Lake Norman & Mooresville

Huntersville is promoting ‘staycations'

Gas prices may be keeping people from weekend getaways, but businesses in Huntersville are trying to get them to make “staycations” a new habit.

A “staycation” means visiting local attractions instead of traveling to distant destinations. Huntersville has created a “Fall into Huntersville” tourism initiative to help get the word out about things to do in the area.

The program kicks off Monday, with at least 2,000 flyers and advertising in local newspapers and businesses.

Travis Dancy, the sports and marketing manager for Visit Lake Norman, said the program should help Huntersville attract more tourism revenue.

“With the economy being down, we wanted to take a more aggressive approach,” he said. “We want to show the new residents, as well as the locals, just what is available in Huntersville.”

In February, Huntersville Mayor Jill Swain helped form a committee with representatives of several of the biggest tourist attractions in the Huntersville area.

That committee meets once a month, and Swain said it didn't take long to see that Huntersville could capitalize on what should be a busy fall, based on a number of events planned.

“The cool thing is now, when you go to a meeting, there's not room around the table anymore,” she said.

“There is so much to do here, and now we have really been able to get all those groups … together and collaborate to spread the word.”

One such event is a special show at Latta Plantation Equestrian Center in Huntersville from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. The day celebrates the opening of the CaliCos Haven, a new Huntersville nonprofit organization that is used for equine-assisted psychotherapy.

Events include an appearance by Thumbelina, the world's smallest horse, which stands just 17 inches tall. The attraction will also include Katie Fitzpatrick's performing miniature horses, an equestrian jumping performance and pony rides. Admission to the event is free.

But that's not the only thing to do in town. The Rural Hill Farm's “Amazing Maize Maze” is also a draw, and the Carolina Raptor Center also has special programs.

The Carolina Renaissance Festival gets under way Oct. 4, and Birkdale Village, Huntersville Family Fitness & Aquatics, and Duke Energy Explorium are among the local attractions with events planned.

The “Fall into Huntersville” promotion is expected to run through Thanksgiving.

“All this is being done without a dollar from the town,” Swain said. “But all of these businesses have linked together, and this is a great way to show people what they can do.”