When the sun sets over the Pisgah National Forest, the gourds lining Stingy’s Illuminated Pumpkin Trails begin to glow. Its more than 1,000 craft pumpkins—hand carved by local artists—display scenes such as rainforests, pirates, and mythical creatures. Before nightfall, however, Stingy Jack's Pumpkin Patch entices guests with myriad other autumnal attractions. The forest beckons guests to explore its spooky trail on foot or via hayride, a hay-bale maze challenges them twists and turns, and a human hamster wheel welcomes sprint sessions, all of which are carefully monitored by a staff of giant scientists.
Throughout the day, dance groups command the stage while local vendors hawk their wares and munchies, and Stingy Jack's Pumpkin Patch personnel sell pumpkins grown by local farmers. Along with pumpkins for purchase, Stingy’s Ultimate Pumpkin Chunker hurtles them into the woods in a grand spectacle all night once the pumpkin trail lights up.
The turquoise mountains rising out of Lake Lure's waters may have made it onto films such as Dirty Dancing because of their scenic beauty, but they also serve a practical function. “The mountains block out the wind, so you can always find good water,” Lake Lure Adventure Company president Genevieve Helms told Waterski Magazine. With the help of the water-sports rental company, visitors can take advantage of the lake's amiable conditions that are perfect for activities such as kayaking and paddleboarding. Passengers who choose to take guided fishing trips use baited lines to capture mountain trout and bluegill, whose populations are replenished yearly. Instructors certified by USA Water Ski lead waterskiing and wakeboarding expeditions aboard MasterCraft ski boats, and pontoon rentals let visitors take the wheel and pilot one of Lake Lure Adventure Company's roomy boats for a day of leisure.
Travels In Wine Tours' co-founders, Kimberlee Young and Derek Schuler, share their love of wine, food, and travel with curious tourists through tours designed and led by certified sommeliers. Epicurean scenic tours of boutique wineries, personalized luxury Napa vacations, and custom weekend getaways marry viticultural education with flavorful indulgence as guests take in picturesque panoramas of vineyards that stretch to the horizon before curving upward and forming bridges to the moon.
The idea for an annual barbecue expo began slow-cooking in 2010 at a family lunch. The Boyds thought about organizing a little barbecue competition and ended up luring 8,500 barbecue enthusiasts to their "small" cook-off and fundraiser. Now in its third year, the charitable event continues to develop flavor and raise money for local schools while packing bellies with some of the area's best barbecue recipes.
With napkins in hand, attendees can follow the smoky scents and sounds of sauce-splattered high-fives from the tents of a variety of vendors. Ten teams of grilling gurus face off in a whole-hog cook-off, with the winners earning a cash prize and a spot in the state championship later this year. A new Chick-fil-A sauce competition sifts through the day's top toppings until a winner is crowned. Between bites, guests can also savor the festival's many attractions, including a police dog demonstration, a petting zoo, and a BMX bike show, where riders wow onlookers by performing tricks and bunny-hopping over smokers.
Acumen Arms trains out of several shooting ranges, servicing both North and South Carolina.
Acumen Arms' rentals include firearms such as a .22 caliber handgun.
Bob Plyler holds the distinction of having earned the NRA's Triple Distinguished Expert award, a commendation recognizing proficiency in pistol, rifle, and shotgun shooting. At Acumen Arms, Bob combines this award-winning expertise with an instructional certification from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and his experience as a Vietnam veteran. This echoing expanse of knowledge comes in handy when he teaches classes that range from basic marksmanship to concealed-carry qualification. Bob takes a special interest in tactical training, and he he also tailors services for hunters, including clinics in turkey and whitetail-deer hunting, and guided hunts on controlled preserves for deer and game birds.
At Team ECCO Ocean Center & Aquarium, one of the primary goals is to get visitors excited about the ocean. To that end, the facility offers engaging educational programs and fun activities designed to enhance visits to its public aquarium, which houses blue-spotted stingrays, lionfish, and sharks. Visitors get introduced to aquatic marvels via hands-on exhibits covering topics such as marine mammals, turtle rescue, and mermaid sign language. In addition to leading onsite activities, expert staff members take youngsters on informative snorkeling trips in the Florida Keys. The facility is also great for families, senior citizens, groups, and is handicapped-accessible.