Punxsutawney Phil failed to see his shadow last month, meaning spring is on its way—which is great thing for those of us feeling cooped up.
Warmer temperatures and consistent sunshine set an excellent precedence for making plans, and the Triad is host to innumerable amounts of things to do. So gather the family, throw on some shades, and roll the windows down as you explore our list of 26 day trips to do this spring and summer.
We put our guide together using downtown Winston-Salem as the starting point, so driving time estimations will vary. Traffic should also be taken into consideration.
1. The Andy Griffith Museum. Mount Airy is Mayberry, and the Andy Griffith Museum boasts the single largest collection of artifacts and memorabilia from his life and career. Take a stroll afterward to Main Street, which has something for everyone.
Driving time: 45 minutes / 37 miles
Admission: $8 adult, $6 ages 12 and under. (Also includes admission to five additional Surry Arts Council Exhibits)
Address: 218 Rockford Street, Mount Airy
Hours: Mon-Sat, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.; Sun, 1–5 p.m.
2. Virginia Creeper Trail. The trail begins in Abindgon and travels through Damascus before ending at Whitetop Station on the Virginia-North Carolina border. Its multiple entry points mean you can do a part of it or do the whole 66-mile thing.
Driving time: 2 hours, 21 minutes / 147 miles
Admission: Free. Bike/helmet rentals are available at many nearby shops
Address: 300 Green Spring Road, Abingdon, Va.
Hours: 365 days a year
3. Pilot Mountain State Park. Our favorite knob is home to several aviary species, and a quick drive up to the summit opens to a vast view of the Sauratown Mountains. There’s camping, many hiking and climbing trails, and the mountain summit is a great picnic spot.
Driving time: 27 minutes / 23 miles
Address: 1792 Pilot Knob Park Road, Pinnacle
Hours: March to April, 7 a.m.–8 p.m.; May to Sept, 7 a.m.–9 p.m.
4. The Sunset Theatre. Owned by the city of Asheboro, the Sunset Theatre hosts a wide variety of cultural events for the community, such as musical performances and plays. It underwent a facelift in 2013 that included an expansion and new marquee.
Driving time: 45 minutes / 44 miles
Admission: Varies by performance
Address: 234 Sunset Avenue, Asheboro
Hours: Vary by performance
5. Old Salem Museum & Gardens. It’s not every day you actually get to go back in time, and the streets of Old Salem are full of a living history of how life was in the 1700s. A new lineup of “Salem Saturdays” events have been announced and are guaranteed to offer some hands-on fun.
Driving time: 6 minutes / 1 mile
Address: 900 Old Salem Road, Winston-Salem
Hours: Tues-Sat, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Sun, 1–4:30 p.m.
6. Black Mountain Chocolate Factory Tour. The second you walk into the Black Mountain Chocolate Factory and you’re hit with that wonderful chocolate aroma, your decision to do a tour is among the best you’ve ever made.
Tour participants will learn a lot about chocolate by the time they leave. The whole factory was set up to allow customers to see nearly every single step of the chocolate-making process. The 45-minute tour goes even deeper, taking you past the large display windows in the store and onto the production floor to witness the bean-to-bar operation up close.
This is exactly what Brent Peters had in mind when he left his career as a tax attorney and bought the business back in 2013. Black Mountain Chocolate originally launched in 2007 a few miles east of Asheville in Black Mountain, hence its name. Peters moved the operation to Winston-Salem in 2014 and quickly became a doctorate-level student of the chocolate-making process. He’s been learning and experimenting ever since.
Tour participants see factory workers dump large buckets of cacao beans, sourced directly from the Dominican Republic, into giant metal roasting machines, and listen to the beans rattle around for about 30 minutes. They smell the rich, brownie-like aroma of the roasting process that tops any childhood memory in grandma’s kitchen.
The taste at this stage is another story. Tour participants often get to taste one of the roasted beans, a toe-curling experience thanks to cacao’s natural bitter flavor. Don’t worry—when those beans are ground into nibs, sugar is added to make it all alright again. Finally, the chocolate is liquefied, molded into bars, and packaged by hand.
At that point, don’t be surprised by involuntary mouthwatering; it’s OK. The tour ends with arguably the best part, taste testing Black Mountain’s 70 percent cacao chocolate, along with other bars made in North Carolina and beyond.
Like the production process itself, there is an art to chocolate tasting. To truly get a sense of all the unique flavor notes, your guide will insist that you break up the chocolate with your teeth and let it melt between your tongue and the roof of your mouth.
