swashbuckling crew in the 1700s. From exploring Blackbeard's ship, the Queen Anne's Revenge, for the first time in history and discovering how Blackbeard lived at the Hammock House to paddling kayaks in pirate-drenched waters and searching for hidden treasure at the haunted Fort Macon, bustling buccaneers embark on a journey that retraces Blackbeard's nefarious ways.
With an eccentric history steeped in swashbuckling pirate tales, romantic mysteries, deep-rooted maritime heritage and wartime triumphs and tragedies, adventurous families uncover memories of past pirate plunders on the Crystal Coast with activities including:
Dive Down Program
Implemented by the state of North Carolina, the aptly named program allows 1,500 recreational divers over the course of the next five years the chance, for the first time in history, to dive the remains of the infamous Blackbeard's ship, the Queen Anne's Revenge, acknowledged as one of the most important underwater archeological discoveries in the United States.
Walking Tour of Historic Ocracoke
Begin at the National Park Service visitor center and enjoy the view from the deck. Ask for a map of the walking tour and before beginning, admire Silver Lake in front - the focal point of the village. To the left is a white, circular cistern, all that remains of a 500-man U.S. Navy base built here in 1942 to combat German U-boats during WWII. Walk the boardwalk to your left and, beyond the amphitheater and fishing boat, is an old grave that's all that is left of the Scarboroughs homestead - the owners who owned this land long ago.
Nearby is the Ocracoke Visitor Center and Museum with photos and artifacts of the island lifestyles and history. Some of the highlights during your walk is th United Methodist Church, another reminder of World War II; Ocracoke School, North Carolina's smallest, with grades K-12; and the 75 foot Ocracoke Lighthouse, owned and maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard. Built in 1923 with a light that could be seen 14 miles out to sea, it's North Carolina's oldest operating lighthose. There's much more to see along this interesting walk back in time.
Where to Stay
First Flight Retreat in Outer Banks: First New Condos In 20 Years To Open
First Flight Retreat opened as the first new oceanfront condominiums on the Outer Banks in nearly 20 years. Enjoy the luxury finish and amenities of a rental house with all the services of a first class resort. The resort is centrally located right on the beach. 866-595-1893; www.FirstFlightRentals.com
The Oasis Suites Are New at Nags Head
The Oasis Suites is the Outer Banks’ newest suite hotel. Located on the Causeway in Nags Head, this 17-room finely furnished property offers spectacular views, a swimming pool and proximity to many of the areas popular attractions and restaurants. 252-441-5211; www.oasissuites.com
What to See & Do
Pirate Queen Paddling
Brave buckos board a kayak tour exploring the world of eco-diversity and thriving history of the pirate-drenched destination. Paddlers experience the area drifting on a guided tour through waters previously navigated by infamous buccaneers.
Dangling like a delicate strand of pearls off the coast of North Carolina, the favored Atlantic beach destination of generations represents one of the only remaining natural barrier island systems in the World. The Islands are strung together with 85 miles of silken coastline along the southern Outer Banks, 56 miles of which are in the protected Cape Lookout National Seashore. Miles of shimmering water reflects countless tiny suns during the day and shatters the moon into a thousand pieces at night. Lush maritime forests edge the silken coast like emerald jewels studding a royal crown. The barrier islands take a curious southward curve, blessing the Crystal Coast with beaches that course east and west making it possible to admire the dazzlingly bright sun rise to greet the day and then slip into the shimmering translucent blue waters in the evening during a spectacular North Carolina sunset.
For more information on Pirates of the Crystal Coast call (800) 786-6962 or visit www.crystalcoastnc.org.
