All posts in Attractions

A Leaf Lookers Guide to Fall in Carolina

1
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Leaf Looker”s Guide to Fall in Carolina

Each season brings a transformation to the Carolina landscape.  Winter brings white slopes. Spring buds with fresh green foliage and fields of wildflowers.  Summer is warm with sunsets that paint the sky.  Of all the seasons in Carolina, Fall is best of all.  As Autumn comes to the Blue Ridge Mountains each morning seems to reveal more and more change until all at once the mountains burst into vibrant color and leaf season is here!

Fall in Carolina

When and where to see the fall color

The show usually begins in the first days of October when the highest elevations are at their peak.  This is a great time to visit Grandfather Mountain where you can see how the mountains change color from top to bottom, from a hat of vibrant red and orange to a deep summer green skirt blanketing the foothills.  As the season progresses the color spreads down the mountain.  If you come late in the season, late October into early November, you will likely still find color in the foothills.  This is one of the main reasons why I think leaf lookers should begin their journey in the Key City (Wilkes) at the foot of the mountains.  From here you can begin a morning journey up the mountain (by way of HWY 421) and see every level of color.  With Wilkes County being so central, the hardest decision you will likely have to make from Hwy 421 is whether to take the Parkway North or South, drive on into Boone, up towards West Jefferson or down into Blowing Rock.  Each of these places has its own charm and you are sure to enjoy your experience therehuge water slides for sale.

Fall Travel Tips

  • Take your camera!  The views will be beautiful and will also make for great backdrops with family and friends.
  • Take it easy.  Don”t get too caught up in the idea of going to one destination for one great view.  The views will be all around you as you go. Take time to enjoy what you see as you see it and be prepared to stop for some unexpected photo opportunities. 
  • Dress for comfort.  Wear your walking shoes and dress in layers.  The temperatures will change from morning to noon and as you travel from higher and lower elevations. 
  • Read ahead.  The color varies from year to year as do the best spots to see it.  Reading color watch reviews online will help you to know when to be where.  You can also follow us on Facebook (Visit Wilkesboro NC) where we will be sharing some of the best color in our area.

 

Where to start and where to stay

I prefer to start my morning in Wilkes County.  Wilkes has long been know as the “Key City” or the “Gateway to the Blue Ridge Mountains”.  There are two very nice and affordable hotels just off of Hwy 421, the Hampton Inn and the Holiday Inn Express.  Leaf Lookers have been staying at these two establishments for years.  This means that the staff knows what your needs will be and will be able to answer any questions you may have.  There are places to stay up the mountain but the prices and crowds rise with the elevation. 


View Larger Map

Visit Wilkes and enjoy Carolina in the Fall!

Shine to Wine

Shine to Wine

The Shine to Wine festival gets bigger and better each year.  The festival is held in historic downtown North Wilkesboro.  The festival includes regional wines and beer for the tasting, live music and art. The festival lasts from 12 PM – 6 PM and is free to the public.  However, if you plan on sampling the wines, a wristband must be purchased. (Proof of age is required)

Wilkes County was at one time known as the Moonshine Capital of the World and for good reason. Nowadays, the region is becoming known for it”s variety of wines.  Ideally situated with the right precipitation and temperatures, the Yadkin Valley is a perfect region to grow grapes. (Who knew, right?)  So the name, Shine to Wine is a throw-back to the old days with an eye on the future of the wine industry in our community.

Several of the downtown North Wilkesboro restaurants join in the celebration and offer a “Downtown Wine Dinner”.  Be sure to visit 6th and Main and Branciforte’s. Both of establishments offer special entrees paired with signature wines.  Reservations for this special evening is advised, so call ahead and ask them to save you a seat.  The food is always delicious and the prices are reasonable, so enjoy.

The festival always has a great band to listen to while you sample the wines.  Enjoy the distinctive sounds of some of the regions best bands as you walk the streets of North Wilkesboro.  These groups have always provided a great backdrop to the entire event.  Vendor tent hopping and wine tasting to live tunes played with true talent is a great way to pass a Saturday afternoon.

