Fav Gardens and Sights to see in the Carolinas

rootdiggernc(Z-7A NC)January 29, 2008

I really believe there are a lot of hidden jewels in the Carolinas that many of us would enjoy if we knew about them. DH and I love to take little mini trips around the state, even into South Carolina when we have a couple or three days.

So where are the places you like to go when you have an extra moment to breath? I put it over here so it doesn't all have to be 'garden' related and some of my fav scenic/garden spots were certainly not planted by man.

some of ours...

Newland, NC and vicinity - I have a sis up there and use to live just across the state line in TN so we've tromped all over up there. Get away from the tourist traps and check out the mountains and back roads. It doesn't matter what season it is, there's always something to see,... I think of it as God's garden display! It's exquisite!

Swan Lake in Sumter, SC - this is what prompted this thread. Such a beautiful place and so few seem to know about it.

Old Hardware stores - ok this is strange, but DH and I have a thing about OLD timey hardware stores. They carry some great old gardening things, gizmos and gadgets, and I found some gallon sized canning jars at the one in Lexington, NC, great for storing things in. Black Mountain, NC has a neat one too. Lots of the old crocks and things that most people pay an extreme price for in the big cities because someone slapped an antique label on it.

Salem Lake in Winston Salem. I had never been there until a few weeks ago. Very pretty along the water and if you get back off the main trail it's nice too. Saw some pretty little frozen waterfalls along the way.

Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden in Columbia, SC. I think it's great the way they put the two places right next to each other! Feeding the lorakeets was the highlight!! I think I had 7 or 8 of them perched all over me at one point. They sell little cups of sugar water, which you take into the cage and they come flying to drink out of it. Some will wait their turn on your shoulders, head, where ever they can find a perch. Oh and They're having an Orchid Festival in Feb! They also have plants sales!

Which brings me to a place I've never been but will be checking out sometime in the near future! Lakewhysc posted a thread about the new Orchad Conservatory at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden. Magnificent is an understatement!!

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I love the upstate region of South Carolina. West of Pickens in and around the lakes. Table Rock in the same area.

On the opposite side of the state I love Manteo near the outer banks. Love the Elizabethan Gardens, the Aquarium, the Museum and the little seafront area with all the shops and tourists.

I am so lucky in that I live near Lake Benson in Garner (actually the lake and park were given to Raleigh, but it's IN Garner). I take the hound there twice a day for a walk around the place on the trails (1.6 miles). In the winter it is so peaceful and deserted - I can talk to myself if needed and she can chase anything that moves.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2008 at 5:11PM
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Tammy Kennedy

mmm- i really love Southport, down near wilmington, and the oak island area. quiet and scenic. I love the landscaping at the zoo- i enjoy that as much as the animals. The lower Pisgah/Transylvania county area with all its waterfalls in western NC is wonderful, as is the maggie valley.

locally, we make a couple trips a year out to duke gardens - we think that's a real gem. and of course, JCRA and UNC bot garden as well. Raleigh Rose garden is a hidden jewel. Umstead is a nice place to see nature in its glory while hiking up some actual hills! Eno is very pretty as well.

we love lake benson as well,though we don't make daily use of it like john does. it's big enough that even when under weekend use you can breathe. they are supposed to run a greenway within a few years towards the park from behind us where they are building houses and i can't wait. that will make walking or riding bikes to the park much easier for us. seems silly to drive there when we're less than a mile.

Babcock state park in southern WVA is gorgeous. I love the area around charlottesville, too- but i'm guessing that's farther afield than you were thinking.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2008 at 10:23AM
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transplanted2scin07(7b upstate SC)

I haven't seen many "jewels" since moving here but have already enjoyed Table Rock State Park and Paris Mountain State Park. Both should be GORGEOUS when the Rhododendrons and Mountain Laurels bloom. I'm also quite partial to Reedy River Park and all of Main St, Greenville. It's what convinced me to move here permanently. My son goes to Coker College in Hartsville, SC and they have the Kalmia Gardens there but I am waiting for Spring to check that place out.
I've heard Charleston does a home and garden tour. Maybe one of these days I'll get down there to see what all the fuss is about.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2008 at 2:40PM
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There is a book, CAROLINA EDENS, that lists many parks/gardens that most people would miss.Haywood Community College in Clyde, NC, is worth seeing when the dalhias are blooming. UNC-C has some great plants that many people miss. One jewel that is NOT in this book is a cemetery in Salisbury...can't remember the name...but it is really wonderful in the spring. The focus then is the 100's of tulips and other spring flowering plants. Wonderful! I am certain their Chamber of Commerce will know the name and directions. If you live nearby or are on the interstate one day, take a short detour to see it.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2008 at 5:59PM
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rootdiggernc(Z-7A NC)

Tammy, we love the Southport and Oak Island areas too. Southport is like you stepped back in time! That's one area I believe I could live. Calabash is nice too.

John, we like the aquarium up that way and there's an area around Ocean City we like. Still have to check out the Elizabethan Gardens.

