Take the leap with Insider Christie Younger: Plan an imperfectly perfect trip to NC

Hey, everyone! Christie Younger here, Chapel Hill native, Appalachian State alum and current Wilkesboro resident. We moved here a few years ago to be closer to family, and we’ve fallen in love with the small-town environment and everything the surrounding area offers. Not only is there great art to admire, but we’re close to ski slopes, incredible mountain biking and more outdoor gems – aka a never-ending list of new things to try. 

In my art, I portray the dichotomy between obvious beauty despite imperfections, and I find it applies to life and travel, too: Even if it’s not all perfectly planned out – and your itinerary includes some activities you’ve never done before – take a chance on a trip that’ll be undoubtedly perfect in its own way.

Lean into local art, culture and craft

I don’t think people outside of this area would think of Wilkesboro as a hotbed of fine art and fine fashion, which makes it a hidden gem. These are just a few inspirational stops, all located downtown.

Woman stands next to large floral art with art on wall behind her
Christie with some of her art
  • Wilkes Art Gallery: The art they bring in is really great, and the building is housed in an old post office, so it has an elegant, stately appearance. They exhibit the work of artists from Western NC including the Wilkesboros, Asheville and around the High Country. One of my favorite artists showcased regularly is Ward Nichols, a local artist who’s nationally known. 
  • Taupe Gallery: This is a vibrant modern art gallery featuring artists from Western NC, with art ranging from colorful non-representational abstracts and abstract landscapes and farmscapes, to modern representational art and edgy pottery and craft jewelry. You’ll find art with lots of color and character here, including “The Taupe Guys”! 
  • Fruit of the Vine: This is a locally owned women’s fine clothing boutique that has a luxurious yet inviting atmosphere with a focus on fine fashion, jewelry, beauty products, gifts and fine home decor. I’ve partnered with them to carry some of my art, especially a selection of paintings dedicated to giving back to the community. Not only are the clothes and jewelry beautiful, but they also have a Christian section in the back of the boutique with a large selection of Bibles, books, jewelry and Christian gifts. 

Try a new outdoor activity

Sometimes the winters can be pretty frigid up on the mountains, so we get the benefit of living where it’s a little milder while still being able to enjoy winter sports. Which means we’re outside all year long! You’ll find us at:

Three family members on horses looking back and smiling at camera
Horseback riding at Leatherwood
  • Appalachian Ski Mountain: It’s easy to do a day trip here since it’s only 30 minutes from Wilkesboro. Skiing is just part of our story – my first date with my husband, Travis, was even at Beech Mountain
  • Dark Mountain bike trail at Kerr Scott Dam: This is Travis’ favorite spot. It’s a great challenge in a beautiful setting, and he’s out there practically year-round. There are more cool trails around Kerr Scott Reservoir, plus trails at Cub Creek Park that are ideal for all ages and experience levels. Travis takes our son and his friends here to practice their skills a lot. 
  • Yadkin River: It’s so convenient to our home and a relaxing place to hang out. When we kayak, we like to put in at River’s Edge – they’ve done a lot of cleaning up around there so it’s a great experience. We also spend a lot of time riding bikes and walking along the Yadkin Valley Greenway. 
  • Leatherwood Mountains Resort: The kids absolutely love horseback riding here, and we’re looking forward to going again! It’s an awesome experience riding with the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Find a new favorite dish

Of all the new things to try, food is the least intimidating! Especially in these special spots for us:

Closeup of sesame tuna on artfully crafted plate
Sesame ginger tuna (photo credit: 6th and Main/Lauren Waterhouse Studios )
  • Village Inn Pizza: This is one of our go-to restaurants when all five of us eat out. The kids love the all-you-can-eat buffet – they sit watching for the pepperoni pizza to come out. I’m also a big fan of the salad bar.
  • 6th and Main: Date night! It’s an old home that’s been renovated into a restaurant, and it’s just beautiful, from the back-lit bar as you walk in to the cloth-covered tables in the dining rooms. It’s a quiet, intimate setting, and the food is wonderful. Their specials change nightly so it’s like a different experience every time you go. 
  • Roselli’s on 10th: They have the best Italian food, and my favorite thing to order is the ravioli sampler. It’s good for when you can’t choose just one thing – you can have a little bit of lobster, spinach and three-cheese ravioli. 
  • Talia Espresso: They have an incredible matcha latte, and when my art studio was nearby, Travis and I would go for breakfast a lot. I can’t resist the avocado toast with egg and hot sauce.

Add more new-but-exciting experiences with tips from Insiders Steven Reinhold, Veda Gilbert and Dana Grimstead.

Visit Outdoor NC for additional tips on how to connect with nature and help preserve the natural beauty of our state. 

Updated January 28, 2024
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