On the road: Places to explore in just one day
I love a new adventure, but on a tight budget that typically means a trip to somewhere within a 120-mile radius of Rowan County.
This summer, I’ve sipped wine at Hanover Park and Misty Creek vineyards, in Yadkinville and Mocksville, respectively. I’ve done hot yoga at Charlotte’s Yoga One studio. And I’ve explored Charlotte’s Noda district, checking out both Birdsong and Noda breweries with a stop at Amelie’s Bakery in between.
Up next is a trip to Asheville, where I plan to visit the community drum circle one Friday evening.
I have to admit that most of my adventures are planned around food. I don’t just eat to live, I live to eat.
When I started thinking about what kind of things I could explore in the future, I wondered what treasures others have discovered.
I asked my Facebook friends to tell me about their favorite road trip spots that are less than a two-hour drive from Rowan County.
I received at least 30 responses from people who were ready and willing to share their top finds.
Here I’ve compiled a list of those suggestions with the help of Post intern Asia Wilson.
We hope this guide reminds you of a destination you’ve long forgotten or gives you a new sense of all the great things there are to explore without ever having to book a hotel room.
If you don’t see your favorite road trip on the list, shoot me an email at email@example.com or message me on Facebook.
I’ll continue compiling trips for a blog post in the future.
Fairy Stone State Park
Location: 967 Fairystone Lake Drive, Stuart, Va.
Miles from Salisbury: 103
Approximate time of travel: 2 hours
What to expect: Home of the legendary fairy stones, Fairy Stone is well-known for its 168-acre lake adjoining Philpott Reservoir. The park is just minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Attractions include cabins, a campground, group camping, a conference center, hiking trails, lake swimming, rowboats, canoes, paddle boats, kayaks, picnicking and two playgrounds including one in the water.
Fairy stones are staurolite, a combination of silica, iron and aluminum. Staurolite crystallizes at 60 or 90 degree angles, hence the stone’s cross-like structure. Found only in rocks once subjected to great heat and pressure, the mineral was formed long, long ago, during the rise of the Appalachian Mountains.
Cost: Fees associated with camping, shelter rentals, boating and swimming.
Why it’s great: “My kids love Fairystone Park, just outside of Martinsville, Va. There is a nice swimming lake, hiking, picnic area, and it’s the only place to find ‘fairystones.’
The lake has a play area with floating toys and platforms.” — Kannapolis resident Todd Adams
Hanging Rock State Park
Location: 1790 Hanging Rock Park Road, Danbury
Miles from Salisbury: 68
Approximate time of travel: 1 hour, 21 minutes
What to expect: Hike more than 18 miles of wooded passageways form a network of 12 trails at Hanging Rock State Park. Enjoy picturesque cascades and waterfalls, high rock cliffs, spectacular views of the rolling Piedmont and Blue Ridge Mountains and a mountain cave.
Swim in an inviting 12-acre lake, formed by the damming of Cascade Creek.
The Dan River Access on the north side of the park provides parking and a ramp for fishing, paddling and tubing.
The park includes an exhibit hall with information about nature and the parks history.
Additional activities include boating, camping, climbing and picnicking.
Cost: Fees for boating, camping, shelters and swimming. Prices listed on website.
More info: Call 336-593-8480 or visit ncparks.gov and select “Hanging Rock” from the drop down menu on the left side of the page
Pilot Mountain State Park
Location: 1792 Pilot Knob Park Road, Pinnacle
Miles from Salisbury: 64
Approximate time of travel: 1 hour, 6 minutes.
What to expect: Canoe the Yadkin River through the park on a segment of the Yadkin River Canoe Trail. The 165-mile trail follows the course of the river, passing through five reservoirs to the confluence of the Yadkin and Uwharrie rivers. The two-mile portion of the Yadkin River that flows through the park is one of the most scenic stretches along the river’s course.
There are 38 canoe access sites along the trail. Shoals Access Site is a half mile upstream from the Yadkin Islands. Parts of the river are also suitable for rafting at times.
The main park road is popular for hill climbing by bicycle. This should only be attempted by experienced cyclists wearing proper safety equipment.
Fish for sunfish, crappie and catfish along the riverbank.
Activities also include camping, picnicking, rock climbing and trails that can be conquered by foot, horseback and canoe. The horse trail is currently closed because portions have collapsed. Repairs are underway.
Why it’s great: “I just started exploring them this year because a friend and I are training for Pikes Peak Marathon and needed some steep hill training.
The views on a clear day are spectacular. both have a nice range of trails from strenuous to easy.
