Greensboro: Recreation


A tour of Greensboro might begin with Blandwood Mansion, a 19th-century Italian villa in downtown Greensboro, which is a National Historic Landmark and former home of Governor John Motley Morehead. Not far from Blandwood is the William Fields House, a Gothic Revival-style structure that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Since 1973 Carolina Model Railroaders has displayed scale trains and equipment that, after relocating in 2003, were rebuilt into a different configuration. Guilford Courthouse National Military Park, located in North Greensboro, provides a fascinating look at a battle that helped win America's independence. The 220-acre park, which was the first Revolutionary War battleground to be preserved as a national military park, includes a museum and interpretive automobile, bicycle, and foot trails for retracing the battle. The adjacent eight-acre Tannenbaum Historic Park/Colonial Heritage Center served as a staging area for British troops under Cornwallis's command during the Revolutionary War Battle of Guilford Courthouse. Today, the park features a visitor's center, gift shop, and exhibits depicting colonial life. Not far from the two parks is the Natural Science Center, a hands-on museum, zoo, and planetarium.

The Greensboro Children's Museum is an exciting, colorful place with interactive exhibits and activities designed for kids up to age 12 as well as summer camp, programs, and workshops. Fun for the whole family can be had at Celebration Station, featuring miniature golf, water bumper boats, arcade games, batting cages, and more. Wet 'n Wild Emerald Pointe is the largest water park in the state with a giant wave pool and other water activities. More than 60,000 tropical plants and 1,100 exotic animals are the main attraction at North Carolina Zoological Park, 25 miles southeast of Greensboro, that includes an impressive 37-acre African Plains exhibit.

Arts and Culture

The energy behind Greensboro's vibrant arts scene is the United Arts Council, located in the Greensboro Cultural Center at Festival Park, downtown's performing arts showplace and home base for 25 visual and performing art organizations as well as art galleries, a sculpture garden, and an outdoor amphitheater. The council serves as the fund-raising umbrella for the city's many arts groups. The council funds 14 organizations and provides support to other groups. It also operates an artists' center, where serious, talented writers, painters, potters, and others may rent inexpensive studio space.

The Greensboro Symphony Orchestra, founded in the 1920s, performs masterworks and pops concerts from September to May at the War Memorial Auditorium in the Greensboro Coliseum Complex. Since 1980 the Greensboro Opera Company has presented performances by local talent year-round and an annual production featuring international talent in operatic works performed in the original language, also at the War Memorial Auditorium. The Greensboro Ballet, also the home of the home of the School of Greensboro Ballet, offers three performances each season and delights holiday audiences each December with a presentation of The Nutcracker. The North Carolina Dance project holds an annual concert in Greensboro and features two dance troupes that travel throughout the state.

Tannenbaum Park/Colonial Heritage Center contains exhibits depicting colonial life and is host to Revolutionary War reenactments.
Tannenbaum Park/Colonial Heritage Center contains exhibits depicting colonial life and is host to Revolutionary War reenactments.

Jazz is very popular in Greensboro with nationally known musicians performing in the 1927 vintage Carolina Theatre and in local clubs. The Carolina Theatre is the principal venue for performing arts productions sponsored by City Arts Drama of the Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department. City Arts oversees the Livestock Players Musical Theatre, which presents Broadway musicals in November, April, and July; Children's Theatre, which performs during the school year; Razz-Ma-Tazz Musical Revue Company; the Music Center; Greensboro Concert Band; Philharmonia of Greensboro; Choral Society of Greensboro; Youth Chorus; and We Are One Youth Choir.

Theatrical entertainment also abounds in Greensboro. At the Barn Dinner Theatre audiences have enjoyed dinner and a Broadway-style play year-round since 1962. Professional theater in an intimate setting is the specialty of the Broach Theatre in the Old Greensborough Historic District, which produces seven adult plays from February to December. Community Theatre of Greensboro presents five Broadway plays and musicals.

Greensboro's universities and colleges sponsor arts events throughout the year that are open to the public. The artists series at Guilford College, for example, brought the Prague Chamber Orchestra to Greensboro, and the UNCG Concert and Lecture Series has sponsored such notables as violinist Isaac Stern and actor Hal Holbrook. In 2005 a Nigerian art and literature series kicks off a biennial cultural program.

Museum lovers enjoy the Greensboro Historical Museum, which traces the development of Guilford County from Native American times through the present. Special collections include memorabilia of author William Sydney Porter, better known as O. Henry, who grew up in Greensboro, as well as a variety of items and information related to Edward R. Murrow and First Lady Dolley Madison, who lived in Guilford County. The museum also has two restored log homes open for touring on its downtown site and has recreated a 1880s village of Greensboro, showing the city as it might have been when O. Henry left in 1882. The Richard Petty Museum, located south of Greensboro, contains memorabilia relating to the race car driver.

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (A & T) is the site of a nationally recognized facility, the Mattye Reed African Heritage Center in the Dudley Building, a repository for more than 3,500 artifacts from more than 30 African and Caribbean countries. The Old Mill of Guilford provides a view of the past through its working water-powered mill.

Greensboro is not lacking in art galleries. The Greensboro Artists' League gallery, founded in 1956, promotes the visual arts of the Piedmont Triad with changing exhibitions by local artists and a sales gallery. The Weatherspoon Art Museum, on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro is widely recognized for having one of the most outstanding collections of post-World War II American art in the Southeast. The African American Atelier in the Cultural Center features works by local artists and presents six to eight exhibitions per year. North Carolina artists are the focus at Green Hill Center for North Carolina Art. The Guilford Native American Art Gallery was the first of its kind in the Southeast.

