20 Best Things to Do in Wayne County, NC

Wayne County NC

Welcome to the heart of North Carolina, a land brimming with history, pulsating with vibrant culture, and overflowing with heartwarming hospitality.

In this comprehensive guide, we've melded insights from locals and travelers to present you with a mosaic of experiences that define this remarkable place. While we've highlighted some must-visit spots, it's imperative to understand that these recommendations are shaped by personal opinions and experiences.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the following individuals for their invaluable contributions to this article: Noemi Dunlap, Sean Simmons, Ray Collins, Carol Bartee, Linda Swatzell, Danny Hang and Larry Dilworth.

Hike the Cliffs of the Neuse State Park

A lake at Cliffs of Neuse State Park
Fredlyfish4, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Can you recall a place that just wraps you up in its serenity? For me, that place is the Cliffs of the Neuse State Park.

Since I was young, the park has been my go-to escape, a refuge from the bustle of daily life.

The park's cleanliness has been consistently impressive.

From the well-maintained facilities to the immaculate trails, it's clear that preserving the park's beauty is a priority.

One might assume that after spending so much time here, the intrigue might fade.

But I've found the opposite to be true.

Every visit reveals a new secret, a fresh perspective.

The trails, which are effortlessly easy to navigate, unfurl along the enchanting Neuse River, offering breathtaking views at every turn.

Regardless of the number of times I've traversed these trails, they never cease to inspire awe.

The park isn't just about solitude, though. It also offers an array of activities, from camping to fishing.

Spanish moss trail at Cliffs of Neuse State Park
Fredlyfish4, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

On one occasion, our local Trail Life group decided to camp there.

The group camping area provided easy access to the trails, and the bathroom facilities were sufficiently adequate for our unimproved camping site.

And then, there was the river - always close by and always stunning, regardless of the season or weather.

For those who love to swim, there's a small but charming swimming area that, over the years, has become one of my favorite spots.

A cliff at Cliffs of Neuse State Park
Fredlyfish4, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Sample the Wines of A Secret Garden Winery

There's something magical about the taste of homegrown wine, and at A Secret Garden Winery, that magic is bottled up with all the warmth and hospitality this quaint little family-owned establishment has to offer.

From my first visit, it was clear to me that this was more than just a winery.

It's where the craft of wine-making meets the charm of Southern hospitality.

Walking in, I was greeted by the owner, a lovely and welcoming individual who passionately explained the process of how their wines are crafted.

All their wines are muscadine-based, a true testament to our local wine heritage.

The Golden Harvest, their dry muscadine wine, particularly stood out for me.

It was an exquisite fusion of flavor and tradition that left me hankering for more.

But what sets A Secret Garden Winery apart is the unique range of fruit-infused wines on offer.

The strawberry wine, in particular, has a unique allure that you just can't resist.

As someone with a fondness for strawberries, it was a delightful surprise to find that they had somehow managed to capture the essence of the fruit and blend it perfectly with their muscadine base.

What's more, the winery also offers RV hookups, making it a perfect pit-stop for those traveling up and down I-95.

I've seen many families enjoy their stay under the stars, savoring the tranquility that the vineyard offers.

Besides the wine, the local unfiltered honey and homemade jam are the perfect souvenirs to take back from your visit.

Solve Puzzles at Downtown Escapes

I've always been one who loves a thrill, and Downtown Escapes was no exception to that.

Just last month, I decided to test my wits and have some fun with my friends at this unique location.

Let me tell you, it was an experience like no other!

The moment we walked in, the atmosphere was electric - you could almost feel the challenge in the air.

Their games demand you to think creatively and work together, pushing us to brainstorm like never before.

It's not just some dull puzzle or board game; it's an involving, hands-on adventure that puts your cognitive skills to the test!

During our visit, we decided to try out the Decipher room.

We were told there'd be blindfolds and handcuffs involved, which initially gave me some jitters.

But the suspense was part of the fun!

The blindfolds only lasted a few minutes, and then the real game began.