Should you attend?  If you enjoy friendly people, great music and art and a sip of the fruit of the Yadkin Valley Winegrowers, then this is a festival for you.  Check out their website for all the ins and outs and make your s plans now before all the hotel rooms fill up.  Salute!  (www.shinetowine.com)

How to get to the Shine to Wine Festival?

The Shine to Wine Festival is located in Historic Downtown North Wilkesboro.  If you are coming from the east, I would advise taking the NC Hwy 115 exit and then turn right on 115. This will take you to NC 268, turn left on NC 268 and you will run right into Downtown North Wilkesboro where festival signs and parking will be easily visible.

If you are coming from the west on US 421, take “421 Business” into the downtown area. This left turn is the next left after the Taco Bell. Business 421 will take you directly into the down town area. If you are tech savvy, just enter North Wilkesboro into whatever device you have and hit the road.


View Larger Map

Candlelight Ghost Tours

The Candlelight Ghost Tours are full of fun, excitement, history and more![divider] [/divider]

The Candlelight Ghost Tours are located in historic Wilkesboro, North Carolina at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Folklore and ghost tales abound in this area, passed down from one generation to the next.  Guides in will regale you with stories of the past as you walk amid the history of a proud mountain peoples. You might just hear the footsteps of the long dead Tom Dooley in the jail cell he once occupied or you might spy the earthbound spirit of the little girl killed by runaway horses.  This is a great excursion for the whole family with lots of mystery and not too much fright.

Where to be and what to expect.

The journey will begin at the Wilkes Heritage Museum which we highly recommend visiting.  There are several ways to get there but I recommend the following:

From HWY 421 (North or South) take Exit 285 towards Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro.  If you are coming from 421 South you will turn left onto Oakwoods Road.  If you are taking 421 North you will turn right onto Oakwoods Road.  At the first light (intersection of Oakwoods Rd. and Main) turn left.  The Wilkes Heritage Museum will be on your right. 

The museum is easy to see; just look for the beautiful and historic Old Wilkes County Courthouse (see map below). 

View Larger Map

Ghost Tour Tips

  • We recommend that you not bring children under 8 years of age as they may become bored with the history or frightened by the stories. 
  • There are no pets allowed (service dogs are always welcome) and smoking is not permitted during the tour or near the museum.
  • Do expect to have a great time and to learn a lot! 
  • It would be good to arrive early so you can explore the Wilkes Heritage Museum and Downtown Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro areas.

Price

The regular tours are $10 per person and begin at varying times (usually between 7:30 and 9:00). If you are looking for a little more excitement and adventure you can participate in the Paranormal Tours which begin at 11:00 pm following the candlelight tour.  The Paranormal Tour will last well into the night, about 1:00 am, and will cost $20 per person.  All tickets must be purchased in advance by calling the Wilkes Heritage Museum at (336) 667-3171.

Other ghostly events.

Keep an eye on our events calendar for October Ghost Tour events including the Zombie Fest and the special Halloween Candlelight Ghost Tour.  The Zombie Walk has, in the past, included two separate Zombie Walks, one for children and one for adults.   

Click here for details.

W. Kerr Scott Dam and Reservoir

4

W. Kerr Scott is a place for fun, excitement, rest and relaxation.

W. Kerr Scott Dam & ReservoirResting in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, W. Kerr Scott Dam and Reservoir is the perfect place for a relaxing vacation by the lake or an exciting excursion on winding forest trails or in the water. W. Kerr Scott has so much to offer including camping, hiking, swimming, fishing, boating, ranger tours, children’s water safety activities, bird watching and much more.  You can rent a shelter for gatherings of friends and family, participate in the many cycling events, experience the Tom Dooley Outdoor Drama and concerts at the Forest Edge Amphitheater, or simply unwind and enjoy nature at its finest.

 Campgrounds surrounding the lake include:W. Kerr Scott Dam & Reservoir

  • Bandits Roost
  • Warrior Creek
  • Fort Hamby

Amenities at the lake include:

  • A minimal admission fee
  • Numerous boat launch sites and docks
  • Boating and sailing
  • Children’s activities
  • Environmental Education Center
  • Fishing by boat or from one of the many fishing docks
  • Free parking
  • Gift shop
  • MarinaW. Kerr Scott Dam & Reservoir
  • RV parking
  • Nature center
  • Pet-friendly
  • Picnic areas all over the place
  • Playgrounds near picnic shelters
  • Swimming area
  • Self-guided tours
  • Ranger guided toursW. Kerr Scott Dam & Reservoir
  • Trails for hiking and walking
  • Bike trails with berms
  • Archery course
  • And More!!!

