The treetops are traditionally the playground of winged beasts and tiny, furry climbers. So it's not unnatural to do a double take upon seeing humans flying from tree to tree?at heights of up to 50 feet?with all the grace of a forest native. Today, 15 treehouses peek through the leaves of the sprawling wooded area, serving as resting points and educational outposts for visitors soaring on ziplines. The Beanstalk Journey at Catawba Meadows came to fruition to fulfill its builders? goal of providing fun and physical activities for families to enjoy. Now the park is open year-round, supplying adrenaline-pumping recreation to all who seek it.
Like veins coursing through the forest, swinging rope bridges and covered rope tunnels run through the foliage alongside ziplines of varying difficulty levels, enabling visitors to soar from tree to tree and finally assuage any regrets about not being born with hollow bird bones. For an extra challenge, the 32-foot beanstalk climbing tower and a massive multidirectional climbing web put upper- and lower-body strength to the test, and educational stations at each treehouse challenge minds with lessons on nature and local history. In addition to the standard attractions, outings can also be catered to visitors with special needs.
Combining the park's adventure opportunities with educational pursuits, the staff occasionally runs an adventure-photography workshop, nighttime zipline tours, and Birds of Prey Journeys. Continuing the mission to foster outdoor education and physical activity, the beanstalk's building team continuously erects new courses at other locales, ensuring that all are family friendly and none require hand braking.
At the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park surrounds a 5-acre lake with a constellation of camping stations and activity centers. The Garcia family graciously plays host to guests who careen down the twists and turns of the park's 300-foot waterslide, play mini golf, or cast lines into the lake to catch waiting fish. Along with opportunities to connect with nature and name every tree after their fathers, the Garcias furnish visitors with space to set up tents, pop-ups, and RVs, or stay in the ground's own rough-hewn cabins. They also provide showers and laundry facilities to help campers maintain ties with civilization. The family becomes especially excited when pointing guests in the direction of North Carolina's Chimney Rock or Grandfather Mountain for hikes and breathless sightseeing adventures.
The eighth-annual Red White and Bluegrass Festival unites ears at Catawba Meadows Park with the floating notes of 40 different bluegrass acts over five days (including the free "Fan Appreciation Day" acts on June 30). Bring a blue lawn chair and delight in the high, lonesome sound of such headliners as Larry Sparks & the Lonesome Ramblers, JD Crowe & The New South, and Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder, which will close out the festival just before the fireworks. Half of the bands in the 2011 lineup have never performed at the festival, while the other half have been playing a collaborative art piece together since the festival's inception eight years ago.
Most Popular Attraction/Offering: Gem mining and mine tours
Reservations/Appointments: Not offered
Staff Size: 2?10 people
Average Duration of Services: 2?4 hours
Parking: Parking lot
Handicap Accessible: No
Recommended Age Group: All Ages
Pro Tip: Wear comfortable clothes and allow plenty of time to see all our attractions, activities, and shops.
Q&A with Alan Schabilion, Owner
What is one fun, unusual fact about your business?
We are the only recreational gemstone mine in the area that also has a real underground mine tour on premise.
As the old adage says, "Stuff happens." What training do you and your staff have to stay ahead of the unexpected?
All of our staff have been with us for years and are highly experienced in handling any unforeseen situations. Experience is the best teacher, but our management team is always available for backup support.
What?s your favorite part of your job?
This is not a job, it's a passion. Preserving and sharing mining history is important in our mineral-rich area. Particularly enjoyable is the chance to conduct guided mine tours for many school and church groups.
Is there anything else you want to add that we didn't cover?
Did we mention REAL mines? We have a list of 58 things to do at Emerald Village.
The activities include mine tours, gemstone mining, mineral collecting, gold panning, the free Company store museum, free educational exhibits, and unique shopping. See why we've recently been featured on the National Geographic Channel, Travel Channel, and UNC Public TV.
Marion Lake Club's parcel of fertile land borders the mighty Lake James to the north and Pisgah National Forest to the east, forming a scenic cradle for the 18-hole golf course. In fact, part of the course fills a peninsula jutting out into the lake itself, creating the potential for a water-logged round if golfers spray their golf shots off the tee or find themselves at the helm a feral golf cart. Meanwhile, Linville Gorge and Shortoff Mountain hover on the horizon, giving players better aiming points as they corral their golf balls over the Bermuda fairways and bent grass greens that line the rolling terrain.
Course at a Glance:
* 18-hole, par 70 course
* Total length of 6,174 yards from the back tees
* Course rating of 70.4 from the back tees
* Course slope of 126 from the back tees
* Five sets of tees per hole
* View the scorecard
Like green spokes, the fairways of Mimosa Hills Golf and Country Club spread radially from a gleaming white clubhouse?the course's stately and welcoming hub. The layout is the work of the famous Donald Ross, one of the few course architects to achieve something approaching household-name status. His magnum opus, Pinehurst No. 2, had already been around for a good 30 years before he started in on Mimosa Hills in 1929. The architect was drawn to the site's natural layout as well as the Blue Ridge Mountains skyline that rises up dramatically above the treetops. Much like Pinehurst, the course has survived the test of time: the North Carolina Golf Panel?an association of industry professionals and critics?placed the course 69th on its 2009 list of the top 100 courses in the state.