All posts by Caitlen

Carolina In The Fall

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Heart of Folk’s Carolina in the Fall™ presented by Wilkes Communications, Inc.

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Insider’s Guide to Carolina in the Fall™

Hello Festival fans! With Carolina in the Fall going into it’s third year on September 22 & 23 2017, some of you know the ropes and some of you don’t! So, here is what we know today and this Insider will be updated regularly to get the latest info out to you.

Location

The festival is located in the heart of downtown Wilkesboro. Main Street is closed from West Street to East Street. Bridge Street is closed from South Street to North Street and Broad Street is closed from Main Street to North Street. Additionally, North Street is closed form West Street except for residents. Hope that helps!

The Carolina Stage (main stage) is located in the Open Air Market Park. The Foothills Stage is located right beside The Carolina Stage and will serve as a side stage during Carolina Stage evening changeovers.  The Hall of Fame Stage is located in The Heritage Museum(old courthouse) and will showcase mostly local bands.  The Great State Stage (located in Great State Auction Co.) will feature workshops, dancing, and a kids showcase.

A total of 10 food trucks will be lined up on Main Street from West Street to Bridge Street. The Beer Garden is located in a large tent in the Open Air Market Park. Vendors are set up along North Bridge Street.

Artists Scheduled

This year’s festival will feature some of Bluegrass/Americana/Roots music’s best bands. Some notable artists for this year are Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors, The Black Lillies, Darin & Brooke Aldridge, and of course, The Kruger Brothers. The Kruger Brothers will serve as the Festival’s host band and will feature prominently throughout.

Hours

The festival begins at 11:00AM each day and concludes at 10:30PM. Gates will open at 10:00AM. Seating is festival style and is first come first serve, so get there early for the best seats! For those that purchased a VIP ticket, The Carolina Jam™ sessions begin at 11:00PM at the Yadkin Valley Event Center at the Holiday Inn Express each evening. These sessions are scheduled for two hours, but you know musicians.

Parking

Downtown parking is available at area churches, public lots and private lots. My best advice is to take the Brushy Mountain Rd/ Oakwoods Rd exit off US Hwy 421 or the NC Hwy 268 exit onto Main Street. Each exit will bring you to downtown Wilkesboro. I am sure there will be lots of signage for parking, so pay attention and find the best spot.
*New this year will be a shuttle that will run between Wilkesboro Baptist Church, Wilkesboro Methodist Church and festival grounds. We encourage any handicapped patrons to park at the churches and to use this service for the easiest way to get to and from the festival.

What you can bring into the Festival

Like most other festivals… no coolers, no beverages, no drugs, no alcohol, no pets, no blankets. Bring your best folding chair, a jacket or sweater (this is Carolina in the Fall!), comfortable shoes and a camera to capture the memories.

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Food

The Carolina in the Fall Food Truck Championship™ will bring the region’s best food trucks to Main Street to serve up some great food to festival goers. There will be something for everyone as the Festival planners are working hard to bring trucks that serve every kind of food the region has to offer. Plan on NC Barbeque for lunch, fish tacos for dinner and some wings for an evening snack! The next day, some southern fried chicken and turnip greens followed by some Italian creation for dinner. The food will be fun!

Of course, no one will stop you from bringing your own food in! Just remember… no coolers and no beverages can be brought in.

Beverages

All of your standard beverages will be available. A local coffee shop, Talia Espresso will be set up onsite to give you that shot of caffeine to keep you going all day and evening.

As this region has become home to some of the nation’s best wines and craft beers, there will be a beer and wine garden available for those of age to sip on locally made adult beverages while they take in their favorite bands.

Food trucks will be selling sodas, teas and lemonades. There will also be a station inside of the dining tent selling canned drinks.

New this year will be the “Watering Hole”, a free water station inside of the dining tent. We wanted to find a way to eliminate plastic bottles year and decided to supply free, cold filtered water to everyone at the festival! So, plan on bringing a reusable bottle or purchasing our new commemorative Carolina In The Fall cup! *These will also be used in place of plastic cups in the Beer Garden.

Seating

This is first come, first serve festival seating at each stage.  Chairs will be available at The Hall of Fame Stage and The Great State Stage, you will need to bring your own chair to The Carolina Stage.

