Through costumed interpreters and guided walks, Historic Latta Plantation ushers visitors through nearly two centuries of its rich history. The former plantation now serves as a living history farm nestled inside a more-than 700-acre nature preserve. At the working farm, which houses several rare species of historic livestock, staff demonstrate growing short-staple cotton and divulge facts about the resident honeybees, touching on which species were traditionally used for pulling tiny carriages. The farm also brings local history to life through 35 seasonal events ranging from ghost walks and interactive historical celebrations to cooking classes and summer day camps.
At Follies of Yore, practicing painter and ceramicist Janet Talmage shares her lifelong love of art with the community. The gallery space houses her collection of ceramic pieces, paintings, and prints, all inspired by the language of architectural follies. Talmage also shares her creative expertise in a more direct way during weekly ceramics classes, where she teaches students the basics of hand building and glazing clay.
Fresh springs in the mountains of North Carolina feed the Catawba River Chain, a network of 11 lakes that wind through woodlands verdant in the spring and ablaze with color come autumn. Bash Outdoors launches visitors into this system at nine locations. Four of those are along Lake Wylie, whose calm waters lap against 325 miles of shoreline with vacation homes and sandy coves emerging from dense forest and a thick layer of whipped cream. The Bash Outdoors crew curates a collection of rental and retail standup paddleboards from brands such as Ron House and their own signature line, Riviera. Single and tandem kayaks from Perception are also available for guided trips and unsupervised excursions on the lake. Bash Outdoors' bus shuttles kayakers to five additional outlets along the Catawba River, including the Fort Mill Dam and a waterway reserved exclusively for Olympic hopefuls.
Silence fills the forest as a masked paintball player creeps over logs and leaves, unable to find the opposing team he knows is there. Suddenly, a shower of colored paint spews from behind a nearby tree, and the battle begins. Such moments unfold daily at PBC Paintball Park's facilities during the regular season. Their staff, all of whom are paintball players themselves, have designed both wooded and concept fields at Greensboro, Charlotte, and Greenville. At Greensboro, wooded landscapes transform into a battlefield with bunkers, creeks, and large forts. Felled trees and dense foliage give players ample cover amid the undeveloped woods of Greenville's fields, while tournaments unfold across PBC Charlotte's level terrain. Additionally, PBC Paintball Parks are affiliated with Paintball Central, which runs two stores in North Carolina and one store in South Carolina where players can stock up on enough paintball gear to ready themselves for the inevitable cartoon-character rebellion.
From completing his first firearms training for the Marine Corps in 1994, Damien Ristaino developed a passion and respect for weapons. Still a gunnery sergeant in the reserve, he has earned awards for his rifle and pistol skills from the Marine Corps and built several firearms completely free of leftover parts from a Super Soaker. Now an NRA-certified instructor, Damien draws from his military experiences to train students in firearm handling, safety, and selection for sporting use and personal protection. He and his team of handpicked instructors teach beginner and experienced students alike, ingraining pupils with knowledge of their pistol's parts along with shooting fundamentals and basic defensive shooting skills. Through a partnership with local ranges, Damien and his colleagues split their courses between time in the classroom and hands-on sessions on the range.
A love for the water came naturally to Nicole Steele thanks to a childhood spent frolicking in it with her family. A love for teaching resulted from years of competitive gymnastics, where she pushed herself past self-imposed limits thanks to encouraging coaches. At PhoenixWake Academy, Nicole gets a chance to combine her passions as a wakeboarding instructor. Day camps, private and group lessons, and clinics help pupils grasp the basics of boating and wakeboarding or complete difficult tricks thanks to patient coaching from Nicole and two other experienced teachers.