Staycation Ideas

Staycation_LogoFun Ways to Have a Fulfilling Staycation When Cabin Fever is Setting In

In Orange County, NC we’re lucky to have access to so much beauty and outdoor options. We are also well situated for some exciting day trips to nearby cities and counties.

Here are 55 fun ideas for places to explore this summer. Click here for the printer-friendly PDF version.

  1. Have you always wanted to stay in the beautiful Carolina Inn Chapel Hill? This summer the historic Inn is offering Orange County residents a $120 rate. Identify yourself as an Orange County resident and you’ll get a free gift bag when checking-in. Enjoy a self-guided walking tour through UNC campus, lunch on the patio with a new (limited) menu, and indulge in beauty and history. 
  2. Enjoy Italy in Chapel Hill. The Siena Hotel is opening their doors to Orange County residents with a $120 rate and free gift upon check-in. Just identify yourself as an Orange County resident. Il Palio restaurant is open for guests. Pretend you’re in Italy for a night. IlPalioRestaurantAtSienaHotelLocated in the Siena Hotel lobby, this Il Palio features an elevated Tuscan menu.
  3. Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area might be a rather small state park-managed site at about 190 acres. But it’s a fantastic change of pace, and the top of Occoneechee Mountain is the highest point in Orange County. The park’s ponds and proximity to the Eno River offer visitors and locals a place to fish, too. Update: Occoneechee Mountain is now open during normal hours, from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm. Hiking trails and the bathroom are open. 
  4. Ayr Mount in Hillsborough was considered one of Central North Carolina’s finest homes when construction was completed in 1812. A great way to enjoy the beauty of the property is to stroll the mile-long loop, known as the Poet’s Walk. You’ll pass through the woods, along the Eno River, and through the Kirkland family cemetery. This path makes it easy for one to get lost in the beautiful surrounding scenery.
  5. Self-Guided Mural Tour in Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough is one for the bucket list. Check it out. ShakaShaveCornerShaka Shave Ice in downtown Carrboro offers cool refreshments and a brightly colored seascape mural painted right on the store.
  6. Spark joy by supporting local businesses. This Orange County blog shows you how to enjoy many local favorites. Wondering where you should plan your next meal out in Orange County? Good news: we’ve got you covered, check out these local restaurants. Wondering how to shop local while still practicing social distancing? Many local businesses have curbside pick-up, delivery, to go, and online options. Check out our shopping page here.411WestPhoto411 is a local Chapel Hill restaurant with a menu that is inspired by the flavors of Italy and the Mediterranean, with a healthy California twist. 
  7. Johnston County, affectionately known as JoCo to the locals, is less than an hour east of Orange County. It is far enough away from the urban areas of The Triangle to offer visitors the charm of farm life and small-town living. JoCo invites Orange County residents to get outside the city with their "Grapes, Gardner, and Great Deals Day Trip!"
  8. Start the day in Smithfield, the county seat, which has a thriving downtown with an emerging culinary scene. Discover Smithfield’s ties to Hollywood glamour at the Ava Gardner Museum. Learn about the life and career of this local screen legend.
  9. Before lunch visit Hinnant Family Vineyards, one of the stops along the Beer, Wine and Shine Trail – a self-guided craft beverage experience through JoCo. HinnantFamilyVineyardsJohnstonCountyTour and taste at the largest muscadine vineyard in North Carolina with over 100 acres.
  10. When you get hungry try Parkside Café for some Southern cookin’ at very affordable prices, where hush puppies are free and the waitress might call you "hon". Or circle back around to Downtown Smithfield and enjoy locally-source, chef-crafted dishes with unique takes on southern staples from Under the Oak, Simple Twist, or SoDoSoPa.
  11. Stay a little longer as afternoon turns to evening and have a cold pint at Double Barley Brewing, another stop along the Beer, Wine and Shine Trail. Double Barley also has a delicious bar menu if you want one last bite of JoCo before you’re on your way back home. DoubleBarleyBrewingJohnstonCountyDouble Barley Brewing, Johnston County.
  12. In neighboring Durham, the great outdoors are still free, and the open air is a smart place to be. Stretch your legs at the local favorite Eno River State Park, an attraction that has slowly reopened its access points. Per an update published recently, Fews Ford and Cole Mill accesses are operating under normal hours, and all trails and bathrooms located near parking lots are open. EnoRiverFewsFordTrailFews Ford and Cole Mill accesses are operating under normal hours.
