Stroll: The N.C. Zoo (www.nczoo.org) heads the list of attractions in close proximity to the Uwharrie Mountains region of central North Carolina. Plan on a full day to walk between the North American and African regions and see animals exhibited in their natural-habitat environs. Two special areas are the Sonoran Desert and the Forest Aviary.
In Asheboro, the N.C. Aviation Museum (www.ncaviationmuseumhalloffame.com) has an impressive number of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam-era planes. A highlight of the collection is a rare 1940s “Flitfire,” piloted several times by Orville Wright.
The Rankin Museum of American Heritage in Ellerbe (www.rankinmuseum.org) displays an amazing assortment of artifacts, from a rare breed of salamander found only in North Carolina to a harpoon carried by Commander Robert E. Perry on his 1909 expedition to the North Pole; from Indian artifacts gathered from places between the Amazon and Alaska to items of local origin.
Town Creek Indian Mound State Historic Site, outside Mount Gilead, transports you across eight centuries, to a small remnant of the Pee Dee Indian culture that flourished in the south central region of the Carolina Piedmont around A.D. 1200. The site (www.nchistoricsites.org) includes a reconstructed stockade and several huts.
Shop: Asheboro’s downtown area has become a choice destination for antiquing, while the town of Liberty has earned a reputation for its semi-annual antique festivals held each April and September. In the market for decorative yet functional pottery? Cruise N.C. 705 – nicknamed “Pottery Highway” – and browse the shops found around Seagrove, Westmore, Robbins... and Why Not. Area info: www.heartofnorthcarolina.com.
Hike: Morrow Mountain State Park (use “Find a park” at www.ncparks.gov) covers nearly 4,700 acres of the Uwharrie range and offers a number of hiking trails, from easy to strenuous. All are well-shaded. If you want to see views from the summit without hiking the 3-mile nature trail, a paved road to the top makes it easy.
East of Morrow Mountain, a less-trafficked and more adventurous hiking trail runs more than 50 miles through the Uwharrie National Forest. The Uwharrie National Recreation Trail is accessed off N. C. 24/27 midway between Albemarle and Troy. Recent improvements to this trail have made it very accommodating to casual hikers. Details: At www.fs.usda.gov/nfsnc, type “Uwharrie” in the search window.
Bike: Among the many amenities offered at the Badin Lake Recreation Area, (at www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/nfsnc, type “Badin” in the search window) are 17 miles of wooded trails especially designed for mountain bikes and off-highway vehicles.
The name says it all – Something Different Restaurant (www.trysomethingdifferentasheboro.com). The family-friendly eatery south of Asheboro on Zoo Parkway has been serving up a varied menu for more than 20 years. Items include fish, pasta, chicken, bayou dishes, and assorted sandwiches; daily specials are served Tuesday-Sunday.
In Badin, The Badin Treehouse is a welcoming little coffeehouse with a somewhat rustic décor. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, The Treehouse (at www.facebook.com, search for Badin Treehouse Co.) serves soups, salads, and sandwiches at modest prices.