Travel and outdoors product reviews and trips


Fun Travels Across the United States

NORTH CAROLINA

News
Asheboro
Asheville

Beaufort
Belmont
Boone
Bryson City
Burlington
Cape Lookout
Cary
Chapel Hill
Charlotte
Durham
Fayetteville
Fort Macon
Greensboro
Highlands
Hillsborough
Hope Mills
Linville
Mount Airy
Oak Island
Ocracoke
Outer Banks
Pinehurst
Raeford
Raleigh
Saxapahaw
Roanoke Island
Wilmington
Wrightsville Beach
YakinValley

NEWS (Cities & Towns Follow the News)

Springtime in the Blue Ridge: Dive Into Asheville With These New & Iconic tours

Check Out All The Exciting Winter Happenings in Beaufort

Asheville Winter Travel News: Surprisingly Cozy Off-Season Adventures in the Blue Ridge

A Snapshot of the Photography Collection at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Fayetteville

Haw River Farmhouse Ales in Saxapahaw is Worth Visiting, Especially if you love beer

What's New in Charlotte? Plenty!!

Five Things You Might Not Know About Fayetteville

Hyatt Place Chapel Hill/Southern Village Hotel Has Officially Opened - and is Great

Visit the Horace Williams House to see 19th Century Charm

If you love animals, do visit the Conservators Center in Burlington

For total comfort and great amenities plan a stay at the new Drury Inn & Suites

Get your heart racing on land or sea with these adventurous activities at Wrightsville Beach

The Umstead Hotel and Spa Invites Travelers “Into the Woods”

Civil Rights Takes a Front Seat in Greensboro

Andy Griffith Museum Opens in Real-Life Mayberry

Carowinds Unleashes Southeast’s Tallest, Fastest and Longest Coaster

ASHEBORO

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

ASHVILLE

Where to Stay

Biltmore Hotel

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.

Asheville Gets Bohemian With New Boutique Hotel

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

Springtime in the Blue Ridge: Dive Into Asheville With These New & Iconic tours

With the gradually warming weather comes peak exploration time in Asheville, N.C. Creative local tours, both classic and unexpected, guided and DIY, take you to nearly every corner – and touch on most any facet – of this vibrant Blue Ridge Mountain city. www.exploreasheville.com/spring2020/

Why Asheville in the spring? Sitting along the famed Blue Ridge Parkway and surrounded by 1 million acres of protected wilderness, Asheville’s backyard has the highest mountain peaks east of the Mississippi; thousands of miles of hiking and biking trails; unmatched biodiversity that brings a parade of blooming native wildflowers; and George Vanderbilt’s 8,000-acre playground at Biltmore Estate. The southern Appalachians – some of the oldest mountains in the world – provide a landscape rich in flora not found anywhere else. For when and where to spot the daffodils, painted trillium, dogwoods and more, check out Asheville’s Bloom Schedule.

GUIDED TOURS

Outdoors:

Asheville Wellness Tours, known for their guided tours to zen-filled businesses downtown, have greatly expanded their menu to include NEW yoga hikes, sound-healing sessions, forest bathing, food tours, ziplining, flower-crown workshops and group tarot readings.

Leading yoga, meditation and hiking experiences in the mountains surrounding Asheville, Namaste in Nature offers public and private tours for folks wanting a deeper connection with the nature around them. NEW offerings include mountaintop yoga, waterfall hikes and a “Sunset and Full Moon Yoga Hike” (full moons, March through October) on a scenic mountaintop with guided yoga and meditation.

Blue Ridge Hiking Company, owned by Appalachian Trail record-setter Jennifer Pharr Davis, is now offering NEW guided daytrips to the Great Smoky Mountains. Lunch and snacks are provided, and hiking spots include places like Cataloochee Valley and Clingman’s Dome. The company’s downtown retail shop will also offer complimentary fit instruction for any of their hiking and backpacking gear.

Combining storytelling, sightseeing and natural discovery, Asheville Hiking Tours take you on ecotours, led by naturalists, to “secret spots” along the Blue Ridge Parkway and in Pisgah National Forest.

Wai Mauna leads stand-up paddleboard tours on the French Broad River (one of the oldest in the world!) and also has a massive, six-person paddleboard and whitewater SUP.

Offering classes, demos and rentals, Bellyak is an Asheville-invented watercraft that allows you to ride the river on your belly with a face-first kayak and webbed gloves for paddles, providing a one-of-a-kind vantage point while gently floating downstream or for more extreme whitewater adventures.

WNC Photo Tours will offer a NEW “Spring Rhododendron Blooms Tour” in April, May and June focused on capturing the beauty of these native wildflowers with the help of a professional photographer.

Asheville’s outdoor scene knows no limits! From biking to rock climbing, fly fishing to rafting or kayaking, check out more ways to get outside.

Arts/Makers/Craft:

Starting this spring, Art Connections is offering NEW downtown walking tours that will visit four venues (including a few featuring working artists) and focus on the region’s history of functional craft to the present-day art scene.

East Fork, the pottery studio and lifestyle brand co-founded near Asheville in 2009 by Alex Matisse (great-grandson of French painter Henri Matisse), has just launched NEW public tours of their factory in Biltmore Village every Friday at 2 p.m. The tours take guests through the full life cycle of a pot, from its origins as raw clay to the vessel on the table. The ceramics-manufacturing facility, which has significantly increased their production capacity, bridges the gap between commerce and community engagement. East Fork’s functional-design point of view can also be found in their original retail space in downtown Asheville (and a second one that has opened in Atlanta).

