All posts in Attractions

Strawberry Fields Forever!



Strawberry Picking in Wilkes

Spring is a wonderful time filled with great weather (kinda rainy), beautiful nature and short sleeve shirts.  But each year as April arrives, the conversation at my house turns to…. Strawberries.  Yep, believe it or not, my wife and I begin to imagine the taste of locally grown, ripe to the center, red, delicious strawberries and strawberry pie.  As they say…. It is the simple things in life.

The Wilkes Heritage Museum


Wilkes Heritage MuseumMy first visit to the Wilkes Heritage Museum greatly exceeded my expectations. There was so much more to see than I had expected. I was fascinated by the wonderfully preserved architecture of the building and surprised at the quality of each exhibit. This may be a museum in a small town but it is not a small town museum. The Wilkes Heritage Museum serves to preserve the history and culture of an entire region.

The Wilkes Heritage Museum is home to numerous exhibits relating to industry, racing, music, folk-art, education and much more. It is also home to the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame. The building in which the artifacts are displayed was once the Wilkes County Courthouse and was built in 1902. Wilkes Heritage Museum, NASCARSeveral other buildings accompany the museum, including the Old Wilkes Jail, built in 1850, the Robert Cleveland House, built in 1779, and others. Some of the surrounding buildings are included in the museum tours and are also part of the Candlelight Ghost Tours. Among the most popular exhibits are the old schoolroom, Junior Johnson’s first racecar, and a moonshine still from the 1800s.

Wilkes Heritage MuseumEvents throughout the year include concerts, a Veterans Ceremony, book signings, theatrical performances, and a Christmas Open House each December. Candlelight Ghost Tours of the haunted sites in downtown Wilkesboro are given on scheduled evenings in the summer and fall.  The tour includes the Old Wilkes Jail, where Tom Dooley was held, the Robert Cleveland Log Cabin and much more!

The Wilkes Heritage Museum is a great place to visit for families, school groups and any who enjoy history, racing or music![divider] [/divider]

Wilkes Heritage Museum Hours and Admission.

The museum has a minimal entry fee and a gift shop where you can find great gifts, postcards and souvenirs.  The fee includes guided tours of the Old Wilkes Jail and Robert Cleveland Log Home. Guided tours are offered at 11 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm Tuesday through Saturday. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm and is closed on Sundays, Mondays, and major holidays.Historic Wilkes Heritage Museum

Admission is as follows:

  • Adults: $10
  • Seniors (age 55 & older) and students: $5
  • Children (age 4 & under): free

What to bring.

You will likely want to bring comfortable shoes as the museum is larger than it appears. Comfortable footwear may also come in handy if you chose to go on one of the ghost tours or want to walk the Yadkin River Greenway which has a trailhead beside the Robert Cleveland House. There are also several good restaurants and shops within easy walking distance from the museum.

How to get there.

The Wilkes Heritage Museum is located in Downtown Wilkesboro at 100 East Main Street.  Parking can be found on both sides of the museum and along the street.

The following video was uploaded by WXII in 2010 and much has been added to the museum since.  Don”t miss your chance to explore history at this great place!

Raffaldini Vineyards

Raffaldini Vineyards

IMG_5769 - Copy

I have heard it said that life is a journey, not a destination and that is true, but in the case of Raffaldini Vineyards, the destination is worth the journey. Getting there is a little challenging, but don’t give up. There are a few lefts and rights, a few dirt and gravel roads, but the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow makes the trip seem fun.

Arriving at the vineyard, I was struck by the setting and the architecture. The Tuscan-style villa sits atop a gentle rolling hill with views in almost every direction. It was a clear day and the mountains were especially beautiful. I parked in the lot adjacent to the winery and took a stroll through the flower gardens that lead to the entrance. Being greeted by roses and seasonal flowers, put me in a great mood before I entered the tasting room. I must admit, leaving the beauty of the setting and the amazing vistas was difficult, but I tore myself away and ventured into the villa.

The winery was no disappointment. While I have not been to Italy or visited a vineyard there, I would imagine that this is a faithful reproduction. I was certainly transported to somewhere other than the foothills of North Carolina. I was greeted with a warm hello and given instruction on how the operation works. I paid my dues and stepped up to the wine bar and was given a list of available wines to taste. I am certainly no wine connoisseur, but I know that if I must taste wine… the sweeter the better. I found a few that tilted towards the sweet side, but even the dry wines were enjoyable.

