In a beautiful state like ours, you don’t have to travel far to escape the everyday. Here are some of our favorite places to go when we want to get away from it all (without having to drive too far).
“We’ve been up to Boone several times and loved it! Go on a hike on Rough Ridge, right off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Head to Grandfather Mountain’s swinging bridge. Then enjoy a great dinner at Vidalia (get the fig and prosciutto salad and one of their comforting pasta dishes). Stay at the Lovill House Inn bed and breakfast – it’s super quaint with extremely warm hosts and a light, social breakfast. And shopping at the Mast General Store is a must!”
-Rory Kelly Gillis, Senior VP of Publishing
Glen Burney Trail and Glen Marie Falls Trail in Blowing Rock
Tucked away but easily accessible from town, these adjacent trails offer great falls you can wade in, are dog- friendly and not too strenuous. The trails also have a small, designated parking lot and are a short walk from downtown Blowing Rock, where you can visit dozens of locally owned shops, restaurants and wine vendors.
“We really love Hickory Nut Gap Farm out near Asheville. We’ve been in the fall mostly, but they host a number of fun events for families throughout the year, like Friday Night Barn dances that start in the spring. It’s a beautiful little farm with delicious food and a really fun gift shop. And the view couldn’t be better.”
-Cait Hawley, Digital Service Representative
Hanging Rock State Park in Danbury
About 40 minutes north of Winston-Salem, awesome hikes include one trail leading down to a waterfall, and another leading up to the giant stone cliff for which the park is named. Reward yourself for your hard work with a pint at Foothills Brewing as you head back to Durham.
Fonta Flora Brewery in Morganton
Easy to get to on your way to Asheville or Charlotte from the Durham area, their beer is described as “Appalachian style,” and they source everything from ingredients to bottle art locally. Dogs and kids are welcome and they offer some snacks, making the tasting room a great afternoon pit stop.
“For me, Lake Gaston is the place. The Pointe at Lake Gaston in Littleton, N.C. (it’s a restaurant, bar and tiki hut with a marina next door) is a great spot to watch a sunset or rent a boat for a day and enjoy the lake.”
-Thorne Daubenspeck, Director of Sponsorship and Digital Sales
Umstead State Park in Raleigh
A fantastic spot for hiking and camping, the park has several options of trail lengths and two convenient access points (Reedy Creek or Crabtree Creek). Each trail provides beautiful scenery, river views and relatively moderate inclines. Several sections also include remnants of the Company Mill, ruins of homesteads and even some gravesites. Well-insulated from major roads, visitors can enjoy a break from the hustle and bustle and tune in to the peaceful sounds of owing water, singing birds and crunching leaves underfoot.
“For a quick, not so far off, getaway, [my dog] Riggins and I like to hike around the Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area in Hillsborough. It’s perfect for quick, non- strenuous hiking. There are both wooded spaces and open green spaces, making it a great place for furry friends to tag along.”
-Chelsea Rush, Marketing Manager
Located in the North Carolina Museum of Art park, this human-size camera obscura reflects the sky onto the walls around you. Shut the door, take a seat and wait a few moments for your eyes to adjust to the darkness – soon peaceful, slow-rolling clouds and swaying tree branches will surround you.
“One of my favorite under-the-radar roadside spots is The Biscuit Company (there’s one in Asheboro and one in Ramseur). Their fluffy chicken biscuit could give my local favorite, Sunrise Biscuit in Chapel Hill, some stiff competition.”
-Jessica Stringer, Executive Editor, Chapel Hill Magazine
Barnyard Antiques in Burgaw
This unique shop features room after room of things you never knew you needed. If all that shopping works up your appetite, pop across the street to Holland’s Shelter Creek for fresh, fried seafood, frog legs and veggies.
The Fat Pelican at Carolina Beach
An amazing place for those 21 and older to spend an afternoon, it has become one of the most popular dive bars in the state. Walk into the cooler in the back and select your brew of choice, ask the bartender to open it for you and make your way to the backyard sand pit, where picnic tables and games like cornhole await you.
The legend of the lost Roanoke colony lives on every summer from May through August on the Outer Banks, and is a must-see for all ages. The longest-running symphonic drama received the Tony Honor for Excellence In theatre in 2013; the 2017 season marks the 80th anniversary of the show.