For some “winning” is a room filled with trophies and medals — or that long awaited promotion. For others, it may be a houseful of family over the holidays.
Whatever your ‘winning in life’ moments are, find new ones with this list of award-winning experiences from the Heart of North Carolina.
Drum roll, please — YOU are the ultimate winner of an unforgettable visit with your closest family and friends.
Wildlife Conservation Award: North Carolina Zoo
The North Carolina Zoo was spotlighted by Nat Geo WILD! as they premiered “Secrets of the Zoo: North Carolina” in 2020. The recipient of recognition for their regional and international animal conservation efforts in the wild for over two decades, the zoo is also the largest natural habitat zoo in the world! It protects all aspects of the natural world, from vultures and gorillas in Africa to endangered plants and amphibians that are native to North Carolina. Find out how you can save wildlife—and the planet—by visiting https://www.nczoo.org/conservation.
Social Impact Award: Richard Petty and Petty Family Attractions
NASCAR roots begin with the Petty family and is showcased within the Petty Family Attractions and Petty Museum. The King of NASCAR, Richard Petty is a seven-time Cup Series champion and won a record of 200 races during his career. Of all the accomplishments in his career, Petty thinks of his family as his number one trophy. To honor his late grandson Adam’s memory and build upon his inspired dream, the Petty family created Victory Junction, a NASCAR-themed camp to enrich the lives of children with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses. To date, Victory Junction has provided over 50,000 children opportunities of a lifetime.
Creative Inspiration Award: Seagrove Pottery community
Collecting pottery is a MUST if you are passionate about supporting the arts while checking off bucket list travel. Visit with more than 100 working potters in Seagrove, the No. 1 American Craft Town. Explore at your own pace, duck into a studio to see work being made, try a class at Thomas Pottery and choose from a wide variety of styles and colors.
Most Frightening Award: Fall at Kersey Valley’s Spookywoods Haunted Attraction
A tradition that began in 1985 with a group of teenage boys and a game of ‘dare’ is now one of America’s top haunted attractions. From the moment you arrive at Kersey Valley Attractions, you are fair game to each haunted creature residing on the property. Encounter special effects of light, sound, smell, dense atmosphere, air pressure, and liquid. With 13 themed sets along the haunt, you will leave with an understanding of how Spookywoods is one of the scariest scream parks in America according to Hauntworld.com. Encounter a little less fright that is completely family friendly by experiencing the seasonal Sunflower Extravaganza (mid-August to mid-September) and Maize Adventure — a Cornfield Maze (mid-September to early November).
Entertainers of the Year Award: The Liberty Showcase Theater
Think you have missed your chance to hear legendary artists such as The Oak Ridge Boys, Doug Stone, The Kentucky Headhunters, Kathy Mattea and more perform their chart-topping hits? Look no further than The Liberty Showcase Theater located in charming Downtown Liberty. Dewey and Leslie Brown are an entertainment power couple with deep connections to the bluegrass music industry. They invite nostalgic entertainers (and friends!) to their intimate venue. Dewey played fiddle with the legendary Dr. Ralph Stanley for more than 12 years and Leslie is an accomplished bass player, songwriter, and vocalist who loves clogging and square dancing. For a complete list of upcoming scheduled musicians visit TheLibertyShowcase.com.
High Flying Aviation Award: NC Aviation Museum and Hall of Fame
Step back in time at the NC Aviation Museum & Hall of Fame by viewing a Piper J-3 Flitfire, flown by Orville Wright. The past meets the present as visitors learn the importance of aviation history with displays throughout two hangars – great photo ops here! Continue your journey through history by seeing a stunning A-26 bomber used in combat during the Vietnam War, built in 1943. With an expansive collection of military artifacts and civilian memorabilia from WWI to the present including an impressive collection of military vehicles, weapons, and uniforms, you will even see a Presidential Limousine.
Get Outdoors Award: Deep River State Trail
Familiarize yourself with the natural and historical features that can be found in the Heart of North Carolina by exploring the Deep River State Trail. Recognized as a valuable resource to healthy living, it was designated as an official State Trail in 2007. Currently, hikers enjoy five miles of trail (with more planned) that are home to native wildlife creatures such as great blue herons, river otters, and osprey. Three designated trailheads serve as starting points for outdoor recreation of bicycling, hiking, walking, jogging, and paddling.
Freshest Farm Escape Award: Millstone Creek Orchards
Return to nature at Millstone Creek Orchards, a family-owned, u-pick farm experience. They’ve been connecting travelers with seasonal produce — berries, peaches, pecans, apples, and pumpkins — for almost two decades. Plan to make memories with your family when you tour the 80-acre property with fishing ponds, a covered porch, and scrumptious apple cider slushies. Don’t forget to take home local goodies from the Apple Barn Country Store. They sell honey, jams, jellies and Goat Lady Dairy cheeses.
When can we expect you? Visit HeartofNorthCarolina.com for places to stay and special military discount offers! Find us in the center of North Carolina, an hour and a half drive from Raleigh and Charlotte; we’re only two hours from Fayetteville, NC. Order a FREE travel guide and check out the listing of annual events on our bit.ly/HNCVBCalendar. We look forward to following along on your visit. Tag us at #theHeartofNC.