8 Things to Do This Spring Across North Carolina

8 Things to Do This Spring Across North Carolina

Airlie Gardens in Wilmington is a sight to behold in spring, including the events held here during the North Carolina Azalea Festival

With spring’s arrival comes pleasant weather, the return of beautiful colors and popular festivals. Experience the season in North Carolina and you’ll be reminded why springtime is so invigorating. Here are eight ways to enjoy the sunnier days and warmer nights.

Walk the Wildflower Trails
North Carolina’s mountain wildflowers are nearly as famous as the fall foliage. Color unfolds from March to June with a sequence of trout lilies and violets, trillium and lady slippers, and azaleas, mountain laurel and rhododendron. Pick up well-known trails at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Grandfather Mountain and Chimney Rock. And east of the mountains, discover a surprising wealth of wildflowers at Raven Rock State Park in Lillington and the amazing Flower Hill Nature Preserve near Clayton.

Get Lost in Gardens
Every garden has a story, and North Carolina’s are epic. At Biltmore, which welcomes spring with Biltmore Blooms (March 20 - May 25, 2017), George Vanderbilt, Frederick Law Olmsted and horticulturalist Chauncey Beadle created a dazzling array of formal and informal gardens. At Sarah P. Duke Gardens, for more than 75 years, dramatic plantings in world-class designs reach the height of beauty in spring. The gardens of Tryon Palace cover two-and-a-half centuries of history with marigolds and celosia representing the Colonial era. And for more intimate vignettes, tour private gardens during the North Carolina Azalea Festival (April 5-9), Wilmington’s showcase of Southern pageantry at its finest.

Root for the Home Team
There’s nothing like baseball fresh from the farm, and North Carolina teams have helped cultivate an heirloom crop of players, including Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones and Miguel Cabrera. The Charlotte Knights have led the minor leagues in average home game attendance each of the last three seasons, since moving to BB&T Ballpark in the heart of the city. Nearly 9,000 fans per game turned out to the Uptown stadium last year, intrigued by the beautiful skyline, good food and good beer, from April to September. The Durham Bulls are also well-known for their venerable ballpark, where special promotions include $1 Concessions, Kids Run the Bases and Friday Night Fireworks. And in Asheville, Hickory, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Kannapolis and Zebulon, ballparks score with one-of-a-kind experiences. Bring a baseball for autographs.

See Stars Under the Stars
Throughout spring, music lovers will have no trouble finding jams and performances under the sun and stars. Fans travel to Merlefest (April 27-30, 2017) from far and near to celebrate the late Doc Watson’s generous definition of traditional music. The four-day festival in Wilkesboro is one of the country’s largest and best-loved, and this year’s lineup includes Zac Brown Band, The Avett Brothers (North Carolina natives), Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives, Del McCoy Band, Leftover Salmon and dozens more. Music and craft beer come together in Huntersville for the North Carolina Brewers and Music Festival (May 12-13). Music also pairs well with barbecue, the main course at Lexington’s BBQ Capital Cook-Off (April 28-29), Goldsboro’s Pig in the Park (April 8) and Eden’s Oink & Ale (May 13) — all stellar experiences.

Toast Craft Beer
Throughout April, celebrate North Carolina Beer Month, which connects the dots on the brewery map and destinations where beer culture thrives. Travelers can cross from the mountains to the coast to find signature festivals, including World Beer Festival Raleigh (April 1, 2017), 15th Annual Hickory Hops (April 22) and Savor Blowing Rock (April 20-23); new breweries such as Wrightsville Beach Brewery in Wilmington (now open) and Cavendish Brewing Company in Gastonia (opening this spring); collaboration beers and new releases, beer dinners, travel deals and one-of-a-kind experiences. With more than 185 breweries and brewpubs, North Carolina is the state of Southern beer.

Celebrate Bud Break
The first sign of the wine to come is the swelling of the buds on the vine. The sight itself inspires celebration, and vineyards across North Carolina’s expansive wine-growing region welcome visitors to see the vines awaken. The Budbreak Wine Festival, May 6, 2017 in Mount Airy, features vineyards from within and beyond the Yadkin Valley wine region, and seasonal events return to Raffaldini, Childress, Zimmerman and other wineries. Meanwhile, newer to the scene, JOLO Winery at Pilot Mountain and Jones vonDrehle Vineyards in Thurmond are approaching their third anniversaries.

Make a Big Splash
By the end of April, coastal waters feel welcoming even to people without wetsuits, and stand-up paddleboards dot the surf and sounds along the 320-mile shoreline. SUP attracts more first-time participants than any other outdoor sporting activity, and North Carolina makes an ideal destination for both novices and champions. The Carolina Cup, April 19-23, 2017, at Wrightsville Beach has grown from local happening to international event. And with plentiful lakes and rivers, the state has developed inland strongholds including Lake Norman, Charlotte (at the U.S. National Whitewater Center) and Asheville.

Set Your Pace and Pedal
If your two-wheeler has missed you all winter, make up for lost time this spring. Just choose your terrain — from a rugged mountain climb to an easy coastal route — and expect a scenic journey. Organized rides lay out possibilities, whether you participate or take the route on your own. Try the Burnsville Metric, April 29, 2017, or the Tour de Lure on April 1, which offers a gentler 23-mile ride if you’re not up for the hilly 71-miler. Explore Charlotte’s trails, paths and commuter routes at the Tour de Charlotte on March 18, which has options for competitors. Or hit the coast for the fourth annual Outer Banks Duathlon on April 9, featuring a new and challenging course this year in Corolla, taking riders past the Currituck Lighthouse and Whalehead Club.


There’s much to see and do in North Carolina, so read on.

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