The sun is warming the late October air as we climb into our kayaks just after noon. It's October 30, and the blue skies and temps close to 80 degrees tell us we made a good choice for a fall getaway to visit family in Carrboro, North Carolina.
Ryan and Kelly, who blog, tweet, vlog and do the Facebook and Instagram thing as Watch Us Wander, are hosting us in and around the town they moved to just over a year ago. They have told us how much they are enjoying life in Carrboro, and we are excited to see it for ourselves. Carrboro, which is right at the edge of Chapel Hill in the heart of the Research Triangle region of North Carolina, is a rising hot spot for travelers and people looking to settle down in a new place and get away from hectic and stressful city life. In fact, that is what attracted Ryan and Kelly to move to Carrboro from Chicago.
Carrboro is a town of 20,000 located about 30 minutes from the Raleigh-Durham International Airport. The town is progressive and vibrant. It has a history dating to 1882 when it was born as a mill town and railroad depot. Today, it's known as one of the top art towns in America and for hosting the annual Carrboro Music Festival and a weekly Carrboro Farmers Market.
I knew we would be able to do some of my favorite things there, like get outdoors, try new beers and, of course, crush some of that famous Carolina barbecue. Add that to the chance to hang with our family, and we had the perfect recipe for an awesome 48 hours in Carrboro.
Check out our best things to do in Carrboro.
Go For a Hike: We headed out to the Johnston Mill Nature Preserve for a day hike. The forested area offers a variety of well-maintained trails that lead across creeks and through meadows. On our two-hour walk, we spotted dozens of squirrels and birds. We also had fun scrambling around on fallen trees and massive knobby roots during the hike. You can find dozens of hikes of varying lengths and difficulties in the Chapel Hill area, and the weather is ideal for getting out almost year-round.
Paddle Jordan Lake: The Triangle area is filled with state and county parks, natural areas and hiking trails. You also can play on waterways like Haw River and Eno River for canoeing and rafting. Prefer boating, swimming, picnics and kayaking and paddleboarding? Head to Falls Lake or Jordan Lake. During our visit, Ryan and Kelly took us out for an afternoon of kayaking under sunny skies at Jordan Lake. The Jordan Lake State Recreation Area is an undeveloped 14,000-acre reservoir that provides most of the residential drinking water in the region. You can camp, hike and go boating here. We rented kayaks and paddled out into the waters, which were calm on our Sunday in late October. It's a good place to spot bald eagles, and we saw turtles, osprey and hawks as we worked up an appetite for our beers and barbecue. Now, you see how this cycle works.
Chow Down on Barbecue: If you ever spend time in North Carolina -- I mean, if you spend at least enough time to need a meal -- you have to get some of the famous Carolina barbecue. The succulent and tender pork shoulder, ribs, chicken or turkey -- marinated in a thin vinegar sauce and blends of spices and peppers -- is an absolute treat and staple of the North Carolina experience. You can find dozens of barbecue joints in the region. We headed to Hillsborough Barbecue for lunch and also heard rave reviews about Allen and Son in Pittsboro and CrossTies Barbecue on Main Street in Carrboro, a cool spot right on the train tracks in a historic depot facility.
Thanks for reading,