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Columbus County, North Carolina: An Outdoor Paradise Waiting to be Discovered

by Food & Travel

When it comes to excitement and adrenaline-pumping attractions, Columbus County, North Carolina packs a powerful punch. Here, outdoor enthusiasts can discover a veritable smorgasbord of activities designed to invigorate and energize one’s sense of adventure. As the third largest county in North Carolina by land area, Columbus is home to several large lakes, including Lake Tabor and Lake Waccamaw  – one of the largest natural lakes on the eastern seaboard — where an abundance of water fun awaits visitors. 

A visit to Lake Waccamaw State Park unveils one of the most unique bodies of water in the world. A 700-foot boardwalk reaching into the shallow, tea-colored water accommodates wildlife viewing and fishing, and more than seven miles of trails allow hikers to explore multiple ecosystems and rare plants. The mouth of the Waccamaw River begins at the lake. Boating is a popular pastime at Lake Waccamaw. There is no boat access in the park, but two free public boat launch areas are available nearby. The Lumber River, designated a National Wild and Scenic River, offers miles of natural settings that one would normally expect in highly isolated areas. Grab a canoe and start your journey.

Back on dry land, Cape Fearless Extreme is a great choice to continue your outdoor adventures. Set on 25 acres of forest just 20 miles west of Wilmington, North Carolina, the courses contain a mixture of obstacles and challenges ranging from ziplines, Tarzan swings, hanging nets, wobbly bridges and much more. Spend the day enjoying nature’s beauty while experiencing a thrilling adventure in the trees. Tucked away on a quiet farm is one of Southeastern North Carolina’s best kept secrets; Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park in Tabor City. Whether you are an angler, enjoy hiking or just relaxing while camping, you will experience natural beauty like you’ve never seen before at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park. 

Have you ever touched the bones of a Right Whale? Come face to face with a Cretaceous carnivore? Sat in the center of the Earth to hear a scientist talk? No visit to Columbus County is complete without experiencing The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences at Whiteville. History doesn’t get shorted, either. Columbus County features three revitalized railroad depots in Chadbourn, Fair Bluff, and Lake Waccamaw which serve as museums and civic spaces, and the Vineland Station in Whiteville which is the city’s civic center.

From hometown favorites to “ethnic” eats, Columbus County is bursting with flavor. Find out where the locals go to whet their appetites and satisfy their cravings for home cooking and tempting treats. For lip-smackin’ good barbecue, check out Joe’s Old-Fashioned Barbecue. In operation since 1964 (with a history that dates back to 1947 as Bennett’s BBQ) and known as the county’s oldest family-owned restaurant, this barbecue haven serves up tender BBQ, juicy ribs and chicken, pork chops, seafood, sandwiches, and of course Joe’s famous sauce. The Chef and the Frog serves French and Asian fusion meals with local ingredients, while Hwy 55 Burgers Shakes & Fries is a retro-themed chain with a 1950s soda-fountain look, dishing out familiar fast-food selections. Penn’s Grill is famous since 1946, for its legendary iron skillet fried steak sandwich with hand cut fries.

Columbus County is sure to provide the type of accommodations you are looking for, including Quaint B&Bs, lakefront vacation rentals, name brand hotels or primitive camping. From the moment you step on the wrap around veranda of The Madison House, the charming country ambiance draws you in. This magnificent 6,700 square foot B&B is very tastefully furnished with antiques and relics of yesteryear. For more of an outdoor experience, Lumber River Campground is nestled on 60 acres of pristine countryside next to the scenic Lumber River in Columbus County, and is an excellent getaway destination for the horse or nature enthusiast. 

Columbus County embodies all the natural beauty and outdoor adventures this wonderful state has to offer. There’s no better time than now to plan your visit.

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