What’s new in North Carolina
Carolina Woman and the tourism folks at the N.C. Dept. of Commerce have scoured the state from its sandy coasts to its sky-scraping mountains to discover what’s new at summer vacation spots. Whether you’re planning a family adventure or a three-day work break, these destinations are ripe for the pickin’. So kick back, relax and enjoy what home has to offer!
On the Coast
• The film “Nights in Rodanthe,” starring Richard Gere and Diane Lane, based on the best-selling novel by Nicholas Sparks, was shot on location in the Hatteras Island village of Rodanthe. You can immerse yourself in the setting of “Nights in Rodanthe” during an Outer Banks tour designed to explore the barrier islands over the course of three days.
• Novel aspects of familiar attractions have popped up all over the Wilmington area. They include: The Battleship North Carolina launched an exhibit on the fast-attack submarine USS North Carolina; Airlie Gardens paved three miles of gravel walkways and added tram service; the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History, located in a 100-year-old beach cottage, reopened after renovations; Wilmington’s Riverwalk added a 900-foot section; nature tours initiated include Audubon N.C.’s look at Mason Inlet Waterbird Management Area (two-hour hike/birding tour of Wrightsville Beach) as well as Hook, Line and Paddle (kayak fishing excursions) and Money Island Pirate Adventure Cruise in which voyagers join a costumed pirate storyteller on a 2½-hour narrated journey.
• The Queen Anne’s Revenge Shipwreck Project out of Morehead City offers recreational divers a unique, exciting and historic exploration of the remains of what is believed to be Blackbeard’s ship. A limited number of spaces are available to certified scuba divers.
In the Mountains
• The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with 276,000 acres in North Carolina, is 75! America’s most visited national park is the largest protected land area east of the Rocky Mountains. Plans include an anniversary celebration as well as festivals, fairs and musical events.
www.greatsmokies.com; www.mountainlovers.com; 800-867-9246
• Scream Time Zip Line, just north of Boone, boasts the first three-person-wide, 2,000-foot-long zip lines in the nation. Harness up with friends or family and take turns racing 60 to 130 feet above the ground at speeds up to 48 miles per hour.
• To celebrate the natural and cultural diversity, traditions and recreational opportunities found on the Blue Ridge Parkway, there’s now the “Go Blue Ridge Card.” The multi-attraction pass supplies one-price admission to more than 20 attractions, including the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, Tweetsie Railroad in Blowing Rock and Ghost Town in the Sky in Maggie Valley.
• Chimney Rock teams up with Fox Mountain Guides to allow visitors to scale the park’s ancient cliff faces with ropes and harnesses. All guides are certified by the American Mountain Guides Association.
www.chimneyrockpark.com; 828-625-9611 or 800-277-9611
• The new Museum of Mountain Bike Art & Technology in Statesville celebrates the 30th anniversary of mountain biking this year.
• The Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville positions its guests just steps away from the gates of the Biltmore Estate in Asheville. The hotel’s rustic ambience blends with modern luxuries, including well-appointed guest rooms and the Poseidon Spa.
• The four vineyards along the Uwharrie Mountains Wine Trail give vino enthusiasts a look at of the winemaking process from start to finish and a variety of selections for virtually every palette.
Around the State
• Here’s the chance to grab free rounds at the Pinehurst Resort. Through May 31, players can enter a sweepstakes to win unlimited golf for a year at any of the resort’s eight courses, including famed No. 2. Also promoted is Pinehurst’s Spring Unlimited Golf Package, in which golfers are upgraded to unlimited time on the links at normal one-round-per-day rates through May 30.
• The final stretch of the N.C. Birding Trail that spans from the coast to the mountains is set to open this summer. The state hosts about half of the species of birds found in the United States and 93 species of special concern, making the trail the perfect place to view rare and endangered feathered friends.
• Mooresville, known to NASCAR fans as “Race City USA,” introduces a new Walk of Fame attraction this month designed to honor inductees in the N.C. Auto Racing Hall of Fame.
www.racecityusa.org; 704-799-2400 or 877-661-1234
• Charlotte’s Center City presents fresh nightlife, dining, shopping and luxury accommodations. Just open is W Hotel’s boutique brand Aloft. (Ritz Carlton and Sienna Hotel are expected in the fall.) Entertainment venues include the 267,000-square-foot EpiCentre, a one-stop, mixed-use labyrinth that houses restaurants, nightclubs, a bowling alley and a movie theater.
www.charlottesgotalot.com; 704-331-2700 or 800-231-4636
• Carowinds, the amusement park in Charlotte, debuts the Carolina Cobra, its 12th roller coaster. The 125-foot-tall steel behemoth stands as the park’s second- tallest coaster.
www.carowinds.com; 704-588-2600 or 800-888-4386
• The Roanoke Canal Museum & Trail, in Roanoke Rapids, doubled its exhibit space. Plus, the 7.5-mile hiking, biking and nature trail includes a walkway through the old penstock, leading visitors into the canal bed to see a replica batteau up close.
www.visithalifax.com; 252-535-1687 or 800-522-4282
•The $100 million, 36-acre northwoods-themed Great Wolf Lodge Resort and Conference Center in Concord amazes with indoor and outdoor waterparks; an Aveda Concept Spa plus an ice-cream themed kid spa; a technology center for teens; MagiQuest, a live-action fantasy adventure game; a 100-game arcade; and an 18-hole miniature golf course.