Solving puzzles, deciphering codes, and racing against the clock - it was an exhilarating ride from start to finish.

Downtown Escapes is not just for adults - it's a fantastic spot for kids to learn and have fun too.

It brings out their inquisitive nature, helps them develop cognitive skills, and teaches them the importance of teamwork.

I think it's an excellent idea for field trips or group activities.

Grab a Pint at Well Travelled Beer

You wouldn't believe it, but the best beer selection in town is tucked away in a quaint corner of our city - Well Travelled Beer.

Now, let me tell you, as someone who takes their brews seriously, this place is a treasure trove.

There's nothing quite like finding a rare beer you've been hunting for ages, and this place makes it happen.

I remember this one time, the friendly chap at the counter even threw in some collectible cups with my purchase. Now, how cool is that!

But Well Travelled Beer isn't just about the drinks.

The environment is unlike any other - easygoing, friendly, almost as if you're at your best buddy's place.

And did I mention the nightly food trucks? Yep, you heard right!

Just when you think it can't get any better, they surprise you.

It's not just about coming in for a drink, you can also grab some grub from varying food trucks that pull up each evening.

They also have an impressive wine selection.

One evening, I was searching for a specific brand that was hard to get.

They didn't have it, but they offered me a taste of a similar one, and boy, was I impressed! I ended up walking out with two bottles.

The prices, you ask? Very reasonable.

Hit the Target at ENC Firing Range

I felt the tense anticipation in the air as I pulled into the parking lot of ENC Firing Range.

The sun was just starting to set, painting the sky with shades of pink and orange, providing a stark contrast to the serious activity that was about to take place.

Entering the facility, I was promptly greeted by a range safety officer.

I was reminded that while we are in an open carry state with concealed carry permits, the range’s rules prioritize safety above all.

Loaded firearms were only permitted on the firing line or designated firing points in the open training bays.

As I prepared to fire my first round, the reality of the officer’s meticulous safety checks hit home.

I had heard stories about loaded weapons accidentally being pointed at safety officers during check-in.

The seriousness of these incidents made me appreciate the safety measures even more.

Later, I overheard a conversation about the range's policy on illegal weapons.

The staff at The ENC Firing Range explained that as a private business, they have the right to set their rules, which included asking for documentation as a mere form of visual inspection.

They reassured that no copies were made, but this was necessary to prevent the range from gaining a reputation for allowing illegal weapons.

On the firing line, the atmosphere was intense but also remarkably friendly.

Everyone was there with a common purpose - to enjoy their time while being responsible and respectful of others.

I spent the evening firing rounds through my AR-15 and teaching my daughter how to operate her new pistol.

Unleash Your Creativity at Wine & Design

There's nothing quite as unique and delightful as the experience I had at Wine & Design.

You know, it's one of those places that you stumble upon, and you're just thrilled you did.

This spot has quickly become a regular haunt for me, and it's easy to see why.

Their kids' art camp is something special to behold.

I took my children there, and seeing them express their creativity in such a warm and accepting environment was truly heartwarming.

As a parent, you’re always looking for opportunities to let your kids spread their wings, and this place is the perfect hub for that.

The staff - oh, they're the sweetest you'll come across!

They made my kids feel right at home.

But it’s not just about the kids.

I’ve also had my fair share of fun here.

Wine & Design is not just an art studio; it's a social gathering spot that brings people together through the joy of painting while sipping on some fine wine.

I still remember the first time I gave this a try - it was a hoot!

The atmosphere was vibrant, and the whole experience was simply unforgettable.

Explore the Life of a US Governor at Charles B Aycock Birthplace

Exterior of Charles B Aycock Birthplace
Jeffrey M. Frank / Shutterstock.com

Visiting Charles B Aycock Birthplace has been a delightful journey through time.

I don’t just passively visit the place, I actually get to live and experience history.

The staff are enthusiastic individuals brimming with knowledge who make history fun and engaging.

The place is not just an exhibit of artifacts and old buildings, it's more of a living history.

The hands-on activities are a major highlight.

