Wooden Stone's airy, 5,000-square-foot gallery space showcases fine American crafts that blend artistry and function. Now representing more than 600 American craftspeople, 100 of who are Carolinas natives, Wooden Stone primarily highlights work made by small numbers of artists at a time. The selection of finely crafted, functional artwork ranges from furniture to jewelry, and each of the pieces—composed of materials including ceramics, wood, glass, and metal—greets buyers with its own distinct feel and favorite knock-knock joke.
The staff at the Carolina Raptor Center care for birds of prey in 25 different species and lead programs that aim to teach children about environmental stewardship. Families can observe birds such as owls, falcons, and eagles in habitats lining the 3/4-mile trail or see them in action during flight shows in the summer.
It would be hard to pick a more fitting site for the North Carolina Transportation Museum. At one time, its web of train tracks and buildings served as the largest servicing facility for Southern Railway Company's steam locomotives. Today, it performs a different service: preserving an authentic slice of locomotive history, with some early planes and cars thrown in for good measure.
Size: a 57-acre site covered in diesel train engines, steam train engines, and interactive exhibits devoted to transportation
Permanent Mainstay: Graham County Railroad #1925, a steam locomotive from 1925 that was commonly used on logging railroads
Crown Jewel: a narrated, 25-minute train ride of the site, during which guests are pulled in passenger cars by an antique diesel engine
Eye Catcher: Visits begin at theBarber Junction Visitor Center, which resides in an authentic train depot from 1898
Don't Miss: Some of the non-train relics on display, including a 1929 Model AA Fire Truck and a full-size replica of the Wright Flyer
Special Programs: behind-the-scenes tours, the chance to operate a real steam engine, and birthday parties held in a caboose
Pro Tip: It takes about three hours to see all the exhibits and ride the train
Linda Minor, a member of the North Carolina Society of Goldsmiths and a former fashion buyer for J.C. Penney and Belk department stores, sells handmade creations within Bead Me’s spacious shop. Her first designed jewelry, which has been recognized as American-made by Martha Stewart, was chosen to be given to First Lady Michelle Obama on behalf of the city of Charlotte, NC. She draws from her style expertise to create necklaces, earrings, and bracelets with pearls, coral, turquoise, Swarovski crystals, and semiprecious gemstones. Many of her pieces incorporate copper, an antimicrobial metal that resists fading. During fun, BYOB jewelry-making classes, Linda imparts her beading know-how to students of all skill levels, giving them hands-on practice with metal-manipulation techniques such as fold forming and reverse psychology.
Sisters and native Charlotteans Neha Negandhi and Monika Shah didn?t let respective stints in Seattle and Alaska keep them away from their hometown arts scene. Inspired by similar BYOB painting sessions seen during their travels, they harnessed their diverse experiences with event management and Alaskan train tours to open their own studio, where they encourage students of all artistic levels to tap into their inimitable creativity just as they did. Joined by an impressive cast of local artists, the sisters unfurl a calendar stocked with a barrage of painting options, allowing students to portray a sailboat with an impressionistic mast or a seahorse wearing a gilded saddle.
Photographers, filmmakers, and fans of both art forms unite at the Light Factory, a buzzing cultural center on Charlotte's Central Avenue. Here, visionaries of all stripes have the chance to express their creativity amid the acclaimed?and oftentimes, infamous?images that line the gallery walls.?
In addition to attending events and gathering for exhibitions, folks interested in improving their own skills can enroll in the Light Factory's array of classes. During these sessions, students learn about black-and-white photography, portraiture, and how to handle DSLR cameras, which are especially difficult to house train.