 

nbso online casino reviews lfo1; tab-stops: list .5in;”>How to get to W. Kerr Scott.

There are many places to access the lake.  The northern shore is closest to HWY 421 while the southern borders 268 which can be reached from 421 by taking exit 286 B.  The way is well marked with signs. 


View Larger Map

W. Kerr Scott Dam & ReservoirW. Kerr Scott Dam & ReservoirThe primary address for the reservoir is:

499 Reservoir Road
Wilkesboro, NC 28697
Phone: (336) 921-3750 
 

This will take you to the visitor center which is open weekdays from 8:00 to 4:30, November through March.  They are open all week long during the busy season from April to October.  The Environmental Education Center, located in a separate wing of the same facility, is open Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 to 4:00, April 1 – October 31 and by appointment.

Where to get your gear.

Wilderness Lodge 

185 Edmiston Road
Boomer, NC 28606Girl in yellow kayak at W. Kerr Scott Dam & Reservoir
(336) 921-2277
 

Wilderness Lodge is on the lake and offers 
rentals for canoes, kyaks and mountain bikes 
as well as accommodations.

Cook”s 

1402 Willow Lane
North Wilkesboro, NC 28659Bike Race at W. Kerr Scott Dam & Reservoir
(336) 667-4121
 

Cook”s offers a variety of kyaks and bikes
at competitive prices.  They care also a great
place to go for camping gear and repairs.

Foothills Outdoor Adventures

2618 West NC HWY 268
Wilkesboro, NC 28697
(336) 990-0780

This family owned business is located just
below the W. Kerr Scott Dam and offers everything from pontoons to canoes and the River Tub!

 

The video below was uploaded in 2011 and things have continued to grow at W. Kerr Scott since.  There are more trails, picnic areas and more fun to be had!

Click on the links below to read other insiders about the lake.

Kerr Scott Trails (KST)

Tom Dooley Outdoor Drama

Wilkes County Flea Market

3

Wilkes County Flea Market

(also known as the Cattle Sale)

Wilkes County Flea MarketIf you are visiting Wilkes you may hear many of the locals talking about going to the Monday Cattle Sale. What they are really talking about is not buying cattle but rather the flea market that occupies a large field near the actual Cattle Sale. The Wilkes County Flea Market has been going on for as long as I can remember. The Wilkes Monday Flea Market has all kinds of stuff from food and plants to antiques and live animals; sometimes you can even find pony rides and live music! This is a great place to find good deals on all things especially produce. I like to go early in the morning and stock up on my veggies for the week.

What to take:

  • Be sure to bring enough cash to get what you want. If you are making a larger purchase some of the vendors may be willing take a check.
  • Be prepared for the weather with sunscreen or an umbrella. Some of the vendors have booths and some setup tents but the market is mostly exposed to the elements be it rain or shine.
  • I have seen avid  shoppers equipped with tote bags and small carts. There is a lot to see and you may not want to carry your purchases in grocery bags as you walk (though you could always make a quick trip to the car)

How to get there and where to park:

The Wilkes County Flea Market is located on Orange Street, just before the VFW Campground in North Wilkesboro.


View Larger Map

Wilkes County Flea MarketOnce you are on Orange Street you can”t miss the market parking area.  Cars will be parked in a grassy lot alongside the gravel road.  Just pick a spot and remember where you parked.  If you are there on a very busy day you may need to park further away…possibly at the VFW.  The VFW will sometimes charge a small fee for parking in their lot but it goes to a good group of people and is well worth it.

The flea market itself is not immediately visible but you are sure to see people walking towards a row of tightly planted evergreens.  A small stream runs along one side of the market and you will cross one of two small footbridges to enter.  Then you can pick a direction and explore!

Don”t miss The Barn Yard Opry as you walk through the Wilkes County Flea Market!

The Tom Dooley Mystery

Tom DooleyA lasting legend and a mystery yet to be solved.