IMG_5782 - Copy

The experience was excellent and the stories told by the tender filled the time with interest. My problem was focusing on the wine when the view was so incredible. I left the tasting room and found a comfortable chair on the patio outside and just soaked in the setting. I could try to communicate what I saw and how I felt, but I am telling you that you need to go and see and hear and touch the place to fully understand. Several couples purchased bottles and made their way onto the ornate patio and sat together to enjoy the wine and the day.

I was informed that the vineyard had become a wedding destination and that they were booked up nearly a year in advance. I fully understand! What a setting to make a vow to the one you love. The only thing that I can think that would rival the beauty of the setting is a glowing bride on her wedding day. So, if you are making those types of plans, call early and often to book your weekend.

My wife and daughter enjoyed the visit as well and we plan on making a return trip this year. This time, I will know to allow for an afternoon rather than an hour and a picnic basket as well. Enjoy or as they would say “salute”.

Carolina In The Fall

CITFHeader2logo copy

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


Insider’s Guide to Carolina in the Fall™

Hello Festival fans! With Carolina in the Fall going into it’s second year in 2016, 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.


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.

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. The Kruger Brothers will serve as the Festival’s host band and will feature prominently throughout. The Infamous Stringdusters, The Steel Wheels and Symphony of the Mountains are all headliners for 2016.

With over 100 awards, Rhonda Vincent and the Rage is the most award winning band in Bluegrass Music today. Balsam Range is the 2014 IBMA Entertainer and Vocal Band of the Year award winner. The Secret Sisters have been featured on late night television with David Letterman and Jimmy Fallon. They have been busy filming their own PBS special with Elvis Costello and Jakob Dylan, and recorded music for the platinum-selling soundtrack to The Hunger Games.

Other bands scheduled to perform are Flatt Lonesome, Snyder Family Band, Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line, Front Country, Slocan Ramblers, and Locust Honey String Band.  Additional bands are to be announced.


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.


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.

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.

Food Truck_Logo_Crown


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 Thai 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.


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.


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 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!!

Top 10 Things to Do in Wilkes


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.

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!

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.

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.

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:

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.

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!

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!

MenaRick Vineyard & Winery


MenaRick Vineyard and WineryMenaRick Vineyard and Winery is a special treat nestled in the foothills of North Carolina. This family owned and operated vineyard specializes in Spanish and Portuguese varietals. With more than 8 acres of vines planted, including Syrah, Merlot, Chardonnay, Albariño, Grenacha, Tempranillo and Tinta Roriz every guest is sure to find a new favorite wine.

Mena and Rick have built this winery from the roots up! They cut the timber, cultivated the land and built the tasting room with logs from the property. Each year they make a trip to Portugal where they visit the vineyard operated by Mena”s family and search for special treasures to bring home for the winery. These treasures add a special touch to the tasting room and help to tell stories of their Portuguese history. For Mena and Rick, wine making is a passion and labor of love that they gladly share with all who visit. They encourage their guests to take in the scenery by taking a stroll by the pond, having a picnic on the hillside or relaxing with a glass of wine on the patio. This vineyard is a place to escape the bustle of everyday life and is a must see while you visit Wilkesboro NC.

How to get to MenaRick

• Head East on 421 from Wilkesboro towards Winston-Salem (about 10 miles)

• Take Exit 276 toward Red White and Blue Road

• Turn Left after exit and follow until road ends at NC-268 E/Elkin Hwy

• Turn Right onto 268 and follow for about 4 miles

• Turn Left on Hoots Road and follow for 1.5 miles

• Turn Right on Austin Little Mountain Road and follow for 2 miles

• Turn Right on Luffman Road and look for the MenaRick sign and gravel drive shortly on your Right

What to bringMenaRick Vineyard and Winery

Feel free to bring anything you may want for a picnic and be sure to pack your camera to capture the scenery. MenaRick Winery accepts debit and credit (except for American Express).