Asheville’s Center for Craft – the leading organization in the U.S. identifying and convening craft makers, curators and researchers that just expanded with The National Craft Innovation Hub – joins local food experts for their “Craft City Food & Art Tours” featuring tastings, exhibits and demos of all things small-batch, high-quality and handmade in Asheville.

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the River Arts District, home to more than 200 artists in working studios, with Asheville Art Studio Tours, or try their NEW South Slope tour.

Don’t miss the ultimate open house when the Southern Living 2020 Idea House is unveiled in The Ramble community of Asheville, which was selected as this year’s location by the magazine’s editors as part of the annual celebration of life in the South. Showcasing the latest in innovative design and architecture with inspiration from Asheville's natural beauty and creative energy, the custom showhouse will debut in June, with tickets to tour the home available for sale in late spring.

Beverage Scene:

Asheville Rooftop Bar Tours give a bird’s-eye view from some of the city’s scenic venues and are now offering a “Rooftop Sunset & City Lights Tour” to capture the magic of Asheville at night. The NEW three-hour jaunt includes sample sips and historical photos of Asheville’s downtown transformation.

BREW-ed, designed with education in mind, offers walking “Asheville Brewery & History Tours” led by true beer experts. Every one of their guides is a Certified Cicerone.

Peek behind closed doors at the East Coast operations of national breweries Sierra Nevada (in nearby Mills River) and New Belgium, both of which offer a variety of tours of their production spaces.

More Ways to Imbibe: Asheville’s Amazing Pubcycle Tours have you pedaling while you partake; Asheville’s original brewery tour, Brews Cruise, takes you from brewery to brewery on a big yellow bus; Asheville Brewery Tours lead walking and mobile explorations; Leap Frog Tours offer beer, cider and distillery tour options.

Culinary:

Modern Appalachian Culinary Scene: Food culture in Asheville has gained national attention as a small but mighty hub for culinary creativity where Appalachian food traditions, global perspectives and artisan makers have combined to help the city nab more James Beard nominations than many of like size.

Local food tours allow you to maximize your time (and stomach space!) while hitting several of Asheville’s acclaimed restaurants over the course of a few hours. Get a taste of the award-winning food scene in an afternoon with Eating Asheville Tours. Showcasing some of the city’s top restaurants and chefs, Asheville Food Tours features, among others, the “Food Fan Foot Tour” and the NEW “Night Tour,” led by well-known local food writer, blogger and bon vivant, Stu Helm. Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours let you eat your way through downtown while also learning more about Asheville’s history and transformation into Foodtopia. See all that neighboring town Black Mountain brings to the table with Creative Mountain Food Tours, providing food, beverage and dessert tastings from at least five local eateries.

No Taste Like Home offers foraging tours highlighting the bounty of wild foods growing around Asheville. Alan Muskat and his team of local guides show guests how to safely identify, appreciate and savor wild plants, mushrooms and other extreme cuisine. Tour participants can take their forest finds to partnering restaurants (such as AUX Bar, The Market Place, Benne on Eagle and more) to have a special “find dining” dish created specially with their ingredients. The company also hosts Wild Food Strolls on the property of the historic Omni Grove Park Inn.

Learn how cacao is grown, harvested and transformed into chocolate with a tour at French Broad Chocolate Factory & Café, complete with a guided tasting of their bean-to-bar process and a handcrafted bonbon.

Asheville Essentials:

Classics: Hear little-known tidbits of Asheville’s past and present with hop-on, hop-off privileges aboard Gray Line Trolley Tours of Asheville; see the city from your own personal set of wheels with Moving Sidewalk Segway Tours; discover Asheville’s storied history and architectural treasures with Asheville by Foot; come upon hidden gems in downtown, Montford Historic District or Historic Biltmore Village with History at Hand walking tours.

History with a Twist: LaZoom combines the historical with the hysterical on their wacky and irreverent (and BYOB!) “City Comedy Tour”; Hood Huggers International leads interactive tours focusing on Asheville’s African-American community’s resilient history and future; The Flying Bike Electric Bike Tours allow you to get close to the action downtown while taking in the sights and stories.

Pick Your Specialty: The Dog City Tour starts at Asheville’s Dog Welcome Center (the first of its kind in the country) with stops at local shops and breweries catering to pups, plus a special dining experience for people and their canine companions; Asheville LIT Tour is a walking tour of locations with literary themes and authors with ties to downtown; Asheville Detours lead scavenger-hunt-style tours downtown, including the NEW “Authentic Asheville Detour,” designed to get guests off the beaten path while they solve clues.

SELF-GUIDED EXPLORATIONS

Wander the cultivated gardens and groomed trails of The North Carolina Arboretum. In May, the arboretum is opening its NEWEST outdoor setting, Willow Pond, a learning site focused on salamanders, frogs, aquatic insects and other reptiles and amphibians. Southern Appalachia is known as the salamander capital of the world (20 percent of all the world’s species can be found in the Southeastern United States), and the arboretum’s ponds host an abundance of salamanders, including the rare mole salamander.