They make you feel like you're part of the narrative, living the life of those times.

It's incredibly fascinating how they've managed to preserve the past so intricately, providing a tangible link to our heritage.

On top of all this, the staff always seems eager to share information about the property and the era it represents.

Their passion for history is infectious.

The interactive approach to teaching history helps me and the young ones in the family to understand and appreciate the past.

Charles B Aycock Birthplace also features animals, which the kids absolutely love.

They're a welcome addition and make the place feel lively.

It’s a great spot to take the kids for an educational yet fun day out.

Meet Local Artists at the Arts Council of Wayne County

Trust me, there's nothing quite like the Arts Council of Wayne County.

The classes they offer are simply extraordinary, and they cater to all ages.

I've taken a few myself and whether I was with friends or flying solo, I always had a blast!

They constantly post updates online about upcoming events that you just don't want to miss out on.

But it's not just the classes that make this place amazing.

The Arts Council of Wayne County regularly hosts events and parties that are always buzzing with excitement.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to get on their email list.

Every time I attend one of their art show openings or open mike nights, I am left in awe of the talent within our community.

And it's not just at the Council office itself.

They also hold events in various places across Wayne County, like Herman Park.

It feels like the entire county is a canvas, and we are the artists painting it with our creativity.

Perhaps the thing I love the most about the council is the sheer liveliness of it.

It's hands down one of the most active local arts organizations I've ever come across.

I visit this downtown Goldsboro gem as often as I can.

I strongly urge everyone to do the same.

My all-time favorite events have to be the spoon ring making and origami.

It's just something about folding a piece of paper or bending a metal spoon into something beautiful that fills my heart with joy.

Stroll through Local History at Waynesborough Historical Village

There's nothing like a leisurely walk through Waynesborough Historical Village on a cool October Sunday.

The air was crisp and the leaves changing colors provided a breathtaking backdrop to this interesting journey back in time.

The Visitor Center had an interesting display.

There is a unique charm in walking around a village that has preserved the look and feel of a bygone era, even if it was not as interactive as I had hoped.

This historical village holds so much potential.

It could be a wonderful and informative experience for visitors.

The historical and cultural value of Waynesborough Historical Village is immense.

I hope the authorities take note and work towards making this a more engaging and enriching experience for all.

For now, I'm looking forward to my next visit and hoping to see the locked buildings open to the public, with enthusiastic guides ready to share their stories.

Despite some of the shortcomings, I am still drawn to the tranquil beauty and historical charm of Waynesborough Historical Village.

Feel the Off-road Thrills at Busco Beach and ATV Park

Let me tell you about my personal playground, the Busco Beach and ATV Park. It's an adrenaline-filled world of outdoor adventure that never sleeps.

Day or night, I can fire up my ATV and speed off into a labyrinth of trails designed for the thrill-seeker in all of us.

One of my favorite things about Busco is its sheer size.

There are endless areas to explore, from forests to mud pits and even a man-made beach.

It's not just about the thrill of riding; it's also about the joy of discovery.

And when it comes to riding, Busco caters for all types.

Whether you're an experienced mud bogger or a rookie rider, there's a trail to match your skill level.

What's a day of riding without good fun with family and friends?

Busco Beach is our favorite gathering spot.

After a day of mud-bogging and trail riding, nothing beats kicking back at the beach, sharing stories, and laughing at each other's muddy mishaps.

Camping at Busco Beach and ATV Park is also top-notch.

There's an array of spots to set up camp, each offering a unique view of the park.

The staff there are always friendly and ready to lend a hand.

And for those last-minute needs, they even have an ATM at the main office, along with some cool t-shirts and other goodies.

But what makes Busco truly stand out are those heart-pumping, mud-splattering bogs.

They can get extreme, which is part of the fun.

Relax at the Benches of Herman Park

I absolutely love spending my weekends at Herman Park.

Its calmness and serenity provide the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

On any given day, you'll find me seated on one of the park benches, just soaking in the beautiful natural scenery.

There's a playground, which, although could do with some updated equipment, still provides plenty of fun for the kids.