The Carolina Stage seating will fill up fast for the big name artists, so get there early and stake your claim. Regardless of where you sit, the sound will be amazing!

Where to stay 

Local hotels are offering festival packages. Local hotel rooms are very limited, so get your room now!! My best advice is to go online to the brand reservation website and give it a try. Camping is a great option and the Town of Wilkesboro is opening up Sewerfest for this event!! This is great news for all of the Merlefest® campers that want to come back in the fall and close out the festival season. To book your camping spot, go to http://www.wilkesboronorthcarolina.com/explore-wilkesboro-2/wfd-campgroundsewerfest and contact them to reserve a spot! They will begin taking reservations beginning in mid-July.

In Conclusion

The Festival organizers say that Carolina in the Fall ™ is about celebrating the region and the season. It is all about the music we love, the food we crave and the beverages that we share. This festival provides plenty of all three and more!

So what is Carolina in the Fall™?

My take on it is this… two days of Western NC magic that makes the other 363 days seem long. But then again, the wait makes it all the more special. The clock is ticking, the musicians are picking, the food trucks are cooking and the grapes are growing… see you downtown Wilkesboro the last weekend of September!!

Paddle Boarding in Wilkes

Paddle Boarding

Love being on the water? Love kayaking or wake-boarding?  Then why not give Paddle Boarding in Wilkes a try?  Cook’s Sporting Goods is one of the local stores that offers paddle board rentals and they are $25(per board) by the day.  Simply swing by Cook’s, load the boards(onto a vehicle that can haul them of course!), and hit the W. Kerr Scott Dam or travel along the Yadkin River.  The type of trip you are looking to experience is completely your choice!

Tricks of the Trade

What to Wear.  Swim suits of any kind will work.  Girls- one or two piece, Guys- shorts (& a tee if you want the protection from the sun)  I typically wear a swim suit and shorts just to give myself a little extra coverage when sitting/standing on the board, but anything is fine, as long as it is water-proof and comfortable.  Sunscreen- Be sure to put on a good layer of sunscreen before heading out!  You will most likely not be able to take any out on the water with you, so be smart and put it on in advance!  Sunglasses/Hat-  Again, it will most likely be sunny when you go out and the water only reflects the brightness of the sun.  Wearing sunglasses and/or wearing a hat helps cut down on the sun, so that you can enjoy the experience better!

The Paddle.  The paddles used with paddle boards adjust in length so that they are the right size for the user at the time.  In a standing position on land, hold one of your arms straight up-  The paddle should be adjusted to reach the palm of your hand.

Life Jackets.  You are required to have a life jacket on board, however you are not required to be wearing it unless you are 13 or under.  I have found that it is easier to paddle without one, but if you choose to get in the water, you may want to put it on so you can float around a bit.  My recommendation is tie the life jacket to your board and let it lay on the back of the board- it shouldn’t go anywhere!  However, if you feel more comfortable wearing one the entire time, then definitely do:)  Your safety is the most important thing!

The Board.  Before you begin standing on the board, I recommend starting out in a sitting position on the board once it is in the water.  Give yourself a little time to get comfortable on your board and then work your way up to a kneeling position.  Balance is key when it comes to paddle boarding and you want to make sure you have your balance before you try to stand!  Once you feel confident in a kneeling position, try standing shoulder width apart on the middle of the board.

Paddling.  Now you are up and look like a pro!  But wait- How do you get around??  You have a paddle(that should be adjusted to fit you perfectly) and you will be surprised at how fast you are able to get around just by using it!  If you are interested in going to the right, paddle on the left and if you are interested in going to the left, paddle on the right.  If you want to keep moving forward, alternate paddling on each side.

Fitness.  Paddle Boarding is a great way to workout and challenge your body in new ways.  As you paddle, you have the option of just working your arms and shoulders, or getting your entire body involved and working several different muscles- the choice is yours!  *For those of you looking for an even bigger challenge- try out some yoga poses on the boards!  Yoga classes on the water are becoming very popular and they take immense concentration and practice!

The View.  While you are floating around the Yadkin or W Kerr Scott, take in the views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, of the wildlife, and of the sun setting.  You never know what you might see!

