- Drive time: 1 hr 45 min from Raleigh
- Adventurers: Betsy Luckett, her husband Justin, children Salem and Drew and in-laws.
- Tanglewood Park, Clemmons, NC
Less than two hours away from Raleigh is the beautiful Tanglewood Park located in Clemmons, NC. Once the estate of the Reynolds family, this 1,200 acre park has been a beloved place to visit for many, many years. My family and I lived in Winston Salem for almost 9 years and would often visit Tanglewood for park play dates, wine festivals, 5K races and even weddings. Our dear, college friends were married under a huge oak tree near the Manor House. For just $2 per car, you can have a fun-filled day (and night!)!
Tanglewood offers several activities; you could really spend two days here in order to do it all! Here’s just a few of the park’s highlights ….
One of the favorite activities in the park is a trail ride at Tanglewood Stables. The stables are home to privately owned horses, as well as Tanglewood’s own horses used for hay rides, trail rides, pony rides, carriage rides and lessons. My family (6 of us) went for a 50-minute trail ride (cost is $35 per rider) through the pastures. All had a ball and all of the horses behaved!
Bringing your dog along? Take your furry family member to Happy Hounds Dog Park within Tanglewood. There are actually two sections, one for large dogs and another for smaller breeds. There’s even a water fountain to help keep Fido hydrated!
Tanglewood boasts two public championship golf courses. Price per golfer ranges around $34-$44.
Aquatic Center & Playgrounds
When the weather is nice, there are multiple playgrounds to explore. When my kids were toddlers, we’d pack a lunch and meet friends to play for several hours … which then led to nice long naps and a happy Mama! Due to Covid-19, the aquatic center was closed over the summer and still is, but once life gets back to “normal,” this is a must-do. There’s a lazy river area with two slides, splash pad for little ones, and a main pool with two diving boards and two slides. There is an additional charge for the aquatic center.
Holiday Festival of Lights
Another favorite Tanglewood activity is the annual Festival of Lights. This has been a tradition for many Triad families, as well as visitors, for over 26 years. This drive-through light extravaganza is definitely a holiday hit every time! The light show runs mid-November through January 1st from 6-11 pm. The cost is $15 per car, $35 for a commercial vehicle or limo, and $100 for a bus. This year, my family and I went on a “hay ride,” which was actually a tractor-pulled covered wagon (no hay!). This was the perfect and best way to drive through the park to see the lights! We sang Christmas carols depending on the theme of lights that we were passing. Favorites included the snowflakes over the road, the Nativity scene, the snowflake forest and the Reindeer “Flight School.”
One of the best parts of booking the hayride in advance was avoiding sitting in the park traffic for literally hours! Cars start lining up as early as 4:30 pm for the Festival of Lights and can be sitting for several hours just to get into the park. I would highly recommend doing the hayride to avoid all the traffic. The total ride was about 45 minutes and then we drove through the lights another time to get back home. So, you’re actually getting to see them twice! Cost is $150 (plus we tipped the driver). It was a joy to be together, safely outside, and taking in the beautiful lights. This was the perfect way to kick off the Christmas season!
Manor House Bed & Breakfast
Finally, should you choose to stay over in Clemmons after your day of exploring the park, there’s a cute B&B with ten rooms. The Manor House has been restored to reflect the Victorian era. There are other options to stay within the park as well.
Tanglewood Park is definitely worth the drive from Raleigh. You will not be disappointed with all that this great park has to offer! – Betsy Luckett