Landmark Carolina Hotel Gets Makeover
More than 100 years after it was built, the grand Carolina Hotel at Pinehurst, once known once as the Queen of the South, is sporting a tiara-to-glass slipper makeover. An $8 million renovation of its guest rooms, as well as upgrades to the main dining room, the addition of a new Presidential Suite and more have made the resort new again without losing its Southern Belle charm. 800-487-4653; www.pinehurst.com/carolina_historic_hotel.asp
Paraclete XP Skyventure -- World’s Largest Bodyflight Center Open for Summer
Paraclete XP Skyventure opened in early 2008 in Raeford, NC (almost 2 hours south of Raleigh), featuring the innovative sport of bodyflight. Paraclete’s wind tunnel enables guests to fly in a controlled manner in the safety of a wall-to-wall airflow chamber. No experience is necessary and the sport is open to people of all ages and experience levels. Paraclete is one of the biggest vertical wind tunnels on the planet. Paraclete has high-definition video in the chamber for debriefing flight sessions and great take home movies. 910-495-3334; www.paracletexp.com
Where to Stay
The Raleigh Marriott City Center
The Raleigh Marriot City Center is the hotel headquarters for Raleigh's new Convention Center that opened in September 2008. This four-star quality hotel has 400 rooms, including 20 suites, and 15,000 square feet of space in 15 meeting rooms. Conveniently located near RDU International Airport and many Raleigh businesses and recreation, it is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the many things the Greater Raleigh area has to offer. 919-833-1120; www.Marriott.com/rduMC
What to See & Do
The Gourd Museum, Angier
(20 miles south of Raleigh)
Marvin Johnson, long-time president of the Gourd Village Garden Club, founded the Gourd Museum in 1964. He and his wife collected so many gourd crafts from around the world that they decided to build a museum to display them. A master gourd grower, Johnson cultivated more than 200 different kinds of gourds, most of which he crafted and placed on display. Visitors will find giant African gourds and gourds so tiny they look like robins’ eggs. (919) 781-7069
2017 Events Include:
OBX Bluegrass Festival
For more information contact FanBridge, Inc. - 14525 SW Millikan Way, #16910, Beaverton, Oregon 97005,
What to See & Do
7 Reasons to Celebrate Spring at Wilmington’s Island Beaches: Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach
7) New beginnings. Spring is the perfect opportunity to learn a new skill. Take a lesson from the qualified instructors at Tony Silvagni Surf School in Carolina Beach it offers individual and group surf, paddleboard and kayak lessons. WB Surf Camp offers surf lessons for all experience levels at Wrightsville Beach, which was named one of the best surf towns in the world.
6) Active living. Shake off the winter cobwebs with a Biological Wonderland Hike at Carolina Beach State Park, or by exploring the six miles of beach and trails at Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, near Kure Beach. The Wrightsville Beach Museum of History is offering a new Loop through History Walking Tour that helps visitors discover the island’s history while on foot. Or sign up for the new Island Yoga experience on Masonboro Island, courtesy of Wrightsville Beach Scenic Tours.
5) Al fresco dining. Soak up the sunshine by grabbing an outside table at one of many restaurants, serving up everything from coastal cuisine and Southern staples to international fare. Oceanic Restaurant at Wrightsville Beach offers outdoor dining on the rebuilt historic Crystal Pier. Gibby’s Dock and Dine at Carolina Beach is located right on the scenic Intracoastal Waterway. Another option? Pack a picnic and head to a secluded spot. One favorite place is underneath the canopy of live oak trees at Fort Fisher State Recreation Area.
4) Fresh flowers and produce. Everything is in bloom in the spring, making it the perfect time to explore Airlie Gardens we’re talking more than 100,000 azaleas, the 467-year-old Airlie Oak, and 67 acres of Gilded Age gardens and lakes. The Veggie Wagon located in Carolina Beach works with the best local farms and small batch producers to bring in the freshest and tastiest fruits and vegetables North Carolina has to offer. Motts Channel Seafood at Wrightsville Beach offers a selection of locally sourced vegetables and specialty items to complement some of the freshest fish and seafood around (you can actually see the fish come off the boats and being prepared by Motts’ staff!).
3) Social events. Come out of hibernation and reconnect with those around you! Spring boasts a busy calendar of events at the beaches. Carolina Beach and Kure Beach will host the Pleasure Island Chowder Cook-Off and Pleasure Island Seafood, Blues & Jazz Festival in April. Visitors to the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, located in Kure Beach, will be delighted by the world famous Weeki Wachee Mermaids for two weekends in March. Kure Beach will also celebrate its 70th Anniversary in late April with a street festival, concert and historical programming.
2) Friendly (or not so friendly) competition. Still feeling the winter blues? Kick it into high gear by competing in one of several events taking place this spring in Wrightsville Beach. Cyclists may want to gear up for the US Fat Bike Championship, while runners and paddlers should sign up for the Wrightsville Beach Biathlon, both in March. There is more standup paddleboarding in store for April with the Wrightsville Beach SUP Surfing Pro-Am and the 2017 Carolina Cup, two of the largest SUP events in the world.
1) Longer days. One of the best things about spring? Longer days. Use the extra hours to soak up the sun and spend time on the beach the average daily high in March/April is 70. If your four-legged friend could stand to get out of the house almost as much as you, bring him or her along: dogs are allowed on-leash at all three beaches through March 31. Or use the extra daylight to enjoy a drink or two at a locale of your choice. At Carolina Beach, check out The Fat Pelican, voted the No. 1 dive bar in the state; or Ocean Grill & Tiki Bar, named one of “America’s Best Beach Bars.” At Wrightsville Beach, pull your boat right up to the dock at one of several restaurants and bars that offer “dock and dining” including Bluewater Grill, Dockside and more.
