Summer doesn’t have to end in Halifax County, North Carolina. Make your plans now to play on the water until late October. Straddling the border between North Carolina’s Halifax County and Virginia’s Brunswick County lies Lake Gaston, a premier destination for all types of watersports. With its glassy conditions, Lake Gaston is the perfect place to try waterskiing, wakesurfing, wakeboarding, and jet skiing. While these adrenaline-pumping sports might seem difficult at first, you’ll get the hang of them quickly! Local Wakesurfing champion Jay Baker says, “Wakesurfing on Lake Gaston is great until late October. You have the lake to yourself, and the water is like glass”. Book your Wakesurfing lessons now at www.wakesurfnc.com
If you’d prefer to try a calmer watersport while out on the Lake, Lake Gaston Outfitters rents kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding gear. Regardless of which watersport you choose, you’ll have a fantastic time at this picture-perfect Lake. You will enjoy the magical views from the water of the changing leaves.
After spending time out on and around Lake Gaston, you’ll never want to leave. Luckily for you, you can make that dream become a reality, at least for the duration of your time in Halifax County. You can book a hotel room in Roanoke Rapids or Weldon or, you can spend a few nights at an accommodation right on Lake Gaston! The staff at Visit Halifax has curated a few local vacation rentals around southeast Lake Gaston. Plan your accommodations at www.visithalifax.com/lkg. By staying in Halifax County, you will be close to the Lake and close to the many other attractions in the area.
While Lake Gaston is ideal for watersports that require calm, flat waters, the Roanoke River is great for activities that thrive with a bit of a current. The most popular Roanoke River watersports are canoeing and kayaking. Within the Roanoke River Basin, there are actually over 140 miles of water trails for you to paddle along, so you’ll want to dedicate an entire day to seeing everything this river has to offer. If you keep your eyes open and your arms pumping, you’ll be able to see tree tunnels, river otters, white-tailed deer, beavers, black bears, and more. Plan to start your trip in Weldon, North Carolina, and enjoy the views of the rapids of the Roanoke River at Weldon’s River Falls Park. There is also a world-class distillery on the banks of the Roanoke, Weldon Mills Distillery.
Weldon Mills Distillery produces fine spirits such as bourbon, whiskey, vodka, gin, and other flavors. With two locations on the Roanoke River, Weldon Mills offers both a Distillery open to the public and a Historic Corn Mill serving as a perfect venue for any event from weddings to corporate outings. They are conveniently located less than 2 miles off I-95 in Weldon, NC, and offer daily distillery tours, tastings, bottle sales, and drink service.
Other adventures to explore in the area lovingly called North Carolina’s Backyard are Medoc Mountain State Park. Serenity seems to pervade Medoc Mountain State Park, enhanced by gentle Fishing Creek and a scenic open meadow that spreads from the picnic grounds. Anglers and paddlers are drawn to Fishing Creek—considered to be one of the cleanest streams in the region—that flows for about 2.5 miles through the park. Some of the park’s ten miles of hiking trails wander along the creek; others climb several hundred feet to the upper reaches of Medoc Mountain. Roughly ten miles of bridle trails and trailhead parking serve equestrians. The 34-site campground has RV-friendly sites and a bathhouse, and warm-weather group camp facilities are nearby. Rangers offer free interpretive programs and hikes.
If you want a little more history with your adventure, consider the Roanoke Canal Trail and Museum. Lovingly called “North Carolina’s longest museum.” Enjoy the two-level museum that utilizes traditional and interactive exhibits to explain how the original canal was built and turned the Roanoke River into a superhighway of commerce during the early 19th century. The canal was transformed from a trade route into a hydroelectric power resource just over a century ago before becoming what it is today.
Along the entire 7.5-mile length of the trail that follows the former Roanoke Navigation and Power Canal, you will see some of the most impressive and best-preserved early 19th-century canal construction in the nation, including hand-hewn stone culvert, power canal bulkhead, locks, and an aqueduct that spans 35- feet in a single arch. It’s one of the most remarkable engineering feats of the 18th century.
Today the trail offers a free bike lending program as another way to explore! Pick up a bike at the Roanoke Canal Museum or Riverside Mill in Weldon.
No trip to northeastern North Carolina is complete without a visit to the Birthplace of Independence. Historic Halifax State Historic Site takes you back in time to April 12, 1776. This is the date commemorated on the North Carolina flag, which signifies the Fourth Provincial Congress’s adoption of the Halifax Resolves, the first official action for independence by any colony.
Here you can experience the lifestyle of those early revolutionaries. The Visitor Center offers an audiovisual presentation, exhibits, guided tours, and displays depicting the town’s history. Several historic structures are open on the site, including the Sally Billy House (1808), the Burgess House (1808), the Halifax County Jail (1838), the Tap Room (1760) & Eagle Tavern (1790), the Owens House (1760), Clerks Office (1832) and more. The Montfort House, an archaeological exhibit over original foundations, portrays the lifestyle of this wealthy Halifax resident, the first and only Provincial Grand Master Mason of North America.
Sylvan Heights Bird Park in Scotland Neck is on everyone’s North Carolina Bucket List. Discover the world’s most extensive collection of rare and endangered waterfowl. Sylvan Heights allows visitors to see over 2,500 birds from around the globe, from ducks, geese, and swans, to parrots, pheasants, cranes, owls, toucans, flamingos, and much more.
Visitors of all ages and interests can walk through continentally-themed aviaries, experiencing the diverse beauty, color, and sound of these creatures. For an even more interactive experience, guests can feed parakeets and flamingos in the park’s Landing Zone exhibit. An amazing handicapped-accessible treehouse overlooks the natural wetlands, and the Beaver Pond Blind allows visitors to get closer to North Carolina’s native wildlife. We offer regularly scheduled educational programming and special events. Tours are self-guided, but guided tours are also available by appointment.
The beauty of traveling is that it gives you the chance to try many new things, and food is no exception. North Carolina is, of course, known for barbecue, and there are two types: Eastern and Piedmont. Eastern (the best) is what you will find in Halifax County. Plan your trip around tastings at Grandpas Kitchen, Ralph’s Barbecue, The Hen & The Hog, and Abrams. You’ll see pimento cheese on a lot of menus, as well. Of course, there is much more to the local cuisine. Pass on the chain restaurants and try something new. In Halifax County, you have a variety of options to please your palate.
For more information or help planning your Autumn on the Lake, go to www.visithalifax.com or call 800-522-4282, where the friendly staff at the Halifax County Visitor Center will get you “out on the lake”!