See the manicured grounds of America’s Largest Home, Biltmore. Check out Biltmore Blooms, April 1 – May 21, which showcases thousands of tulips, acres of azaleas and rooms full of orchids celebrating the beauty of the estate (including gardens and landscapes designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, father of American landscape architecture).

Take a stroll through a wooded retreat as Highland Brewing Company, Asheville’s oldest brewery, launches the first phase of ALL-NEW walking trails this spring just steps outside the taproom on its 40-acre campus, with sections along a creek and old railroad. To coincide, the brewery will release its spring seasonal, Wanderlush, a Hazy Adventure Ale.

One of Asheville’s most beloved festivals now has a NEW brick-and-mortar location downtown. LEAF Global Arts Center just opened, offering educational experiences for guests rooted in music, art, community and culture via a mini-theater and global-immersion room using virtual reality, unique musical instruments and a stage for performances and interactive artist workstations. See the Club Del Cardo Music Trail map (LEAF’s new space is in the former Club Del Cardo), which highlights music connections to Asheville’s lost African-American communities while spotlighting local legends such as Nina Simone and Roberta Flack. Learn about historical performance spaces and other music-themed points of interest, and play songs chosen by community elders from that time period.

From Times Square back to the Blue Ridge Mountains: Experience “Wake,” a giant animatronic sculpture by Western North Carolina-based conceptual artist and MacArthur Fellow Mel Chin, on display March 15 – Sept. 7 in the South Slope district. The work was commissioned as part of a multisite survey of his works from across many decades that took place in several New York City locations last summer. Designed by the artist and engineered, sculpted and fabricated by an interdisciplinary team of University of North Carolina at Asheville students, faculty, staff and community artists led by Chin, the interactive sculpture will feature decks and places to sit.

Sample some of the South’s best cheeses and meet participating farmstead and artisan cheese producers (and baby goats!) on the WNC Cheese Trail. Asheville-area stops include Looking Glass Creamery, Blue Ridge Mountain Creamery and Round Mountain Creamery. (Be sure to check visiting hours in advance.)

Immerse yourself in Asheville’s art scene, rich craft history, musical legacy and iconic architecture with explorations along the Appalachian Mural Trail (don’t miss the NEW fresco at Haywood Street Congregation); the NEW Blue Ridge Craft Trails (a system of drivable trails highlighting the diverse traditional and contemporary crafts found in the North Carolina mountains, with an exhibit of regional works also on display Feb. 10 – May 15 at the Western Office of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources in Asheville); the Blue Ridge Music Trails (directing visitors on where to find bluegrass, old-time and other styles of traditional music in the area); and the Asheville Urban Trail that takes you straight through the heart of downtown with a collection of sculptures and plaques underscoring the unique history, architecture and people that shaped Asheville’s vibrant culture over the years.

From West Asheville to Biltmore Village, or the River Arts District to the South Slope, Asheville’s many neighborhoods have a distinct vibe all their own. Charming nearby towns Weaverville and Black Mountain are also not to be missed.

INSIDER’S TIP: Looking to find a hike tailored perfectly to your needs? Try Explore Asheville’s NEW Asheville Hike Finder, which allows you to filter results based on difficulty, length and distance from downtown. Also pick out your view of choice from stunning waterfalls, wildflowers or mountain skylines.

For more information contact: Explore Asheville
27 College Place
Asheville, NC 28801

Asheville Winter Travel News: Surprisingly Cozy Off-Season Adventures in the Blue Ridge

Often overlooked and underrated, winter in Asheville, N.C., is a bit of a secret in a Blue Ridge Mountain city world-famous for fall color and lush summer adventure. Mostly moderate winter weather means Asheville’s Art Deco downtown remains walkable and cozy with picture-perfect long-range views of snowy peaks, romantic restaurants and easy access to hiking and walking trails. This winter brings a mix of cozy new offerings including wellness experiences to beat the winter blues, a new downtown hotel with expansive views and luxury wellness amenities, “Downton Abbey” costumes and life-sized set recreations at Biltmore, beverages to warm the soul and new cultural offerings to tuck into. www.exploreasheville.com/winter19-20/

WHY WINTER?
Stunning panoramic views, the best rates of the year and last-minute travel deals from an array of mountaintop retreats and inviting B&Bs—some offering private hot tubs overlooking the surrounding peaks and valleys, fireplaces in epic locales and the chance to see nationally traveling bands in intimate music venues. Find out more at ExploreAsheville.com/winter.

NEW HOTEL WITH EXPANSIVE VIEWS & SERENITY-THEMED AMENITIES
Just opened, the Kimpton Hotel Arras has added a new icon and four-star luxury property to Asheville’s famed Art Deco skyline. In addition to a completely new Art Deco façade for Asheville’s tallest building, the 128-room hotel offers grand views of the surrounding mountains and an extensive food focus with two restaurants by local chef Peter Pollay—Bargello, a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant, and District 42, a more casual spot with outdoor seating, small bites and hand-crafted cocktails. The hotel also offers an artisanal serenity cart, available upon request for guest room delivery, filled with everything from books by Asheville authors to lavender sachets and evening cordials. Wellness amenities also include a massage room and yoga area.