Transplanted, that's an area I don't think we've ever been to, sounds lovely and interesing.

ncrescue, We like Salisbury (neat old hardware store called Rufty), it's very quaint and laid back. We'll have to check out the cemetery. Some of the old roses you'll find at older cemeteries are tuff little plants and so fragrant. My husband has a memory of an old cemetery where they had what folks referred to as an old cemetery iris. He took me there one time to see some old family graves for genealogy purposes but they had just finished blooming.

Not the Carolinas but here are some places in East TN. I think we've been to all of them multiple times. Have had more picnics in that area than I can count, even winter picnics! My dh grew up in that area and his Dad preached all over those hollows.

Roaring Fork auto tour is incredible. Too small to drive RV's, Buses, etc due to old growth trees right up against the road. As I recall there use to be an old country store (pot belly stove and all that was NOT for decoration, lol) along there that we stopped in one day and there was an elderly gentleman sitting outside whittling that entertained my kids (and us) with stories while we looked around. He had as much or more fun than we did.

There's another auto tour that takes you back into the hills where a lot of cottage/craft people live and sell their wares and you HAVE to see Cades Cove early morning or late evening. It's a one way loop thru an old mountain community. Most of the homes are gone, but they have preserved a few. Old cemeteries and churches, from the civil war era, lots of trails to hike and so forth. In the spring you'll see huge patches of daffs out in a field where a homestead use to be. Lots of dear, bear, skunks, etc. If you go in the early morn or late eve you'll see more of the critter kingdom. Slow down or you'll miss it!! I've heard people say they went thru it and didn't see the big deal. Those are the people that we pull over for and allowed to pass us. The deer cross from the wooded areas on one side of the road to the fields on the other in the day time and back across in the evenings, and they'll often come right across the road in front of you. Also when you cross the little streams look up a ways into the woods and you may see them in that area. There's a picnic area where kids (and big kids) can wade/splash in the water and we've often seen baby bears with their mamas roaming around. Umm, stay away from them! My daughter chased a family of skunks thru there when she was little calling out to them 'here kitty kitty..' luckily mom must have sensed she wasn't a threat! They also have an old mill arera where they hold special events thru the year. We especially love Old Timers Day with all the fiddle, banjo, etc. players.

There's also the Townsend area, Greenback, the old Greenbriar school, the sinks, there are some old covered bridges in the area. There's a small power plant on I-40 right on the state line between NC and TN. If you take off back thru there it goes thru the Cosby area and then on to Gatlinburg. It's one of those areas where the back end of your car meets the front end, continual hairpin turns. Yep, we've roamed those hills, lol.

Here is a link that might be useful: east TN

    Bookmark   February 3, 2008 at 12:53PM
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coorscat(6 and 9)

One of the prettiest places in west NC in my opinion is the Deep Creek area of the Smokey Mountain Nat'l park. Its not too far from me and I sneak over there every chance I get. There is not a time of year that it is not stunning in its beauty. Even with the worst of the drought, Indian Creek falls and Tom's Branch falls are beautiful and all within easy walking distance. Juneywhank Falls aren't surviving the drought as well, but it is still worth the climb. You can hike, ride horseback, or in the summer be brave and tube down the creek. I like to just take a book and read or pack a picnic lunch. I have taken many family members and all agree it is a much different experience than going up to the Newfound Gap area. Look back at the pics I posted of last fall's foliage and the pic with the bridge was taken in Deep Creek. Once you go and see how awesome it is, don't tell anyone because we don't want it to get crowded :o)

    Bookmark   February 7, 2008 at 10:56AM
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Tammy Kennedy

that's where we went for vaca summer before last and my kids are begging to go back again this year. we tubed i think 4 days out of the 6 or 7 we were in the area. it's gorgeous- while they tubed i was concentrating on shooting them and waterfalls. one or 2 runs down was enough for me- that water's frigid!! :)

    Bookmark   February 7, 2008 at 12:02PM
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This picture illustrates why everyone should visit Craggy Gardens in mid-June at least once in his or her lifetime:

It's a 20-year-old photograph that's a bit faded, but you get the idea.

I love the aviary at the zoo in Asheboro. I haven't been there for several years, but I think it's one of the best aviaries in the country. I've been to the aviary in Pittsburgh and the NC aviary beats that one hands down.

Two of my favorite spots in the Triangle Area are in Chapel Hill: the NC Botanical Garden and the sisters' garden on Gimghoul Road. The sisters have a Charleston type garden that is at its peak during azalea season, but it's always lovely.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2008 at 9:51AM
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quirkpod(7 Lewisville NC)

Anybody ever go to the Azalea Festival in Wilmington? Not mentioned here, wonder why. I am planning our first trip and could use your opinions. Sounds like a good excuse for a post also.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2008 at 5:01PM
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rootdiggernc(Z-7A NC)

So many good suggestions I don't want to lose it so bumping to the top! It's been a while so feel free to add some more suggestions. With gas prices skyrocketing local places to escape to is good! :)

    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 12:40PM
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