100 Bragg Blvd.
Fayetteville, NC 28301
The Airborne & Special Operations Museum is in the Fort Bragg community, America’s first military sanctuary community. The 59,000-square-foot facility has an impressive lobby display of two fully deployed parachutes: a World War II chute and a modern-day chute. This represents the development of the airborne forces to the current war efforts. The museum features exhibits from putting men and equipment on the World War II battlefields to the Global War on Terrorism. Highlights include a replica of part of a French village from the Normandy Invasion and an M551 Sheridan armored reconnaissance vehicle. A reflective garden is lined with granite pavers — purchased to honor a loved one. A parade field is lined with monuments honoring the airborne and special operations units. A theater shows educational and entertaining movies throughout the day. Experience just a little of what the soldiers do by riding the motion simulator.
Thistle Meadow Winery
102 Thistle Meadow
Laurel Springs, NC 28644
Thistle Meadow Winery is just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Grapes are brought in from across the world to make wine. Take a 45-minute tour to learn about the wine making. Complimentary crackers, nuts and breads are served. The tour also includes a wine tasting for an extra $3. It concludes with a Q&A session. Wines made at Thistle Meadow are dry red, dry white, blush and sweet. Private label wines, custom wines and blends, private parties and weddings can be held at the facility.
341 N. Main St.
Sparta, NC 28675
The Alleghany Inn is off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Newly installed solar panels heat the water. The inn is 80 percent non-smoking. Rooms offer a microwave, refrigerator, guest laundry, free wireless, a wellness center with workout facilities and an indoor pool. There is also a restaurant on site. Nearby activities include a skateboard park and Tweetsie Railroad. Children 17 and under are free with a paying adult.
Battleship North Carolina
1 Battleship Road
Wilmington, NC 28401
The USS North Carolina is much like a living museum. It seems there’s always a World War II veteran aboard, reliving past memories. The war ship patrolled the Pacific Theater during World War II, engaging in fierce battles. The ship was berthed in Wilmington in 1961. Do you have any memories of this event? The ship is requesting public stories. Several types of tours are offered. The Hidden Battleship Tour is four hours. Up to eight people can decide which part of the ship to visit. The Back Porch Tour is for those less mobile. It starts at the Visitor Center, then the Exhibit Hall and concludes on the Observation Deck. August 10 is Battleship 101. Come and watch volunteers engaging the public on topics such as gunnery, radiomen, sick bay, galley and daily life aboard the ship. There are scheduled events every month listed on the website.
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5427 Highway 74 W.
Whittier, NC 28789
Rafting With My Kids is as friendly as it sounds. It is whitewater rafting for the entire family. A four-year-old accustomed to water is not too young. All the rafting takes place on the Tuckasegee River. The Morning Mist ride is the most gentle — still offering the bounce and churn of the whitewater. Shoot through the Papa Bear, Moon Shot and Double Drop. The Fun Run is for an older group, seven and up. An older child can ride it solo with a ducky inflatable kayak. These soft adventures for the family operate rain or shine through Labor Day.
Crowders Mountain State Park
522 Park Office Lane
Kings Mountain, NC 28086
Crowders Mountain is 25 miles from Charlotte. It’s a popular rock climbing and hiking site for residents wanting a big-city reprieve. Prominent peaks are Little Mountain and Kings Pinnacle. The summit reaches 1,625 feet high. The shortest and steepest route to the top is Backside Trail. A state parking lot is on Linwood Road. Virginia Pine, Bear Oak and Mountain Laurel decorate the mountain’s peak.
301 Cleveland Ave.
Grover, NC 28073
The Inn of the Patriots has been voted Best B&B in the World for History for two years running. It has been voted the Highest Green Hotel award in North Carolina for 2012. Former White House chef Marti Mongiello and his wife, Stormy, operate the inn. Each room has a different theme, such as the Baby Ruth Room, Nature & Earth Room, Oceanicus Blue Dream Room or the Colonel Cleaveland Room. The Cleaveland Room features antique furniture, embroidered robes, ceiling fan, direct TV, spa services, private bathroom, foot massage machine, DVD library and, or course, exceptional food.
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Catherine Lash engagingly connects with people. She has learned that interested listening and thoughtful questioning are the means through which collaboration creates a story. She grew up traveling the world and learning military life in an Air Force family of seven. She currently lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her husband and three kids. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.