I often take my nieces and nephews there.

They particularly love the little train ride that goes around the park.

It’s a fun experience for them, and they always look forward to it.

In addition to that, there are sidewalk games that bring out the competitive side in us.

We often engage in friendly matches, and it's always a great time.

On one particular afternoon, we were lucky enough to come across a band practicing.

They were absolutely amazing, and we ended up staying longer just to enjoy the music.

Herman Park staff are always so friendly and helpful.

They contribute to making the park experience enjoyable.

Experience the Thrill of Wings Over Wayne Air Show

People at Wings Over Wayne Air Show
Chansak Joe / Shutterstock.com

Living right next to the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, I've been fortunate enough to witness some of the most spectacular air shows in the country.

In fact, the Wings Over Wayne Air Show is an event that I look forward to every year.

Just last year, I decided to get there early, knowing how quickly it gets crowded. And boy, was it worth it!

The breathtaking stunts, the raw power of the jets, and the precision of the pilots left me in awe.

It was an amazing sight to see and an equally proud moment for me to witness the force and power of the United States Air Force right in my neighborhood.

One standout experience was in 2019 when I attended the show with my local scout troop.

The exhibition was spectacular, and the air show was nothing short of amazing.

Planes during the Wings Over Wayne Air Show
Chansak Joe / Shutterstock.com

The way the organizers at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base managed to move a large number of people in and out safely was highly commendable.

It was then that I truly appreciated the people behind the scenes who make such grand events possible.

Another memorable experience was the airshow on May 20, 2023.

The airmen on base were so friendly and helpful, making the event even more delightful.

It was a fantastic show, very well organized, and left everyone in attendance, including me, thoroughly impressed.

Aircrafts formation during the Wings Over Wayne Air Show
Chansak Joe / Shutterstock.com

Discover the County's History at Wayne County Museum

You'd think after living here all my life, I'd know everything there is to know about Wayne County.

Well, let me tell you, a visit to the Wayne County Museum proved me wrong.

It was a Saturday trip, my usual day to explore local spots, and as usual, I was not disappointed.

The museum makes you feel like a tourist in your own town, uncovering layers of history you never knew existed.

They explained all about the local history, making the story of Wayne County come alive.

Inside the museum, there's an array of fascinating items - from old photographs and documents to quirky memorabilia like t-shirts and books, even a bottle or two of local BBQ sauce!

If you want to take a piece of Wayne County history home, their gift shop is the place to go.

One of the highlights of my visit was the quilt exhibit.

It's a sight to behold, each quilt telling its own story, threaded with the rich history of the county.

It's impressive how they've managed to preserve these pieces, making it possible for generations to come to appreciate the craftsmanship and history.

Even with all my years living here, I've gained a deeper understanding and appreciation for my hometown.

The Wayne County Museum is a treasure trove of local history and a testament to the pride we take in preserving it.

It's a place you can visit many times and still find something new.

It's free to visit, but I'd recommend leaving a donation to support their work.

Because places like this, they keep our stories alive for future generations to see.

Look back to a Turbulent Past at Goldsborough Bridge Battlefield

It's often that I find myself strolling through the historic trails of the Goldsborough Bridge Battlefield to soak up the local history and enjoy the cool breezes.

There's something about the place that pulls you in.

Perhaps it's the rustic charm, the quiet solitude, or the fact that it's a window into our past.

The trails are ideal for leisurely walks.

The outer trail specifically is my personal favorite as it's easy to follow and well-maintained.

Some parts can seem a little less maintained, but that's part of the adventure, isn't it?

As you walk, you'll find information boards scattered throughout, like hidden treasures waiting to narrate the tales of yesteryears.

They detail events and figures of the Civil War, offering insights that you wouldn't typically find in textbooks.

It's a unique way to learn, and I find it absolutely enjoyable.

Now, the main attraction, the namesake of the site - the Goldsborough Bridge, is a sight to behold.

It's pretty in its own simple way, lending a quaint charm to the battlefield.