  13. Durham encourages you to take to the trails and keep moving, rather than congregating in groups. Bathrooms are scheduled to be cleaned throughout the day, as picnic shelters, water fountains, and hydrants remain turned off. Please bring a filled, reusable water bottle with you! You should also note that Cabelands and Pleasant Green accesses are still closed and parking near those gates is not permitted. Swimming is also not permitted at the Eno Quarry at this time. Bring your pup on a leash and enjoy the fresh air! It might be crowded as folks are eager to get outside, so consider visiting during non-peak hours. Parks, trails and greenways under the management of Durham Parks and Recreation are now open, though the DPR recreation centers are closed. The Triangle Land Conservancy’s Horton Grove Nature Preserve is also open with eight miles of hiking trails waiting for you to explore, including the That Makes Sense Interpretative Trail for kids.
  14. Pack Your Own Picnic: While the Sarah P. Duke Gardens remain closed, the rest of the breathtaking picnic spots in this blog post are still wonderful options for you to roll out a blanket and enjoy the weather.
  15. Ahh, Durham. Pick up an ice cream sandwich from Rose’s Noodles, Dumplings and Sweets, or enjoy a snocone from Pelican’s SnoBalls for just a handful of quarters. Sweet treats are made even more delightful given the heat wave that’s sure to hit during this Carolina summer. PelicansSnoballsDurhamPelican’s SnoBalls in Durham is Fido friendly.
  16. Cabarrus County reminds Orange County that they are excited to see us! Just a two-hour drive from Chapel Hill and Orange County, Cabarrus County is home to many experiences that are essential to North Carolina’s story. Enjoy a full day of fun filled with motorsports, gold history, craft beverages and more.
  17. Making a pit stop in Kannapolis, arriving via I-85? Take Exit 60 and follow Dale Earnhardt Blvd to Downtown Kannapolis where the life of a NASCAR legend is celebrated at Dale Earnhardt Tribute Plaza. The 9-ft., 900-lb. statue is just one stop on The Dale Trail self-guided tour. Then, check out what’s new in this revitalized city’s center. Have a beer at veteran-owned brewery Old Armor and enjoy ballpark fare at Atrium Health Ballpark, a public park and home of Cabarrus County’s minor league baseball team, the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers. DaleEarnhardtTributePlazaThis 9 foot tall, 900-pound bronze statue of Dale Earnhardt is clad in jeans, cowboy boots, and a short-sleeved shirt.
  18. Recharge for a walk along Union Street at locally-owned coffee shops like Press & Porter and Groundwork Common. The Historic Self-Guided Walking Tour takes you to four districts with over 50 historic sites using the Downtown Concord app
  19. Explore Midland & Mt. Pleasant coming in from NC Highway 49. Stretch your legs along walking trails at the site of America’s first discovery of gold, Reed Gold Mine. This state historic site in Midland is just minutes from more scenic spots including Rocky River Vineyards. In Mt. Pleasant, hike the Carolina Thread Trail, plan a paddling excursion with Capstone Climbing & Adventure, hunt for treasure at Cline’s Country Antiques or take a tour of “Whiskey Prison” at Southern Grace Distilleries. Then, end your adventure with a delicious meal at 73 & MainCarolinaThreadTrailThe Carolina Thread Trail is a regional network of connected greenways, trails and blueways that reaches 15 counties, 2 states and 2.9 million people.
  20. Hang Out in Harrisburg also located along NC Highway 49, the town of Harrisburg has even more options for places to eat and enjoy craft beer. Vortex Bottle Shop offers an inspired food menu and hundreds of beverage options, and local breweries Percent Tap House and Pharr Mill Brewing both serve up small batch beer in laid-back settings. Before getting back on the road, make one more stop into Small Batch Foody and choose from a variety of North Carolina-made treats to enjoy on the way home. 
  21. Andy of Mayberry in a Day (One-Day Mayberry-Mount Airy Trip).
  22. Drive to the Andy Griffith Museum for a look at Andy Griffith memorabilia, like the jailhouse keys, Andy Taylor’s sheriff shirt, Goober Pyle’s beanie, and many more items from The Andy Griffith Show. Tip: Walk next door to the Surry Arts Council lower-level exhibit to view the Eng and Chang Siamese Twins display, adjacent to the museum. AndyGriffithMuseumSpend a day in Andy Griffith’s hometown.
