At first mention, you probably recognize Greensboro as a sports town. It is home base for the Atlantic Coast Conference, which will return its men’s college basketball tournament to the Greensboro Coliseum in 2020. And the PGA Tour’s Wyndham Championship has played at Sedgefield Country Club since 1938, counting Byron Nelson and Gary Player as champions.
But you only would be partially right, because there’s so much more to North Carolina’s third-largest city. It’s an easily accessible destination that’s filled with family-friendly amusements, adventures and accommodations that won’t empty your wallet. It’s also home to interesting slices of history, starting with one that dates back almost to its founding.
Guilford County Courthouse National Military Park is where 4,500 Americans and the city’s namesake, Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene, fought the British in 1781, foreshadowing the Revolutionary War’s end seven months later. Meet the men and mission in a film and exhibits at the Battlefield Visitors Center. But don’t leave without a map, which details the 2.25-mile park road and well-maintained footpaths that local wildlife share. Both connect points of interest, from monuments to key battle locations, and are explained by a sign or audio clip accessed through your smartphone.
If you’re seeking respite from Atlanta’s hustle, bustle and traffic, you’ll likely enjoy Greensboro’s outdoor spaces, many of which are linked by 90 miles of greenways and trails. Sample more of it at Country Park, which is adjacent to the battlefield. Walk or bike its trails, run your little ones out of energy on the playgrounds or fish its two lakes, which you can cruise by rented pedal boat.
Country Park’s other neighbor is Greensboro Science Center, the rare place where you’ll find an accredited aquarium, museum and zoo all in one complex. It’s also home to SKYWILD, an animal-inspired zip line and rope-challenge course strung over the science center’s zoo. You’ll crawl, swing and leap like the crocodiles, gibbons and other creatures below, grasping lessons and thrills along the way. Your SKYWILD admission grants access to the center’s other attractions, too, so plan time for them before or after.
View otters, penguins and fish at the aquarium, where touch tanks put rays, snakes and small sharks literally within reach, and daily feedings are something to behold. Explore weather, dinosaurs, the human body and your imagination with hands-on exhibits in the museum. Its 30-minute interactive show, “KATS: The Meerkat Musical,” teaches young visitors about these residents of Africa’s Kalahari Desert. A variety of films are shown on its OmniSphere’s 40-foot dome, including laser shows set to the music of The Beatles, Metallica, U2 and others.
It’s easy to find your perfect place to stay. Choose from nearly 90 accommodations, from camping at Hagan-Stone Park to luxurious stays at Grandover Resort including its golf and spa packages. In between, there are plenty of wallet-friendly hotels and motels representing reputable national chains.
Downtown Greensboro is its own destination. Don’t miss the guided tour at the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, which is inside a former Woolworth’s store. In 1960, four African-American college students wouldn’t leave its lunch counter after being refused service, sparking months of protests and becoming a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement.
You’ll find more attractions within the surrounding blocks, including Greensboro Children’s Museum. Here, youngsters can participate in all facets of life — from delivering mail to running a market — through the museum’s Our Town exhibits. They can sit at the controls of a real DC-9 airplane, steer a big rig or wheel a race car from Petty Enterprises, whose shop-turned-museum in nearby Randleman prepared cars that won at Atlanta Motor Speedway six times. Let the exploration continue in the museum’s Outdoor Play Plaza, where two 30-foot Neptune XXL Climbers stand, the only ones in the world that are connected by a net tunnel near their peaks.
Gather at one of the city’s family restaurants such as Darryl’s Wood Fired Grill, whose extensive menu is led by two favorites: tender ribs and juicy steaks. Explore at Kris Fuller’s Crafted—The Art of Street Food, where the former contestant on Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen creates a world tour using dishes such as Cuban sandwiches and Vietnamese pho. Sample Natty Greene’s Brewing Co.’s locally made sour beers and ales at its Kitchen + Market restaurant at repurposed Revolution Mill, the South’s first flannel factory.
It’s an easy walk from Natty Greene’s downtown brewpub to Ghassan’s, which serves salads, gyros and other Mediterranean dishes. Most regulars return for the steak and cheese sub, served on a toasted roll with house-made dressing. It’s located in LeBauer Park, a downtown oasis that Carolyn Weill LeBauer gifted to the city.
The park’s splash pads make any warm day cooler, and the ping-pong and foosball tables offer an opportunity for friendly competition. Its 73 plant species represent Carolyn’s favorites and Greensboro’s past, when a booming nursery industry led to “The City of Flowers” nickname. As Greensboro became a transportation hub in the late 19th century, it was rebranded The Gate City, which remains appropriate.
Amtrak’s Crescent City train stops daily in Atlanta and Greensboro, and Delta Air Lines has hour-long nonstop flights from Hartsfield-Jackson to Greensboro’s Piedmont Triad International Airport. Driving is easy, too, just five hours up Interstate 85. It’s even better when you bypass Charlotte’s traffic by using Interstate 485.
Driving into Greensboro, you’ll quickly pass the city’s other main arteries: interstates 40 and 73. While they’re vital for reaching attractions, their interchanges are a good approximation for locating Wet’n Wild Emerald Pointe, one of the largest water parks in the South. Weekdays are less crowded and often more affordable when you check its website for discount admission and parking passes.
Wet’n Wild offers more than 40 rides and attractions, including Lazee River and Thunder Bay Wave Pool, where nearly 2 million gallons of water create tsunamis perfect for jumping, riding or waiting out on the sandy beach. Older riders should hold tight to their tube on Dr. Von Dark’s Tunnel of Terror, where a 40-foot drop and high-speed spins await. Young visitors will feel safe using the shallow pools and waterplay elements at Splash Island and Happy Harbor. Lounge chairs and cabanas provide spots to relax or slather on sunscreen. If you forget yours, stop at the onsite store, which also sells swimsuits and souvenirs. It’s near Captain Eli’s, the park’s largest food stand — its fried chicken, burgers and barbecue are kid-approved.
Find more exciting things to do in Greensboro and plan your trip at VisitGreensboroNC.com.