As the weather warms and kids are preparing for summer break it’s a great time to start planning a visit to one or more of North Carolina’s amazing state parks. While it’s always a great time exploring, hiking, kayaking and playing in our state’s amazing landscapes, finishing off with great local food and drink is the ultimate NC experience.
Recently Our State Magazine published a list of excellent eateries to hit after your day at a park:
In the West:
Chimney Rock State Park — Hickory Nut Gorge Brewery
Enjoy a view of the French Broad River after your Chimney Rock hike at this brewery that offers unique beers inspired by the landscape. After you order the River Otter IPA (named after the family of fuzzy visitors who frequently play in the currents, of course) be sure to get a platter of their crispy fish and chips.
New River State Park — The Bluffs
As the first restaurant on the Blue Ridge Parkway, this spot was a staple for hungry hikers, motorists, and families for more than 60 years before it closed. Now, it’s serving up delicious dishes once again. After working up an appetite by walking the Riverbend Trail, be sure to order some fried chicken, sweet tea, and cathead biscuits.
Grandfather Mountain State Park — Banner Elk Cafe and Lodge
Stop for a meal at the Banner Elk Café after taking in the beautiful views on Grandfather Mountain’s Mile-High Swinging Bridge. Fill up on the Mountain Man breakfast: two pancakes large enough to fill a plate by themselves, two eggs, crispy bacon, and heavenly cheese grits.
Down the middle:
Lake Norman State Park — Julia’s Talley House
Step onto the porch of this gray clapboard house and you’ll feel like you’re home for dinner. There’s always fried chicken to pass around family-style or in the cafeteria-style buffet line — perfect for a comforting post-hike meal.
Eno River State Park — Durham Food Hall
Can’t agree on where to eat after your hike by the river? Head to the nearby Durham Food Hall, which is home to a diverse mix of dining and drink concepts. Order roasted oysters from Locals Oyster Bar, Louisiana red beans and rice from Lula & Sadie’s, or Margherita pizza at Napoli. For a nightcap, try Riggs Lounge or the Auctioneer Bar.
William B. Umstead State Park — Sunny’s Diner
After venturing out on some of 5,600-acre William B. Umstead State Park’s trails, head half-a-mile away to fill up on eggs, country ham, bacon, and pancakes at this traditional diner.
At the shore:
Fort Macon State Park — Crystal Coast Brewing Company
After an early morning walk around Fort Macon, head to this taproom at 10:30 a.m. for a restorative yoga session followed by a beer or a mimosa. We like the Breakwater Coffee Brown Ale — you can call it breakfast.
Carolina Beach State Park — Britts Donut Shop
Top off a morning spent fishing and exploring with legendary homemade glazed doughnuts that have earned local and national accolades. It’s no surprise that lines extend down the Carolina Beach Boardwalk from the moment the iconic shop opens full-time on Memorial Day.
Jockey’s Ridge State Park — Food Dudes Kitchen
With Jockey’s Ridge State Park, Nags Head Woods Preserve, Run Hill State Natural Area, and the Wright Brothers National Memorial all within a four-mile radius, adventure is never far from this Caribbean- and Mexican-inspired restaurant. The laid-back atmosphere draws hikers, surfers, and beachgoers for fish tacos, jerk chicken wraps, and homemade desserts.
Read more at: Our State Magazine