Where to stay

The Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express are only a short drive away and are located just off of Hwy 421 making them easy to find.  Both offer a delicious hot breakfast and cozy accommodations.  These two hotels frequently offer romance or wine packages which are sure to make your visit extra special!  


Click here for details.


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!!

Zaloo’s Canoes (Canoeing in NC)



Canoeing in NC

The New River is truly a treasure. It has been designated a National Scenic and Wild river and an American Heritage River. Tubing, kayaking or canoeing down the New is the best way to explore this remarkable natural treasure. The water is crystal clear (and cold) and with the exception of a small section of white water here and there, is smooth as glass. This is a great family jumpers for sale

Guide to MerleFest

MerleFest Group

It is difficult to put into words what MerleFest is and what the four days around the last weekend in April are all about, but here goes….

This year we get to enjoy again what many people consider to be the best outdoor Bluegrass/ Americana music festival in the world. Held annually on the campus of Wilkes Community College (Harvard on the Yadkin, as the locals call it), the festival that began on the back of a flatbed truck in 1988 has evolved into a campus wide, multi-stage music extravaganza. The festival is held in honor of Merle Watson, the deceased son of Doc Watson who was killed in a farming accident. Merle was a devoted musician who loved to play the guitar with Doc. For more information on Merle and the history of the festival, please visit

Read more below the break!

Rendezvous Mountain Educational State Forest

At Rendezvous Mountain you can enjoy winding trails, mountain top views and …Talking Trees!

Rendezvous Mountain Educational State Park is loads of fun for Family and school groups.  Here you can hike the trails, have a picnic and enjoy some of the many educational opportunities.  If you come on a good clear day you may even get to enjoy a hayride!  I first went to Rendezvous Mountain when I was just a little kid.  I remember taking a hayride from the parking area up the mountain where my family had a picnic.  My favorite part about the trip was the hike to see the Talking Trees!  My sister and I would race from one talking tree to the next and take turns pushing the button to hear what each tree had to teach us.  I still enjoy the Talking Tree Trail today but my favorite part now are the many hiking trails and the views. 

Tips for your trip

  • Call ahead.  You may not always need to call ahead but if you are going during the school year and want to avoid a school group it may not be a bad idea to check first. If you are taking a group of friends and family you may want to call and see if a ranger can give you a tour when you arrive.
  • Read the trail map before you get started.  Little ones may not have the energy to walk all of the trails.  Planning your hike will allow you see what you want to see first and not feel exhausted when you reach your favorite parts.
  • Take a camera!!!  The views are amazing and you are sure to see some wildlife.
  • Check the weather.  You won”t want to be there on a rainy day or during a lightening storm.  If the forecast calls for fog you may not get to see the long views until later in the day if at all.  Even if it is foggy there will still be plenty to see on the trails and at the educational sites.
  • Dress comfortably.  Anytime you travel in the mountains you will want to wear sensible shoes and dress in layers.  The weather is typically cooler at higher elevations and earlier in the morning.
  • Take a picnic! There is so much to see and so many great places to have a picnic.  Having lunch on the mountain will be a great way to take a break between hiking trails.

Things to see at Rendezvous Mountain

  • Talking Trees Trail
  • High Mountain Views
  • Fire Tower
  • Forestry Center
  • Hiking Trails
  • Waterfall Trail
  • Cabin
  • Picnic areas
  • Amphitheater
  • Forestry Education Trail 

Weddings and events at Rendezvous

With the picturesque views and calmness of nature all around it is no wonder that couples would chose to be married at Rendezvous Mountain.  One of the most popular locations for any event on the mountain is at the amphitheater, nestled below a tall canopy of foliage. The park has sheltered areas perfectly suited for a casual chic reception. To learn about how you can schedule your event at Rendezvous Mountain call (336) 667-5072.

How to get to Rendezvous Mountain

  • Drive from Wilkesboro towards Boone on US 421 North 
  • Turn right onto NC 16 North 
  • After about 3 miles turn left onto Boone Trail Road
  • In about 3 miles turn right onto Purlear Road
  • In about a mile Purlear Road will become Shingle Gap Road (just keep going)
  • In one mile turn left onto Rendezvous Mt. Road
  • Follow the drive up the mountain to one of the two parking lots