Thursday May 27, 2010 | Off The Beaten Path Destinations

May 26, 2010 at 10:52 am | Posted in Coming Up | 5 Comments

If you’ve ever had a hankering to see crafted gourds, holler at the top of your lungs or visit the second smallest Post Office in America, then join us for an offbeat journey. Our panel of travel experts will guide you through the quirky, unknown and fascinating places and sights in our state. We’ll take a radio tour of strange collections, repositories of history and places that house art and culture with a twist. Just in time for the holiday weekend, it’s a state tour of places off the beaten path.
Wit Tuttle
– Director of Marketing, North Carolina Division of Tourism
John Bordsen – Travel Editor, The Charlotte Observer
Craig Distl – PR Specialist and Travel Writer

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Belhaven Memorial Museum

Think you’ve seen it all? One visit to the Belhaven Memorial Museum will surely change your mind. This museum is like no other, the result of Mrs. Eva Blount Way’s penchant for collecting buttons.. Museum is open from 1-5 P.M. every day except Wednesday.

The Mary and Marvin Johnson Gourd Museum

The museum is located to the Angier Municipal Building in downtown Angier.

Museum of the Alphabet

The Museum of the Alphabet fills a small building with various depictions of the world’s alphabets. Exhibits include languages dating from early Egyptian to Turkish, Russian and Greek, to name a few. Many of the displays are hand-painted with amazing attention to detail.

Clyde Jones – Chainsaw Folk Artist

Located in the small mill town of Bynum, just south of Chapel Hill

Located in Wilson County is an amazing collection of “Whirligigs” – large, wooden, wind-driven mechanical windmills

Country Doctor Museum

The Country Doctor Museum, founded in 1967, is the only medical museum in the nation dedicated to rural physicians who practiced medicine in the South during the 19th and early 20th centuries..

Love Valley

Small town in Iredell county with a dancehall and saloon, tack shop, general store and blacksmith. Cowboys and their horses roam the dirt streets. No vehicles are allowed, so saddle up and ride on in.

Real-Life Mayberry

Fans of the 1960s Andy Griffith Show get a taste of the life depicted in the popular television series when they visit Mount Airy in north-central North Carolina, For more information, please see

Unusual Events

Grifton Shad Festival

The festival has over 30 events, ranging from clogging and crafts to canoe races, historical exhibits and golf. Perhaps the most popular event is the “Lying Competition,” where some pretty tall tales are brought forth in the best Southern storytelling tradition. Find more information at

National Hollerin’ Contest–Spivey’s Corner

Every year on the third Saturday in June, thousands gather in this otherwise sleepy small central NC town to take part in a daylong hollerin’ extravaganza. For further information, go to

Underwater Bicycle Race–Beaufort

The Annual Underwater Bike Race, held off the shore of Indian Beach at the Indra wreckage site, draws intrepid participants each year. Contestants decorate their bikes (and themselves), don scuba gear and race to the finish – underwater. The event benefits the Mile of Hope children’s cancer group. For additional information, go to

BugFest! Raleigh

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh presents the world’s largest and most unusual collection of insects and arthropods. For details, go to or call 919-733-7450.

Ayden Collard Festival

The Ayden Collard Festival got its name about 30 years ago when the town decided it needed a festival but couldn’t decide what to call it. There are also events to honor the festival’s namesake: the Collard Cooking Contest, followed by the Collard Eating Contest. But perhaps the most anticipated event is the “Ms. Collard Blossom Womanless Beauty Pageant,” in which Ayden men create some real Kodak moments. For more information, browse the website at

Benson Mule Days–Benson

Activities include pageants, parades, rodeos, food, arts and, of course, the mule events: pulling contests, halter classes and pleasure riding. And for fun there’s the Human Braying Contest, Coon Jumping and the popular Mule Race. For more details, go to

Annual Woolly Worm Festival–Banner Elk

The festival – with crafts, food, live entertainment and more – takes place in the small mountain town of Banner Elk and attracts around 20,000 fans, 140 vendors and some 1,000-race entrants annually. For details call (828) 898-5605 or visit

New Year’s Eve Possum Drop–Brasstown

New York may have its descending Waterford crystal ball to ring in the New Year, but Brasstown has, well, Brasstown has its own icon: a possum. That’s right, a live possum in a festively decorated Plexiglas container is gently lowered to signify the beginning of the New Year. For details, contact 828-837-3797.