Below are a few things that might not normally come to mind, courtesy of fall on the coast and tailored for different types of travelers. And just to make sure all of the fall lovers out there don’t feel left out, there are also some bonus Halloween-inspired ideas just for you!
Centrally located on the East Coast, Wilmington is N.C.’s most accessible coastal city, which makes it a natural choice for a fall getaway, especially for those people traveling without kids (i.e., less crowds and lower rates).
For more information on Wilmington, contact Wilmington and Beaches CVB at 505 Nutt Street, Unit A, Wilmington, NC 28401 or call (877) 406-2356 or go to web site www.wilmingtonandbeaches.com/
Latest Events in Wilmington:
Music lovers of all kinds will find lots to groove to this fall, thanks to the variety of live entertainment and national music acts coming to the area.
Outdoor adventurers will be psyched that the temperatures are mild here well into the fall the average daily high in November is 68! Wrightsville Beach, in particular, is well known as a premier destination for watersports. Just last week, National Geographic ranked it as one of the “World’s 20 Best Surf Towns.”
Fall is prime time for everything from surfing and standup paddleboarding (one of the fastest growing watersports that anyone can learn) to kayaking and fishing. Off-road cyclists and joggers will want to spend some time on Wilmington’s Gary Shell Cross-City Trail. Yogis and Pilates-enthusiasts will want to check out classes at Halyburton Memorial Park, a 58-acre nature preserve with a walking and biking trail. And a variety of outdoor activities are available at Fort Fisher State Recreation area in Kure Beach and Carolina Beach State Park in Carolina Beach.
Craft beer connoisseurs can visit multiple breweries with more on the way in coming months like Front Street Brewery, Broomtail Craft Brewery and Good Vibes Brewery in Wilmington, and the new Good Hops Brewing in nearby Carolina Beach.
Romance seekers will find plenty of ways to keep the spark alive here. Explore Wilmington’s National Register Historic District via a horse-drawn carriage, trolley, Segway or walking tour. Or meander along the Riverwalk a 1.5-mile boardwalk running along the scenic Cape Fear River, lined with independently owned shops and waterfront restaurants. Or venture just over the New Hanover County line for a visit to Poplar Grove Plantation. One of the oldest existing peanut plantations in North Carolina, it was recently included in USAToday.com’s roundup of Historic Southern plantations.
And last but not least, Halloween activities abound in a place considered to be among the most haunted cities in the world. Featured in USA Today and Southern Living, Wilmington’s ghost walk guides traverse 275-year-old alleyways while telling stories of poor lost souls that still linger in Port City. For a double dose of spirits, try a haunted pub-crawl. Other Halloween-themed events include murder-mystery dinner theatre and cruises, pirate adventures, hayrides and creepy nature programs.
About Wrightsville Beach
Wrightsville Beach is North Carolina1s most accessible beach from Interstate 40. It1s easier to get here and even easier to stay. Everything visitors need is right on the island, with an abundance of outdoor activities, rich history, the scenic Intracoastal Waterway, miles of beach, family-friendly events, and full-service hotels and rental options. For more information, go to www.VisitWrightsvilleBeachNC.com or call (800) 650-9106. Find us on Facebook at WrightsvilleBeachNC>www.facebook.com/WrightsvilleBeachNC and Twitter WrightsvilleNC@WrightsvilleNC.
Wrightsville Beach, N.C., is known as a popular destination for visitors who love the great outdoors. A unique combination of natural conditions makes it the perfect place for watersports like standup paddleboarding and kayaking, and the easy island vibe welcomes even beginners to try their hand at a new active pastime. However, Wrightsville Beach also has plenty of activities for those in search of a more adventurous getaway.
Check out these heart-pumping activities in Wrightsville Beach, perfect for adrenaline junkies:
· Kiteboarding and Windsurfing - If you1ve visited Wrightsville Beach before, you've probably seen someone out on the ocean windsurfing (imagine a small and speedy stand-up sailboat) or kiteboarding (standing on a board while holding onto a kite). Luckily, you can experience the thrill for yourself by renting kiteboarding or windsurfing equipment from Blowing in the Wind - a full-service kite shop located in Wrightsville Beach that also offers lessons from professionals. Trying to self-teach? Check out these wrightsvillebeachloop.com/beach-info/kite-surfing/ tips and best winds for kiteboarding and windsurfing in Wrightsville Beach.
· Paddleboarding - Okay, we know paddleboarding can be relaxing. But if you're an adventure seeker, try a more extreme version of standup paddleboarding (SUP) with speedy intracoastal tours and ocean excursions. Rent a SUP and even take a lesson if it1s new to you, then see how far and fast you can go. Wrightsville Beach is home to many paddleboard shops and professionals who offer guided tours and excursions, so you1ll have all resources you need for the ultimate SUP experience.
