With spring officially sprang (or, having been sprung if you’re a fan of the awkward participial construction) and the strange bouts of April snow gone, it’s a perfect time to explore the outdoors in North Carolina. While I’m sure the people over at Outdoor Pursuits (OP) could provide more concrete guidance than me, as a North Carolina native, I’ve decided to compile a list of things to do outdoors that are enjoyable and cheap. Though it’s far from an exhaustive list, hopefully there’s something for everyone.
1. Take a short trip to Pilot Mountain or Hanging Rock.
There are trails of varying difficulty and intensity throughout the parks, so whether you’re a seasoned veteran or tentative novice, the two destinations have something to suit every skill level. If you can wait through the crushing lines of traffic to get to the summits (my favorite part of nature), then you’re only a short stroll away from some of the best views the Piedmont has to offer. Besides, there are great photo opportunities at both peaks and plenty of clever Instagram captions available such as, “trying to hold on for the end of the semester!” It’d be a quirky deviation from four darty pictures in a row, and it’ll make your aunt feel better about how you’re spending your time at school.
2. Check out the shopping that Winston-Salem has to offer.
Aside from Thruway and Reynolda Village, there’s a second Target off of Hanes Mall Boulevard that’s often neglected. I can’t tell you anything about this Target that makes it any different from every other one in the country, but at least it’s different from the one off of University Parkway. The layout is flipped (men’s clothing straight ahead, but everything else to the right from there), so it’ll add some nice variety to your next shopping excursion. The slightly longer drive lends extra time to riding with the windows down, and there’s all of scenic Winston-Salem right outside of the window to enjoy.
3. Visit Quarry Park.
As the name suggests, it’s situated on an old rock quarry that offers gorgeous vistas of the Winston-Salem skyline, Quarry Park Lake and surrounding trees. It’s only about a 20-minute drive from campus (or two-and-a-half-hour walk if that’s more your speed), making it the perfect spontaneous excursion for any night.
4. Take a stroll through Reynolda
With their American Modernism exhibition on display until May 12, it’s high time to take a stroll through the Reynolda Trail and visit the Reynolda House Museum. Aside from the formidable house and art, Reynolda Gardens are also a brief walk away from the museum. The plants are in full bloom and are a must-see spectacle for this time of the year. There’s plenty in the area to help whittle away an afternoon.
5. Visit the mountain or the beach.
If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, the state also has plenty to offer outside of the 336. There are the Appalachian Mountains, the beach and a plethora of quirky towns scattered around to explore. There’s a whole world right outside of Wake Forest to traverse, and the only impediment to doing so is finding an available friend with a car.