  23. Pose for pictures at the TV Land Statue of Opie and Andy of Mayberry
  24. Walk to Snappy Lunch for a famous boneless pork chop sandwich fried in sweet milk and egg batter until golden crispy and finished with incredible toppings! Make sure to ask for extra napkins! SnappyLunchSnappy Lunch is a Mount Airy landmark diner serving breakfast plates, biscuits & sandwiches in a no-nonsense setting.
  25. Stroll through Main Street, making sure to stop first at the Mount Airy Visitor Center. You’ll want to plan a few hours touring downtown, Mount Airy. There’s a lot of stores to browse, such as boutique stores, toy stores, bakeries, a soda fountain, eateries, antique stores, and more. Don’t forget to add dessert after you’ve burned off a few of those calories from the pork chop sandwich!
  26. Drive 15 minutes to the top of Pilot Mountain State Park and hike the Jomeokee Trail, a .9-mile loop for beginners that takes you around the base of the large pinnacle. Afterward, if time permits, head to downtown Pilot Mountain (i.e., Mount Pilot as known on The Andy Griffith Show) for more retail therapy and dinner.
  27. A day trip to Raleigh/Wake County needs to include a few things: Award-winning pastries, outdoor exploring and family- or date-friendly entertainment. Here’s how to do just that!
  28. A worthy pit stop to help fuel the day ahead, La Farm Bakery—a traditional French bakery owned by three-time James Beard semifinalist Lionel Vatinet for more than 20 years now—offers artisan breads, baked goods, pastries and coffee. Grab some napkins as well because breakfast is to-go in this itinerary. Location: 4248 N.W. Cary Pkwy., Cary. Current hours: Mon.-Sun., 8 am - 4 pm (takeout only.) LaFarmRaleighAt La Farm Bakery, loaves are hand-crafted daily in a variety flavors, shapes, and sizes.
  29. One of N.C.’s most-visited state parks, William B. Umstead State Park—a 12-minute drive from La Farm Bakery—remains a peaceful getaway thanks to its sheer size (more than 5,000 acres of forest, trails and lakes sit on the edge of Raleigh, Cary and Morrisville). With 13 miles of multi-use trails that follow a series of rolling hills (perfect for horseback riding, jogging and cycling) and 22 miles of dedicated hiking trails, this is a must-hit destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Parking at the Reedy Creek entrance to the park, just off of I-40, offers access to two popular hiking trails (Company Mill, a 5.8-mile loop trail; and Loblolly, a 5.4-mile out-and-back trail) and picnic tables to enjoy your breakfast. Be sure to bring water because water fountains may be closed due to COVID-19. Location: 2100 N. Harrison Ave., Cary. Current hours: 8 am - 9 pm, with weekends being very busy from 10 am - 5 pm. UmsteadParkCaryWilliam B. Umstead State Park
  30. One good way to experience Raleigh’s trailblazing food scene? Lunch at downtown Raleigh’s Transfer Co. Food Hall—a massive foodie attraction that opened in early 2019 to great fanfare—where bagels, beer, burritos, burgers and more are on the menu across the 10 different vendors that fill the space (a perfect spot for groups!). Location: 500 E. Davie St., Raleigh. Current hours: Open for dine-in and takeout; most vendors open at 11 am for lunch and dinner
  31. It’s open now, so if you are looking for big entertainment visit the Drive Shack—the interactive golf complex that caters to big groups—opened in 2019 in Raleigh. The three-story complex includes 96 golf bays, a full-service restaurant, a rooftop bar, more than 300 televisions, an arcade area, meeting rooms and more. Drive Shack allows guests and groups to rent bays by the hour, giving them access to wait-service, unlimited driving range balls, full sets of TaylorMade golf clubs, a climate-controlled outdoor seating area (essential for summer!), televisions and more. Location: 6901 Play Golf Way, Raleigh. Current hours: 10 am - 10 pm. DriveShackRaleigh
  32. Back in downtown Raleigh, an outdoor dinner is a no-brainer on a nice evening. Couples will want to make reservations at Mulino Italian Kitchen & Bar—a cozy Italian restaurant that boasts what is perhaps the Raleigh area’s most unique patio setting (poolside dining, anyone?). Mulino: 309 N. Dawson St. Raleigh; open for dine-in and takeout service Tues.-Sun. beginning at 5 pm. MulinoEnjoy a drink poolside at Mulino Restaurant, Raleigh.
