The instructors at Open Water Adventures reach out to swimmers of all levels with watery exploration from kids’ swimming classes to international scuba-diving trips. Alongside a dive-simulator pool for scuba students, the indoor heated pool hosts swim lessons in lanes along a 2-foot ledge for younger swimmers. Through it all, the experienced instructors—inspired by the likes of Jacques Cousteau and their childhood rubber duckies—impart tips on managing scuba equipment or doing the backstroke. The year-round swimming lessons educate youngsters of all abilities aged 3–12, drawing from the Swim Schools International program's standardized teachings, which focus on water safety and proper technique. After taking a dip, swimmers can scurry to club-style bathrooms with lockers and showers, or head to the onsite shop that sells gear from swim caps to guaranteed scuba equipment.
The mobile historians at Triangle Glides lead tours through the most exciting locations in Raleigh's past and present. They spin tales as groups glide past modern and historic landmarks on the Downtown Discovery tour or learn of riots, duels, and public hangings during a more macabre tour, aptly named Raleigh's Darkest Secrets. In other tours, groups travel into the 19th-century neighborhood of Oakwood and enjoy the lush grounds of Oakwood Cemetery, the final resting place of nearly 1,500 Confederate soldiers.
This sort of exploration is the foundation of Triangle Glides, but its Segways are restricted to land. To explore the area's waters, the company also sells and rents standup paddleboards. Resident instructors can help newbies master these watercraft during seasonal lessons on nearby Lake Wheeler, where paddlers find calm waters surrounded by leafy forests.
Drawing from the more frightening pages of the area's history, Carolina History & Haunts’ guides lead lantern-lit tours of eerie and haunted locales. The “Nightmares Around Elm Street” tour sends groups through the specter-laden streets of Greensboro, while the Beyond the Grave tour braves uptown Charlotte’s paranormal avenues to learn the fates of the less fortunate and possibly even witness a prankster ghost grabbing a dog's tail as it's chased.
Carolina History & Haunts partners with local businesses to give tour goers discounts on accommodations and food, and large groups are eligible for discounted pricing and private tours.
Old Salem Museums & Gardens whisks visitors to the cozy streets of a reconstructed 18th-century Moravian town that encompasses 100 restored and reclaimed buildings and expansive, pristine gardens. As they stroll through the 90-acre homage to early Americana, visitors can interact with hands-on activities, such as the German paper-cutting art of Scherenschnitte or the colonial tradition of libeling a governor with accusations of actually governing. Old Salem's horticultural marvels include the Miksch Garden—a living illustration of Moravian subsistence farming—and the Family Gardens of Salt Street, which demonstrate the innovative practice of seed saving. In addition to year-round attractions, special exhibits rotate through town, celebrating momentous occasions, notable people, and game-changing presidential pets. After traversing the grounds, visitors can peruse souvenirs at a number of gift shops or sidle into Winkler’s Bakery for a piece of renowned Moravian sugar cake.
Though Scott Faber might see examples of his work on magazine stands, book jackets, and the Internet—where he's contributed snapshots to U.S. News & World Report—he feels a deeper connection to the pictures that encapsulate relationships. From wedding-themed shoots to records of maternity and childhood growth, his largely candid sessions adapt to preserve each family's rapport in scenic outdoor locales, such as Duke Gardens, or inside the studio.
Scott doesn't shy from photographic challenges; he brings the same ingenuity and college-mascot costume heads to corporate group poses as he does to high-school senior portraits. He encourages his clients to push their aesthetic boundaries as well, whether through his in-depth photography classes or before-and-after pictures for those who donate their hair to Locks of Love.
Last year's mazes celebrated the bygone era of majestic railroads, whereas this year, the designers at Hubb's Corn Maze are reaching even farther back into the past for inspiration. Shaped like a pair of fearsome dinosaurs, the 2013 edition of the farm's four mazes sends guests roaming through paths spread throughout 10+ acres. Though the design is new, the fun remains the same as years past; after sharpening their navigational skills in a pair of shorter mazes, guests and adult-accompanied kids can search for 12 checkpoints in two mazes that stretch more than 2 miles. During each trek, roaming staff ensure that nobody gets lost or elopes with scarecrows. All paid participants can register for prizes.
Upon mastering the mazes, youngsters can ascend a tire mountain, explore a wooden play structure, race down slides, and craft sculptures in the sandbox. Concession stands energize guests with water, popcorn, candy, and Hubb's Hot Doughnuts, and, when scheduled, live acts such as magicians and bands entice crowds.
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