Snuggled between North Carolina’s coast and mountains, Alamance County is a great place to spend a weekend. The climate is near-perfect year round for outdoor activities. There are also many opportunities for entertainment and dining.
The Haw River
The Haw River Canoe & Kayak Company offers a variety of different ways to get on the water. From custom to guided tours or self-guided, there’s something for everyone. Our little guided group had lots of fun on a bright and sunny day in May. After a short hike to get to our put-in place, we began our journey down the river, winding through beautiful rural scenery with towering trees on either side.
As we paddled along, I spied a little detour off to the left. A small path opened between the shore and a huge boulder. I headed toward it, but when halfway through, noticed a tree – which had been hidden from view – had fallen into the river just beyond the boulder. I’m not a very good kayaker (though I do enjoy it), so it was a struggle to fight the current which was quickly flowing toward the tree… and me along with it. My first thought was to duck under it, but in the end I summoned all my meager upper-body strength and forced the kayak into a 90° turn and got myself out of the jam.
Click here for more about kayaking on the Haw River.
Haw River Farmhouse Ale
Haw River Farmhouse Ales crafts Belgian-styled beer, but with some unique local twists. They make their beer with local barley, wild yeast harvested from Saxpahaw, honey and fruit.
You can taste a variety of their beers, including their year-found favorites Belgian Chocolate Rye Stout and St. Benedict’s Breakfast Dubbel.
I’m not a fan of the typical zoo, but the Conservator’s Center was founded to provide a home for lions, tigers, wolves and other animals that were confiscated because they were living in unacceptable conditions and are not able to be re-released into the wild. Originally a private housing, they decided to open the park to the public to provide enough funding for care of the animals.
When I was there, I witnessed one lion starting a “group roar” with the other lions around the compound joining in. It’s called “chuffing,” and it’s a non-threatening vocalization used between two or more members of the cat family to communicate with each other. It was surreal!
Paperhand Puppet Intervention is an amazing feat of creativity to entertain all ages. The whimsical puppets are huge, some with masks and other elaborate accessories. The puppet performances display dancing and incorporate live music to tell a story or myth. Their mission is to “help promote social change, peace and hope for a better world.”
I got to see the puppets in action at a function at the Valahalla Barn in Chapel Hill. So much fun!
Saxapahaw General Store
A blast into the past, the Saxapahaw General Store is so much more than just a store. The enterprise strives to bring local foods, good wine and beer, nutritious snacks, and eco-conscious dry goods to the community. There are rows of groceries, a glass case of freshly baked goods, and an extensive menu that will have you salivating lickety-split. After ordering at the counter, patrons can dine together family-style at the long, cozy farm tables.