When it comes to planning summer vacations in the South, my priority will always be to look for places to escape the heat and keep cool. While North Carolina can boast some incredible mountain and beach destinations, the Sandhills region in which Cumberland County lies is often where I-95 travelers choose to stop on their treks north and south. Since Fayetteville happens to be the only major city in the state that is situated on I-95, it is a convenient vacation destination or even an overnight layover spot for traveling families.
I always start planning trips by doing my research, and I often rely on social media pictures and reviews to guide those decisions. That's why I'm sharing some Facebook reviews and Instagram pics, to let other travelers and locals give you the insider's scoop on our coolest destinations. As far as how to plan your time here, every traveler to Cumberland County should know where to hit the water, find a frozen treat, cool off indoors, or grab a cold beverage. Whether you have just 12 hours or 5 days to spend here, these are the cool places where our visitors continue to make the best vacation memories.
Hit the Water
There are multiple water destinations to choose from all over Cumberland County, and I shared about six of our most popular "Swimming Holes to Beat the Heat" a couple of summers ago. Just one of those is Lake Pines Swim Club, where a membership isn't even necessary to enjoy a two-acre lake, fed by an underground spring. The above review from an out-of-town visitor says everything about why visitors love this "breath of fresh air taking you back in time." Additionally, you can expect to find a white sand beach, cabanas with family tables, grills, full snack bar, volleyball, horseshoes, and more. This is the kind of place where the whole family will gladly spend the day together and will be begging to come back.
Discover More –> Yet another favorite place to hit the water here is Lake Waldo's Beach.
"If you're in the Fayetteville area, you should definitely check [out Lake Pines Swim Club]. ~ @alyssadhennessy
Find a Frozen Treat
Two years ago, I gave my intern the "difficult" job of writing a blog on "Ice Cream! Top 10 Places in Cumberland County," and she took her research pretty seriously, eating her way through frozen treats all over the area. The first spot on her list was an agritourism "jewel" that visitors are always delighted to discover. Gillis Hill Farm is owned by a family who has been farming in West Fayetteville since the 1700's. As the locals know, anyone may visit this farm for a step back in time and for a cool treat.
You'll want to start at the farm's ice cream shop, where the ice cream and other desserts are all homemade and utterly delicious. If you purchase a cone during ice cream season, you can then take a self-guided farm tour for free. The kids will delight in seeing all the farm animals and exploring the old farm buildings and equipment on display. Otherwise, may I suggest you simply take your scoop of deliciousness to the front porch and just "sit a spell" in the rocking chairs? This is the stuff vacation memories are made of.
Discover More –> Another delightful frozen-treat shop may be found at Arctic Sno Snoballs, and I dished on this popular spot in "Your Go-To Guide for the Best of Spring Lake."
"Farm animals and home churned ice cream... What a great road trip stop [at @gillishillfarm]. ~ @riseup_and_shine
Cool Off Indoors
As I shared on "A 1-Day Tour of Itinerary for Fayetteville," there is so much to pack into even just one day here. In addition to our museums, trampoline parks, and escape rooms, families can also escape the heat and burn off some energy at our indoor rock-climbing facilities. One of those, The Climbing Place, is North Carolina's oldest climbing gym, boasting 20,000-square feet of climbing and bouldering. Luckily for travelers, it's conveniently located downtown, not far from I-95.
No worries if you've never climbed before! The team is ready to provide belaying lessons to newbies and get you prepped to climb in the safety of a harness. After a recent renovation, The Climbing Place now offers more than ever, with many new walls and features, over 80 top ropes, and a full retail store. Even better for families on a vacation budget, just like Jane shared in her review, the $10 out-of-school special for unlimited kids' climb time is such a great deal (offered 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday thru Saturday). Consider this destination to be one of your best bets for staying cool while having recreational fun here!
Discover More –> Defy.Fayetteville offers another great indoor option at Cumberland County's first trampoline park, and I shared about my office's awesome team-building experience there on "Group Adventures at Our Recreation Gems."
"On County School's Out Days kids can have unlimited climbing time and gear...for $10 [at @theclimbingplace] ~ @themrstee
Grab a Cold Beverage
Cumberland County can boast five breweries, and I talked a lot about what each one has to offer in "How to Celebrate NC Beer Month at Our Breweries." One, in particular, offers families a wide variety of things to do, and that's Dirtbag Ales Brewery & Taproom (DBA), conveniently located off I-95. While the Virginian in the review above had visited DBA's original, smaller site, their brand-new, 8,000-square-foot brewery is quite the upgrade and is located on 5+ acres of land in Hope Mills. When travelers pull off I-95 and discover DBA's dog park, kid's park, rotating food trucks, sports field, covered pavilion, weekly farmers market, and other recreational activities, they fall in love with the destination first, then the beer.
If you've never had a Dirtbag Ale before, I would suggest you start with their three flagship brews: Blood Orange Kölsch, The IPA, and Cold Brew Mocha Porter. My personal favorite of those three is the Kölsch--a light-yet-flavorful beer with a subtle hint of orange that goes down really easy on a hot summer day. Of course, Dirtbag's brew-master, Tito, and his team are always brewing the next great batch of goodness, and you never know what they'll be tapping next. Even non-beer drinkers have options here, too, with beverages like cider on the menu. You may find yourself visiting Dirtbag for the beverages, but staying for the family fun.
Discover More –> Leclair's General Store remains a favorite gathering place, as I first shared in "Places to Gather with Friends & Family," and visitors simply fall in love with their cold-brew Hatchet Coffee, not to mention their curated selection of craft beer and wine.
"@dirtbagales is leading the charge in #FayettevilleNC with their selection of brews." ~ @officialarmywife101
Need more assistance in planning a vacation or overnight trip to the communities of Cumberland County? The Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau offers visitors an incredible online resource that will guide you straight to our Accommodations, Free Things to Do, Family Friendly Attractions, Dining, and much more.
Featured Photo Courtesy of Dressed + Blessed