Fall is almost here and school is back in full swing. Before the cold creeps in, here are five day trips that you can take from Raleigh, Cary and the rest of the Triangle.
1. North Carolina Zoo – Asheboro, NC – DIRECTIONS
Located just south of Asheboro, the North Carolina Zoo is seated on a 2,200-acre tract of land in the Uwharrie Mountains. Approximately 500 acres of this property have been developed into one of the largest “natural habitat” zoos in the United States. You won’t find cages made of steel and concrete here. The zoo’s animals live in enclosures that mimic their natural habitat, including trees, ponds, rocks, grass and dirt. Today, this state zoo is home to 1,600 animals and 52,000 plants (NC ZOO).
2. Fort Macon State Park – Atlantic Beach, NC – DIRECTIONS
Fort Macon is surrounded on three sides by water – the Atlantic Ocean, Beaufort Inlet and Bogue Sound. Built between 1826 and 1834 to guard the entrance to Beaufort Harbor, this five-sided fort constructed of brick and stone was intermittently garrisoned before being seized by Confederate troops in 1861 at the outbreak of the Civil War. Twenty-six casements are enclosed by four and a half foot thick outer walls . In April, 1862 the fort was recaptured by Union forces. During the Reconstruction Era, it was used as a prison. Fort Macon was re-garrisoned in 1898 for the Spanish-American War, and from 1941-1945 during World War II. Today, Fort Macon is one of the finest surviving examples of 19th century military architecture and fortification (FORT MACON, PARK).
3. Yadkin Valley Wine Region – Elkin, NC – DIRECTIONS
The Yadkin Valley is North Carolina’s first federally-recognized American Viticulture Area (AVA). The valley stretches from the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Piedmont. The Yadkin Valley now has over 35 Wineries/Vineyards in the area which makes a trip here a must for wine lovers. These small wineries have intimate tasting rooms, providing more access to the winemakers and owners. Combine this with excellent food offered at local restaurants, and you have the makings of a great wine country getaway (YADKIN VALLEY, WINE TRAIL).
Both of these state parks are great day trips, so they both made the list. Pilot Mountain is capped by two prominent pinnacles. Big Pinnacle rises 1,400 feet above the valley floor. Visitors can catch views of the mountain’s iconic knob jutting skyward more than 200 feet from its base. Visitors have easy access to a view of hundreds of square miles of the Piedmont and the nearby mountains. To the native Saura Indians, Pilot Mountain was known as Jomeokee, the “Great Guide” or “Pilot.” It guided both Native Americans and early European hunters along a north-south path through the area (PILOT MOUNTAIN). Hanging Rock has some of the finest and most accessible hiking in North Carolina. The 5 Peaks Loop will take you on the grand tour of all of the vistas in the state park, including the namesake Hanging Rock and Moore’s Knob, the tallest peak in the Sauratown Mountains at 2,579 feet. Impressive white quartzite cliffs are the defining feature of the park (HANGING ROCK).
5. Pinehurst Golf – Pinehurst, NC – DIRECTIONS
Pinehurst is the home of golf in America. In 1895, James Walker Tufts purchased nearly six-thousand acres of sandy, clear-cut land in the Sandhills of North Carolina. Tufts wanted to create a health resort where people ill with tuberculosis could come to recover. Tufts had to abandon the philanthropic intentions for his resort with the discovery that tuberculosis was highly contagious. In 1900, Tufts hired a Scotsman, Donald Ross as the resort’s golf professional. Ross was instrumental in the construction of the country’s first major golf resort. Since then, Pinehurst has been a three-time U.S. Open Site and is set to be hosting the U.S. Open again in 2024. Its most known course, Pinehurst No. 2, has seen great stories, such as the Payne Stewart putt that won the 1999 U.S. Open (PINEHURST HISTORY).
Photos: top left to bottom right:
Fort Macon SP NC 8780. Photo by bobIstraveling (CC By 4.0)
Located in the heart of North Carolina’s wine country, visitors can tour seven wineries located along and near the route. Photo by NCDOTcommunications (CC By 4.0)
Pilot Mt SP NC 3168. Photo by bobIstraveling (CC By 4.0)
Pinehurst Course No. 2. Photo by MIke Renlund (CC By 4.0)
View from the hanging rock at Hanging Rock State Park. Photo by mK B. (CC By 4.0)