*Tip-  When paddle boarding on a lake or in an area where there are boats and jet skis, there will definitely be a few moments of bumpy waters.  This is not something I prefer to experience standing on a paddle board, so I typically get in a sitting position either indian style or legs out in front of me and continue paddling.  The main thing is to stay calm, the chances of your board flipping are slim.  Just stay aware of your surroundings and of the water.  Make sure you are comfortable and if you are not, paddle to a different location to where there is calm water.

Most ImportantlyHave FUN!!! Paddle Boarding is a blast, especially if it is something you have never tried before.  Bring your friends, bring your family, bring your significant other- and Give Paddle Boarding in Wilkes a Try!!

Troutacular

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Kids-Fishing-Day

The Town of Wilkesboro and their sponsors proudly host Troutacular for Kids at Cub Creek Park. This is a bi-annual event that happens on the third Saturday of April and of October. NC Wildlife stocks the creek prior to the event, so kids are sure to have a successful day of fishing! Here’s what you need to know:

Registration begins the day of event at 9:00am.
A NC Wildlife Agent and sponsors will be onsite during the event to answer any questions.
An adult must accompany anyone ages 15 and under.
Kids ages 15 and under do not need a valid fishing license.
Ages 16 & above can fish after the event is complete (noon).
Age 16 and above are required to have a valid fishing license.
Bring your own rods if you have them. There will be some rods that can be rented with a Wilkes County Public Library Card.

Event Location: Cub Creek Park 206 S. Bridge Street Wilkesboro, NC 28697

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Top 10 Things to Do in Wilkes

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Recently we were asked what the top 10 things to do in Wilkes were.  We have put our heads together and come up with the list!  Below are the things we feel Wilkes does best.

1.  Local Shops.  Wilkes has some really great locally owned stores.  Each has such great character, wonderful owners, and speciality items you won”t find anywhere else.  A few of our personal favorites include; Cook”s Sporting Goods, Ivy Ridge Traditions, Quick Frame, and Gloria Sews.

2. Get Outside.  Located by a beautiful body of water, Wilkes residents have access to fishing, boating, hiking, mountain biking, and camping!  W. Kerr Scott Lake truly has something to offer for everyone.  Whether you want to drive out to the lake for a low key evening of watching the sunset on the water, or an extreme day of jet-skiing on the lake, you can do that here!  The lake also has 30 miles of mountain bike trails that can not only be used for biking, but hiking or trail running (just look out for mountain bikers!).

 

3.  Take in a Movie.  Wilkes is fortunate to have two theaters, both offering a different experience for movie-goers.  The Liberty is nestled in quant Downtown North Wilkesboro in an original downtown building.  The Liberty offers movie-goers a more traditional theater experience with two screens.  Two Rivers Cinemas is a brand new theater in Wilkesboro, with six movie screens and stadium seating.  Both have delicious popcorn, fizzy drinks, and candy available to munch on during your feature film.

www.libertytheatrenc.com

www.tworiverscinemas.com

4.  Visit a State Park.  Stone Mountain State Park is in the northeast part of the county and a huge tourist draw.  Visitors come from all over the state and country to hike, climb and camp at Stone Mountain.  Whether you are an avid climber or just a beginner level hiker, Stone Mountain has something for you!  Check out the link below for more info!

http://ncparks.gov/Visit/main.php

5.  Do a Tasting.  Wilkes is part of the Yadkin Valley, which is known for its” wonderful vineyards and wineries.  Visitors can check out the Yadkin Valley Wine Trail and pick and choose which ones sound the best to them.  Most vineyards have set hours for tastings and tours.  They also sell their wine by the bottle and case.

http://www.yadkinvalleywinecountry.com

6.  Attend a Concert.  Due to the music history in this part of the state, Wilkes is known the “Heart of Folk”.  The last weekend of April brings a four day music festival to Wilkes known as MerleFest.  This festival is a tribute to Merle Watson and his father, Doc Watson. Americana and bluegrass music is the dominate genres to be heard at MerleFest, but there is truly a little bit of everything.  A new festival called Carolina In The Fall will begin in September 2015 and will be a celebration of the music, food and beverages of the region.  The festival will be hosted by The Kruger Brothers.  Music on Main is a concert series that features local and national bands once or twice a month.  This series features smaller shows at Talia Espresso in downtown North Wilkesboro, and bigger name bands at the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame at the Heritage Museum in Wilkesboro.

