Racing, Wine and Wild Animals

Racing, Wine and Wild Animals

Elephants at the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro

The area around Asheboro and Lexington, the geographic center of North Carolina, is where you’ll find many things we’re famous for, including delicious barbecue, wineries, an inspiring artistic heritage, and the thrill of NASCAR racing. There’s even a world-class zoo for you to explore.

3-Day Itinerary

Day 1: Get up close and personal with the animal kingdom at the North Carolina Zoo, then discover pottery making in Seagrove.

Day 2: Explore two passions of NASCAR legend Richard Childress: auto racing and winemaking.

Day 3: Experience the history of a racing dynasty then hike in a national forest.

Day 1: North Carolina Zoo and pottery in Seagrove

Spend the morning at the North Carolina Zoo. Set in the rolling hills of the Uwharrie Mountains just south of Asheboro, the North Carolina Zoo is the largest walk-through natural-habitat zoo in the country and features more than 500 acres, five miles of trails and 1,600 animals. It also has fun gift shops and three on-site restaurants serving burgers, sandwiches and salads.

Have lunch at the zoo, or take U.S. Highway 220 Alt. south to Seagrove and enjoy a full menu of country fare at Seagrove Family Restaurant. After lunch, learn about North Carolina’s longstanding pottery tradition and view the works of local potters at the North Carolina Pottery Center and the Museum of North Carolina Traditional Pottery.

Several galleries are located in Seagrove, but if you travel U.S. Highway 705 and U.S. Highway 220 Alt., you’ll find more than 80 potters in their own studios and galleries. Most are well marked, so just pull off the highway to watch them at work and purchase pieces for your collection.

Finish your day with a delicious dinner at Something Different Restaurant in Asheboro.

Day 2: Richard Childress Racing Museum and wine and barbecue in Lexington

Day two finds you on the road to Lexington, where you’ll enjoy art, wine and NASCAR history.

Start at the Richard Childress Racing Museum just north of Lexington in the little town of Welcome. This 47,000 square-foot facility houses 47 racing vehicles, 22 of which were driven by the legendary Dale Earnhardt. See 16 video screens illustrating key victories in RCR history and six NASCAR Winston Cup championship owner’s trophies.

All of that racing around will have you ready for lunch and a quiet stroll in a vineyard. Indulging one of his passions, NASCAR team owner Richard Childress opened Childress Vineyards not far from his racing complex, and The Bistro at Childress Vineyards offers pasta, sandwiches and salads.

After lunch, tour the winery to see how award-winning Childress wines are made, and then sample those same wines in the tasting room, named one of America’s Top 25 Tasting Rooms by Wine Enthusiast Magazine. Later buy some wine, a souvenir or wine accessory.

Enjoy more browsing and shopping at the Bob Timberlake Gallery, where you’ll find the “sophisticated casual” style of this internationally known realist painter in everything from original art prints to home furnishings. Then find out why Lexington is known as the “Barbecue Capital of the World” when you dig into a dinner of real pit-cooked barbeque at the Bar-B-Q Center. Finish the day with NASCAR action at Caraway Speedway, where they race everything from late-model stocks to super trucks and legends.

Day 3: Richard Petty Museum and Uwharrie National Forest

Start your engines at the home of the King, seven-time Winston Cup Series Champion Richard Petty. Since 1949, the Petty family’s racing dynasty has helped shape NASCAR, and the Richard Petty Museum in Randleman tells the family’s story and houses its cars, trophies and awards from decades of dominance.

Later, go from four wheels to two as you see one of the South’s finest private collections of antique and classic Harley-Davidson motorcycles at the American Classic Motorcycle Museum. Or, take to the air at the North Carolina Aviation Museum Hall of Fame where you’ll see an air-worthy collection of vintage warplanes from World War II to the Vietnam era.

For lunch, try San Felipe Mexican Restaurant, which serves some of the best Mexican food north of the border, or pick up great milkshakes and chilidogs at the Dixie Express drive-through and have a picnic on your way to the Uwharrie National Forest. The Birkhead Mountains Wilderness Area features 5,160 acres of pristine forests at the northern end of the ancient Uwharrie Mountains and has several designated hiking trials.

Try Timothy’s, which serves steaks and seafood, for dinner.

Enjoy all the area has to offer by mixing and matching events to your particular interest. Be sure to check days and hours of operation for each venue.

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