All posts in Fall 2014

Light Up Downtown

Chritmas in Wilkes

Annual Light Up Downtown Celebration

Light Up DowntownLight Up Downtown is an annual celebration held in historic Downtown North Wilkesboro to usher in the holiday season. The celebration is kicked off with the lighting ceremony when the B Street Park Christmas Tree is light along with all of the holiday lights that line the town streets. Vendors gather from in and around the county to sell their goods on the streets as store owners stay open late to welcome in the crowds and to show off their holiday window displays. The celebration also features hay rides and dance performances and Santa!

 

Shopping at the festival…

There are always a few folks offering free snacks and drinks, while supplies lasts, but be sure to bring your wallet and a little cash. You are sure to find great holiday gifts in the shops or in any of the vendor booths. As you shop you may be tempted to buy a few goodies to eat. The smell of funnel cakes and fresh coffee are hard to resists. If you miss the festival don’t worry too much….you can enjoy shopping in Wilkesboro NC at any time of the year.

 

How to get there and where to park…

The festival is in the heart of Downtown North Wilkesboro and results in the closing of many of the streets, mainly Main St, 9th and 10th. The streets usually aren’t closed until about half an hour to an hour before the festivities. There is plenty of parking close to the festival most of which can be easily reached from the CBD Loop which borders the downtown area.

If you are coming from the east, I would advise you to take the NC Hwy 115 exit and turn right on 115. This will take you to NC 268, turn left on NC 268 and you will run right into the festival.

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.

 

This years event is November 16 from 6pm-9pm.

Raffaldini Vineyards

Raffaldini Vineyards

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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.

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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”.

Trip Planning in Wilkes

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Why not make a daytrip a weekend stay in Wilkes!

Daytrips can be nice but driving can really eat up your time, especially if you are traveling further than an hour or so from home. If you have an hour and a half drive from home that would mean spending at least three hours on the road if you were planning on going back home at the end of the day.  Booking a hotel may cost more but if you are staying at the right place the value can far outweigh the price. Waking up to free hot coffee and breakfast and not even needing to make the bed or clean anything is wonderful! All of a sudden, a rushed day trip becomes a relaxed weekend vacation. You can see more, do more and may even be able to enjoy your time on the road more.

 

Why stay in Wilkes?

Wilkes has long been called the Key City, as it is the gateway to the Blue Ridge Mountains, but it is much more than that. Wilkes is a county that welcomes you in and invites you to stay awhile.

Centrally located near Winston-Salem, Boone, Hickory, Statesville, West Jefferson and Lenior, Wilkes is an ideal place to visit and the perfect place to stay and see all there is to see in Western North Carolina. Highway 421 runs straight through town making accessing food, fuel and supplies most convenient. Wilkes is also a convenient location for lodging. Hampton Inn, located just off the highway, sits on a hill making it easy to find and plenty quiet for a good night”s rest. Lodging prices are often lower than neighboring cities and the streets aren”t crowed with manic city traffic.

 

What to do, where to go and what there is to see.

Where to start! There is so much to do during your stay. Wilkes offers numerous attractions, festivals, and shops as well as plenty of places for recreation, entertainment and weddings. Hiking at Stone Mountain, cycling the trails at W. Kerr Scott Dam and Reservoir, shopping downtown and touring the many art galleries are only a few activities, among many, in the county.

If you are planning on visiting cities nearby, you”ll find that Wilkes offers competitive lodging prices and can help you escape heavy traffic and crowds at the near local events. Wilkes is close enough to Appalachian State University to stay for game days and is near enough to go skiing in the Appalachian Mountains without the worry of severe weather.

 

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!!

Troutacular

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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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Brushy Mountain Apple Festival

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The first Saturday in October brings the masses to North Wilkesboro for the Brushy Mountain Apple Festival. They come to town for what has become one of the largest single day arts and crafts festivals in the Southeast US. Over 160,000 people crowd the downtown streets enjoying a day of food, fellowship and downright fun.

How to get to the Apple Festival.

The festival is held on the streets of downtown North Wilkesboro, so regardless of where you are coming from, just follow the signs once you get into Wilkes County. If you are coming from the east, I would advise you to take the NC Hwy 115 exit and turn right on 115. This will take you to NC 268, turn left on NC 268 and you will run right into the festival.Inflatable Pub

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.

Parking

Like most large events, parking is the challenge. The downtown area is closed off, so parking has to be in the surrounding areas. Many public and private lots are open for paid parking (the closer the parking, the higher the price). In addition, the Festival provides free shuttle service to and from parking at West Park where there is lots of free parking. Visit www.applefestival.net and click on the parking link for information on this service.