Long ago news of a small town murder swept across the nation.  Laura Foster had been stabbed in the forest but by who and why?  It all began in Happy Valley where love transformed into lust and loathing,  lead to the Wilkes County Jail and ended at the noose.  Tom Dula (Tom Dooley), Laura Foster, Pauline Foster and Ann Foster Milton all became deeply entangled in a love affair.  Laura was found in a shallow grave and Tom hanged for the crime.  Some say that Tom confessed to save Ann Milton while others believe he was justly put to death.  The mystery lives on and the clues are yet to be untangled.  Each person who visits Wilkes and hears the tale comes to their own conclusion.  A tour of all things Tom Dooley is a thrilling adventure to be had, a mystery to be pondered and a memory to be made.

Places to see

The Wilkes Heritage MuseumTom Dooley

A tour of the Wilkes Heritage Museum will take you back to the days of horse draw carriages, gas lanterns and most importantly back to the time of Tom Dula!

You will get to tour the Robert Cleveland house and the jail where Tom was held after his run from the law.  This is the place where the many a question was asked and where each answer drew Dula closer to his fate.

Whippoorwill Academy and VillageTom Dooley

Whippoorwill Village is a collection of historic cabins including a schoolhouse, church, blacksmith shop, and more.  This is where visitors can take a step back in time to see what it was like to live in those days. A museum dedicated to the legend holds within it paintings of those involved and accounts of what past Dula detectives believe to have transpired.  The grave of Tom Dooley is very near and some have even claimed to have seen Tom himself haunting the hillside.

Tom Dooley: A Wilkes County LegendTom Dooley Outdoor Drama

This theatrical performance has attracted visitors to Wilkes for many a year.  Nestled in forest this hillside amphitheater is the perfect place for the Tom Dooley legend to unfold before your very eyes.  Watch as the stage comes to life with fire and horses.  Hear as fact and folklore unfold in this captivating drama.

Candlelight Ghost Tour

Tom DooleyThe Candlelight Ghost Tours have been attracting history buffs and ghost hunters from across the state and across the country.  Join a guide, dressed in attire from the past, and hear tales of ghost haunting the streets and buildings of downtown Wilkesboro.  This tour will take you past the old hanging tree and into the old jail where Tom sat in fear for his life.  You may even have a ghostly encounter of your own!

Where to eat

Wilkes is home to both “mom and pop”local eateries and national chain brand restaurants . Depending upon your dining goals, your choices are many and varied. From long established, family owned establishments like Don’s Seafood and Steaks and Hadley’s to branded restaurants like Olive Garden and Ruby Tuesdays, Wilkes is home to dining that is sure to meet every preference.

Where to stay

The Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn  are on my list of top two places to stay in Wilkes.  Both are easy to find and offer top notch service at reasonable rates.  The Hampton Inn is located just off of 268 and is the closest hotel to Whippoorwill. You will even see the hotel to your left as you drive to the village. The Holiday Inn, located just off of Hwy 421, is just down the road from Fort Hamby Park, where the Tom Dooley drama takes place.

Whippoorwill Academy and Village

1

Whippoorwill Whippoorwill has been a labor of love for owner Edith Carter, who saw the importance in historic buildings and began saving them long ago. Edith is also an artist and has repurposed an old smokehouse, built in the late 1700″s, for use as a gallery. Visitors will notice that much of the art displayed tells the story of local legend Tom Dula (Tom Dooley), a young man who hung for crimes he committed…or may have committed. This is the real mystery. There is also a cabin museum especially for Tom Dula. Those who tour the village will get to hear the legend of Tom Dula, visit the Daniel Boone Cabin, a blacksmith shop, a schoolhouse built in 1880, the lovely Chapel of Peace (a popular location for weddings) and many more structures. Most importantly, visitors will learn about life and the way things once were.

Whippoorwill When to go to Whippoorwill

The village is open to the public Saturday and Sunday, 3-5 pm and during the week by appointment. The Village is closed January through March. I would recommend making a special trip to visit on Daniel Boone Day (the second Saturday in May) or for the Christmas Open House in December.

Call (336) 973-3237 for an appointment.