It's nothing extraordinary, mind you, but it's the kind of ordinary that warms your heart.

The site, however, isn't just about history.

You'd be surprised to know it's also a popular spot for rustic weddings.

The sprawling green fields under the open sky make it a beautiful choice for ceremonies and receptions.

The bridge and the verdant surroundings also serve as stunning backdrops for wedding photos.

Goldsborough Bridge Battlefield is just teeming with opportunities for unforgettable moments.

It's not a grand site with shiny amenities, as there's nowhere to sit and just while away the time.

But there's beauty in its simplicity, in its raw nature.

It's a place to come when you want to escape the rush of everyday life or when you want a change of scene.

But for the best experience, I'd say just lace up your walking shoes, grab a bottle of water, and head to the battlefield.

You won't regret it.

Hit a Strike at Phantom Lanes

Every weekend, my family and I have a tradition: Bowling at Phantom Lanes.

The atmosphere at Phantom Lanes is something you have to experience for yourself, really.

It's warm, inviting, and it has that perfect balance between fun and competitive.

The staff is always there with a smile and a helping hand, making you feel right at home.

And the prices? They're the best in town.

Saturday afternoons are our favorite times to visit. Around 2:30, the usual bowling transforms into something extraordinary -- Cosmic bowling.

The lights go off, and the whole center comes alive with flashing colored lights.

It's a whole new level of fun and challenge, although it can be a bit tricky to see the markings on the lanes initially.

For those who haven't bowled in a while, and for the older folks like my 71-year-old neighbor who tagged along with us last time, a warning about the sudden transition to Cosmic bowling would be appreciated.

He was having such a great time until the switch, and then he struggled a bit to adjust.

But let me tell you, the food at Phantom Lanes more than makes up for any bowling strikes you may miss.

Stroll through Old Waynesborough Park

One sunny afternoon, I decided to venture out for a refreshing woodland hike in the historic Old Waynesborough Park.

I opted for the longest trail, a two-mile stroll through time-weathered paths and an awe-inspiring natural setting.

Old Waynesborough Park, once a bustling historic venue, now seems quaint and inviting, with an aura of serene solitude.

A delightful surprise awaited me at the halfway point of my journey.

The trail led out to the river that backs Busco Park, presenting a lovely view of ATVs zipping by on the other side of the water.

Yet, the beauty of the moment was overshadowed by the melancholy sight of the park's state.

Indulge in the Cuisines at The Laughing Owl Restaurant

Exterior of The Laughing Owl Restaurant
Wileydoc / Shutterstock.com

Just the other day, I found myself in the heart of Downtown Goldsboro at this funky tavern-style spot called The Laughing Owl Restaurant.

Combining the best of Asian and New American fusion cuisines, the place has a unique energy that makes every visit an exciting experience.

Now, I have had my fair share of scallops, and let me tell you, they can be a tricky dish to get right.

But the scallops here were absolutely sublime.

They were just the right size and cooked to perfection, with flavors that were simply spot-on.

Alongside the scallops, the cucumber salad also left quite an impression.

It was a refreshing accompaniment to the appetizers and a hit among my group.

Besides its innovative fusion food, the place also offers a full bar, making it a perfect spot for both dining and unwinding.

On a different visit, I decided to be adventurous with my food choices and ordered the spicy green curry.

It was served piping hot, with just the right amount of spice.

For those who enjoy a little extra heat, you can ask for an extra kick to your dish.

Trust me, it's worth a try!

With its diverse menu, from Japanese, Thai, and Indian to American-style burgers and wings, The Laughing Owl is truly a culinary melting pot.

Plus, with its vegetarian and vegan options, no palate is left unpleased.

I remember relishing the Red Curry Tofu on one of my visits.

It was cooked to perfection, and the flavors were beautifully balanced.

One thing that always impresses me is The Laughing Owl Restaurant's excellent service.

The staff is always friendly, efficient, and well-versed in the menu, adding to the overall dining experience.

