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Navigating the Carolinas: So much to do, so close to home

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Chris Hoyler
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
More than 500 public events each year, 55 parks, 17 golf courses and nine museums.
For an area with so much emphasis on the military, the Fayetteville area sure does have a lot of attractions for tourism. 

So, while it's great to navigate the rest of North Carolina throughout this summer, it might be best to see your local town first, because it probably will take a weekend, or two, or three. 

Fayetteville is proud of its heritage as "America's Hometown," having a part in defending U.S. freedom in every major conflict from the Revolutionary War to today's Global War on Terrorism. 

A great deal of the history is brought to life every day here, with the Civil War's Averasboro Battlefield open to the public on Highway 82 in Dunn. It includes the battlefield museum, battle grounds and a Confederate cemetery. 

The city of Fayetteville received its name from Marquis de Lafayette, a major general on George Washington's staff and a hero in the Revolutionary War. He is memorialized at Cross Creek Park in downtown Fayetteville with a statue, and a collection of his letters, books and artifacts are on display at the Davis Memorial Library at Methodist University on Ramsey Street. 

Two of the must-see museums reside in downtown Fayetteville, but are extremely different in what they offer. 

The Fascinate-U Children's Museum, located on Green Street,has an interactive environment that is geared toward children. The museum is designed as a small city, and children can role play with exhibits that place them as dentists, firefighters, court judges and TV weather anchors. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, and admission is $3 for a child an $1 for an adult. 

On the more serious, and military, side is the Airborne and Special Operations Museum downtown at the corner of Hay Street and Bragg Boulevard. 

Also open Tuesday through Sunday, admission to the ASOM is free, though tickets for the movie theatre and motion simulator, which bring to life the airborne and special operations world, are $4 each but $7 if you buy tickets for both. The exhibits at the museum range from early airborne operations in the mid-20th century to the most recent technological advances and contributions to the Global War on Terrorism. 

If you want to get away from the military and history of the Fayetteville area, there are many outdoor activities. Right here at Fort Bragg there are more than 10 lakes open to the public, including 3 with 45 or more acres for boating. 

There are 85 acres of landscape overlooking Cross Creek and the Cape Fear River at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden, located just outside of downtown Fayetteville on North Eastern Boulevard on Highway 301. 

A very popular site for weddings, the garden is open year-round with varying operating hours, though it is currently open until mid-December seven days a week, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. 

There are several different walking trails at the garden, which caters to all parties with educational workshops for adults and children, though reservations are either required or encouraged. 

Walking, especially in Fayetteville's summer weather, is usually enough to work up a good sweat, but if you want something more active, head out to any of the a golf courses or lighted hard tennis courts in the area at Terry Sanford High School, Tokay Park or Massey Hill Park. There are also six courts on Normandy Drive at the Fort Bragg Tennis Club. 

Indoor recreation includes one of the premier skate parks in the nation on Blount Street, with 45,000 square feet for skateboarders and in-line skaters. 

If you manage to make it through all the daytime activities, the Haymount District in downtown Fayetteville has a revitalized nightlife scene, and in the Fayetteville area there more than 45 nightlife options and 500 restaurants. The most popular area for the younger crowds is Haymount, including a recently renovated Huske Hardware House and the new Docks at the Capitol, a game center/restaurant similar to the popular Dave & Buster's chain. 

For more information on what to do in your own backyard, visit the Fayetteville Area Convention and Tourism Bureau Website at