  33. Have you ever checked-out Wilson, NC? Visit a downtown park or public space or just take a relaxing stroll down the sidewalk. It’s a great time to explore public art in their Artsee Alleys, painted fire hydrants, Big Belly recycling/refuse receptacles and the whirligigs in the Whirligig Park. While there, post on social media and tag Historic Downtown Wilson. Just 1.5 hours from Orange County, a visit to Wilson and the Vollis Whirligig Park is an ideal day trip. WhirligigsWilson is home to the Vollis Whirligig Park
  34. Fearrington Village, in neighboring Chatham County began reopening June 3rd and they are excited to welcome Orange County visitors. The Belted Goat continues with carryout service and curbside concierge pickup. They have outdoor seating available on the patio, under the tent, and out on the lawn for their guests. See hours and menus here. Roost is open Friday and Saturday from 4 pm - 7 pm with a full menu including wood-fired pizza, local draft beers, and outdoor seating available. See menus and hours here.
  35. While at Fearrington Village you and the family will be able to see the black and white belted cows, a rare breed of Scottish beef cattle that was introduced to the United States back in the 1950s. In 1982, R.B. Fitch brought a herd of six Belted Galloway Cows from Virginia to Fearrington. There are now over thirty Belties grazing the Fearrington pastures. Guests often refer to the Belted Galloways as “Oreo cows.” BeltiesBelted Galloway cows at Farrington Farms.

  36. The Pinehurst & Sandhills area welcomes Orange County residents. What to do? Here are some suggestions. Cradle Par 3 Course at Pinehurst Resort is designed by Gil Hanse. Yes, you can play it for $50.00 per person and play all day. Kids under 16 are free. Tons of fun and they sell beverage (even adult ones) from the Pinecone trailer overlooking Cradle. PinehurstNo2-16-450x450Cradle Par 3 Course, Pinehurst Resort, Pinehurst, NC
  37. Historic Walking Tour through Pinehurst Village. On the Walking Tour, you can wander through the beautiful winding tree-lined village lanes, soaking in the history of the adorable buildings and the people who built them. You can get a paper version of the tour for free at the Tufts Archives.
  38. Mural Trail of Carthage. The three murals are vibrant with color and dynamic. Artist Scott Nurkin managed to achieve a depth and saturation of color that makes you feel like you can step right into the brick. These are all located in downtown Carthage. You can easily drive to all three in minutes. Then lunch at the Pik n’ Pig at the Carthage airport (McConnell Field). flying-ace-muralFlying Ace Mural, Carthage, NC
  39. Bucket List. If Pinehurst No. 2 is on your bucket list, you’ll be playing in the footsteps of all the grand champions of golf. No matter how you play, you’re bound to walk off the course feeling like a legend. Typically, you have to be Resort guest to play No. 2. BUT, you can call within a 24 hour window and if tee times are available, a non-resort guest can book. But, it is $495 per person.
  40. Don’t forget the breweries: Pinehurst Brewing Company (best brisket in the destination), Southern Pines Brewing Company, Hatchet Brewing and Railhouse Brewery. The new Southern Pines Brewing Company just moved to a new location and here’s a link to their videodowntown_so_pines_4_720Downtown Southern Pines, NC
  41. Granville County, North Carolina would love to see Orange County residents. This beautiful region includes the charming municipalities of Oxford, Butner, Creedmoor, Stem and Stovall. Located in close proximity Hillsborough and Chapel Hill.
  42. At the Tobacco Wood Brewing Company, the breezy air mixes with friendly voices, live music, and delicious aromas from the barbecue-fusion menu. Since it opened in 2018, North Carolina’s first female- and veteran-owned brewery has been a gathering place for the community, as well as for visitors making the quick one-hour trip from the Triangle. In the airy, 2,200-square-foot taproom where they serve 13 of their own beers on tap, a knowledgeable bartender pours pints and beer flights and, with a nudge, will tell the stories behind charming, funky beer names like Rocket Surgery (a juniper Kölsch) and Tar River’s Revenge (a porter). Tobacco Wood Brewing CompanyTobacco Wood Brewing SamplesTobacco Woodbrewing Company Samples
  43. Near-by Creedmoor has a few destinations worth checking out. One of those is the Owl House Café, a French-American family-owned shop right downtown at 209 N. Main Street. The café features subs and burgers, espressos, and all-day breakfast, and is getting a reputation for its pastries and sweets. Think mouth-watering crepes, macaroons, éclairs, cannolis, chocolate lava muffins, cheesecakes, homemade ice cream, and 14 kinds of shakes.  
