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Local Gems

Off the Beaten Path in Brunswick County

Finally, it’s summer. We made it! That means it is time to unwind and treat yourself. Now, if you’re like me that means you’ve been in this position before. You get some time off from work or school, or maybe just get a free day where you have nothing on your agenda and you haven’t a clue what you’re going to do today. I pulled up a few ideas to give you some inspiration. The surrounding area offers lots of choices, but here are a few you might not have thought of.

Swamp and Zip Line Adventure

Take a ride on the wild side, with a visit to The Swamp Park, about 35 minutes south of Leland, on HWY 17, this unique wildlife experience awaits you. The Swamp Park and Outdoor Center is home to zip line tours, ATV tours, swamp boat ecosystem tours, aerial obstacle courses, and even a reptile sanctuary that houses 16 American alligators. When Rube McMullan, visionary and founder of The Swamp Park, was dreaming up the idea of the park, he wanted to provide a safe and fun place to teach future generations about nature and its importance. Mr. McMullan accomplished just that. At the swamp park, you can take a 2.5-hour long zip line ride that zips you above creeks and dams. This zip line has an astounding 1.25 miles of cable and 10 zip line stations along the way.

You will get the chance to see deer, turkey, wild boar, raccoons, and even barn owls. Plus, you will be soaring amongst the breathtaking canopies of 100-year-old cypress trees. If you don’t want to spend 2.5 hours in the air, they also offer the Coastal Chaos Zip Line, which is a faster-paced tour that lasts 45 minutes. If you are scared of heights, The Swamp Park offers ATV rides that take you through and around the property. When I spoke with George Howard, the general manager of the park, he told me that he and all the employees value three things; those things are caring, conservation, and diligence. Howard also told me that education is a priority at the park. This is why The Swamp Park gives tours to local school groups. “Swamps are nature’s sponge,” says Howard referring to how they help prevent flooding. “We think it’s important that folks know the importance of this ecosystem while having a safe and fun experience”. Howard has been working with zip lines for 20 years, he says the one at The Swamp Park is one of the best. Go check it out and maybe even try the other tours too. Remember every tour is guided to ensure safety and to book your tour, go to the Shallotte River Swamp Park website or give them a call. 5550 Watts Rd SW, Ocean Isle (910) 687-6100

Master your Mind and Body at Club Pilates

Pilates is a low impact exercise that can be beneficial to everyBODY. It’s true no matter how young or old, no matter what your body type is, there is much to gain with this kind of workout. Club Pilates is a nationwide franchise tthat now has a location in Waterford shopping center in Leland. You may be wondering, how does Pilates differ from other exercises? Pilates is a full-body, resistance based workout that involves the use of a reformer. “A reformer is an exercise apparatus with adjustable springs to raise or lower the amount of resistance. Countless exercises can be done on the reformer”, says Devon Hamerski, a local pilates instructor. So how does Club Pilates work? I talked with Liza Stevens, the local general manager for Club Pilates, she said there are 30-minute introduction classes every Saturday at 10 am. I asked her what makes pilates different from other workouts, she said, “Pilates can help improve your quality of life by relieving stress and improving the connection between your body and mind. It is a full-body workout, it helps with injury prevention and spine mobility.” The instructors at Club Pilates are well trained and dedicated to helping you improve your fitness. Plus pilates is fun so expand your mind, body and soul this summer and give it a try. Club Pilates is located at 2028 Olde Regent Way, Suite 140 Leland, Phone (910) 725-6190.

Get Creative with Wine and Design

Wine and Design offers paint and sip parties perfect for a rainy day, girls night or just something a little different. This franchise in Leland caters to individuals of all ages or large groups. The classes are usually about two hours and the art instructor will guide you through all the steps to create your own masterpiece painting. All of the art supplies are provided for the $35 fee, but you will have to bring you own wine and snacks. The online calendar provides a sneak peek into the variety of paintings you can choose from. From cute decorative wall art, to landscapes, to dramatic animals and almost everything in between, there will be something to please everyone in your party. Wine and Design is conveniently located at 1109 New Pointe Blvd #6 in Leland. Phone: 910-399-7874 or website:

Nature Walk

I couldn’t leave this off the list for you outdoor lovers. Get in touch with nature at the Brunswick Nature Park. The Brunswick Nature Park is located on River Road (NC 133) about 10 miles from Leland. The boardwalk spans through the marshes and waterways of Brunswick county and is the perfect way to enjoy a morning walk or afternoon picnic. There are educational trails, docks and plenty of places to cast a fishing line if you like. Enjoy discovering local wildlife, bird watching and tiny creatures galore. There are 911 acres of wonderful undeveloped wilderness that provide a dynamic mix of vegetation, wildlife, ecosystems, vistas, wetlands, and waterways. It is truly an environmental oasis worthy of exploration. Launch your kayak or canoe or utilize the 40’ x 40’ picnic pavillion perfect for a family gathering, lots of walking trails, biking trails, and horse trails. The park is open from 8 a.m. until dusk. Phone: (910) 253-2670. This partial kayak trail map (right) may inspire you to get and and paddling. For the full map go to:

Leland has plenty of other options as well. The Leland Cultural Art Center always has classes to join, music and art exhibitions. Bruswick Community College also offers concerts, plays, classes and events all year around. Sea Glass Salvage has a monthly pop up weekend market where you will find a variety of unique arts, crafts and gifts from local vendors and craftspeople. I hope these ideas have inspired you to explore Leland and surrounding areas for the unique beauty of the waterways, wildlife, art scene and more. So get out there and get exploring!

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