I also liked the waterfalls at hanging rock and the lake there, so lots of activities for the kids too.” — Salisbury resident Chris Blumenthal, who suggests visiting Hanging Rock and Pilot Mountain in one day
Cost: Fees associated with camping and shelter rentals. Visit the website for a list of prices.
More info: Call 336-325-2355 or visit ncparks.gov and select “Pilot Mountain” from the drop down menu on the left side of the page
North Carolina Zoo
Location: 4401 Zoo Parkway, Asheboro
Miles from Salisbury: About 50
Approximate time of travel: 1 hour
What to expect: More than 1,600 animals and 52,000 plants from two different continents spread across 500 acres of exhibits and their natural habitats from Africa to North America’s Arctic.
Among the most popular exhibits are those that display polar bears, cougars, lions, river otters, alligators, elephants, gorillas, baboons, rhinoceros, giraffes and zebras.
The 37-acre Watani Grasslands Reserve exhibit for rhinos and antelope is as large as many entire zoos. The 11-acre Prairie exhibit in the North American region showcases the zoo’s collection of bison and elk.
The “kidZone,” allow kids to dig, build and investigate the lives of animals.
Why it’s great: “I think the best part is that, for the most part, the trails are shaded so the sun isn’t beating down on you the whole time you are walking through.
I love that the food court is located in the center so we can start in either North America or Africa then eat before we walk through the second section.
Based on the amount of exhibits and habitats, I think it is very fairly priced. My children love animals, which is the main reason why we visit the zoo.
My middle child, Bobby, absolutely loves the polar bear and is so excited that he is back now that his habitat is renovated. We also love the gorillas and chimpanzees, they are always fun to watch.” — China Grove resident Christine Gould, who visits the zoo with her husband and three children about twice a year
Cost: Adults $12, seniors $10, children (2-12) $8, free for children under the age of 2 years old.
More info: Call 1-800-488-0444 or visit nczoo.org
PeeDee National Wildlife Refuge
Location: 5770 U.S. 52 N, Wadesboro
Miles from Salisbury: 55
Approximate time of travel: 1 hour, 16 minutes
What to expect: Situated in the Triassic Basin of the lower piedmont, the refuge’s 8,443 acres of rolling hills covered with pines and hardwoods gently slope to the broad flood plain of the Pee Dee River.
Peak populations of waterfowl in the fall and winter can exceed 10,000 birds, with the majority being mallards, green-wing teal and wood ducks.
Other than ducks and geese, the refuge is a stopping point for snipe, woodcock, hawks, owls, herons and egrets.
The refuge is home to many mammal species including the white-tailed deer, red and gray fox, bobcat, beaver, gray and fox squirrel and Eastern cottontail rabbit.
A number of amphibians including the American toad, salamander and Eastern box turtle can be found at the refuge.
PeeDee offers public hunting, hiking trails, interpretive wildlife drive and wildlife observations.
More info: Call 704-694-4424 or fws.gov/peedee/
Old Salem Museums and Gardens
Location: 600 S. Main St., Winston-Salem
Miles from Salisbury: 40
Approximate Time of travel: 46 minutes.
What to expect: Learn about the life of Moravians and early Southerners living in the 18th and 19th centuries.
A joiner, potter, tailor, shoemaker, tinsmith, gunsmith, apothecary and gardener show off historic trades.
A variety of activities and demonstrations take place according the season. They include quilting, 18th century games, coffee roasting, hearth cooking, candle making, churning butter and preserving foods.
Puppet shows take place on specific dates, which are listed on the website.
The site includes 11 gardens where people might see staff planting seeds, harvesting, mulching and pruning fruit trees.
Cost: Adults $21, children $10.
More info: Call Phone: 336-721-7300 or visit oldsalem.org
Reynolda House Museum of American Art
Location: 2250 Reynolda Road, Winston-Salem
Miles from Salisbury: 40
Approximate time of travel: 45 minutes.
What to expect: Reynolda House Museum of American Art is one of the nation’s premier American art museums, with masterpieces by Mary Cassatt, Frederic Church, Jacob Lawrence, Georgia O’Keeffe and Gilbert Stuart among its permanent collection.
Affiliated with Wake Forest University, Reynolda House features traveling and original exhibitions, concerts, lectures, classes, film screenings and other events.
The museum is located on the historic 1917 estate of Katharine Smith Reynolds and her husband, Richard Joshua Reynolds, founder of the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company.
Stroll the formal gardens, greenhouses and woodland walking trails of Reynolda Gardens.