“DOWNTON ABBEY” AT BILTMORE
On the heels of the highly anticipated “Downton Abbey” movie, Downton Abbey: The Exhibition arrives at America’s Largest Home on Nov. 8 with set recreations and artifacts, more than 50 of the show’s costumes and exclusive multimedia elements. Housed at Biltmore’s Amherst and Legacy locations, the exhibition will run through April 7, 2020, and will highlight the parallels between the show, the movie and Biltmore’s Vanderbilt family, friends and staff.

COZY WINTER TOURS: TEA & TAROT, MOUNTAINTOP YOGA + ROOFTOP FIRE PITS

Winter Blues, Bye: Check out the enlightening new Tea and Tarot offering from Asheville Wellness Tours that includes an educational, traditional Chinese tea experience and a group tarot reading at one of Asheville’s coziest tea houses.
Warm Your Spirit on Top of a Mountain: Asheville Wellness Tours is offering the Yoga on the Mountain Hike this winter. Make your way through the forest and then warm your spirit with yoga under the winter sun. Enjoy a peaceful mountain, crisp fresh air and long-range views along the way.
Rooftop Fire Pits & Mountain Views: Asheville Rooftop Bar Tours offer a guided tour to some of Asheville’s most scenic spots. Winter means gorgeous sunset views, crystal clear vistas of the surrounding mountains, hot toddies and fire pits.

NEW ART MUSEUM JOINS ARRAY OF FRESH, IMMERSIVE CULTURAL ADVENTURES
Views Inside & Out:
Asheville Art Museum reopens this November with a new state-of-the-art building that features education facilities, an art library, a lecture and performance space, a new ArtPLAYce for families and children and the addition of a rooftop sculpture terrace and café with views of downtown architecture and the surrounding mountains. The opening exhibition “Appalachia Now!” is a survey of contemporary art in Southern Appalachia, highlighting 50 emerging artists from the region.

More NEW Cultural Experiences Downtown:
One of Asheville’s most beloved festivals now has a brick-and-mortar location downtown. Opening to the public this winter, LEAF Global Arts Center will be a cornerstone in the continued rebirth of the city’s historical African-American business district, The Block. The Center will offer educational experiences for guests rooted in music, art, community and culture inclusivity via a mini-theater and global immersion room using virtual reality, unique musical instruments and a stage for performances and interactive artist workstations.
Opening this November, The Center for Craft is expanding with The National Craft Innovation Hub, including new public galleries featuring local and national makers, lecture space, classrooms and a co-working space, cementing Asheville’s reputation as a force in the nation’s fine art and maker scene. To celebrate the reopening, the “Craft Futures 2099” exhibition showcases 10 local and national artists and their craft objects of the future, an exploration of what’s been and what’s to come in the world of craft. The exhibition runs until February 2020. All Center for Craft galleries are free and open to the public.

FOOD & BEVERAGE NEWS: CRAFT BEER & MAKER COLLAB, NIGHTLIFE GETS A MAKEOVER + S’MORE FLIGHTS

New Brewery Blends National Park History and Maker Culture: Set in the buildings that once housed young forestry workers of the New Deal-era Civilian Conservation Corps, Burial Beer Co.’s Forestry Camp Restaurant and Bar just opened, offering beer, wine and coffee and highlighting local makers, from bakers to artists to musicians. James Beard semifinalist Brian Canipelli, chef and owner of Cucina 24, leads the food program.
“Beauty Academy” Pairs Drinks, Food & Live Music: This newly opened venture from Charlie Hodge (Sovereign Remedies), Asheville Beauty Academy, features cocktails, champagne and brandy menus, a small food program and live music. The iconic downtown building, built in 1913, was home to the Asheville Beauty Academy in the 1950s and more recently a beloved jazz and blues bar.
Brewing Beyond Beer: New downtown brewery DSSOLVR opens this November with beer offerings fit for the pickiest of beer enthusiasts to the most casual of light beer drinkers, as well as their own mead, wine, cider and cold-brew coffee.
S’more Flights: Sunshine Sammies, known for ice cream sandwiches and their gourmet takes on after-school snacks like moon pies and zebra cakes, is making winter a little warmer with s’more flights. Think house-made marshmallows, scratch-made graham crackers, dark chocolate and toppings in a variety of rotating flavors.
Winter Teas Infuse Local Flavors: Asheville Tea Company, working with a dozen local and regional farms, is warming up spirits this winter with their Snow Day blend (utilizing French Broad Chocolate cacao nibs), Winter Wonderland (a blend of white tea, Fraser Fir, wintergreen, peppermint, birch bark and yarrow flower) and Nutcracker (black tea, cinnamon, hickory nuts and vanilla bean).

ICONIC WINTER EXPERIENCES
Discover more at ExploreAsheville.com/winter.