· Surfing - Wrightsville Beach is consistently rated to as one of the best surfing beaches in the U.S. by publications such as Men1s Journal, Surfer, and Outdoor, so it's an obvious choice for visitors who want a rush of adrenaline while embracing the Wrightsville Beach lifestyle. Not only is the surf close-to-perfect most days, you will also be surrounded by surf shops, www.visitwrightsvillebeachnc.com/things-to-do--surf schools, outfitters and surf-themed restaurants.
· Scuba Diving - Scuba diving is perfectfor those curious minds who seek more than what1s available above water. With --www.visitwrightsvillebeachnc.com/Shopping/aquatic-safaris/ -- Aquatic Safaris, you can get up close and personal with real sunken ships hidden beneath the surface of Wrightsville Beach1s waters. Discover the remains of shipwrecks, underwater rock ledges and marine life you can only see with a scuba suit. Not certified yet? Not a problem. They also offer PADI-Certified SCUBA certification courses for beginners and an assortment of continuing education classes for more experienced scuba divers.
· Kayak and SUP Fishing - Kick your fishing trip up a notch by casting a line from a kayak or standup paddleboard! Kayak fishing and paddleboard fishing are two of the fastest-growing extreme sports right now, and Wrightsville Beach has everything you need to give it a try. -- www.hooklineandpaddle.com/tripsinstruction/guided-fishing-tours/ -- Hook, Line & Paddle offers guided fishing tours with an all-inclusive price that covers a fishing kayak or paddleboard, an experienced guide and all the gear you need to make a great catch. The tours take place in the salt marshes of Wrightsville Beach and nearby Fort Fisher, where you1ll find red fish, flounder, trout, blue fish and Spanish mackerel. Don1t hesitate to bring a group - there is a multi-person discount!
· Jet Skiing - For a fun-filled afternoon on the water, rent --www.visitwrightsvillebeachnc.com/Shopping/wrightsville-beach-jet-ski-rentals -- top-of-the-line jet skis from any rental shop or bring your own to launch the -- www.ncwildlife.org/Portals/0/Boating/documents/boating_access_area_guide.pdf--public boat ramp. The smooth ocean waters surrounding Wrightsville Beach are perfect for jet skiers and boaters alike, but riding on your own jet ski will give any adventurer that much-desired adrenaline rush!
No matter what your interests are, Wrightsville Beach can accommodate them. From beachgoers to thrill seekers, Wrightsville Beach offers endless activities to keep everyone entertained. When you1re ready to relax after a day of thrills on the water, head to one of Wrightsville Beach's delicious --www.visitwrightsvillebeachnc.com/restaurants-- restaurants to enjoy anything from today1s fresh catch to a margarita and Mexican cuisine. Wrightsville Beach has a variety of restaurants, many of them waterfront featuring live music, and bars to help you unwind from your adrenaline-pumping adventures.
North Carolina Wine Is In!
Supermarket Guru®, Phil Lempert, said North Carolina is “the new Napa” in a segment on food trends on the "TODAY" show. Lempert cites Napa’s grape-growing industry as "out" due to global warming and climate issues.
The proclamation was part of segment on food trends which also cited garbanzo beans as the new edamame; bison as the new beef; grapeseed oil as the new olive oil; and Stevia as the new Splenda®.
North Carolina ranks 10th for wine and grape production in the United States and is home to more than 70 wineries; the number has tripled since 2001. In addition, a 2007 national survey sponsored by the Travel Industry Association (TIA) in partnership with Gourmet magazine and the International Culinary Tourism Association (ICTA), cited North Carolina as one of the top five state destinations for wine and culinary tourism activities in the United States.
The Lempert segment showed bottled wines from Childress Vineyards (www.childressvineyards.com) in Lexington, North Carolina. The winery is owned by NASCAR driver and racing team owner, Richard Childress.
Metzger notes that USA Today, The New York Times, and Southern Living have also tipped their hat to the travel experience offered by North Carolina’s ripe food scene and its wines.
Visitors to the state are likely to take note of the Yadkin Valley, North Carolina’s first federally recognized American Viticultural Area (AVA). It is located in northwestern North Carolina, home to more than 20 wineries and more than 400 acres devoted to vineyards. The North Carolina industry has two marketing focuses native muscadine grapes and European-style vinifera grapes.
For more information about North Carolina’s thriving wineries, events and activities, go to www.VisitNCwine.com.
Free with general admission. The “glass house” is five stories tall and features orchids and tropical plants and includes the largest indoor display of bromeliads in the eastern U.S.