Whether you are visiting family or friends, spending a night before traveling on I-95, or spending a weekend (or a week!) exploring the greater Fayetteville region, you will find plenty to keep everyone entertained during these long summer days. Summertime tends to be more relaxed, and you can take the time to explore some of our community’s gems.
Here are our team’s Top 5 recommended summer favorites:
1. Visit Carvers Creek State Park to stretch your legs and explore 10 miles of easy trails. At the Long Valley Farm access point in Spring Lake, two hikes lead to Long Valley farm, James Stillman Rockefeller’s winter estate. At the Sandhills Access on McCloskey Road in Fayetteville, hikers, bikers, and horseback riders can explore seven trails of varied length. Each of the trails offers a unique look at the ecology and wildlife in this rare Longleaf Pine ecosystem. During a hike, visitors will likely see the active red-cockaded woodpeckers (marked with a white band), and even a fox squirrel scampering into the woods. Red-cockaded woodpeckers are a federally protected endangered species and one of the largest populations resides in this region.
2. If water sports are your thing, rent a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard from Yakalacky Outfitters and spend the day on the water. Yakalacky Outfitters, located in Hope Mills, takes reservations to nearby parks/lakes Tuesday through Sunday starting at 9 a.m. We recommend spending your time on the water at Home Mills Lake. Aside from the beautiful location, Hope Mills Lake offers community favorite Big T’s, which serves up SnoBalls, Snow Creams, and many other cool treats.
3. Every Sunday morning from Easter to Thanksgiving, the Dirtbag Ales Farmer's Market attracts a large following that comes to sip beer, enjoy music, take a yoga class and shop the best local produce and products from area farmers and artisans. For lunch, choose from one of the local food trucks or the on-site restaurant Napkins. Also on Sunday mornings, Napkins creates its menu from items available at the Farmers Market. In addition to the brewery and restaurant, the Dirtbag Ales complex offers a large family-friendly playground and dog park.
4. Spend a Saturday exploring downtown Fayetteville and then catch the Fayetteville Woodpeckers in action at Segra Stadium. Here are a few ideas to enjoy before heading to Segra for a 5 p.m. first pitch:
- Grab a refreshing iced tea at Winterbloom Tea, or try one of their fabulous tea cocktails.
- Enjoy lunch outside or cool off inside at Blue Moon Café, Gaston Brewing Company, or the Fried Turkey Sandwich Shop.
- Experience sculptures downtown or view the current displays of artistry at Cape Fear Studios or the Arts Council of Cumberland County.
Once you arrive at Segra Stadium you’ll find a little park that packs all the fun of the major leagues into a smaller format. Brats and brews, popcorn and peanuts, an outfield bar, and a children’s play area and grassy hillside for family picnics welcome America’s pastime. And typically, before the 7th-inning stretch, railroad cars rumble down the adjacent tracks and toot their horn into the stadium. The best part of a Woodpeckers’ game? The seats are so close to the playing field that you can hear the players chattering in between pitches and the balls whizzing by.
5. Dinosaur fanatics young and old have plenty to enjoy at Dinosaur World at Sweet Valley Ranch. Once inside, guests take a shuttle to the quarter-mile, woodsy and paved Dinosaur Trail. The trail has 25 animatronic dinosaurs, an abandoned research lab, and plenty of special event props. For the price of admission, visitors can also enjoy a fossil museum, a reptile house, a fossil dig, Dinosaur Playland, and walking the grounds to view the hundreds of animals on site.
On Saturday evenings at 8:30 p.m., guests can take part in an Interactive Rescue Mission, which tasks participants to locate missing staff involved with the creation of Dinosaur World. The Interactive Rescue Mission includes a nighttime Farm Tour and viewing of life-size lighted dinosaur displays.
For a small additional cost, (on-site) visitors can also take a farm tour, a 20-minute go-kart trek nature trail tour, or fish at one of three stocked lakes. All fishing supplies are included.
Dinosaur World runs from June 9th until August 8th and is open weekly from Wednesday through Sunday. It opens at 10 a.m. each day. Tickets range from $16 to $39 for adults and $8 to $19 for children from ages 3 through 12.
Bonus suggestion: Looking for more ideas? Visit the Gillis Hill Farm in western Fayetteville, which has been farmed by the Gillis family since the 1700s. Start your visit at the farm's ice cream shop, where the ice cream and other desserts are all homemade and utterly delicious. If you purchase a cone during ice cream season, you can then take a self-guided farm tour for free. The kids will delight in seeing all the farm animals and exploring the old farm buildings and equipment on display. Otherwise, simply take your scoop of deliciousness to the front porch and just "sit a spell" in the rocking chairs.