Unobstructed Views: Take in stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains while on a winter hike. Multiple trailhead access points remain open all year long on the Blue Ridge Parkway and across Pisgah National Forest. Find your perfect winter trail with Explore Asheville’s NEW Asheville Hike Finder, where you can sort by difficulty, distance from Asheville and features like waterfalls or views.
Best Deals: Winter offers the best rates of the year for travel deals + fewer crowds. Cozy travel packages include wellness opportunities and other winter adventures. Find more at ExploreAsheville.com/deals.
Cabin Fever: Asheville’s array of mountaintop retreats and inviting B&Bs offers private hot tubs overlooking the surrounding peaks and valleys, candlelight dinners and the opportunity to get away from it all.
Secret Season for Music: Deep-seated bluegrass roots harmonize with new talent and innovative sounds in Asheville. In winter many nationally traveling local bands come home to the region to play shows and pop in to jam sessions.
Fireplaces with a View: From rooftops to cozy spots to imbibe, Asheville’s trend of fireplaces accompanied by spectacular vistas of downtown architecture and mountain scenery is highlighted at venues like Capella on 9 at the AC Hotel Asheville Downtown and Hemingway’s Cuba at Cambria Downtown Asheville. Other hot spots with epic fireplace offerings: Omni Grove Park Inn, Pillar Bar at the Hilton Garden Inn Asheville Downtown and Wicked Weed Brewing.

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.

BEAUFORT

What to See & Do

UPCOMING EVENTS

Top 10 Attractions in Beaufort, NC

Beaufort is a community where history and coastal charm is found around every downtown corner, and where top Crystal Coast restaurants are found side-by-side with historic residences and museums. As a result, it's an easy task for sightseers to spend an afternoon, a day, or even a full week exploring the collection of sites that are situated in the immediate area, or located just a water taxi ride away.Visitors who are new to town, and who aren't sure where to start first, will want to begin their Beaufort odyssey by ensuring that these top destination are on the list.

What You'll Find in Beaufort NC

Beaufort is more than just a dot on the map, it's a lifestyle. From culinary experiences in one of its many fine-dining restaurants to strolling the boardwalk during sunset, the town offers unparalleled simplicity complemented by a beautiful waterfront. ANTIQUESIn a town as old a Beaufort is, just about everyone has antiques of one sort or another. There are three antique shops in the downtown area, each with its own character. Furniture, bottles, jewelry, ship models, decoys, paintings...all these and more can be found in Beaufort. ARTSMany artists make their homes in Beaufort.

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.

Hammock House

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.

BELMONT

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

BOONE

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

BRYSON CITY

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. 

BURLINGTON

What to See & Do

Conservators Center

We didn't know what to expect when we arrived at the Conservators Center, but left knowing we'd probably return again when visiting this area. The most unexpected experience was hearing our tour guide do an 'oofing' - an loud, eerie sound -- followed by a collective roar from the lion prides. It was a sound we'll never forget. As we walked on the fairly level paths, we got close up views of the wolves, tigers, leopards, New Guinea singing dogs, servels, jungle cats, and much more - representatives of many other species. From our guide, we heard the background and facts of each species, and got to watch as several of the animals were being fed.

The Conservators Center is a nonprofit wildlife park focused on "educating the public abou the animls we share our plant with." The professional staff provides loving care to more than 70 residents that represent species from across the globe. And, the best way to observe the animals is to participate in the Adventure Tours that range for adults from 13 years of age and up to 1.5-2 hours, and for the Family, ages 3 and up, 1-1.5 hours. During the Treats and Toys Tour, watch the guide present residents with treats and learn about the work done here. Good for all ages from 1.5-2 hours. The Twilight Tour includes evenings of unique sights and sounds as the wolves, jungle cats, and more call at the end of the day. This is available from April through September and ranges for adults ages 13 and up for 2-2.5 hours and for families, ages 3 and up, 1-1.5 hours.

If you have young children (up to 7 years old) , perhaps try Whiskers and Tails try and learn about the many different species at the Center and their special features. Time allowed is 45 minutes - 1 hour, while the Premium Experiences include an in-depth tour tailored to your interests, with a personal guide focused on providing an amazing and unique experience just for you.

Note: Wear sturdy shoes; no flip flops. When you sign in at the reception building, look around at the numerous gifts including books, stuffed animals and more. The rest rooms are also in this building. Reservations are required for all tours. Go to website www.conservatorscenter.org for more details and pricing.

Location: 676 E. Hughes Mill Road, Burlington, NC 27217 or 888-650-1139.

Where to Stay

Drury Inn & Suites

We stayed at this recently opened hotel and truly enjoyed the free hot breakfast with more choices of food than we can remember in other chain hotels -- plus hot food & cold beverages each night at the 5:30 p.m. Kickback program. Unfortunately we were never back on time to participate in this offer because we were too busy touring the town. But, we made up for it by having free soda and fresh popcorn from 3-10 p.m. daily. Our room was modern, large and quite comfortable with free wirelss Internet, free 60 minutes of long-distance phone calls, and a guarantee of 100% satisfaction. We immediately joined the hotels Drury Gold Key Club Loyalty program since we knew we'd look for the Drury chain on other trips. There are microwaves and refrigerators in all rooms, plus meeting rooms and two-room suites and indoor/outdoor pool and whirlpool. Wish we had time to enjoy the fitness center that's open 24 hours daily. For those here on business, there's also a 24-hour business center.

Location: The hotel is located at Alamance Crossing, an upscale shopping mall with many restaurants and a multi-screen cinema complex. For more details, contact Drury Inn & Suites Burlington at 1767 Glidewell Drive, Burlington, NC 2721 or call 336-584-2004 (800-Druryinn or web site DruryHotels.com.

CAPE LOOKOUT

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.

CARY

The Umstead Hotel and Spa Invites Travelers “Into the Woods”

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.