www.merlefest.org

www.carolinainthefall.org

www.heartoffolk.com

7.  Chow Down.  Most would assume since Wilkes is located in the south that we only have southern restaurants, but that is not the case!  We have Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Mexican, Italian, American, and several really great BBQ joints.  There are also several ice cream and frozen yogurt shops for those looking to satisfy their sweet tooth.  Check out the link below for local eateries:

http://visitwilkesboronc.com/dine/

8.  Appreciate the Visual Arts.  Wilkes is lucky to have a great art gallery featuring talented artists.  The art gallery also does wine & paint nights for the community.  These events are every 1st Thursday of the month and can also be scheduled for private groups on other nights.  The art gallery also does birthday parties, wedding receptions, and corporate events.

http://www.wilkesartgallery.org

9.  Get Fit.  The Wilkes Family YMCA and the Wilkes Express YMCA have special classes available for individuals of all ages.  Whether you are interested in an intense pilates session or a beginner level swim class for kids, the Y has you covered.  There are leagues that also meet and play different team sports throughout the year.  Choose which activity sounds most like you and get active!

http://ymcanwnc.org/locations/wilkes/

10.  Tie the Knot.  Wilkes is home to several beautiful wedding destinations.  It seems that the newest trend in weddings is to have an outdoor ceremony and if this sounds like what you are interested in, Wilkes has lots of options.  With everything from our local vineyards and wineries, to outdoor chapels and rustic barns, Wilkes has something to offer everyone!

http://visitwilkesboronc.com/category/insider/wedding/

Camp Harrison

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Camp Harrison

About

Camp Harrison is affiliated with the YMCA of Greater Charlotte and is a destination for many kids ages 6-16 each summer!  It is a place where new friendships are made, beneficial life skills are learned, and a deeper level of faith is gained.  Campers have the opportunity to choose the camp track that they are most interested in, which makes camp even that much more enjoyable and memorable!

Tracks 

Traditional- This includes a variety of land activities- ropes courses, sports, team paintball and crafts

Dude Ranch- Campers get to take care of animals and fulfill ranch duties.  They work with horses, goats, chickens and a pig.  Campers learn the value and satisfaction of hard work.

Sportsman- Campers learn fishing and hunting techniques at the private lake front base camp.  They have the opportunity to use the rifle range, clay target shooting, archery, and open water fly fishing.

Farm to Feast- This is great for campers interested in learning more about cooking!  Campers take part in farm to table practices for food prep, nutritional information and meal planning, while also learning culinary skills from chefs and counselors.

Beyond the Ridge- This is for the teen campers at Camp Harrison!  Campers get to camp in the woods, and cook meals over an open fire.  They learn to experience life with other teens and navigate through life”s tests.  This is a wonderful program that promotes leadership while growing in spirit, mind, and body.

CIT Program- Counselor in Training-  Campers interested in being a part of the future Camp Harrison staff, have a wonderful opportunity in this program to learn the leadership and supervisory skills it takes!  Through interaction in cabins, leading devotionals, team building projects, and teaching activities, campers learn through experience what it takes to be a leader and an example to fellow campers. (16-17 year olds)

Camp Harrison

Why Camp Harrison? 

  • Only individuals who are positive Christian role models are hired as counselors
  • Counselors give individual attention to campers and are there to teach and be an example
  • Camp allows kids to branch out of their everyday routine, make new friends, and learn new life skills
  • There is a spiritual influence at camp and each day is a new opportunity to grow closer to God and grow stronger in their faith and character
When?

There are 10 different weeks of camp each summer, all with their own theme!  Camp runs from June through the beginning of August.  Kids are always looking for something to do during the summer, and I”m sure mom and dad wouldn”t mind to have them out of the house for a week!  There really isn”t a better place for a kid to spend a part of their summer.  They get to be outdoors, experience some new things, make new friends, and enrich their faith.

Mission

The Mission of the YMCA of Greater Charlotte is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.  Promoting the character traits of respect, responsibility, caring, honesty, and faith are all a huge part of what makes Camp Harrison such a wonderful place.

