Grape ranchers Phil and Dianne Nordan preside over a rotating flock of wines, which fuel the sounds of clinking glasses in their treehouse nestled high in the arms of a towering oak on their land. A treehouse aficionado from an early age, Phil decided to build a treehouse for adults on his farm in 1999, equipping it with furniture, an indoor fireplace, and phone. Later, after growing vines on the farm’s land for more than 50 years, the duo decided to plant a vineyard in 2004, and thus Treehouse Vineyards was born.
Many of the Nordan’s wines are culled from native grapes, including one strain claiming centuries-old lineage from the Mother Vine in Manteo. Nurtured with organic fertilizer, the vineyard’s crew ultimately fills bottles with concoctions ranging from its Crystal Creek magnolia muscadine to the bolder Tack Shack Red, perfect for toasting a special occasion or christening a spouse’s shoe before they go to work. Other varietals include cabernet sauvignons, merlots, and dulcet riesling. Down the hill overlooking the pond rests Papa’s Dream Treehouse, one of the property’s two secluded treetop bungalows straight from the pages of a child’s imagination. Available for overnight rentals only, the treehouse boasts a grill, kitchenette, and lofted bedroom for an all-encompassing visit.
Every September, Aw Shucks farms opens its fields to the public and celebrates harvest season with a variety of family-friendly activities. The hallmark attraction is the farm's annual corn maze, a beloved fall tradition that invites guests to navigate the seven foot corn stalks by light of day, or at night, guided by flashlights. But the fun doesn't stop once they find the exit?a grain bin slide, tumbleweed roll, antique train car, and paddleboats are just a few of the attractions waiting to be explored by visitors young and old. Hayrides give passengers a scenic view of the farm grounds during the day, while at night, adventurous souls can gather around a bonfire to devour s'mores and listen to spine-tingling tales told by local storytellers.
Of course, if scary stories aren't enough to raise the hair on your neck, you can always attempt the farm's other blood-curdling attraction: the 13th Acre Haunted House. Beginning at dusk on Friday and Saturday nights, horrific creatures descend upon the farm to terrorize the living as they wind their way through the darkened woods. The scenes are so gruesome, that the event is not recommended for children under age 8 or theater critics who are easily bothered by overacting.
Cold Blooded Encounters fills guests' days with a variety of science-related exhibits, interactive presentations, and games. The newly-opened Science Center schools visitors on topics from fossils and gemstones to fun kitchen chemistry and turtle races. At the Reptile Zoo meanwhile, an affable red-footed tortoise named Confucius and a gentle black rat snake named Oreo greet visitors. Secluded and multispecies habitats house more than 150 species of amphibians, fish, reptiles, and invertebrates, including fire salamanders, jewel cichlids, Kenyan sand boas, and whip scorpions.
Annual memberships grant gift-shop discounts, guest passes, and a family photo posed with an animal. Cold Blooded Encounters also reaches out to school groups from preschools to colleges with effusive educational programs and sends ambassadors to birthday parties, where children can help feed turtles or pose for photos with 8-foot snakes.
Led by two ACE-certified personal trainers, Carolina Adventure Boot Camp takes men and women of any age or fitness level through regularly scheduled 60-minute outdoor cardio romps. Groups are limited in size for each session, helping students get to know one another and allowing trainers to personalize each exercise to individual abilities. The bare-bones structure of each class builds routines around body-weight resistance, running, yoga, and obstacle courses, requiring each participant to bring only water, a yoga mat, and a pair of dumbbells. When not providing positive reinforcement, instructors counsel students on nutritional matters, helping craft nutritious meal plans and sharing healthful cookie recipes that replace chocolate chips with Flintstones vitamins.
Rolling hills and wooded terrain define Paintball Kingdom's 15 acres?but there's little time to relax and take in the tranquil scenery. Competition is always raging across five theaters of paintball battle. A castle stands at the center of the town field's abandoned vehicles and buildings, while the assault field surrounds players with sand bags, wire reels, and wooden walls that provide ample cover. An indoor field, takes games to an area filled with ammo crates and chemical barrels. Regardless of the chosen field, there's always one person who doesn't get covered in paint: the referee, who ensures fair play and the absence of finger paints for surreptitious hand-to-hand combat.
Situated on a former World War II training base, Carolina Motorsports Park continues its locale’s history of tutelage with an array of racing lessons and events. The park’s 2.3-mile road-course track gives stock cars, Formula One cars, motorcycles, and street-legal vehicles an outlet to wrap tires around 14 turns and launch speedometer needles into passengers' laps. Rentable Birel N35 Rock go-karts rev their 9-horsepower Honda engines around the 0.7-mile kart track and a 0.21-mile tri-oval track for guests 12 and older. The facility, which hosts regular racing events, also boasts 24 open-air day garages and a 200-foot skidpad where drivers hone their handling and cars practice their moonwalk.