You’ll be missing quite a bit if you think taking a weekend getaway only involves seeing things. Since you’ll be in a different place, why not do something different?
Here are some suggestions for places to go where trying something out-of-the-ordinary can be extraordinary.
Primland Resort, Meadows of Dan, Va.
It’s in the mountains due north of Charlotte and just over the state line – you can see the skyscrapers of Winston-Salem on the horizon. The French-owned compound offers golf and a spa, but there’s much more.
Activities: Go trail riding on an ATV tour; shoot clay pigeons with rifles on its station-to-station course ( Esquire magazine rated Primland one of the top 25 courses in the nation); climb trees with a guide/mentor from Blue Ridge Tree Climbing; try a guided fly-fishing excursion: A six-mile stretch of the scenic Dan River is adjacent to the grounds.
Bonus: Primland’s owners are astronomy hobbyists ... and the lodge has its own observatory dome with a Celestrom CGE Pro 1400 telescope. Observations and presentations can be scheduled during your stay, weather permitting. Special programs are also scheduled.
Nantahala Outdoor Center, Bryson City
Nantahala Outdoor Center attracts a half-million visitors annually to its compound on U.S. 74/19, where the highway and the tracks of the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad hunker down into a winding, between-the-mountains gorge cut by the fast-moving Nantahala River. National Geographic Adventure has called NOC “one of the best outfitters on Earth.”
Activities: NOC offers more than 80 whitewater rafting programs here and at six other rivers in the Southeast. The Nantahala features eight miles of practice on easy Class II rapids before splashing through the Class III whitewater of Nantahala Falls. Take the eight-mile (two-hour) fully guided trip (a guide in every inflatable raft) or a guide-assisted trip (guide is nearby; you pilot your raft). Contact for rates.
Bonus: NOC also has mountain biking, hiking and other activities, plus lodgings and two restaurants. A second zip line tour opened this summer; one of its 10 runs is a half-miler.
James Island County Park, Charleston
Heading southwest of downtown Charleston to Folly Beach, you’ll drive over James Island, whose same-named park is well-worth visiting.
Activities: Through summer, the wide range of inexpensive learning activities include programs where you can try your hand at new pursuits. If you’re 16 or older, enroll in a one- to five-hour course where an American Canoe Association-certified instructor teaches beginner sea kayaking or advanced sea kayaking (kayak touring; strokes and maneuvers refinement). In August, there’s even a course called “Beginning Short Boat Surf Kayaking.”
Bonus: The popular 643-acre park also has a 50-foot climbing wall and an 18-hole disc golf course as well as a Splash Zone water park featuring a pair of 200-foot tube slides as well as a 500-foot lazy river.
Love Valley, Iredell County
Love Valley is a little town in the Little Brushy Mountains where the main street is (intentionally) dirt, sidewalks are made of plank and there are hitching posts (not parking meters) in front of stores. It looks like a set from a Hollywood Western.
Activities: You ride a horse, of course: Love Valley attracts people who like to get around the way Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and Hopalong Cassidy did. The community has about 75 miles of riding trails. Half a mile from Love Valley’s main street, Caruso Farms (704-592-5517) offers guided trail rides: $35 for an hour; $55 for two hours; $75 for three.
Bonus: Love Valley has a saloon – with swinging doors, of course: Just tie your steed to the hitching post out in front of the (21 and older) Silver Spur.
John writes about travel for the Observer.
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