Becoming a Counselor

If you are a person filled with energy, adventure, and a passion for kids and Christ, Camp Harrison would be a great fit for you!  Each year, counselors go through in-depth interviews, must have multiple references, and a background check.  The highest quality staff is hired each summer, trained in First Aid/CPR and most are lifeguard certified.  If you think you are qualified, definitely apply online!  Each summer they count on hard-working, quality people to make camp the success that it is.

*Insider Tip- I was actually a counselor for one summer and it was the best summer of my life.  I was surrounded with individuals who encouraged and built me up every day, I was able to influence lives, and coach kids through new activities and challenges.  It was a ton of fun for not only the campers, but for myself as well.  I was able to try lots of new things I had never done before and was pushed outside of my comfort zone.  It was truly a joy working as a counselor that summer and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a meaningful summer job!

Suggestions

1.  Sign Up!  Find the session and track that best fits your kid, and get them signed up!  This is a wonderful way to spend a week during the summer, try new things, and make new friends.

2.  Become a Counselor.  Spending a summer with the focus of enriching the lives of children, is not only rewarding to them, but is an even bigger reward to you.  Being a counselor at Camp Harrison is a meaningful experience and is worth it if you feel that you have what it takes!

3.  Send a Kid to Camp on Campership.  There are kids each and every summer that are only able to go to camp because of donations made towards camperships.  There are several different options and donation amounts that can be found on the Camp Harrison website.  Camperships are such a wonderful way to help send a kid to camp that wouldn”t be able to go otherwise.

Camp Harrison Website: www.campharrison.org

Elkin Creek Vineyard

Vineyards & Winery at Elkin Creek

All About Elkin Creek 

Located in the Yadkin Valley, Elkin Creek Vineyard is a wonderful place to do a wine tasting, have a wedding, or simply enjoy a nice dinner!  Southern Living called Elkin Creek “the best in the valley”, referring to the excellent wine and food!  The land was previously a century-old mill (which can still be seen from the winery), and today it is home to 6 acres of lush vineyards and a beautiful winery.  The vineyards were planted in 2001 and are used for the 8 different types of wine available at Elkin Creek.

The Wine

Elkin CreekThe first bottles of Elkin Creek wine were bottled in the fall of 2005.  Talk about an exciting time for the owners!!  Today there are 8 different types of wine available, which include; Chardonnay, Soft White, Sangiovese, Adequate Red, Rossa, Cabernet Sauvignon, Classico, and Remembrances.  These are all as unique as the land the grapes were grown on.  With the variety of wines, and bottles ranging from only $14 to $34, there is a bottle for every taste-bud and budget:)

*Hours & Wine Tasting- The winery is open Thursday-Sunday 11-5.  Tastings are available by appointment only (336)526-5119

The Kitchen

Elkin CreekThe Kitchen at Elkin Creek is currently only open on Sundays to the public.  The talented chefs create pizzas made to order that are cooked in their wood-fire brick oven.  YUM!  What goes better with a glass of red wine than pizza??  It is strongly encouraged that you make reservations if you are planning to make a visit, the space fills up fast!  The Kitchen is also used for weddings, receptions, special parties, meetings, and other events.

Weddings at Elkin CreekElkin Creek

Elkin Creek is a wonderful location to have a wedding!  The spectacular Oak trees, May apples, Rhododendron, and Mountain Laurel create a scenic backdrop for the special event.  There are two locations where the ceremonies can take place, one setting is by two creeks coming together as one, and the other is by a more intimate setting by a gentle waterfall.  Receptions can be held in the vineyard harvest barn.  There are proposal, wedding, elopement, and renewal of vows packages available.

Cabins at Elkin Creek

At Elkin Creek there are creek-side cabins available for visitors to stay in on a nightly, or weekly basis.  The cabins have a rustic feel, but provide modern day conveniences.  All cabins feature a queen size bed, a full kitchen, a stone fireplace, LCD TVs, and back porch swings…and that”s just mentioning a few!