Cost: Adults $14, free for children 18 and younger, students with a valid ID or military personnel
More info: Call 336-758-5150 or visit reynoldahouse.org
Historic Gold Hill
Location: 755 St. Stephens Church Road, Gold Hill
Miles from Salisbury: 15
Approximate time of travel: 26 minutes
What to expect: Step back in time as you stroll along the wood sidewalks of the nineteenth century Gold Mining Capitol of North Carolina. The 70 acre Gold Hill Mines Historic Park and Village of Gold Hill are located in the heart of the Carolina Gold Rush Territory.
The village boasts ten shops filled with antiques, home decor, bakery, floral gifts, original art and unique handmade gifts. Friday nights are special with year-round Bluegrass music at the E.H. Montgomery General Store.
More info: Call 704-267-9439 or visit www.historicgoldhill.com
Food and wine aficionados
Afternoon tea at the O. Henry Hotel
Location: 624 Green Valley Road, Greensboro
Miles from Salisbury: 58
Approximate time of travel: 1 hour
What to expect: “Upon arrival at the O Henry, we are taken to our seating area in the social lobby, where there are sections of tea tables surrounded by lovely couches and chairs. Each sitting area is elegant and cozy. The O. Henry offers a full service tea menu, with an incredible selection of year-round teas and seasonal teas.
Each guest selects their preferred tea cup and saucer before they order their tea. The tea cups and saucers are so delicate and pretty.
“We often order the O Henry Tea (we have a light breakfast and then skip lunch so we can fully enjoy our experience), which includes an individual pot of tea for each guest, and a beautiful three-tiered tray of scones with clotted cream and lemon curd, a savory bites layer with quiche, brioche toast with ham and brie, cheese straws, mini sandwiches, etc.
The sweet tray offers lemon pound cake, and several other delicious confections. We are usually quite full after the savory tray, and wind up taking our sweets home with us.”
Why it’s great: We love to take a little girls day trip to Greensboro and enjoy tea together. It’s a very special time for us, and my grandmother noted (when we were last there), that the whole experience truly made her feel like a lady.” – Salisbury resident Ondria Witt
Cost: Visit website for a menu
More info: Call for reservation at 336-854-2015 or visit ohenryhotel.com/afternoon_tea.htm
Ashe County Cheese Inc.
Location: 106 E. Main St., West Jefferson
Miles from Salisbury: 106
Approximate time of travel: 1 hour, 53 minutes
What to expect: The company makes on average 30,000 pounds of cheese per week and are now producing about 20 different varieties.
The viewing room is open daily and lets people watch the cheesemaking process. Sample and purchase the products we make in our retail shop across the street from the factory.
Why it’s great: “It’s neat to see a small food operation in such a rural setting. There are many farms tours now, but it’s rare you get to see behind the scenes of food production.
The adjacent store has every imaginable cheese variety and I think it has a much better flavor than anything found in big stores.
Be sure to try the curds! They have a really cool installation of the milk tanks created by local students, too.” –Salisbury resident Emily Santillo
Cost: Viewing room open at no charge
More info: Call 800-445-1378 or visit ashecountycheese.com
Dennis Vineyard Winery
Location: 24043 Endy Road, Albemarle
Miles from Salisbury: 37
Approximate time of travel: 51 minutes.
What to expect: A family-owned vineyard that features muscadine wine. Tours are available at 11 a.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. weekdays.
Why it’s great: “It’s nice to grab a bottle of wine and enjoy it with friends on the property. Across the street from their shop they have the vineyards and a beautiful venue for weddings and parties.
They host music events, mystery dinners and have a great wine membership.
It’s a family run business and when you walk in they are just the friendliest group around.
I highly recommend it and their wide variety of wines definitely make it worth the roadtrip. I never leave empty-handed.” — Salisbury resident Janet Ruffin
Cost: Sample six wines with a sample cup for free or with a souvenir glass for $3. Try 12 wines with a souvenir glass for $6 or take a tour and sample six wines with a souvenir glass for $8.
More info: Call 800-230-1743 or visit .dennisvineyards.com
Location: 3200 Round Hill Road. Booneville
Miles from Salisbury: 44 miles
Approximate time of travel: 1 hour 6 mins.
What to expect: Quiet and nice scenery can be enjoyed while sipping wine, watching birds and sampling freshly harvested vegetables. The Century designated farm includes forest marshland, creeks, lakes and open fields.
Sanders Ridge has been in the Shore family for more than 165 years. It now includes a winery, restaurant and organic farm.
Natures trails are available for picnics, hiking and biking.
Why it’s great: “This was my first organic farm tour and we got to visit the kitchen to see prep of the veggies from the farm of the very food we were eating for lunch. The quality was exceptional and the setting is lovely.” –Salisbury resident Emily Santillo
Cost: Varies depending on activity
More info: Call 336 677-1700 or visit http://sandersridge.com