You will find a place to park, so be patient and decide if you want to walk in from paid parking or ride in from free parking. Also, a word to the wise, the neighbors around the festival are wonderful people, but they draw the line when you park in their yard or driveway, so play nice.

Food and Beverage

The Brushy Mountain Apple Festival is famous for its food selection. My wife always shows up early (7am) and enjoys a country ham biscuit or apple pie. Food is available throughout the festival grounds, so be sure to bring your festival map or pick on up the intersection of Main and 9th and do your food research ahead of time. (Nothing worse than eating something at one location only to realize that you missed out on your favorite just a block away)

Prices are reasonable and the food quality is excellent. The variety is expansive and you will find more that you want to eat than you can eat (very frustrating J). Again, research is the key to finding just what you are craving. My favorites are always the ice cream, the homemade apple pies, awesome Carolina pit cooked bar-be-que, anything with grilled peppers and onions and that really greasy slice of pizza. But whatever your personal tastes are, you will find a place to chow down and enjoy.

An honorable mention here, a local water bottling company sets up a location at the Main and 9th intersection and gives a cold, clear drink of mountain water to every festival goer. Kudos to Brushy Mountain Water and Coffee Company!!

Things to do at the Apple Festival.

Every corner brings a surprise and every street a new series of crafts to enjoy. My favorite times at the festival are watching the artisans at work. Blacksmiths, quilters, potters, wood workers and many others are hard at work and you can quietly watch or ask questions as the work their magic. Where else can you watch cane be turned into molasses or hear southern gospel singers while your child is having their face painted? To say the least, diversity reigns supreme. Take your time, get into the crowd and see what each vendor has to offer.

And don’t forget, this is a celebration of the apple harvest on the Brushy Mountains. The orchards produce some of the best apples in the nation and are available for purchase at the end of almost every street. My favorite apple is the Pink Lady, a wonderful combination of sweet and sour that leaves your mouth watering.

The festival has added a Friday night event known as the “Apple Jam” that is centered on local music. It is held in the Festival Park located on the corner of 10th and Main in downtown North Wilkesboro. The Friday night festivities begin at 6 PM, so come early, bring your chairs and enjoy some beautiful mountain music.

Suggestions

1. The crowds are large, but the people are wonderful. If you are opposed to large crowds, show up early or arrive late and you will miss the biggest crowds.

2. Do your homework ahead of time; this will save you time and lots of walking, nothing worse than backtracking at a street festival.

3. Bring something to carry your awesome purchases in. Backpacks or shoulder bags are excellent choices.

4. If you bring children, allow adequate time for them to have a blast in the children’s area. My kids always loved the sand art and face painting.

5. Wear great walking shoes. You are on streets and sidewalks the entire time and some nicely padded walking shoes will seem worth their weight in gold.

6. Dress in layers. You are in the foothills of North Carolina and as Forrest Gump said… “You never know what you’re going to get”.

7. Get a good night’s sleep the night before and bring a big bag of patience. If you get in a hurry, you will miss something pretty special or you will be very frustrated.

8. Get a bag of apples! This festival is still months away and I am already craving one of those wonderful Brushy Mountain apples.

 Leaving the Apple Festival

Because it is an all day festival, leaving is no big deal. There is no mad rush or clogged highways, so take your time, leave when you want to and enjoy the view as you go. Before you go, be sure to stop by the Festival headquarters at the intersection of 9th and Main and get your free VisitWilkesboroNC.com bumper sticker. See you there.

The Wilkes Heritage Museum

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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!

Ski Wilkes?

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Ok, ok… I know there is not a ski mountain in Wilkesboro, but there are several in our backyard! We are close enough to make the short trip up the mountain, but far enough to avoid the severe weather issues.

I grew up making the short one hour drive up the hill on U.S. 421 to Sugar Mountain or Appalachian Ski Mountain. (Actually, my very first experience was at Hawksnest) The NCDOT always makes sure that the highways are clear and skiers can get to the slopes, so travel is rarely an issue. So, why would anyone chose to stay in Wilkesboro instead of going up the mountain? Well…

  1. Great hotel accommodations… the Wilkesboro Hampton Inn is a great place to stay and offers great weekend rates for skiers.
  2. Great restaurants… Wilkesboro is home to many of the best sit down and fast food chain and “mom and pop” restaurants, with many more under construction. (http://visitwilkesboronc.com/dine/)
  3. Better weather… by being down the mountain, Wilkesboro doesn’t experience the same extremes that you get up there. (www.wilkesweather.com)
  4. Shopping… Wilkesboro is home to some of the best chain and boutique shopping available. (http://visitwilkesboronc.com/explore/shopping/)
  5. Time savers… Cooks Sporting Goods in North Wilkesboro has all the latest and greatest Ski and Snowboard equipment rentals. You can pick up your equipment here locally and not wait in lines and miss your time on the slopes. Call Roy at 336.667.4121 and tell them that the VisitInsider sent you. (www.cookssports.com)
  6. Did I mention you will save some dough…