*Rental Rates: Weekdays (Sun-Thurs) $119/night, Weekends (2 night minimum) $135/night, and Weekly Rate $109/night


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Suggestions

1. Go see the Vineyard.  Whether you want to do a tasting, or just see the 6 acre spread, Elkin Creek is a site to see!

2. Schedule a Tasting!  Grab a group of friends and try something new!  Chances are you have never tried their wine, and it will be unlike any you have had before.

3. Visit The Kitchen.  Try a pizza cooked in their home-made wood-fire brick oven!  If you love pizza, you will love this!

4. Take a Bottle Home.  If you find a type of wine that you like, buy a bottle!  If you have a birthday of a loved one, or holiday coming up, wine also makes a wonderful gift:)

5. Stay the Night.  The Cabins are located next to a creek and are a great little escape for your normal routine.  The setting could not be more peaceful!

6. Take some Pictures.  With the lush, green vineyards as your backdrop, you are sure to get some wonderful pictures!

Horn in the West (Daniel Boone Outdoor Drama)

Horn in the West Boone, NC

All about the drama…

Horn in the West is the nation”s oldest Revolutionary War drama!  Frontiersman, Daniel Boone and the struggle for freedom during the War for Independence will come to life right before your eyes.  The drama focuses on the settlers who came to the Blue Ridge Mountains, their experiences with the Cherokee Indians, and how the future of our nation was founded.

When & Where

Horn in the West is an outdoor drama held in Boone, NC.  It runs from June 27- August 16 this year and there are nightly performances, except on Mondays.  The pre-show is at 7:30 and the main show starts at 8 each night.Inflatable 20′ Rampage Slide

If you are driving from Wilkesboro, you will need to hop on US-421 North towards Boone.  Once you have arrived in Boone, take a left at the Us-421 and US-105 intersection.  Then take the first right onto Horn Ave.  After the first stop sign, Horn in the West will be on your left!

Cost

General Admission… $20 for Adults, $10 for Children (12 and under)

Gold Level Seating… $25 for Adults, $13 for Children (12 and under) *First few rows of upper and lower sections

VIP Package… $34 for Adults, $24 for Children (12 and under) *This package includes: Complimentary Rain Insurance, Souvenir Program, VIP Lanyard, Guided Museum Tour, Daniel Boone Native Gardens Admission, Special Gift, Seat Cushion, Popcorn and a Drink

Suggestions

1. Go see the Play!!  How often do you get to see a play in an outdoor theatre nestled among the beautiful Blue Ridge MountainsInflatable 20′ Rampage Slide?

2. Take the kids!  This is a family friendly event, and the kids will love it.  Not only will they enjoy the entertainment, but they will be learning about the first settlers in this country!

3. Get Involved.  Horn in the West would not be possible without the great actors, crew members, and generous supporters!

Linville Caverns

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About Linville Caverns

Linville Caverns are the only caverns in North Carolina. A visit to these caverns allows visitors the opportunity to venture inside of a natural limestone mountain and see it”s wonders!  The caverns were first discovered in the early 1800s by a group of men on a fishing expedition who noticed a trout swimming out of the mountain.  They had never seen anything quite like it and were very intrigued by this “hidden world”.  Henry E. Colton, the man who headed up the expedition, described the caverns as, “fantastic festoons of stalactites hanging down within our touch” and “pendants that were of a delicate lightness, and a most beautiful hue”.

 

How to get to Linville Caverns

From Wilkesboro, you will need to get on US-421 and head towards Boone.  Once you get to Boone, you will take NC 105 South to Linville.  Turn right onto NC-105 at intersection Linville, then travel to the first traffic light and turn left onto US-221 South.  The cave entrance will be approximately 15miles on right!


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Tours of Linville Caverns

Today there are 35 minute walking tours through the caverns.  It stays about 52 degrees year-round and the stalactites drip water on most days.  During periods of heavy rain, the caverns will be very wet and drippy.  Because of the cooler temperatures and the dampness, I recommend wearing a jacket or sweatshirt to stay warm!  Also, be sure to wear tennis shoes, or shoes with a sturdy rubber sole.  The stalactites and stalagmites of mineral deposits are a site to see and you want to be warm and safe while doing so!

