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Life and Religion

Fall destinations offer family fun
Spectacular sites are within easy drive of Charlotte
 
Published Thursday, November 1, 2012 10:57 am
by Michaela L. Duckett

 

Fall is great time of year to get outdoors and marvel at the wonders of nature. From quaint small towns with charm and history to beautiful vineyards and adventures in the wilderness, here is a list of three destinations to visit with the family, your friends or significant other:

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The Blue Ridge Parkway is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.


Hiking at Crowders Mountain State Park
Located 34 miles west of Charlotte, this 600-foot mountain is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, rock climbers and hikers of all skill levels. Marvel at nature’s beauty – quiet woods, trickling streams, aquatic plants and animals, wild flowers, mountain laurel and melodious birds – as you journey along one of the park’s many trails. Be sure to bring a pair of binoculars for bird watching and taking in the spectacular views from the highest point in Gaston County.


Looking for some family fun or a romantic night away, visit Crowders Mountain this Sunday (Nov. 4) for a late evening hike guided by a park ranger. See what happens as the sun begins to set behind the Pinnacle and the fall colors reflect from the trees and dance across the lake.


Afterwards, lay out a blanket and have a picnic. The Lake Trail is an easy eight-tenths of a mile hike that is fun and doable for people of all ages and abilities. For Sunday’s Late Evening Lake Hike, meet in the parking lot at 4 p.m. Program will be canceled if it rains.


On Nov. 10, visit Crowders Mountain for a day of food, fun, live music, vendor tables and a variety of activities and free educational programs related to N.C. wildlife at the Fur, Fangs and Feathers Fall Festival. Activities begin at 10 a.m.


Want to stay overnight? Camp out in the park. (If you like the comforts of home, consider taking your RV over to Kings Mountain State Park, which offers more than 100 sites with bathrooms and showers.) Crowders Mountain State Park is located at 522 Park Office Lane?in Kings Mountain. For more information, visit www.ncparks.gov or call (704) 853-5375.


Take it easy in Mount Airy
Take a journey back in time and enjoy the unique shops, historic cafes, ice cream parlors and emporiums that line the streets of downtown Mount Airy. This rustic small town is the hometown of Andy Griffith and served as the inspiration for Mayberry.
Stop by Wally’s Service Station and take a 30-minute ride down Main Street and visit well-known sites such as Floyd’s Barbershop, the Mayberry Courthouse and Griffith’s birthplace.


For lunch, enjoy a one-of-a-kind pork chop sandwich at the famous Snappy Lunch before satisfying your sweet tooth at Opie’s Candy Store, which is just across the street. Then, shop for antiques and souvenirs at the Main Oak Emporium or view the works of local artists at The Gallery Group.


Need to relax? Book a day at the Infinity Day Spa for facials, massages and pedicures or check out Mount Airy’s new wine bar, Uncorked. Stress can also be relieved firing rounds at Rabbit Ridge Enterprises – a full-service gun shop with shooting ranges and gun rentals available.


Before returning home, take a scenic drive on the Andy Griffith Parkway, a 10-mile stretch on U.S. 52 dedicated to the late actor.


Shelton Vineyards
Discover the award winning wines of Yadkin Valley at this winery located in Dobson. Shelton Vineyards (286 Cabernet Lane) boasts of being the largest family-owned estate winery in North Carolina. The facility features a 33,000-square-foot winery, tasting bar, gift shop, picnic area and the Harvest Grill Restaurant.


Enjoy free admission Nov. 17 – 18, when Shelton Vineyards hosts its Holiday Open House from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. on Saturday and 12 p.m.–5 p.m. on Sunday. There will be caroling, case specials (in time for those holiday parties), hay rides, local arts and crafts, mulled spice wine and plenty of wonderful gift ideas for the holiday season.


While in Dobson, be sure to take in the sights and scenes of the picturesque small town with miles of trails with views of rivers, rolling foothills and vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains or visit one of the 11 other wineries all within a 20-30 minute drive of Dobson. Dobson is located at exit 93 off Interstate 77. For more information call (336) 366-4724 or visit sheltonvineyards.com.

 

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