But good luck with that. Black Mountain Chocolate is so rich and tasty you probably won’t be able to help swallowing it whole. Good thing the factory store is kept well stocked with more bars, baked goods, and other chocolate confections. You’re going to want to try it all.
Driving time: 3 minutes / 1 mile
Admission: Self-guided tours are free, behind-the-scenes tours require a reservation
Address: 732 Trade Street NW, Winston-Salem
Hours: Tues-Thurs & Sun,11 a.m.–5 p.m.; Fri, 11 a.m.–6 p.m.; Sat, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
7. MADIK Playground. This all-inclusive playground, which is nestled in Recreation Acres park, features a wheelchair and therapeutic swing, sensory items, and a merry-go-round. Picnic shelters with charcoal grills are on site so pack a cooler.
Driving time: 23 minutes / 17 miles
Address: 107 White Road, King
8. Old Nick Williams Farm & Distillery. Dubbed as “America’s Most Famous Forgotten Distillery,” Old Nick Williams is full of history. It’s recommended to schedule an appointment for a tour and a tasting.
Driving time: 20 minutes / 14 miles
Admission: $10 for a tour
Address: 2675 Williams Road, Lewisville
Hours: Tues-Thurs, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Fri & Sat, 11 a.m.–6 p.m.
9. The Willingham Theater. As part of the Yadkin Cultural Arts Center, the Willingham Theater brings big city excitement to the small town of Yadkinville. The center is host to summer camps and multiple live productions, as well as a bistro.
Driving time: 33 minutes / 25 miles
Admission: Ticket prices vary by performance
Address: 226 E. Main Street, Yadkinville
Hours: Mon-Fri, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
10. Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden. A source of major community pride, the Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden provides environmental education and horticultural splendor for all visitors. There are many different gardens on the grounds you can walk through.
Driving time: 16 minutes / 10 miles
Admission: Self-guided tours are free
Address: 215 South Main Street, Kernersville
Hours: Mon-Fri, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
11. Tiger World. This animal conservation is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and preservation of exotic animals. There are also several interactive glass features that create the impression that you’re in the exhibit with the animals.
Driving time: 53 minutes / 49 miles
Address: 4400 Cook Road, Rockwell
Hours: Sun-Sat, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
12. Furnitureland South. Just five minutes from downtown High Point, the furniture capital of America, is another mecca for interior designers. Furnitureland South is the largest furniture store in the U.S. A bonus for sandwich lovers? It also has the world’s largest Subway restaurant.
Furniture, however, is the focus, underscored by the 85-foot-tall highboy guarding the entrance to The Mart, one of the three buildings on the Furnitureland South campus. From the parking lot, the place looks imposing. Executive Director of Sales & Marketing Blair Ingle puts its size into perspective.
“One of the biggest stores you’ll ever walk into is a Home Depot or Lowe’s, which are usually around 100,000 square feet,” he says. “Furnitureland South is the size of 13 of those.”
That’s why you won’t have to go it alone. In the main lobby of The Showroom building, shoppers are greeted by design consultants, who are focused on helping you find a needle in a haystack.
“You can wander this place for days and still not find exactly what looking for,” says Ingle. “[Design consultants] know all the brands, all the price points, and they can explain differences in construction, quality, and comfort. They’re sort of [like a] Sherpa who helps guide you to the summit.”
Not only are galleries set up by room (bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, etc.), there is a gallery devoted to leather-upholstered furniture. Another is for kids. The mattress gallery is more of a sleep gallery, complete with ambient lighting, music, and aromatherapy, and staff who cover everything from sleep hygiene to the best thread count for your sheets.
Also in The Showroom building is a trend gallery, featuring furniture and accessories that capture the latest design trends born up the road at the most recent High Point Furniture Market. Finally, the third building is the Outlet, a bargain shopper’s dream with discounts as attractive as the furniture.
Enjoying Furnitureland South doesn’t necessarily mean leaving with a new dining room set or recliner.
“A lot of people come just to get inspiration or ideas about what’s possible,” says Ingle. “We have people come in with an idea of their style and fall in love with something that’s totally different.”
If you need a more specific reason to visit, try the big outdoor furniture sale in April and the retailers’ big bi-annual sale of High Point Furniture Market samples, the next of which is in August. Furnitureland South also hosts three garage sales with last-chance clearance pricing.
Driving time: 29 minutes / 25 miles
Address: 5635 Riverdale Drive, Jamestown
Hours: Mon-Thurs & Sat, 8:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m.; Fri, 8:30 a.m.–8:30 p.m.