Hours & AdmissionLinville Caverns

**Hours change each month, check the website for full schedule!

  • Adults…$7.50
  • Seniors…$6.50 (62 )
  • Children…$5.50 (5-12)

Suggestions 

1. Do a tour!  Grab your jacket and a group of friends and do a walk through tour!  This will be a unique learning experience that you will always remember:)

2. Bring a group of children.  Kids will be learning about mineral composites in school, so this is a wonderful way to bring what they are learning in class to life!

3. Bring your Camera.  Cameras of any kind are welcome in the caverns.  What a neat way to take part of the experience home with you!

4. Make a Return Visit!  Chances are the caverns will continue to change and transform as the years go, so there will always be something new to see:)

Blowing Rock

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Blowing Rock

With everything from Tanger Outlet Shopping to a wonderful weekly Farmer’s Market, Blowing Rock has something to offer to visitors of all ages!  Blowing Rock is part of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and is a popular vacation destination and wedding venue.  The village part of Blowing Rock is filled with specialty boutiques offering local clothing, jewelry, gifts and artwork.

How to get to Blowing Rock

From Wilkesboro, hop on US-421 towards Boone.  You will drive approximately 20 miles, then turn left onto US-221 for about 3 miles.  You will then take a right on the Blue Ridge Parkway and drive on the parkway for about 11 miles.  Next you will merge onto US-321 S/US-221 S for a mile.  Last you will turn right onto Main St/US-221/US-321-BR. **This is the scenic Parkway route.  You can also drive through Boone!

View Larger Map

Tanger Outlets

Blowing RockIf you are looking for quality clothing at a great price, the Tanger Outlets will be the place for you.  There are over 30 outlet stores at the Blowing Rock location, as well as a restaurant and a candy & ice cream shop!  Some of my personal favorite stores are J. Crew, Polo Ralph Lauren, Banana Republic, Gap, Bass, Izod, and Carter’s.

Insider Tip- Make sure you check the Tanger Outlet Website before you go, there are always coupons for several of the stores!

Blowing Rock Village

Blowing RockThis is where you will want to park your car and do a little local shopping!  The boutiques and store owners are wonderfully unique.  Boutiques offer local fashions, jewelry, and art for visitors to purchase or admire.  If you are more of a window shopper, you can grab a cup of coffee or a cone of ice cream and stroll down main street.  There are also wonderful restaurants and a great park in Blowing Rock Village.

Local Flavor (Restaurants)

  • Best Cellar – A favorite among locals and visitors!  Offers delicious beef, fresh seafood, rack of lamb and roasting duck.  Also features an extensive wine list and private cellar.
  • Bistro Roca – An American Bistro offering salads, steaks, and seafood. Pizza, fresh breads, and roasted meats are also available from the wood-fired oven.
  • Twigs – “Mountain Elegance at it’s Best”  This is a fine dining experience that is sure to impress.  From the low country shrimp with andouille sausage and grits, to the New Zealand lamb chops, your taste-buds will definitely enjoy themselves!
  • Canyons – Casual sandwiches, burgers and southwest specialties.  Canyons has a family friendly environment and features live music on Sunday afternoons for their brunch crowd
  • Mellow Mushroom – Pizza, Calzones, Salads, etc.  The pizza is outstanding and are made to order.  They also make two types of pretzels that are simply delicious.
  • Woodlands Barbecue – Barbecue Beef, Pork, Ribs and Chicken.  Woodlands has nightly entertainment and offers a catering service.

Suggestions

  1. Visit the Shops on the Parkway!  There are stores for visitors of each and every age.  With the variety of shops here, you are bound to find something to take home!
  2. Walk through the Village.  You will have a great time walking down main street looking at the window displays and checking out the local merchandise in the shops.
  3. Get some Grub!  Whether you are looking for a casual, quick meal or a fine dining experience, Blowing Rock has something to offer!
  4. Check out the Farmer”s Market!  You will have the chance to meet local farmers and purchase some yummy fresh produce!

Grandfather Mountain

Grandfather MountainGrandfather Mountain

Grandfather Mountain offers everything from beautiful hiking trails to a nature museum, from a breathtaking mile high swinging bridge to a wildlife habitat.  Whether you are an experienced hiker, Blue Ridge Mountain lover, or simply looking for a way to spend a Sunday afternoon outside, Grandfather Mountain is the place for you!

