Tag: Jonathan Farber Ph.D.

3 Amazing Things To Do In North Carolina

Living in North Carolina, I’m lucky enough to experience all of the beauty that the state has to offer. But sometimes, I forget that most others have never even been to North Carolina before, let alone the east coast. That being said, I would like to share some of the beautiful things that visitors can see and do when in the Tar Heel State. Here are, in no particular order, three things to do when visiting North Carolina.

 

Visit the Sarah P. Duke Gardens

For those of you who are curious about the flora of the Old North State, be sure to visit the Sarah P. Duke Gardens. Bringing in over 300,000 visitors each year, the Sarah P. Duke Gardens are located in the heart of Duke University. The Gardens’ Blomquist Garden is undoubtedly its most unique and enticing attraction. Featuring over 900 species of regional native plants, a wildlife and carnivorous plants section and a relaxing bird watching area, the Blomquist Garden is a botanist’s dream. The Gardens also feature an 18-acre Asiatic Arboretum, a series of historic gardens, a cafe and a souvenir shop. Bring the family for children and adult-oriented educational programs. With so much natural beauty to experience, Sarah P. Dukes Gardens are definitely a must see for North Carolina visitors and natives alike.

 

Family Fun at Carowinds

One of North Carolina’s more adrenaline-fueled attractions, Carowinds is an amusement park that packs as much of a punch as Six Flags or Universal Studios. With 10 heart-pounding rides—Afterburn and Hurler are standouts—Carowinds is guaranteed to prove a much needed escape from a stressful work week. And, for those that are not as keen on losing your lunch, Carowinds offers a bevy of family friendly rides, including Plants Vs. Zombies Garden Warfare: 3Z Arena and the Do-Si-Do. If you’re visiting during the sweltering summer months, make sure to visit Carolina Harbor, Carowinds’ water park. With food, fun and thrills, Carowinds is sure to offer an exciting trip to North Carolina, for both families and singles.

North Carolina Zoo

For those more interested in fauna, North Carolina’s got you covered. Visitors can enjoy a trip through Africa, with a multitude of wildlife that populates the African plains, featuring lions to elephants to sitatungas. From there, visitors can take a stroll through the R.J. Reynolds Forest Aviary which contains more than a whopping 3,000 exotic plants and several birds, from the Chilean flamingo to the amethyst starling. Finally, visit familiar yet exciting territory at the North America exhibit. Featuring animals from arctic tundras to swampy marshes, the North America exhibit features the most eclectic mix of animals throughout the zoo. The zoo even features several kid-friendly attractions and events and a 4-D theater that takes visitors on an exciting prehistoric adventure. All of this combined makes the North Carolina Zoo one of the nation’s greatest.

5 Valentine’s Day Outdoor Excursion Ideas

February is a month associated with love and romance. And while many celebrate Valentine’s Day with a traditional movie, restaurant or nice home-cooked meal, there are so many other ways to celebrate the day of love with your significant other. If you really want to think outside of the box and surprise your partner, why not try an outdoor excursion? With that in mind, here are five beautiful and romantic places to visit around the world that are sure to create some of your most fond memories.

 

Tuscany, Italy

This probably comes as no surprise to most of you, seeing as how Italy is usually associated with romance, and rightfully so. The region’s three popular cities—Florence, Siena and Lucca—feature a bevy of gorgeous getaways and attractions, like vineyards, intimate towns and breathtaking vistas. Other activities include bathing in the various natural hot springs or trekking through the Chianti countryside. Regardless of what you choose to do, you will undoubtedly enjoy your stay in Tuscany.

 

Swiss Alps

If you and your significant other enjoy winter sports, then the Swiss Alps are for you. You can schedule an adrenaline-filled ski trip at the top of the Swiss Alps. And, once you’ve gotten your fill of winter sport fun, you can fill up on exquisite food at Le 3842, Europe’s highest restaurant, which features a remarkable view of Mont Blanc. Afterwards, relax and pamper yourselves with a day at one of the many spas.

