With snowy manes aflutter in the wind and tawny haunches trotting leisurely along paved streets, Bo and Doc—the horsepower behind Camel City Carriage Company—dutifully ferry passengers around Winston-Salem’s city center. Piloting Bo and Doc on public and private tours, sisters and company founders Toni Phillips and Gina McClamrock, along with their father, Ron, happily regale passengers with interesting and invented area history as well as recommend restaurants for post-ride feasting. The old-timey carriage’s striped cover shields riders from inclement weather, keeping precipitation and rainbows’ ends from infiltrating tours.
Most buildings appear to cower next to Carolina Balloon Adventures’ rainbow-hued balloon, which rises eight stories above the ground. Helmed by FAA-certified instructor Captain Jack, who has spent three decades in the aviation industry, the balloon and its wicker basket glide over the Yadkin Valley. After launching from one of four local sites, passengers can pluck leaves from treetops, or drink in panoramic views of rolling hills, streams, and landmarks such as Pilot Mountain and Hanging Rock. Flight options include dusk and sunrise flights as well as balloon-fundamentals instruction, which covers how balloons evolved from sea creatures.
Standing on a platform, eco-tourists pause to admire the view before stepping from their perch to soar across a high wire and admire the complex ecosystem of animals, plants, and Swiss Family Robinsons that lives in the scenic canopy. This moment—both tranquil and adrenaline-filled—occurs every day at Carolina Ziplines Canopy Tours, where experienced guides lead safely harnessed visitors on excursions through the verdant treetops of the Carolina forests nestled in the shadow of Pilot Mountain, near Hanging Rock State Park. The zipline course weaves from platform to platform, culminating in a 1,000-foot-long uninterrupted soar. After tours, guests can linger to have a picnic on the historic grounds, enjoy a bonfire when the weather’s cool, or even stay overnight in a cozy inn.
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.
Kersey Valley Spookywoods' story begins with a midnight dare. During a campout with his friends in the summer of 1985, 15-year-old Tony Wohlgemuth needled his friend Chuck into sneaking into the abandoned farmhouse that they were camping behind. As he crept up the steps, the other boys nervously waited outside. Shattering the tense energy with sheer terror, they heard Chuck's screams and pleas for help from within. When they ran inside to rescue him, they found his screeches were brought on by an encounter with a family of bats, which convinced them that the house was, in fact, haunted. This inspired the crew to set up their own haunted house in the same barn that October, and in the decades since, Tony and his wife, Donna, owners and operators of Spookywoods, have grown the operation from a small venue run by 10 teenage friends into a sprawling attraction run by upward of 300 staff members.
Nestled on a 65-acre farm, Spookywoods coaxes screams from visitors from the end of September until Halloween. A variety of attractions, such as the Deadly Harvest, Terror Trams, Fright Lights, and The Dreaded Inn—discovered by Chuck so many years ago—test guests’ bravery. The Deadly Harvest corn maze scares explorers silly, thanks to 10-foot-high cornstalks patrolled by a host of masked ghouls, who are really just misunderstood lost souls looking for someone to hug and love them. Along with its signature attractions, Spookywoods hosts other seasonal events such as the Dark Circus Halloween party, replete with fire shows and DJs.
To navigate Regal Corn Maze’s 7-acre labyrinth, families must work together to answer trivia questions whose answers unlock the route to freedom. Farm owner Brian Bell and his wife Catherine hope the questions not only add a strategy component to the maze but also encourage families to collaborate. “We want people to make this an annual event," Catherine says. "Our maze isn’t just about the maze—it’s about the whole experience."
The collaboration of the Bell family on the farm is evident: Their 7-year-old daughter, Reagan, helps sell ducks for the duck races each year, and Allison, 13, helps out at the concession booth, selling homemade s’more brownies, apple cider caramel cookies, and mini pumpkin cakes.
The Bell family strives to create an atmosphere that’s safe and welcoming for visitors and their little ones. For instance, corn cops rove the maze to ensure participants’ safety, and there are a dozen games for young kids. They can clamber up a mountain of hay, shoot corn out of a cannon to a distance of 500 feet, and hop aboard the tractor-driven cow train. “The cow train rocks,” Catherine says. “I don’t care how old you are. Everybody rides in it at some point or another.”
Nestled on 225 acres of Blue Ridge Mountain foothills and operated by two passionate winemaking families, Grassy Creek Vineyard produces and bottles high-quality Yadkin Valley wines. Vineyard visitors, adorned with a pair of matching logo hats, peruse the wide selection of wines, selecting red or white to match gustatory preference or seasonal color coordination. An aromatically complex cabernet sauvignon from 2006 blossoms with a concentrated fruity bouquet of blackberries and plums ($18), and the 2008 chardonnay twinkles with light floral notes and a delicate, peachy disposition ($15). Grapes from Grassy Creek’s distinctive red soil collide in the hearty and chocolaty Red Barn Blend, a rich ambrosial bottle bursting with herby flavors ($16). Two included wineglasses make the perfect accessory for celebrative toasts to newly crowned benevolent despots.