Book a Tee Time at Greens of Lane Tree Golf Course

As an avid golfer, finding a course that could keep up with my enthusiasm was more than a necessity.

This quest led me around the corner to the Lane Tree Golf Course, just a 10-minute drive from my home.

The staff at Lane Tree always stood out, offering friendly and professional service that set the stage for an enjoyable golfing experience.

However, as a newcomer, you might find it a bit tricky to navigate your way around the course.

The area around the parking lot, particularly the pro shop and the 1st and 10th tee boxes, could do with some more signage.

Once you get past that initial confusion, the course itself offers a spectacular view, with the landscape featuring beautiful elevation changes.

But it's not all rosy.

The course's green could use some maintenance, with bumps and divots being more common than one would prefer.

The bumpy surfaces have a noticeable effect on your game, making your shots a little unpredictable.

Also, Verizon users, beware!

Your golf app may act up a bit due to network issues.

Rainy days can also be a downer, with waterlogged bunkers making play quite challenging.

But don't let that discourage you.

Lane Tree Golf Course still retains a certain charm even on those damp days.

What makes Lane Tree really special, however, are the unexpected surprises along the way, like the three horses kept to the left of the 12th hole - a delightful sight that adds a unique touch to your golfing experience.

Remember to bring an apple or some carrots for them!

The golfing experience at Lane Tree also comes with a bit of a social element.

If you're like me, playing 3-4 times a week, you're bound to make some new friends.

Bring Your Fido at Stoney Creek Park

I slip into my walking shoes every morning and head over to Stoney Creek Park.

It's become a sort of ritual, taking my dog out for a brisk walk while greeting the first light of the day.

Stoney Creek Park is a well-maintained sanctuary for locals like me.

There's something magical about its dirt trails that beckon you to explore them.

The park is not just a favorite haunt for dog owners.

You'll see kids running around, parents pushing strollers, and fitness enthusiasts jogging.

There's a playground that always seems to be buzzing with activity and a disc golf area that invites you for a fun-filled throw.

Yes, the park does have its shortfalls.

The smell, for instance, can be a bit off-putting at times.

Some pet owners, unfortunately, don't clean up after their pets, but hey, this is a minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things.

The off-leash dog park is a gem, with shady spots and kiddie pools to keep the dogs cool during the hot summer days.

However, it would be wonderful if the park authorities could fix the outside gates that don't lock properly.

But even with its minor drawbacks, Stoney Creek Park remains my go-to place for a morning walk.

There's a sense of community here that's hard to find elsewhere.

It's not just a park; it's a vital part of our local area.

And while there are always things that could be improved, there's no doubt Stoney Creek Park holds a special place in the hearts of us locals.

Enjoy the Serenity at Herman Park Center

There's nothing more fulfilling than having a place that has been a constant part of your life, and for me, that's Herman Park Center.

I've spent most of my life in the comforting presence of this park, and it's quite hard not to fall in love with its tranquility.

The park is right next to the Herman Park Center, providing a perfect blend of nature and community activities.

It's been around for decades and has enriched my life in more ways than one.

There is something about the vast open space, the strategically planned houses around, and the crisp air of the park that makes the day feel extraordinarily calm and peaceful.

It's the sort of place where you'll find the neighborhood kids running around, playing, laughing, and just being kids.

The tennis courts are always buzzing with activity, and the large playground area is the perfect location for elementary kids to burn off some energy.

One of my favorite spots in this park is the statue in the fountain.

It serves as a tribute to Industrious Herman Weil, the visionary who planned most of the Jackson to Leslie Street area in the early 1910s.

This statue is more than just a beautiful piece of art; it's a testament to the history of our neighborhood and the man who played a pivotal role in shaping it.

Final Thoughts

Living in Wayne County has been nothing short of a delightful journey.

With each passing day, I find something new to marvel at, whether it's the latest exhibit at the Arts Council, a new selection of wine at A Secret Garden Winery, or the excitement of an escape room challenge downtown.

I genuinely believe that Wayne County, North Carolina, is a place of endless discoveries, where each experience is more fulfilling than the last.

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