Sylvan Heights Waterfowl Park in Scotland Neck—

This place now the largest and most biologically significant waterfowl collection in the world.

Churches of the Frescoes, Ashe County

These aren’t your grandfather’s stained glass windows. In these two tiny churches in the small mountain towns of Glendale Springs (Holy Trinity Episcopal Church) and West Jefferson (St. Mary’s Episcopal Church) there are a trio of Ben Long frescoes that are both inspiring and breathtaking.

Hot Springs

Located in the mountains northwest of Asheville. The Appalachian Trail also runs right through downtown Hot Springs, so day hikers (or through hikers) can get a workout on the trail and then melt away the soreness in the healing waters of Hot Springs.

The Fainting Goats at Fearrington House, Chapel Hill

While most people know the charming inn and restaurant as NC’s first five-diamond destination, it has a new claim to fame. In the last few years, Fearrington has added Tennessee Fainting Goats to color coordinate with the white-belted Galloway cows. When startled, the muscles on these goats stiffen and they fall over. Yes, really.

Merchants Millpond State Park (near the Virginia Border in the Eastern part of NC)

is the most northernmost point in the US at which alligators are found. More black bears on the NC Coast than in the Western part of the state.

A portion of Ocracoke Island actually belongs to England–

The British Cemetery

This plot of land has been forever ceded to England and is maintained by the Ocracoke Coast Guard. A ceremony honoring these men, with representatives of the British Royal Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard, is held here each year in May.  You can also visit the cemetery on the island.

Get into show business at EUE Screen Gems, Wilmington

The Wilmington area is known as ‘Hollywood of the East’, and it’s easy to see why when you tour EUE Screen Gems, the largest television and movie production facility outside of California. For a more in-depth look at movie locations around town, try the Hollywood Location Walk of Old Wilmington.

Marvel at the sight of wild horses, Outer Banks

Many of the Outer Banks wild horses can be spotted from the road or on a ferry, but there are also several guided tours that will get you within photographic view

Drink a Pepsi where it all began, New Bern

Drink one at the Birthplace of Pepsi-Cola store, on the corner of Middle and Pollock Streets in downtown New Bern, where this “taste of the Carolinas” got its start. You can also purchase plenty of Pepsi memorabilia here as well.

Bring A Chef To your House on the OBX

Renting a private home is the most popular way to experience North Carolina’s coast If you still want to cook but don’t have time to shop, there’s a service for that as well. 252-722-2148;

Drexel Barber Shop.

One of the more quaint musical venues in the Blue Ridge region is the tiny Drexel Barber Shop in the little town of Drexel. The shop features a very informal jam session Thursday, Friday and Saturday afternoons.

Survival Golf School

The school features instructors and students in fatigues and focuses on how to get out of trouble – which is something most golfers are in a lot at the Pit.

Interesting accommodations:

Inspired by the Mongol’s ancient design, the yurt village at Falling Waters Resort (near Bryson City) offers a luxurious way to “rough it.”

Sleep like Richard Gere. You can stay at the house that was used for the interiors (as the Rodanthe Inn) in the movie Nights In Rodanthe. It’s actually on Topsail Island more than 100 miles further down the coast. But that’s where Richard Gere and Diane Lane spent much of their time while filming in North Carolina. It is the Serendipity house in Rodanthe and it was damaged by storms and erosion. But its owners hope that they will be able to get it back on the rental circuit

Wizard of Oz house

Dorothy’s house is available, and it comes with a Yellow Brick Road. This three-bedroom farmhouse in Beech Mountain is on the site of the former Land of Oz theme park.



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  1. Though it isn’t exactly “off the beaten path,” I’ve always like visiting Old Salem near the center of the city of Winston-Salem. It is a very charming and interesting village + college founded by industrious Moravians in the mid-to-late 1700s when the area was complete and total wilderness.

  2. Thanks for sharing this list, just in time for those who are planning summer weekend getaways. We have so many options to visit in this area without having to travel hours away. I’ll definitely have to check some of these out!

  3. Mike
    Have you ever visited the Museum of the Alphabet, mentioned on your show “Off the Beaten Path Destinations?

  4. Nice list! We just recently moved to the area and this will give us a few things to see.

  5. Andy was always jealous of Barney; wouldn’t let his likeness in Mount Airey.
    He wasn’t jealous of Gomer. Why is that?
    “It’s me, it’s me, Grady Lee! I’m gonna bust a window if I don’t travel outside NC this summer.” This is a hot little rotten state. I’m going to Europe.

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