How to get to Grandfather Mountain

Visitors can stay at the always warm and welcoming Wilkesboro Hampton Inn or at the Wilkes Holiday Inn Express.  The Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express are both a great value for the Blue Ridge Mountain explorer.  Wilkes, known for being the Gateway to the Blue Ridge Mountains, is the perfect location for all things Blue Ridge. Take US 421 from Wilkesboro headed towards Boone approximately 30 miles.  Once you have arrived in Boone you can either take the scenic route through the Blue Ridge Parkway, or take 105 South to Linville, turn left at the stoplight in Linville and take US 221 North for 2 miles.  Both are about the same distance, so it is personal preference! (I recommend the Parkway-Lots of great photo spots and little waterfalls to see along the way)

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Walking & Hiking

Grandfather offers 11 hiking trails, all of which are different levels of difficulty.  There are rugged trails for the tenured hiker, and there are shorter, more gentle trails for those wishing to venture into the woods without a strenuous trek.  The different trails can be accessed by parking lots on the various levels as you drive up the mountain.

Nature Museum

The Nature Museum houses 2 dozen exhibits on Grandfather Mountain and the surrounding area.  Visitors are able to see 62 gems and minerals found in North Carolina up close.  Another exhibit showcases the common birds of the state, as well as several other featured animals.  The animals featured here are the ones from the Wildlife Habitat which include, the black and brown bears, mountain cougars, river otters, and deer.  You will have the opportunity to learn unique facts about each of these animals!  For example, who knew that all cougars are born with deep blue eyes and later they turn gold?

Mile High Swinging Bridge

The Mile High Swinging Bridge is truly a mile above sea level!  Talk about a view!  It has been in place since 1952 and has allowed thousands of visitors the chance to take in breath-taking views.  From the bridge you can see the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, Sugar Ski Mountain, and on really clear days you can even see the Charlotte, NC skyline!

Wildlife Habitat

The Wildlife Habitats allow visitors to see animals in their natural habitat.  The animals featured here are black and brown bears, mountain cougars, river otters, and the white-tailed deer.  Visitors are able to get up close and personal to the animal habitats and take great pictures!  On weekends, there are certain times of the day when Naturalists give educational talks at the different exhibits.  This gives guests an even closer look at the daily life of the wild animals we do not commonly see.

Food & Beverage

There are lots of great picnic tables and huge rocks to lay a blanket on for a casual picnic lunch.  However, if you do not bring your own food, there is a grill next to the Grandfather Mountain Nature Museum.  Mildred’s Grill offers burgers, chicken strips, soup, and salads.  For all of you with a sweet tooth, be sure to check out The Fudge Shop just around the corner from the museum!

CostGrandfather Mountain

  • Children under 4       Free
  • Children 4-12            $9
  • Adults 13-59             $20
  • Senior 60                 $18

Suggestions

  1. Weather- It is typically 8-10 degrees colder at the peak of Grandfather Mountain, than at the base.  Dress in Layers!!!
  2. Wear comfortable tennis shoes or hiking boots, .  Do not wear shoes with a slick bottom, we want you to be safe!
  3. Clothing- Again, dress in layers and wear something comfortable!  You can do as much walking and hiking as you desire, so you will want to dress appropriately.
  4. Bring a Camera!!  You will most likely want to take a picture of everything you see!
  5. Bring Friends!  This is a great outdoor adventure, and is even more exciting when shared with others.
  6. Bring a picnic lunch and some snacks for the kids! And extra water- you are most likely going to be walking! Stay hydrated!
  7. Stay on the trails and be aware of signs.  These are here to keep you safe.  If you choose to cross the bridge and continue the trek on the peak of the mountain, be extremely cautious, and keep an extra close eye on the kiddos.  We want everyone to be able to visit Grandfather again!
  8. Visit either of the Grandfather Mountain Gift Shops and make sure you bring home a little memento of your adventure.  They have awesome comfort color t’s, coffee mugs, and personalized magnets.  Or, if you’re like me, you will want to have proof you conquered the mountain and the Mile High Bridge by getting a sticker for your car!
  9. Tell your friends & come back!! There are very distinct seasons in the mountains of North Carolina and they all have something different to offer.  Each trip to Grandfather Mountain will bring new experiences and great memories!