CHAPEL HILL

Where to Eat

Kipos Greek Taverna

We were greeted with a friendly smile the minute our group entered Kipos Greek Taverna, and while waiting for our server to take our orders, I gazed around the restaurant and was pleased with the unique decor. "Mama" - an elderly lady from Greece and one of the special bakers at the restaurant, came over to introduce herself to us and we enjoyed speaking to her. From our server, we learned all the specialities - including Olga's Handmade Phyllo Pies, known as Spanakotiropita - consisting of Spinach ad feta. When we tasted it was delicious, as were the other dishes we ordered, including the Kalamata Olives with Orange zest and red peopper, the fresly baked Pita bread, Shrimp Saganaki with Ouzo, Ïeta and tomatoes, , Marouli, hand-sheared greens, scallions, dill, lemon vinaigrette, and a bountiful salad the restaurant made for the first time with a mix of greens, red and black beets and more. We also had lamp chops, Moussaka - eggplant, local beef, potato, bechanmel souffle, and so much more I didn't have room for dessert - but couldn't resist the whole, grilled fish made with lemon oil, spinach rice pilaf, and vegetables, plus the thrill of having out server debone it right in front of us. When in the area, we'll definitely return. Kipos is located at 431 W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill, NC. they offer private spaces and catering services as well as to-go food.

For more details go to web site www.kiposchapelhill.com or call 919-425-0760.

Where to Stay

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

Hyatt Place Chapel Hill/Southern Village

Hyatt Place Chapel Hill/Southern Village opened its doors just about a week before we arrived in mid-May, 2017. And, we were the first to occupy one of the rooms which we found to be in contemporary style and very comfortable. As we toured the hotel, we discovered more of the Hyatt Place brand's - casual atmosphere and wonderful amenities, including free Wi-Fi and 24-hour food offerings. D.R. Bryan of Bryan Properties is the developer and principal owner of Southern Village, including the new Hyatt Place hotel.

At first, we thought the hotel was the only building around - but located just outside downtown Chapel Hill, it was nestled on the edge of Southern Village, a walkable community with shops, eateries, local grocery store and a theater. It was also located close to Park-and-Ride with access to the University of North Carolina campus, as well as the Town of Chapel Hill walking trails, and the quaint community of Southern Village where you can choose to live in an apartment or private home -- with a school within walking distance. At night, hotel guests can wander over to Southern Village to enjoy a concert or other event, or hop a bus for less than one quarter of a mile from a transit stop or take your own car.

The hotel offers 110 spacious guestrooms with separate paces to sleep, work and play, as well as a cozy corner sofa-sleeper, free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel, a Gallery Kitchen Breakfast that we loved - for you have a wide selection of food, from a free hot breakfast, fresh fruit, oatmeal, Greek yogurt and more - and it was exceptionally clean manned by two people to make certain everything was in order.

The 24/7 Gallery Menu & Market serves freshly prepared meals day or night and offers packaged sandwiches and salads to enjoy on the premises or for an outside picnic. There's also a Coffee and Cocktails Bar featuring specialty coffes and premium beers, as well as wines and cocktails, plus shuttle service available for trips within a five-mile radius of the hotel from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

As we toured the hotel, we viewed the meeting spaces offering over 1,740 square feet of flexible, high-tech meeting/functionn space, and the 24-hoiur gym filled with cardio equipment with touchscreens, Pandor and netflix access and free ear buds.

When we're visiting Chapel Hill again, we'll definitely opt to stay in this lovely, comfortable hotel. For more information visit hyattplace.com.

What to See & Do

Horace Williams House

This, the only historic home in town open to the public, was built during the 19th century and owned by a succession of University professors. It has been remodeled through the years in a varity of styles - having originally been a farm house. Inside you'll find art exhibits, music concerts and special events. Admission is free and the home is open Thursday-Friday from noon to 4 p.m, Sundays 1-4 p.m., and other times by appointment.

When I was there, a wonderful exhibit of beautiful wooden bowls and other wooden objects for sale was on display on the second floor.

Location: Horace Williams House, 610 East Rosemary Street, Chapel Hill, N.C. For more information e-mail preservationchapelhill.org.

CHARLOTTE

What to See & Do

What's New in Charlotte? Plenty!!

Charlotte is on trend for fall with Instagrammable new foodie options, festival moments worthy of sharing with #charlottesgotalot and a celebration of the Queen City's history of firsts (hello, peanut butter crackers). The city was even recently named one of the most popular cities to live in America by Domino. How is that for trendy? But even with all the skyscrapers, hotels and new breweries to add to its repertoire, Charlotte still celebrates its longstanding traditions. For fall, you'll find some well-known chefs doing new things in the QC, a festival season with both new offerings and well-established events, and a royal welcome for the city's big 2-5-0.

New Culinary Movers and Shakers:Charlotte's taste for new and innovative culinary concepts continues to attract big-name restaurateurs. Well-known chefs and owners like William Dissen (Asheville's The Market Place), Craig Deil (Charleston's Cypress), Gary Crunkleton (Chapel Hill's The Crunkleton), Ford Fry (Atlanta's Superica) and Paul Verica (Waxhaw's Heritage Food + Drink) have all set up shop here.