How to get there

Whippoorwill is not hard to get to but can be easy to miss if you aren”t looking for the sign.

  • From 421 North (like you are coming from Winston-Salem) you will take exit 286 B towards 268
  • From the ramp turn left onto 268 and continue straight for about 12 miles
  • Whippoorwill will be on your left. Look for a gravel drive and small brown sign
  • From 421 South (like you are coming from Boone) you will take exit 286 towards 268…the sign will also say “WCC Gardens.”
  • From the ramp turn right onto 268 and continue straight for about 12 miles
  • Whippoorwill will be on your left. Look for a gravel drive and small brown sign.


View Larger Map

What to pay

The village is free to enter but we strongly recommend making a donation.

Whippoorwill Remember that everyone who is working at the village is a volunteer, so please make life a little easier and keep the greens green (aka…no litter)

You will want to bring some cash for any special finds you may come across in the old country store. The store has old fashioned toys, canned goods and Items made by local craftsmen. I am a big fan of the bamboo pickles and am always able to find wonderful gifts for friends and family!

What to bring

Food! Whippoorwill does have some tasty goodies in the old country store but it is not really enough to make a picnic out of and Whippoorwill is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic. Anything that you would take for a day at the park is just the sort of thing that you may want to bring here.

Where to stay

The Hampton Inn of Wilkesboro is located just off of 268 and is the closest hotel to Whippoorwill.  You will even see the hotel to your left as you drive to the village.  You may also consider the Holiday Inn Express, located just off of Hwy 421.Whippoorwill

If you are feeling really adventurous you may even consider camping at W. Kerr Scott Dam and Reservoir.  You will drive past the lake on your right on while on 268 traveling towards Whippoorwill.

Getting hitched 

If you would like to hold a wedding, or any other event at Whippoorwill Village, you will simply need to book ahead of time, pay a small rental fee, respect the property and have a jolly good time!

Whippoorwill Village has grown even since this video was made.  Don”t miss your chance to tour this treasure of a place!

Blue Ridge Parkway South

Anytime is a good time to visit the Blue Ridge Parkway 

Summer, Fall, Winter or Spring!

There are cooling waterfalls for hot summer days, leaves of all colors in the fall, mountains sparkling with snow and ice in the winter and wildflowers lining the road in the spring.  Once a year really isn”t enough to take in the beauty of the North Carolina mountains and with so much to do along the Blue Ridge Parkway you will find it hard to stay away.Blue Ridge Parkway

You may wonder… Why stay in Wilkes to visit the Blue Ridge Parkway?

There are many reasons.

  • Hotels in Wilkes are more affordable than those up the mountain and offer top notch amenities and wonderful service. If you are traveling during a peak season, or during a big game day at Appalachian State University in Boone, you may also find that there is less chaos at  the foot of the mountain.
  • The drive up the mountain is beautiful!  As you travel you can see how things transform. In the fall leaves can be seen at different stages of color transformation at the different elevations.   There are wide mountain views to the left and folks are often selling produce, honey and other goods along the route.
  • In the winter months weather can be a good reason for staying in Wilkes.  Although we are only a short drive away there can be a drastic contrast between the weather in Boone and the weather in Wilkes.  Unexpected snow and ice storms and strand travelers, make driving dangerous and close the parkway.  Staying in Wilkes will allow you time to sleep comfortably, knowing that a foot of snow in Boone may only result in a few inches in Wilkes.

How to get there

To the Blue Ridge Parkway from Wilkes

- 20 miles, 20 min title=”Blue Ridge Parkway 412″ alt=”Blue Ridge Parkway” src=”http://visitwilkesboronc.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/us-421_sb_at_blue_ridge_pkwy_02-300×223.jpg” width=”210″ height=”156″ />

  • Take Hwy 421 South from Wilkes towards Boone
  • Turn left onto the Pkwy ramp immediately after passing under large stone bridge.
  • Follow ramp to the Pkwy and turn right to follow the Pkwy South.

 

To Blowing Rock along parkway from Hwy 421

 - 20 miles, 30 minPlaces to see along the Blue Ridge Parkway

  • Exit Pkwy turning left onto Flat Top Road.
  • Keep left to follow ramp to Hwy 321/221.  Turn right on Hwy 321.
  • Exit Hwy 321 by turning left after Tanger Outlets heading into downtown.