  44. Next, stretch your legs and enjoy the scenery at Lake Rogers Park. Located on 175 acres just northwest of downtown Creedmoor, the park has just undergone a massive renovation and includes a fishing deck, boat launch, and a new scenic walking trial.
  45. Plumpeez in Butner is an authentic New York style deli that serves the best sandwiches in North Carolina. They use only Boars Head meats, cheeses, and condiments, and their bread products are preservative free fresh from the bakery of Neomonde.
  46. Do you like Disc Golf? It’s a fast growing leisure sport that attracts solo players and small groups to the fresh open air. Check-out Alamance County’s course at Cedarock ParkDisc Golf
  47. Cedarock Park is a 414-acre (1.68 km2) nature preserve, historic farm, and passive-use park located near Bellemont in Alamance County, North Carolina.The park has a top rated Disc Golf course Established 1989. Designed by Members of Bur-D (The original players’ club). Free to Play, an outstanding wooded course, which required the felling of no old growth, mature trees. Beautiful, wide open green grass fairways, with just enough tree foliage to let you know it’s there. 
  48. Did you know that Disc Golf is better in Person? Person County that is. Check-out this video that combines classic music with disc golf.Disc Golf two Opens in new window
  49. The Rockness Monster is a 27-hole disc golf course located on the Piedmont Community College Person County Campus and is free and open to the public. The course has Innova DISCatcher baskets, 4 tee pads for beginner (red), intermediate (white), alternate (orange) and advanced (blue). Unique custom teepads are located on all white and blue locations (unless pavement was available - hole 1 and 2) as well as orange tees on holes 4,5,8,9 and professional tee signs are located on every hole at the white tee and benches are behind every white and blue teepad. A complete course map is located on the back of the kiosk at the entrance of the course.
  50. In Benson, NC, Tucker Lake is a 30 acre lake fed by clear, spring water with white sand beaches. Whether you want to relax on the beach, float in the water, take a plunge from the 167 ft. waterslide, picnic/grilling, or play volleyball, Tucker Lake is open Wednesday through Sunday, the cost of admission is Ages 12 and older: $12.00. Ages 3-11: $10.00 Current Hours: 10 am - 6 pm. Bring your own snacks. Or, a Concession Stand is available which serves items such as Hotdogs, Hamburgers, Sausage Dogs, Corn Dogs, Nachos, French Fries, Funnel Cakes, Ice Cream, Milk Shakes, Icees, Drinks, etc.  From Raleigh: Take I-40 East to Exit 325. Turn left on NC 242 (Woodall Dairy Rd.). Go to stop sign and turn right on Raleigh Rd. Go to stop sign and turn right on Hwy. 301. Turn left on Hannah Creek Rd in front of South Johnston High School. Go approx. 2 miles and turn right on Allens Crossroads Rd. Lake will be about 0.5 mile on the left. Tucker Lake BensonTucker Lake, Benson, NC
  51. Seagrove Pottery in Randolph County is an outstanding gallery of handcrafted North Carolina pottery and crafts in Seagrove and Cary North Carolina. Handcrafted in North Carolina the selections include decorative pottery, bake ware, home décor. In Seagrove, NC: 106 North Broad Street. Seagrove, NC 27341. 336-873-7280. Jug Pottery SeagroveJug Pottery Two SeagrovePottery from Seagrove Pottery, Randolph County, NC
  52. Botanist and Barrel Cidery in Cedar Grove crafts artisanal ciders that stretch the imagination and taste buds.
  53. August 1, 2020: Join Botanist and Barrel from 2 pm - 6 pm as they welcome Meal Smith to the Tasting Room .Mealsmith at Botanist and Barrel Cedar GroveMealsmith at Botanist and Barrel, Cedar Grove, NC
  54. August 2, 2020: Join Botanist and Barrel from 1 pm - 5 pm as they welcome Street Fair Food Truck (Mardi Gras Eats). They feature Mardi Gras themed foods, like bourbon street beignets and French quarter crepes. They aim to satisfy and delight our customers by offering a place where they can celebrate fresh local foods and get a taste of Carnival as every day is Mardi Gras at Street Fare!
  55. August 29, 2020: Join Botanist and Barrel for a Cilantro tasting event featuring cilantro Mexican cuisine in the tasting room. Grab some nachos and tacos and flight of cider! For more information about ciders, the Tasting Room and summer celebrations, visit: https://www.botanistandbarrel.comCilantro Mexican cuisine at Botanist and Barrel