Fall Into Festival Season: Festivals reign supreme during the fall months in Charlotte and for good reason: Slightly crisp temperatures with lots of sunshine are perfect for spending time outdoors for long days of celebrations. And while the change of season is one reason to rejoice, Charlotte has become home to a diverse landscape of cultures and people, with great traditions and talents worthy of planning a trip around the festivities. Longstanding favorites like Charlotte Pride, Festival of India and Yiasou Greek Festival attract locals and travelers alike. Read more here.

Charlotte Celebrates 250th Anniversary: Incorporated on Dec. 3, 1768, Charlotte the largest city in the Carolinas is celebrating its 250th anniversary through 2018-19. While many think of Charlotte as a brand new city, it is also a destination full of hidden history. And when it comes to being No. 1, Charlotte proudly lays claim to many firsts, including mainstream innovations like orange traffic barrels, the patent for air conditioning, peanut butter crackers and computer-linked ATMs. But before these modern-day marvels, Charlotte was also making history in its formative years. Read more here.

Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority
The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA) works to deliver experiences that uniquely enrich the lives of our visitors and residents. Through leadership in destination development, marketing and venue management expertise, the CRVA leads efforts to maximize the region's economic potential through visitor spending, creating jobs and opportunities for the community. Brands supported by the CRVA include the Charlotte Convention Center, Spectrum Center, Bojangle's Coliseum, Ovens Auditorium, NASCAR Hall of Fame, Charlotte Regional Film Commission and Visit Charlotte in conjunction with the region’s destination marketing brand. For more information, visit charlottesgotalot.com.

Carowinds Unleashes Southeast’s Tallest, Fastest and Longest Coaster

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

N.C. Music Factory Butters up Charlotte

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
Admission
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!

Charlotte’s Wells Fargo Cultural Campus Continues to Rise Skyward

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.
www.ritzcarlton.com; 704-547-2244

DURHAM

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

What to See & Do

Five Things You Might Not Know About Fayetteville

1. The greater Fayetteville community boasts one of the Top 10 ziplines in the United States, Zipquest Waterfall and Treetop Adventure. ZipQuest boasts one of the largest waterfalls in the eastern Carolinas. In addition to daytime zipping, you can don a helmet with lights and zip at night. But that's not the only adventure in the Fayetteville area. ParacleteXP offers indoor "skydiving" in a wind tunnel. You can either take part and train yourself, or sit back and watch. The world-famous Golden Knights train at ParacleteXP. Learn more on the All-American Adventure Trail.

2. Two prominent late 19th century African-Americans called Fayetteville home. The nation's first well-known African-American novelist, Charles W. Chesnutt, grew up in Fayetteville and was principal of The State Colored Normal school (which evolved into Fayetteville State University) from 1880 to 1883. Eastern North Carolina was the setting and source of Chesnutt's most important works. Meanwhile, Fayetteville native Hiram Revels became the nation's first African-American U.S. senator in 1870. He was born to free black parents in Fayetteville in 1827. Learn more on the African-American Cultural Heritage Trail.

3. You may know that George Herman "Babe" Ruth hit his first home run as a professional baseball player in Fayetteville. Ruth hit the homer during 1914 spring training with the Baltimore Orioles. A piece of baseball history that you may not know - Olympic athlete Jim Thorpe also played professional baseball in Fayetteville. Thorpe played baseball for the Fayetteville Highlanders starting mid-season in 1910. Thorpe batted .250 in 16 games as the Highlanders won the Eastern Carolina title. A lengthy home run Thorpe hit as matched only by Ruth's a few years later. Both home runs are still part of local lore. More Cumberland County Sports History.

4. During his 1825 tour of the United States, "Americas Favorite Fighting Frenchman" °© the Marquis de Lafayette - made his way south to visit Fayetteville, the only namesake city he visited. He later remarked about the warmth of his welcome. The community offers a Lafayette Cultural Heritage Trail that takes visitors to each of the sites Lafayette visited during his stay. 

5. James Stillman Rockefeller's Winter Estate, Long Valley Farm, is located at Carvers Creek State Park in Northern Cumberland County. The Fayetteville region's first state park, Carvers Creek is home to the rare Long Leaf Pine Ecosystem. The ecosystem is home to endangered species, including the Red Cockaded Woodpecker. Nearby Fort Bragg won several environmental awards for its natural resources conservation efforts, in part because of its protection of the Red Cockaded Woodpecker.
For more information, contact the Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
245 Person Street, Fayetteville, NC 28301

Fayetteville"s 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

FORT MACON

Fort Macon

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.

GREENSBORO

What to See & Do

Civil Rights Takes a Front Seat in Greensboro

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

HIGHLANDS

Where to Stay

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

Old Edwards Inn and Spa  Exceeds the NC GreenTravel Green Standard for the Lodging Industry

 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.

