About 20 miles from Great Wolf Lodge you will find the town of Midland. Be sure to call it /MID’LAND/ and not /MID’lan/. Midland is special for the two great resources it holds. First, it is home to the first documented discovery of gold in the US. Second, it is home to a fabulous winery, with spectacular blends and a beautiful trail. So take a break from GWL and find your way to Midland, NC with the kids, just outside of Charlotte, NC.
Gold Mining in North Carolina: Reed Gold Mine
Reed Gold Mine is the site of the first documented gold find in the US, discovered by a 12-year-old boy. Today, this state Historic Site is the only underground gold mine in North Carolina open to the public.
During its peak years gold mining was second only to farming in the number of North Carolinians it employed. The estimated value of gold recovered reached over one million dollars a year. North Carolina led the nation in gold production until 1848, when it was eclipsed by the great rush to California.
We opted for the self-guided tour, which the boys were very excited about. Guess what?! It’s FREE! We entered through the Visitor Center to pick up a map, tour the museum with historical gold mining equipment and see a short film about the first gold discovery. The tour took us through an underground mine – we loved how the cold temps reached us from the opening even before we went inside! After the mineshaft section, we walked the grounds, seeing more of the large mining operation that once thrived there. We even crossed the very stream where the original gold was found!
Kids will enjoy panning for gold April-October. While admission is free, panning is $3 per pan.
Wineries in North Carolina: Rocky River Vineyards
Only four miles down the road from Reed Gold Mine you’ll find one of North Carolina’s other great resources: wine! Rocky River Vineyard. Sitting on 45 acres, they have been growing muscadine grapes since 2003.
We first visited the tasting room, where they set us up at a table for four. The boys were given non-alcoholic slushies and some crackers while hubby and I enjoyed a tasting. We loved the wine so much that we left with SEVEN BOTTLES!
We especially enjoyed the wine slushies, which came in three flavors. I picked a blueberry pomegranate with red wine while hubs had the peach slushie with a white wine. We took them “to go” in HUGE insulated mason jars as we strolled the estate. The boys also brought their slushies (sans the wine.)
We walked the 1.5-mile trail past the beautiful barn and rows of grapes. The self-guided tour took us into the adjacent forest, crossing a creek and bridge, finally winding our way back to the tasting room. By then our mason jars were empty and our purchases packaged, and we safely headed back to Great Wolf Lodge.
Rocky River Vineyards is a great stop with the kids (or without!) They can enjoy a slushie with you and take to the trails once your tasting is finished!
Disclosure: Thank you to Cabarrus CVB for picking up the tab on our wine tasting, but mostly thanks to them for telling us about these cool places! We were very excited to share them with you!
After 18 years in software development, Lesli bailed on the corporate scene. When she’s not traveling, she’s hiking in the mountains or checking out Atlanta’s culinary scene, whiskey in hand.
Lesli has two kiddos -Cooper and Elliot- plus two bonus kids currently at UGA, and she’s happily married to her soul mate.