Three Fun Summertime Day Trips in the Piedmont
From the golden Atlantic beaches of North Carolina to the Great Smoky Mountains, our state is a natural playground for those whose recreational interests range from biking to hiking to wine tasting and beyond. In the Piedmont region alone, there are opportunities galore to get out of town for a half- or full-day adventure that are sure to entertain the entire family.
Just a short drive from Raleigh, scenic Mount Airy will immediately seem familiar to anyone who’s seen an episode or two of The Andy Griffith Show over the years, the setting of which was based on the small town of Mount Airy – Andy Griffith’s own home town. The quaint streets and neighborhoods of this charming community continue to draw visitors today with such attractions as the William F. Carter house, Galloway Opera House, Holcomb Hardware and Mount Airy Museum of Regional History, while Mayberry R.F.D. aficionados enjoy visiting and reminiscing at the Andy Griffith Museum and Playhouse, Floyd’s Barber Shop, the Mayberry Replica Courthouse, Wally’s Service Station and Mayberry Courthouse. The fun annual Mayberry Days festival occurs in late September each year, drawing thousands.
The location of this idyllic town is the perfect starting point for visits to the many wineries of the Yadkin Valley, and an ideal town to visit for its many parks, greenways, museums and historic sites. The beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway is an easy hour’s drive from Mount Airy, and Pilot Mountain State Park, with its extensive hiking trails and campsites and the iconic, distinctive peak of Pilot Mountain, is also a brief car ride away.
Explore a Piedmont Vineyard
You won’t have to travel far to visit one of North Carolina’s dozens of outstanding Piedmont-region wineries and vineyards. Situated in scenic rural settings between Raleigh in the east to Charlotte in the west, North Carolina’s Piedmont wineries offer tours, tastings and opportunities to explore vineyards and winemaking operations in many of the most scenic areas of the state.
- The family-friendly Catawba Farms Vineyard & Winery, less than an hour from Charlotte, has something for everyone, with an on-site tasting room, vineyard, picnic area, farm animals for the kids, and an historic inn which also serves as a bed & breakfast. Wine, of course, is available to purchase by the glass, bottle or case, and Friday through Sunday, food is also prepared for purchase. Find out more about Catawba Farms here: https://www.ncwine.org/listing/catawba-farms-vineyard-winery
- The picturesque, 35-acre Cypress Bend Vineyards produce a broad range of 16 Muscadine – or Scuppernong – table wines. The winery features an outstanding tasting room, retail shop offering food and snacks for purchase, and a large, comfortable front porch for sipping wine and enjoying the expansive views of the grounds. Jazzy Fridays, occurring every Friday year-round, are a great opportunity to socialize with friends and family, enjoy some dancing, and hear some fabulous live jazz in an outdoor tent. https://www.cypressbendvineyards.com/
- Pittsboro’s Chatham Cider Works produces small batch, traditional hard ciders made from North Carolina apples. Guests are able to enjoy samples of all ciders at the distillery room on-site, and purchase bottles or kegs of all ciders in the shop. Tours are offered upon request. Find out more about Chatham Cider Works, here – http://chathamciderworks.com/
If your passion for wine is such that just ONE vineyard or winery or wine-tasting room is never enough for your adventurous palate, an outing along one of North Carolina’s wine trails might be just the ticket for you. North Carolina is blessed to have a coast-to-coast climate that allows for the growth of all major grape varieties, and as such, there are plenty of regions in which it’s possible to visit multiple wineries in a day, or even half-day. North Carolina’s has several “official” (and plenty of non-official) wine trails, or suggested itineraries, among which are these:
- Yadkin River Wine Trail. A group of five wineries in Boonville and East Bend. The Yacking Valley is packed with top-notch wineries.
- The Haw River Wine Trail includes wineries near Burlington and Alamance.
- The Blue Ridge Wine Trail winds its way through the picturesque countryside of North Carolina and southern Virginia.
- North Carolina’s Southern Gateway Wine Trail, Shallowford Wine Trail, and Swan Creek Wine Trail are also located in and around the fertile Yadkin Valley.
- Though not in the Piedmont, the Banner Elk Winery, Grandfather Vineyard and Winery and 1861 Restaurant and Winery comprise the fairly new, scenic Boone Area Wine Trail.
Battleship North Carolina
Across the river from downtown Wilmington, the remarkable Battleship North Carolina invites visitors to step aboard for an immersive learning experience all about the ship’s impressive legacy. The first of several battleships to join the American fleet in World War II, she and her sister ship – the Battleship Washington – comprised the entire North Carolina Class, ships considered, at the time, the world’s greatest in terms of weaponry. During World War II Battleship North Caorlina took part in every major battle in the Pacific, successfully defending dozens of attacks on U.S. aircraft carriers and earning 15 battle stars in the process.
In 1947, after several post-war years serving as a training vessel, Battleship North Carolina was decommissioned, and after a campaign by the citizens of N.C. to save her, brought to her current location in Wilmington. The ship was dedicated in 1962 to all the North Carolina servicemen and women who served – and perished – during the Second World War.
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