Discover 9 Reasons to Visit Wilson, North Carolina

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Start planning a whirlwind trip to the place that has the largest collection of whirligigs in the world, and you’ll find a hamlet of museums, art galleries, home-cooked meals and small-town sports. With its focus on the arts, the outdoors and the bonus of access by railroad, Wilson is a great place for an affordable vacation. Just 40 miles east of Raleigh, this North Carolina city is a cultural hub. Take, for example, the Eyes on Main Street festival, an annual international photography exhibit: 100 days featuring 100 photographers from all over the world.

Sandra Homes, executive director of the Wilson Visitors Center, ticks off a list of reasons to visit, from food to shopping (see below for details), but the real appeal is the people. “Hometown charm is our tradition,” she says.

When you’re done with arts and culture, settle in for some old-fashioned summer recreation on one of the area’s lakes.

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See the world’s largest collection of whirligigs.

Wilson North Carolina

Photo credit: Justin Kase Conder

Vollis Simpson, a retired farm machinery repairman, started making kinetic sculptures in his retirement. He died in 2013, and his legacy lives on at the 2-acre Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park. Check out the 30 reflective sculptures, which move, turn and delight. The Park, which is free to visit, also includes the Farmers & Artisan Market, home to homegrown vegetables and locally made crafts. Plan a return visit in November for the North Carolina Whirligig Festival, when 50,000 people (more than the city’s population!) peruse the arts and crafts there.

See more: 10 Reasons You Should Visit Shelby, North Carolina

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