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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/

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

Herring Ridge

Camp Harrison at Herring RidgeHerring Ridge is located in the foothills of North Carolina a short drive from North Wilkesboro.  The camp has more than 2,000 acres of woods, streams, and trails centered around private, 140-acre Lake Broyhill.

Many things bring people from far and wide to Herring Ridge.  One of the largest draws is Camp Harrison, a summer camp for youngsters which offers numerous camping experiences for them to chose from.  Traditional Resident Camp offers over 21 land activities including: archery, paintball, ropes course, sports and crafts. Adventure tracks allow each camper can create their own personalized experience. Campers can spend the morning in their track and spend the afternoon with the entire camp enjoying water activities like kayaking, canoeing, water zip line, waterskiing, the “Blob” and the “Wet Willie”.

Click here to read our Camp Harrison Insider.

Founded on the YMCA’s Christian values, Camp Harrison’s goal is to give campers an amazing summer experience which they will forever treasure.

Events at Herring RidgeHerring Ridge

There is a lot more going on at Herring Ridge besides the summer Camp Harrison program.  Below is a list of some of the opportunities for fun at Herring Ridge.

  • Traditional Camp (kids 6-16)
  • Dude Ranch (kids 8-16)
  • Sportsman Camp (kids 10-16)
  • Farm to Feast Camp (kids 8-18)Herring Ridge
  • Beyond the Ridge (BTR) Leadership Program (kids 13-17)
  • Family Camp (different opportunities throughout the year)
  • Men On Mountain- Father Son weekend
  • Mother/Daughter Weekend
  • Women’s Wellness Weekend
  • Fishing
  • Weddings and More!!!

 Pricing for special events is as follows:

  • Weddings – Outdoor Chapel Rental $1,500.00
  • Family Reunions – $500 for up to 100 people
  • Birthday Parties – Start at $500 for 10 participants.
  • School Groups – Call for dates & pricing.
  • Church Groups – Call for dates & pricing.
  • Teambuilding – 2-3 hours $25 per person/4-6 hours $50 per personHerring Ridge (lunch can be added for a fee of $12 per person)
  • 1 Night/No meals/3 hours of programming – $88 per person (40+ guests)
  • 1 Night & 1 Meal/ 3 hours of Programming – $98 per person (40+ guests)

YMCA Members pay the Y rate on any programs offered. This applies to summer camp as well!  Call (336) 921-7067 to plan your Herring Ridge event.

How to get to Herring Ridge.

  • From US 421 North or South you will take exit 286A (towards Taylorsville and Lenoir) then turn right onto 16/18.
  • Turn right at 4th traffic light (located in front of the middle school) onto NC 18 South (towards Lenoir).
  • The sign for Herring Ridge will be in about 10 miles on your left.


Don’t miss your chance to enjoy the moments and make some memories at Herring Ridge!

Whippoorwill Academy and Village

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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!

Elkin Creek Vineyard

Vineyards & Winery at Elkin Creek

All About Elkin Creek 

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

The Wine

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

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

The Kitchen

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

Weddings at Elkin CreekElkin Creek

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

Cabins at Elkin Creek

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

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


View Larger Map

Suggestions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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”.