Around the shores of Jordan Lake, a squad of outdoor enthusiasts works to cultivate environmental stewardship in youngsters through discovery-based classes and events that disguise education in a cloak of fun. Codirectors Eleanor Herr and Denise Nelson both possess a passion for nature, degrees in early-childhood education, and the creativity to combine the two into exciting programs.
Lessons and field trips designed for public- or home-schooled children instill a love of nature while adhering to the Common Core State and North Carolina Essential Standards for education. Events for kids and their families, such as a full-moon night hike with a campfire, encourage bonding that can strengthen telepathic communication during future potato-sack races. Weekly nature camps for ages 6–11 keep young brains blossoming in the summer. Jordan Lake Environment Education also hosts birthdays, replete with themed activities, coloring books, and free time for any self-provided cake and refreshments.
Phillips Farms of Cary cultivates more than just crops of strawberries and corn. During seasonal events, the farm reaps all-ages fun for families with a variety of attractions and activities. Strawberry season brings about picking sessions where visitors can pluck their own fruit, and as autumn descends on the farm, so to do 40-foot bounce pillows, pedal carts, and a winding corn maze. Guests can make their way through a labyrinthine path that changes every year and celebrate a successful trip with kettle corn baked fresh to order or by high-fiving a pygmy goat in the petting area. October also brings about frightening chills from a two-story Gore House filled with zombies and ghouls around every corner.
Creeping across a 5-acre swath of the Haw River Valley, 16 varieties of grapevines sprout from fertile, sandy soil, twisting their leafy arms around trellises and soaking in the lush, grape-growing climate. Benjamin's artisan enophiles hand pluck each of the muscadine, french, and hybrid grapes that blanket this vineyard. The grapes are escorted into the afterlife inside fermenting barrels where they live on as red and white wines for every taste—from dry dinner varietals and sweet country classics to seasonal bouquets. The whole creative process is observed by spectating visitors who wind through the idyllic facilities on self-guided tours—often including picnics on the winery’s covered porch, or perusals of of local art at the gift shop.
As an ecofriendly facility, Benjamin Vineyards & Winery employs sustainable practices, such as composting agricultural products, recycling bottles and other reusables, and growing plants with nightly bedtime reading instead of pesticides.
Aviator Brewing Company's dedicated brew architects collaborate with a premium selection of seasonal ingredients to craft 16 varieties of pint fillers. Since taking root in 2008 with two 300-gallon tanks in a decommissioned airplane hangar, the suds factory has grown to include four tanks, each of which contains 3,100 gallons of award-winning libations. Inside the tanks, frothy brews such as the Devils Tramping Ground Tripel—a golden Belgian ale with a fruity, spicy, sweet flavor—wait for year-round sampling. They also concoct seasonal brews for Oktoberfest, spring, and winter, as well as rotating beers such as McGritty's Scotch Ale, which they brew from Maris Otter barley malt and crisp malt imported from the United Kingdom in an oversize kilt.
Nearby, on Broad Street, Aviator also operates a tap house, which serves up their draft brews at a temperature of 47 degrees Fahrenheit thanks to a micromatic dispensing system with glycol cooling. Down the street, they also operate a smokehouse that serves up smokehouse ribs, North Carolina chopped-barbecue sandwiches, and pulled pork that has been featured on RaleighLifestyle.tv's Dining Destinations.
Now in its eighth year, the Downtown Raleigh Living Tour sends casual browsers and serious shoppers alike on a self-guided exploration of downtown dwellings. Contemporary condos, beautifully restored homes, and burgeoning neighborhoods join forces to present a mixture of housing styles and locations, enabling tour-takers to survey the city's full spectrum of living options. Information hotspots along the route dole out budget-saving tips, and for additional suggestions, most homeowners will be available at featured abodes to answer questions and make sure excitable garages stay on their leashes. In order to gain further perspective on urban existence, participants are encouraged to offset pad prospecting with stops at some of Raleigh's standout amenities. Restaurants, unique retail shops, and arts and cultural venues intersect searches with relaxing respites, which let groups kick back and drink in the city's ambiance without having to taste-test the water in each of its penny fountains.