13. Daniel Boone Gem Mining. This hands-on mining experience lets everyone find their own unique gemstones and fossils; the ore buckets are assembled from mine rough around the world and enriched with minerals from North Carolina.
Driving time: 22 minutes / 10 miles
Address: 2442 W. Clemmonsville Road, Suite D
Hours: Mon-Fri, appointment only; Sat, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
14. Hanging Rock State Park. The Dan River Company offers canoe and kayak rentals for folks looking to explore the Dan River, which runs adjacent to Hanging Rock State Park. There are a variety of trips to choose from, all of which involve the water!
Driving time: 45 minutes / 29 miles
Admission: Kayak trips start at $45
Address: 1110 Flinchum Road, Danbury
15. Körner’s Folly. Explore the home of artist and designer Jule Gilmer Körner with its 22 rooms, original furnishings, and original artwork. Everything from theater productions to hands-on activities will make for a fun-filled day in Kernersville.
Driving time: 16 minutes / 10 miles
Address: 413 South Main Street, Kernersville
Hours: Wed-Sat, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.; Sun, 1–4 p.m.
16. Richard Petty Museum. At Petty Family Attractions, families can explore the career Richard Petty, and the unparalleled success story of this stock car racing family. The Petty Museum features cars, memorabilia, trophies, and awards as well as life-size re-creations of the Petty family’s characters from Disney-Pixar’s “Cars.”
Driving time: 39 minutes / 37 miles
Address: 311 Branson Mill Road, Level Cross
Hours: Mon-Sat, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
17. Lake Norman. This is a true water sports paradise. Visitors can try wakeboarding, rent a boat or Jet Ski, or simply spend the day fishing. The lake is also surrounded by tons of shopping, restaurants, and additional outdoor adventures.
Driving time: 1 hour, 8 minutes / 64 miles
Admission: Free. Additional cost for rentals
Address: Visitor Center, 19900 West Catawba Ave, Suite 102, Cornelius
Hours: Vary by season
18. Textile Heritage Museum. Burlington is more than just an Interstate 40 pit stop on the way to the beach. It’s the unofficial capital of North Carolina’s rich textile manufacturing history, and one small museum north of downtown captures its rise to industrial prominence.
Glencoe Mill was among the first textile mills in Alamance County. It’s also the region’s last waterpowered mill, built on the north bank of the Haw River by two sons of Edwin M. Holt, one of the most influential textile pioneers in the South in the 19th century. The mill ran for 74 years from 1880 to 1954, producing mostly plaid flannel, as well as textile materials used by American troops in both world wars.
Today, it is home to the Textile Heritage Museum. George and Jerolene “Jerrie” Nall, Sam Powell, and Kathy Barry founded the museum in 2001. With the help of a volunteer staff, they open it to the public from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.
Most exhibits are in the stout little brick building that once housed the mill offices and company store. Walking inside feels like entering a large, 3D photograph of southern life in the wake of the Industrial Revolution.
The museum packs several rooms with hundreds of artifacts, including military uniforms made from the fabric created there, rustic pieces of machinery that got the job done day after day, and various personal items of the workers who lived in the surrounding village. Together, these exhibits show how insular the life of a mill worker was back then.
It’s worth taking in the rest of that little world. The Glencoe Mill Village/Mill Complex is one of the most well-restored and well-preserved Textile Mill Villages in the United States. Historical interpretive plaques are set throughout the neighborhood and tell the history of the village. Most of the homes are now private residences and feature tin roofs, brick foundations and wide front porches common to North Carolina mill houses in the late 19th century.
If you’re interested in getting more exercise, you can walk down to the river to view the old mill dam and the mill race, part of the system that powers the mill and village homes.
The Alamance Parks Northern Division recently relocated to the Historic Machine Shop across from the Textile Heritage Museum. In the lobby are brochures and staff to help with information about the Haw River Hiking Trails, kayaking along the Haw River, and other recreational pursuits offered by the Alamance Parks Department.
Driving time: 59 minutes / 52 miles
Admission: Free but donations are accepted
Address: 2406 Glencoe Street, Burlington
Hours: Tues-Sun, 1–4 p.m.
19. Reynolda House Museum of American Art. As a historic site, the Reynolda House caters to a diverse audience in its preservation and interpretation of American art. There’s a huge variety of collections and exhibitions, as well as several tour options.
Driving time: 11 minutes / 3 miles
Address: 2250 Reynolda Road, Winston-Salem
Hours: Tues-Sat, 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.; Sun, 1:30–4:30 p.m.
20. Topgolf. Like golf? Topgolf’s entertainment complex offers an inclusive, high-tech golf game for everyone. There’s food and drinks, music, and climate-controlled hitting bays. Plus, you can bring your own clubs.