Arts and Culture Information: United Arts Council of Greensboro, 200 N. Davie St., Greensboro, NC 27402; telephone (336)373-7523; fax (336)373-7553

Festivals and Holidays

Many of Greensboro's biggest celebrations focus on music. The nationally acclaimed Eastern Music Festival began in 1962 and brings the world's most promising music students to Greensboro each year for six weeks of intense study with the world's most accomplished musicians. The performers, who spend the summer on the Guilford College campus, present more than 40 concerts from June through August.

St. Patrick's Day brings the Green Party to the downtown area in the form of several bands performing at various venues. Fun Fourth Festival in the downtown National Register Historic District is a street festival that thousands flock to in the inner city to celebrate the Fourth of July. Arts and crafts from all over the country take center stage at two events sponsored by the Gilmore Shows' Carolina Craftsmen: the annual Spring Show in April and the Christmas Classic in late November. African American arts and culture take the spotlight during the two-month African American Arts Festival (since 1988) that begins in mid-January and extends to mid-March. Also in March is the African American Heritage Extravaganza with dance, music, art exhibits, and "soul food" sampling.

Sports for the Spectator

When it comes to recreation, Greensboro is a city for all seasons and all sports. From May through August, the United Soccer League's Carolina Dynamo play at the 3,000-seat Macpherson Stadium that opened in 2002 and is part of the extensive Bryan Park. Summer used to mean "batter up" at War Memorial Stadium with the Greensboro Bats, a Class A farm team of the Florida Marlins. The team's former stadium was built in 1926 and in 2004 was the fourth oldest active minor league park in the country. However, in the spring of 2005 the brand-new $20 million First Horizon Park opened with more than 5,000 seats and featuring suites, party decks, and a children's play area; the team also changed its name to the Grasshoppers. The Greensboro Generals, an East Coast Hockey League Team affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes take to the ice from October through March at the Greensboro Coliseum Arena.

The Chrysler Classic of Greensboro golf tournament, sponsored by the Greensboro Jaycees, attracts top names in golf to Greensboro in the fall (previously held in the spring until 2003).

The sports fan can also find plenty of collegiate sports in the area. Fall's kicks come when the successful Spartan soccer team takes to the field at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG), and winter often brings Carolinians' favorite rivalry, the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) basketball tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum. The North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (A & T) basketball team often lands a berth in the NCAA tournament, but the football team also draws crowds to the 22,000-seat Aggie Stadium. Women's sports include basketball and track. UNCG women's soccer, basketball and tennis teams have been prominent nationally.

Sports for the Participant

Greensboro is a launching site for just about any interest. The state's beaches are just four hours away, and the cool Blue Ridge Mountains are a three-hour drive. One of the highlights of Greensboro itself is the extensive parks and recreation system, which includes 170 parks on more than 3,500 acres. Bicycling routes, fitness and hiking trails, swimming pools, and a network of community parks and 11 recreation centers are spread throughout the city. Tennis is an especially popular sport in Greensboro, both for players and spectators. The city has tennis courts in 16 locations, three of which are fully equipped tennis centers. The United States Tennis Association's (USTA) Greensboro January Indoor Junior Championships is played annually at the Simkins Indoor Pavilion in Barber Park in Greensboro. Jaycee Park, site of the Love Tennis Center, is home to the North Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame along with the Junior USTA-Sanctioned Tennis Tournaments and Junior Novice Tennis Tournaments.

The area's many golf aficionados find challenging golf in the 600-acre Bryan Park, as well as at the area's many private golf courses. The park includes two 18-hole championship golf courses, two putting greens, a driving range, and a golf school. Facilities at Bryan Park also include a tennis center, a nature trail, and a wildlife sanctuary.

The Greensboro Sportsplex has many amenities on its 106,000 square feet of space including 8 basketball and volleyball courts and 3 state-of-the-art indoor soccer fields along with a hockey program and summer camps.

Another well-used city park is Country Park, a 126-acre facility in northern Greensboro listed as a National Historical Landmark property that includes two stocked fishing lakes; hiking, bicycling, and jogging trails; pedal-boat rentals; and plenty of places for a quiet picnic. It also is the site of the annual Carolina Cup Bicycle Road Race in September sponsored by U.S. Cycling.

Shopping and Dining

North of downtown Greensboro, visitors can stroll through a relaxed neighborhood of 37 unique shops, restaurants, and boutiques housed in elegantly refurbished 1920s vintage buildings at State Street Station. On the city's southwest side, the Four Seasons Town Centre features three levels with more than 200 shops and restaurants in 1.3 million square feet. With 95 stores on 75 acres of open-air shopping, the Friendly Center has three department stores and many national retailers. In the section of downtown called Old Downtown Greensborough, browsers will find more than a dozen antique stores housed in turn-of-the-century store-fronts. The city and neighboring communities are also home to dozens of outlet stores. Products manufactured locally, such as clothing and furniture, are especially popular with shoppers.

As for dining, barbecue, hushpuppies, and coleslaw are North Carolina staples, and restaurants serving these local favorites are plentiful in the metropolitan Greensboro area's 500 eateries. Hungry visitors will also find upscale eateries and a variety of ethnic cuisines.

The locals enjoy going down to the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market year-round for an abundance of fresh produce, baked goods, flowers, and crafts.

Visitor Information: Greensboro Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, 317 S. Greene St., Greensboro, NC 27401-2615; telephone (336)274-2282; toll-free (800)344-2282; fax (336)230-1183; email