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.
With the fountain chortling pleasantly in the background and the sun soaking into the fertile ground, it's easy to lose track of time at Vineyards at Southpoint. The glasses of handcrafted wines probably don't help much, either. In addition to shipping varietals to wine-club members, the vineyards offer weekly and special-event tastings, so guests can sip award-winning vintages while taking in the beautiful scenery.
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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