ABOUT HALF-MILE FARM Purchased by Old Edwards Hospitality Group in 2015, Half-Mile Farm is a luxury country inn surrounded by fourteen acres of fields, forests, streams and trails. It features 15 guest rooms with an additional eight rooms in three rustic-luxe cabins that can be booked in their entirety or as individual suites. Guests of Half-Mile Farm enjoy a chef-prepared breakfast, complimentary hors d'oeuvres, wine and soft beverages during afternoon social hour, bicycles, a heated outdoor pool and hot tub, along and a private lake for canoeing and paddleboarding. For more information, visit www.halfmilefarm.com

HILLSBOROUGH

What to See & Do

Ayr Mount

Built in Federal-style in 1815, this plantaation house just outside historic Hillsborough, was home to William Kirkland and four generations of the Kirkland family for 170 years. A nephew of the last direct Kirkland descendant sold the house to Dick Jonrette in 1984. Ayr Mount was the first major brick residence (built by slaves) in this region of colonial wood frame houses, and was considered the finest residential structure in the central Carolina area. Inside, visitors will be taken on a tour, learn a lot of the history, and see numberous Kirkland family possessions that have survived and reflect that the original furnishings were very stylish.There is also furnitu re and other decorative arts of the period, including work attributed to Duncan Phyfe.

Open to the public mid-March through mid-December, the house is part of Classical American Homes Preservation Trust. Group tours are available year-round by appointment. Aye Mo unt is ten miles from Duke and UNC campuses.

For more information please contact the Classical American Homes Preservation Trust, 69 East 93rd Street, New York, NY 10128 or call (212) 369-4460 or check web sitewww.classicalamericanhomes.org.

HOPE MILLS

more soon

LINVILLE

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 luke@grandfather.com and 828-737-0833.

MOUNT AIRY

Andy Griffith Museum Opens in Real-Life Mayberry

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

OAK ISLAND

More soon!

OCRACOKE ISLAND

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

Ocracoke Lighthouse-

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.

Banker Ponies-

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.

OUTER BANKS

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.

PINEHURST

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. For more information call 800-487-4653; or check web site www.pinehurst.com/carolina_historic_hotel.asp

RAEFORD

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

RALEIGH

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

SAXAPAHAW

What to see & do

Haw River Farmhouse Ales

I'm not a beer drinker, but was very pleased that my husband and I stopped in at this brewery -- because the beers we tried were really excellent. To taste 3-4 beers, ask for a 'flight' -- served beautifully, it's a reasonable price and a way to see which you like best.

We were lucky to be there when a tour was being held and we learned how this craft beer is made from wild yeast harvested locally, and how the beer is Belgium style with a bit of southern flavor. It's available either in bottles or cans for sale and also on tap at the cozy bar. Breakfast is served with a variety of different things you can order - including St. Benedict's Breakfast in Trappist-style with oatmeal and coffee for $3 half; $6 full; and grande for 14/18. There are picnic tables outside, and in the back is a lovely view of the Haw River. You'll find traditional ales made with local organic ingredients, and during the tour you'll see barrels containing aged beers and spotless stainless steel equipment. It's all very interesting and, if you're lucky, you'll be here on a day when Vanilla Soda (non-alcoholic) is offered. Don't miss it; it's truly yummy and kids and adults alike love it.

Location: 1713 Saxapahaw-Bethelhem Church Road, Saxapahaw, N.C. 27340. Call 336-525-9270 for hours and also for events that are held regularly.

Saxapahaw General Store

As soon as I entered this store I was overwhemed. In every direction and in every corner, there were people of all ages, including families with babies and young children. Then I focused on what was going on. There was a long line at the front counter waiting to place their order for lunch. Ahead, there was row upon row of various merchandise. Sincer I was hungry, I decided to buy lunch. Only problem was I didn't see any menus, so I asked someone on line where the menus were. He pointed to a couple of blackboards and said those were the 'specials of the day.'" I could hear my stomach growling for food as I checked the long chalk marked list and it was tough to decide. Then I was told to get on line to pay in advance and find a table. That was difficult, too, because I only saw a couple of small tables and very long tables. My friends and I chose the long ones and waited about 20 minutes for someone to bring our selections. I thought the food was good and plentiful - but the flies were trying to beat me to my lunch. Quite annoying having them all around us and the food.

When I finished eating I explored the multitude of shleves and found normal cnned food, exotic food, a good selection of wine, and much, much more. The general store was obviously 'the' stop for locals and visitors to buy just about anything they wished. As I was leaving, I saw several tables in the shade on the side of the building and I thought that next timer I'd sit outdoors to eat because, strangely, no one seemed bothered by filies in that area.

The restaurant prides itself on "all things local" and popular items include local goat burgers, beef short ribs, a local blend roasted coffee, and its frozen take-home frozen meat. Here you can also find pet supplies, car supplies, fresh vegetables, local ice cream in lots of flavors, pork belly, etc.

I had been warned by locals not to buy gas at the adjoining gas station due to higher prices anywhere else. I'd love to get back to the general store one day because I could spend at least 3-4 hours just checking the items on the shelves. It's well worth going to this store.

Location: 1735 Saxapahaw-Bethleham Churcgh Road, Saxapahaw, N.C.27340

Hours: Open seven days a week. Mon-Fri: 6:30 a.m-9 p.m. at: 6:30 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sun 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Phone: 336-376-5332

ROANOKE ISLAND

OBX Bluegrass Festival

For more information contact FanBridge, Inc. - 14525 SW Millikan Way, #16910, Beaverton, Oregon 97005,

WILMINGTON

What to See & Do

Reasons to Celebrate Spring at Wilmington’s Island Beaches: Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach

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.

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.

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.

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!).

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.

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.

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.

Autumn Happenings in Wilmington

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.

WRIGHTVILLE BEACH

Get your heart racing on land or sea with these adventurous activities

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.

YADKIN VALLEY

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.




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