All posts in Insider

Top 10 Things to Do in Wilkes

Welcome_County_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.

www.libertytheatrenc.com

www.tworiverscinemas.com

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

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

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

http://www.yadkinvalleywinecountry.com

6.  Attend a Concert.  Due to the music history in this part of the state, Wilkes is known the ‘Heart of Folk’.  The last weekend of April brings a four day music festival to Wilkes known as MerleFest.  This festival is a tribute to Merle Watson and his father, Doc Watson. Americana and bluegrass music is the dominate genres to be heard at MerleFest, but there is truly a little bit of everything.  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:

http://visitwilkesboronc.com/dine/

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

http://www.wilkesartgallery.org

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

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

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

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

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.

 

Trip Planning in Wilkes

wilkesmap

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.

 

MenaRick Vineyard & Winery

menarickvineyard

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.