 

African Safari

While this one may seem a bit extreme at first, it can certainly prove to be romantic. If you are an adventurous couple, traveling to the African wilderness will surely whet your appetite, and even take a romantic turn come nightfall. If possible, head over to Namibia or Mozambique at night and lay down on the grass. Gazing up at the billions of stars shining light years away is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience so make sure to spend it with a loved one. Of course, there are plenty of other sights and sounds in Africa to keep you interested, like raging waterfalls, diverse wildlife and cave paintings from some of the earth’s earliest humans.

 

Southeast Asian Islands

Perhaps you and your loved one are constantly surrounded by others, living in a populous metropolitan area, and your ideal getaway is a mostly remote beach. Luckily, there are places around the world that accommodate your needs. One area in particular is the Southeast Asian islands. With their crisp and clean blue waters and white sandy beaches, these islands should definitely relax even the most stressed individuals. And, if you do feel the need to do something other than bathe in the warm rays of the sun, you can participate in several aquatic activities like scuba diving, snorkeling or kayaking.

 

Paris, France

While this list truly is in no particular order, it seems as though I am saving the best for last. Paris is one of the most beautiful cities on earth, housing some of the world’s most revered landmarks. Enjoy an intellectual and enlightening tour of the world famous Louvre, which features historically significant art pieces, or simply climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower and peer out over the Paris landscape. Even better would be a leisurely stroll along La Seine, enjoying the night time lights of Paris. With so many romantic attractions it’s no surprise why it’s called the City of Love.
Now, I know that all of these trips are rather pricey and could probably take more than a week to organize, but if you can manage to schedule a trip before this Valentine’s Day, I strongly suggest you do so.  Also, obviously, these places will require more than one day to truly experience everything they have to offer, so why not make a vacation out of it? And if you cannot do it this year, there’s always next year!

10 OUTDOORS ACTIVITIES IN NORTH CAROLINA

“From the mountains to the woodlands to the coast, family experiences unfold on a variety of landscapes,” says Suzanne Brown, media relations specialist for VisitNC. “We are also a state with a full range of seasons, so there’s a variety of things to do all year.”

With so many options, finding the perfect destination for your next vacation or day trip can be a difficult decision. So to help, here are my top picks of fun outdoors activities to do in North Carolina:

See the wild horses along North Carolina’s coast.

North Carolina’s coast is home to several groups of wild horses: Corolla’s Wild Spanish mustangs; Beaufort’s wild horses at the Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve, Quarter horses, Shackleford Banks’ wild Banker horses; and Ocracoke’s Banker horses. In general, you can see the horses for free. All you need to see the horses in Corolla is a four-wheel drive vehicle so you can drive on the beach. Don’t have one? Several businesses offer four-wheel-drive guided tours.

Watch the sunset on top of Jockey’s Ridge.

There are very few spots in North Carolina where you can watch the sun set into a large body of water, but Jockey’s Ridge State Park is one of them. Through its popular Sunset on the Ridge summer program, you can climb to the top of the tallest active sand dune system in the eastern U.S. and watch the sun descend into the Roanoke Sound with the Atlantic Ocean behind you.

Take a plunge down Sliding Rock.

What could be more fun than a natural water slide?! Beat the heat this summer in North Carolina’s cool mountain water. Sliding Rock is a 60-foot natural waterfall/rock slide. At the base, there’s a 6-foot-deep pool for a refreshing splash at the end of your exhilarating slide.

See a bald eagle at Jordan Lake State Recreation Area.

Jordan Lake State Recreation Area has the largest population of bald eagles in the eastern U.S., and the best time to see one is during the spring migration (April-June). Arrive early morning or near dusk to increase your chances of spotting America’s national bird and find a location that gives you a wide view of the lake. Don’t forget your binoculars!

Admire the blue ghost fireflies in DuPont State Recreational Forest.

Chasing backyard fireflies at dusk is a favorite childhood activity, but you’ve probably never seen fireflies quite like these. Instead of a yellow glow, the blue ghost fireflies of Transylvania and Henderson counties emit a steady blue glow along the forest floor. The eerie light show is only about four weeks long starting in May and disappearing by mid-June. Check the Friends of DuPont State Forest website or call for information about occasional guided tours.