Driving time: 1 hour, 23 minutes / 93 miles
Admission: Prices vary by day
Address: 8024 Savoy Corporate Drive, Charlotte
Hours: Mon-Thurs, 9–midnight; Fri & Sat, 9–1 a.m.; Sun, 9 a.m.–11 p.m.
21. Fort Dobbs Historic Site. With its many buildings, Fort Dobbs Historic Site is a fun way to learn about the French and Indian War. There are historical re-enactments, a picnic shelter, and a half-mile nature trail.
Driving time: 46 minutes / 46 miles
Address: 438 Fort Dobbs Road, Statesville
Hours: Tues-Sat, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
22. BB&T Ballpark. The Winston-Salem Dash season-opener is slated for April 11, and there’s so much fun to be had with their alternating promotions. Throughout the season, families can expect matchups against the Lynchburg Hillcats and Frederick Keys, to name a few.
Driving time: 6 minutes / 1 mile
Admission: Prices vary by seats
Address: 998 Watkins Street SW, Winston-Salem
Hours: Vary by game
23. GoPro Motorplex. Open seven days a week, year-round, the GoPro Motorplex is an outdoor, 11-turn karting facility that offers rental karts with speeds that reach up to 55 mph. There’s also an indoor meeting space and several upcoming events.
Driving time: 59 minutes / 51 miles
Admission: Prices start at $25
Address: 130 Motorplex Drive, Mooresville
Hours: Hours and track availability vary by day
24. Greensboro Natural Science Center. The Greensboro Science Center has undergone quite a transformation in the last decade. After building a new aquarium in 2013—and adding another 5,000 square feet to it in 2017—it’s breaking ground on its zoo expansion this spring.
With these and other upgrades, the Science Center is well worth a visit even if you’ve been before.
“No two visits are the same,” says Greensboro Science Center Marketing Manager Erica Brown. “You can return just a day later and see an animal you missed before, or your favorite animal may have a new enrichment item or may be featured in a keeper talk. There is so much information if you take the time to explore each exhibit.”
Brown suggests spending at least two hours at the Science Center, although she concedes that can vary widely.
“If you’re chasing a toddler from exhibit to exhibit, you may get through it much faster,” she says. “If you enjoy taking your time to read through exhibit signage, catch a couple of keeper talks, watch an OmniSphere or Adventure Theater show, and see an animal feeding or two, you can easily spend an entire day.”
The SKYWILD attraction can extend your enjoyment to a full weekend. SKYWILD is a rigorous treetop obstacle course that spans across much of the woods behind the main building. It requires its own ticket, so call ahead or log onto skywild.org for more information.
On hot days, Brown suggests arriving early to check out the zoo in the morning. Many of the animals, which include the ever-popular meerkats, black howler monkeys, red pandas and a peacock that struts around the grounds as if it owns the place, are be more active when it’s cooler. Most of the animals have access to indoor, air-conditioned spaces when it gets hot outside.
Other things to check out early are the center’s most popular exhibits. In the aquarium, that’s Hands-On Harbor, the stingray touch tank, jellyfish tank, and the main gallery at the rear of the space containing corals and Pacific sea life.
Next month, the Science Center is celebrating the North Carolina Science Festival all month with a number of events on the schedule. The Brews & Bubbles beer tasting event for ages 21 and older and Tuxedo Trot, a 5k and Kids’ Fun Run to help endangered African penguins, require tickets, while an after-hours science trivia night and a star viewing party are both free.
Driving time: 38 minutes / 30 miles
Admission: $14.50 adults, $13.50 seniors and children
Address: 4301 Lawndale Drive, Greensboro
Hours: Sun-Sat, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
25. Zootastic Park. This privately-owned park is a full walk-around zoo that boasts a large variety of animals—some of which can be fed or pet as part of the experience. Wagon rides are included in the price of admission!
Driving time: 51 minutes / 50 miles
Admission: $11.50 children, $13.50 adults
Address: 385 Ostwalt Amity Road, Troutman
Hours: Mon-Sat, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.; Sun, 1–5 p.m.
26. 1886 Roanoke River Lighthouse. This lighthouse first served as a guide for ships navigating the waters of the Albemarle Sound. Today, it stands as a memory of the light keepers who served to keep mariners safe from shoals and storms.
Driving time: 3 hours, 36 minutes / 241 miles
Admission: $2.50 ages 13 and up, $1.50 for ages three to 12
Address: Edenton Harbor, NC
Hours: Tues-Sat, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.