 

To Tweetsie Railroad along parkway from Hwy 421 

- 18 miles, 30 minPlaces to see along the Blue Ridge Parkway

  • Exit Pkwy turning right going North towards Boone on 221/312.
  • Follow ramp to Hwy 321/221.  Turn right on Hwy 321 North.
  • You will clearly see Tweetsie Railroad on your left.

 

 

Shoppes on the Parkway/ Tanger Outlets along parkway from Hwy 421 Places to see along the Blue Ridge Parkway

-15 miles, 25 min

  • Exit Pkwy turning left onto Flat Top Road.
  • Keep left to follow ramp to Hwy 321/221.  Turn right on Hwy 321.
  • Turn left at light to Tanger Outlets.

To Grandfather Mountain along parkway from Hwy 421

- 25 miles, 45 minPlaces to see along the Blue Ridge Parkway

  • After crossing the Pkwy Viaduct be prepared to exit Parkway.
  • Turn left at milepost 305 to take Linville Exit towards Blowing Rock Road / US 221.
  • Take first left and turn right onto US 221 . Then follow signs to the park.

To Linville Caverns along parkway from Hwy 421

- 46 miles, 80 minPlaces to see along the Blue Ridge Parkway

  • Drive about 40 miles along Pkwy.
  • Exit by turning right onto ramp towards US 221 / Linville Falls.
  • Turn left onto US 221 and follow signs to caverns on the right.

 

 

To Linville Falls along parkway from Hwy 421

- 42 miles, 70 minPlaces to see along the Blue Ridge Parkway

  • Exit the Pkwy at mile Post 316.4 turning left.
  • Continue two miles to The Visitor Center.
  • Hike half a mile to the falls.

 

Linville Caverns

Linville Cavern Non-Flash Pics 2009 032 - Copy

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!


View Larger Map

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:)

Apples and Orchards

apples

Every town has its claim to fame and it just so happens that Wilkes has several. We have MerleFest, Stone Mountain, W. Kerr Scott Dam and reservoir, Cycling, Tom Dula, Bluegrass and Apples!

Wilkes County Apples

A visit to Wilkes is a trip for the senses. See the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, feel the breeze or the cool river waters, listen to local musicians, and taste apples fresh from the tree.

Ever since I was a little kid I have made several trips a year to visit the apple orchards of Wilkes. One of my earliest memories is one of my sister and me walking with our parents through an apple house during harvest. We watched as apples were sorted and each of us received a huge apple from a friendly man in overhauls. I remember peeking over the edge of the baskets filled with chocolate covered peanuts and cream drops at Christmas.  I still drop in to search the shelves for the perfect jar of honey and comb just as I did with my family when I was a child. For many families, trips to the orchards of Wilkes are part of a family tradition.  To them it is just as important as the yearly trip to choose a Christmas tree. Others have traveled to Wilkes in search of long lost apple varieties. One such individual described Wilkes as “mother load of heritage apples” and with more than 400 varieties having been found here it is easy to see why.

Where are they?

There are several orchards in Wilkes and each one is well worth a visit. The bulk of the orchards are along highway 16, between Wilkes and Taylorsville although there are several on Brushy Mountain, near Stone Mountain and throughout the county.  You can look at our list of orchards to find the one, or many, that you wish to visit.

When to go and what to get?

Many of the orchards sell apples throughout the year with the aid of refrigeration during the cold months. The right time for harvesting the apples depends on the weather and variety but apples are generally harvested from late June to early December. Other goods can be found at the apple houses besides the usual variety of fresh picked fruit. Some houses offer cured meats, local honey, various seasonal produce, traditional candies and caned goods.

Apple Festival

If you are a fan of the apple orchards be sure you don’t miss the Brushy Mountain Apple Festival. This festival is one of the largest events in the area and has far more than apples to offer. Each year, on the first weekend in October, the streets of Downtown North Wilkesboro are closed to traffic and filled with vendors and their goods. Food, music, art and crafts line the streets and people flock downtown to join in the spectacular.

Click here to read our Insider view on the

 Brushy Mountain Apple Festival.