Your Weekend: It’s the most wonderful time of the year


The week after Thanksgiving, for some reason, is always a tough one to push through. Even more the reason we are so grateful that the holiday season is providing us a plethora of options to get out for what’s going to be another beautiful weekend.


Navigating Bear Island
Navigating Bear Island

December, when neighbors become a little more chatty, trees go up, houses become swathed in creative light designs. While all this excitement is in the air don’t forget to continue exploring, lest the stress of the season catch up to you.

One way to de-stress this weekend is on one of the numerous boat rides taking place at Hammocks Beach State Park. Whichever day works best for you — Friday, Saturday or Sunday — you’ll be able to enjoy a boat ride. Travel over to one of the unique islands of Hammock Beach and learn from one of the park rangers first hand what has shaped the area’s marine life, habitats and different ecosystems.

Logistics: Huggins Island History Hike, Friday, 10 a.m. to noon; Jones Island Eco-Tour, Saturday, 10 a.m. to noon; Bear Island Eco-Hike, Sunday, 10 a.m. to noon. All at Hammocks Beach State Park, Swansboro. Find out more, here.

Weekend weather: Highs in the 50s all three days, sunny on Friday, a little less sunny Saturday, downright cloudy Sunday.

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Looking ahead: Nature on the Queens, Dec. 7, 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., Hammocks Beach State Park. More info, here.


Hagan Stone Park
Hagan Stone Park

Can a park be all things to all people? Hagan-Stone, just southeast of Greensboro, gives it a heck of a shot. And you’ll get to see so much of what this park has to offer – from playgrounds and camping to fishing and general natural beauty — on this hike that piggybacks on one of the most popular high school and college cross-country courses in the region. The hike is an easy way to get in four miles and offers beauty everywhere along the way.

Logistics: GetHiking! / Hike NC! at Hagan-Stone Park, Saturday, 1 p.m., Hagan-Stone Park, Pleasant Garden. Find out more, here.

Saturday forecast: Partly cloudy, high of 53.

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Looking ahead: Holiday Hike and Baked Goods Jamboree, Sycamore Trail at Umstead State Park, Raleigh. Dec. 10, 10 a.m., 7.2 miles. More info, here.


It’s a time of year where the curiosity of our young ones seems to be at its peak: they have questions and we do our best not to take the magic away! Helping with this is the Santa on the Chimney — Chimney Rock State Park that is.

Besides, haven’t you wondered as well how Santa magically gets up and down millions of chimneys around the world, all in just one night? Included in the admission to Chimney Rock you and your family can enjoy the magic of the holidays as you watch Santa practice climbing one of the world largest “chimneys,” with multiple 200-foot rappels. Live music and hot chocolate, too.

Logistics: Santa on the Chimney, Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Chimney Rock State Park, Chimney Rock. $13 for adults, $6 for kids. Find out more, here.

Sunday forecast: Partly Cloudy, high of 52.

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Looking ahead: Instant Replay: Santa on the Chimney, Dec. 10, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Find out more, here.

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Those are our thoughts on the weekend. Find more options at the sources listed below. 

Comprehensive calendar for the Cape Fear/Wilmington/southern N.C. coast searchable by date and event name.

Coastal Guide
Comprehensive calendar including nature programs from a variety of coastal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs. Covers the entire coast.

Crystal Cost Tourism Authority
Comprehensive calendar focusing on the Crystal Coast. Good source for programs offered by N.C. Coastal Federation, Cape Lookout National Park, N.C. National Estuarine Research Reserve and other costal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs.
Comprehensive calendar including programs for the Outer Banks and Crystal Coast.

North Carolina Coast Host
Comprehensive calendar for the entire coast that lets you search for events by day, by region, by county, by city or by event (based on key word).

This Week Magazine
Primary focus is the Crystal Coast (North Carolina’s coastal midsection).


Asheville Citizen-Times
From the main page, click on “Outdoors,” then WNC Outdoors calendar.

Blue Ridge Outdoors
Searchable calendar lets you extend your reach to events throughout the mid-Atlantic and Southeast (or you can just limit it to North Carolina). Also lets you search a boatload of categories, ranging from Hiking, Mountain Biking and Climbing to Trail Running, Triathlon and Road Walking.

The Mountain Times
From the main page, click on “Calendars,” then Main Events.

Todd’s Calendar



Charlotte Observer events calendar
Comprehensive calendar searchable by category, including Nature, Recreation, Recreation & Wellness, Running

Charlotte Parent
Comprehensive calendar concentrating on things the family can do together.

Comprehensive calendar includes a Sports & Recreation category.

Piedmont Parent
Comprehensive calendar concentrating on things the family can do together.

Comprehensive calendar searchable by category, including: Birding, Boating, Cycling, Nature, Rec & Wellness, Recreation, Running, Swimming, Tennis, Yoga.

Carolina Parent
Comprehensive calendar concentrating on things the family can do together.


Great Outdoor Provision Co. 
Calendar includes three weekly events for each of its seven markets: Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Greensboro, Greenville, Raleigh, Wilmington and Winston-Salem. Search by market.

Office of Environmental Education
One calendar for the numerous Environmental Education Centers statewide.

North Carolina State Parks
Lets you search for programs at the state’s parks, recreation areas and natural areas by location, by month, by topic. To reach the calendar from the home page, click on “Education,” then “Fun & Free Programs at Parks.”

National Forests in North Carolina
From the home page, click on Carolina Connections for news updates on the state’s four national forests as well as hints on recreational opportunities and a detailed rundown of recreation areas and the amenities at each.

U.S. National Wildlife Refuges
Rundown, by month, of regular activities at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service refuges in North Carolina.

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