Climb to the top of Hatteras Lighthouse.

It’s a pretty steep climb with 257 steps, but you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous views from the top of the tallest brick lighthouse in North America. You’ll also have a great view of the lighthouse’s previous home before it was relocated in 1999. The self-guided climb is not recommended for young children because of narrow stairs and only one handrail on one side.

Cross the Mile-High Swinging Bridge.

Named for its elevation, the Mile-High Swinging Bridge spans an 80-foot chasm. Originally built in 1952, the bridge was rebuilt in 1999 using galvanized steel for the cables, rails and floor boards. While there, visit the Grandfather Mountain Nature Museum, the 11 hiking trails and the seven wildlife habitats to see different animals such as deer, bald eagles, bears and more!

Visit the site of the first U.S. gold rush.

When you think of a gold rush, California immediately comes to mind, but you might be surprised to learn that the first gold rush in the U.S. actually occurred in North Carolina. NC state also led in gold production until 1848. Reed Gold Mine is now a historic site open for tours.

Climb to the top of Chimney Rock.

Take an elevator or make the strenuous climb up 26 stories of stairs to reach the iconic monolith, which is 535 million years old. From the top, enjoy the spectacular view of Lake Lure and the Hickory Nut Gorge.

While exploring the park, kids will love the discovery stations on the Great Woodland Adventure, an easy .6-mile hike to discover the lives of frogs, owls, chipmunks and more. Also, don’t miss Grady’s Animal Discovery Den with live animals, and make sure the kids visit Hickory Nut Falls, the second-highest waterfall east of the Mississippi River.

Visit one of Blackbeard’s favorite islands.

While on the island of Ocracoke, visit Teach’s Hole, a channel named for Edward Teach, the infamous pirate known as Blackbeard. Ocracoke was one of his favorite spots to drop anchor, and it’s also where he lost his life in a fierce battle. Young pirate fans will enjoy the Teach’s Hole “Blackbeard” exhibit and Pirate Specialty Shop.

The Biltmore: Facts You Should Know

Known as the largest privately-owned estate in the U.S., The Biltmore House (and its gardens) is a renowned architectural feat and has become a popular tourist attraction in North Carolina.

jonathan farber phd

The grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt, George Vanderbilt travelled to Asheville, N.C., with his mother for a short visit to the Blue Ridge Mountains. He fell in love with its charm and realized it was the ideal location for his perfect country home. The following year, construction began on the French Renaissance-styled home, and after six years it was complete. The Victorian chateau boasts 250 rooms including 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces.

Throughout the years, the house has played a pivotal role during hard times for the country. In 1930 the home was first opened to the public. This was in hopes the estate would increase tourism and revenue during the Depression. Then, the house became a safe haven for priceless pieces of artwork from the National Gallery of Art during World War II.

When visiting today, you can select from guided tours or go out on your own with a self-guided or audio-guided tour. Guided tours include the Rooftop Tour, the Premium Biltmore Tour, and the Legacy of the Land Tour where you can ride in a motor coach around the gardens and the grounds. You can make a day out of it by biking, hiking, and horseback-riding too.

jonathan farber phd

If you’re looking for the most opulent experience, stay on site. You can select from the Cottage (previously the quarters for Biltmore’s market gardener), the Inn that offers mountain views and refined cuisine or the newest of the accommodations, Antler Hill Village, which is only a few steps from the winery. There are restaurants located in all, and all are delicious.

In 1971 William Cecil (George’s brother) hired French winemaster Philippe Jourdain to aid in his vineyard venture and to refine the Biltmore wine. Now, you can take vineyard and winery tours and taste their award-winning and hand-crafted wines. The Red Wine and Chocolate Seminar and the Biltmore Bubbles Tour are two of the best choices.

The Vanderbilts have truly created a unique and serene place around the mountains in North Carolina. It offers history, entertainment, and beauty, which is why it has been a lasting tourist destination for so many years.
Info courtesy of Biltmore.