Here is how I do my daytrip to Sugar… I rent my equipment the night before and save an hour of waiting at the ski rental shop at the ski mountain. I get up early, eat a good breakfast at the Hampton Inn (free of course!). Hop in car with a cup of hot chocolate in my hand, ski equipment in the trunk, and head up the mountain. I arrive at Sugar at 9:00, purchase my lift ticket and hit the slopes for the day. The slopes are open for day skiing from 9 am – 4:30 pm. Have a great day of skiing. Load up my gear, head down the mountain and arrive back in Wilkes by 6:00 pm. Take a wonderful hot shower and work out the kinks and head out for a great meal at one of the many excellent restaurants in Wilkesboro. If I am up for a second day, repeat.

Here is the good news… the Hampton Inn will extend your checkout to accommodate your schedule. Also, they work with Cooks Sports and is the designated return location for your equipment on Sunday. Now that makes life easy!!

So, to sum it all up… SkiWilkes is the way to go! You will actually save time and money and enjoy your trip more. Call the Hampton Inn at 336-838-5000 and begin making your plans for a great ski weekend today!

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree

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I remember visiting the Christmas tree lots as a kid. It was fun. Seems like there was always a fire in a 50 gallon drum and some guys living out of a camper. But it was still fun. My sister and I usually got to choose, with a very critical eye from a perfectionist father to make sure he guided us to the one that we should choose. We would point to it and the camper guy would untie it and put it on top of our car and home we would go.

Now that is not a bad memory, but in all honesty it comes up way short when compared to the experience that is available today… to you and your kids.

A couple of years ago, I decided to check out the whole “Cut your own” program. The Hampton Inn of Wilkesboro and Holiday Inn Express of Wilkesboro had joined with a tree farm to offer a great deal on a “package stay” that included all kinds of fun stuff and a Christmas tree from the farm. Since I live in Wilkes, I didn’t need the hotel room, but I wanted to do the whole farm thing. So, early on the Saturday morning after Thanksgiving, my brother and I loaded up the wives and kids and headed up the mountain. The drive was fun and the views were wonderful. We carried along some hot chocolate and snacks and made the entire trip an adventure.

We arrived at the farm and knew right away that we were in for some serious Christmas fun. The barn at the bottom of the hill was decked out as a Christmas store with lots of items made from the trees and other seasonal necessities. We gave the man our tree voucher and soon he had us on a hayride to the top of the mountain on our search for the perfect Christmas tree. The ride was bumpy and fun! We sang carols and drank our hot chocolate all the way to the top. I believe we sang Jingle Bells and Frosty until I was “sung out”.

At the top of the mountain, our ride came to an end and the search began. The kids found their mountain legs quickly and began the hunt for a tree that needed a home. The laughing and squealing and running will always be part of me, for the rest of my life. We were blessed that it had snowed before we arrived and the ground was white and the trees looked absolutely beautiful. The smell of pine was thick in the air and everything was right at that moment. I stood there and let my senses take it all in. The cool, crisp November air, the scent of Christmas trees, the crunching snow under my feet, the prickly branches of the Frazier Firs and the joyful noise of children running through rows of perfectly manicured trees. That my friends cannot be found on the Christmas tree lot!

After some wonderful time of throwing snow and chasing children, we settled in on finding the tree that would adorn our home as our family remembers the coming of God’s only Son. It didn’t take long, as each tree seemed to be perfect. We identified out tree and our host for the hayride came over and handed me a saw and let me do the honors. Afterward, we loaded up for the ride down the mountain. “Hot” hot chocolate was awaiting our arrival and I enjoyed a cup while we loaded the tree on the top of our car. We listened to Amy Grant’s Christmas songs all the way down the mountain and we knew that Christmas had officially begun at our home.

We are already making plans for our trip up the mountain this year. Maybe we will hit the Daniel Boone Inn for some breakfast before we make the hayride up the mountain. I don’t know the details yet, but this I am sure of, memories will be made and another Christmas will be made special by a trip up to the farm and cutting the perfect Christmas tree. May you and yours have a blessed holiday season. If you make the trip up to the farm, you will not be disappointed. Pack a little patience and let the kids be kids. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Preferred Tree Farm- www.greenepinefarm.com

 

A Leaf Lookers Guide to Fall in Carolina

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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!

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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. 


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Visit Wilkes and enjoy Carolina in the Fall!