Weekend Guide to Fuquay-Varina, NC
If there is one thing that I want people to learn from all of my traveling… it’s that “to travel” has nothing to do with distance or amount of time away. Travel is about experiencing new places and new things, anywhere and everywhere. I have fallen in love with exploring small towns, especially those with a thriving downtown scene – and the adorable town of Fuquay-Varina, NC was absolutely perfect for that! I highly recommend Fuquay-Varina as your next weekend getaway.
Fuquay-Varina is located in central North Carolina, not far from Raleigh or Durham. I live in southern VA, making it around a 1 hour and 45 minute drive. They have recently built new toll roads that take you around Raleigh and Durham, so the drive was extremely easy to make.
Once you arrive in Fuquay-Varina, the town is separated into two downtown sections: downtown Fuquay and downtown Varina. However, both are less than a mile apart; so once you’re there, there is not much driving that you have to do. Continue reading for a list of the best things to do in Fuquay-Varina, NC.
Fuquay Mineral Spring Inn & Garden
We could not have asked for a better place to stay in Fuquay-Varina than The Fuquay Mineral Spring Inn & Garden. This Inn is owned and operated by John and Patty Byrne. John is actually the Mayor of Fuquay-Varina, and has been for many years. He truly has a gift for hospitality, and it was a pleasure to talk with him throughout the weekend.
The Fuquay Mineral Spring Inn & Garden is full of history, art, and stories for everyone to enjoy. The Inn has 5 luxurious guest rooms; and all guests get to enjoy a delicious home-made breakfast in the morning. In addition, the Inn is located within walking distance to various coffee shops, restaurants, and stores – plus the beautiful and historic Mineral Spring Park and Gardens.
In the last year, I have found myself being drawn towards Bed and Breakfast or Boutique style hotels (versus your typical hotel) because of their charm, hospitality, and community. If you’ve never stayed at a bed and breakfast, then Fuquay Mineral Spring Inn & Garden would be an excellent start! This was my mom’s first stay at a bed and breakfast, and she was extremely impressed. The location cannot be beat, nor can the hospitality!
Things to do in Fuquay-Varina:
The Mill is a unique local business that doubles as both a coffee shop and bar that serves wine and NC beer. We enjoyed a delicious cappuccino here to start our first day, while talking with one of the owners, Charissa. She made us feel extremely welcome and knew many of her customers by name. The Mill has been open for four years and is a sister property to a local bakery and fan-favorite, Stickboy.
I absolutely love the concept of combining a coffee shop with a bar – and the folks at The Mill have the hospitality to make it work! The Mill often hosts events and even has live music every Friday night! The space is beautiful and makes for an excellent place to enjoy coffee or drinks. I highly recommend enjoying a Cappuccino in the seats next to the window 🙂
The Mason Jar Lager Co.
With the popularity, variety, and creativity of craft breweries these days, you can no longer say “
I don’t like craft beer.” I guarantee that you will find a beer that you like at any of the breweries that I talk about in this post – and The Mason Jar Lager Co. is no exception to that.
The Mason Jar Lager Co. is a craft brewing company that specializes in Lager style beers. They do an amazing job with their beers and are able to showcase a large amount of variety and creativity. I will get into their beers in just a minute, but first off I was simply impressed at how well they carried out the “Mason Jar” theme! If you scroll back through my photos (above), you will notice the taps, mini tasting jars, lights, and signs.
The Mason Jar Lager Co. has four main Lagers that they keep year round: Happy Place Helles, Virtue IPL, Small Town Bock, and Stick Barn Schwarzbier. In addition to these, they release a new and special, small batch beer each week. My favorite “everyday” beer was the Happy Place Helles and my favorite seasonal beer was the Schwarzbier with a peppermint rim!!
The Mason Jar Tavern
The Mason Jar Tavern is a restaurant featuring southern favorites including Brisket, Sandwiches, and Burgers. It is located just steps from The Mineral Spring Inn and open for Lunch, Dinner, and late night! And no, your eyes are not deceiving yourself – The Mason Jar Lager Co. and The Mason Jar Tavern are related and owned by the same people, but are two separate businesses.
We started with the Buffalo Chicken Eggrolls, which were my absolute favorite part of the entire experience. I am a sucker for anything in buffalo sauce, but these were a step above your average buffalo chicken. For entree’s, I ordered the Pimento Cheese Bacon Burger and Mom ordered Brisket Sliders – and both were outstanding! The burger was cooked to perfection; and if it has home-made pimento cheese on it, you can always count me in!
Aviator Brewing Company
If you drink craft beer often, you may have actually already had Aviator’s beer before. Aviator Brewing Company is a rather large, well-known brewery located in the heart of Fuquay-Varina. They have grown so much in the last 10 years that they actually have three different businesses in Fuquay-Varina, and more will be coming soon! But for now, let me tell you about the 3 different Aviator businesses:
The Aviator TapHouse is a restaurant and bar, and it was my favorite of the three Aviator locations. The TapHouse has delicious appetizers and entree’s, Aviator’s best beers, and an excellent laid-back vibe. There is also a cozy patio-bar located out front – and even on the day before a huge snow, there were people outside by the heaters.
We split a pretzel that was out-of-this-world good (and bigger than my head), along with their delicious home-made chicken noodle soup.
As for the beer: we split a flight that consists of their PumpkinBeast, Crackpot Pilsner (one regular and one with a jalapeño kick), and Mad Beach American Wheat. The PumpkinBeast was my favorite individual beer that we tried throughout the weekend, mostly because it was served with a cinnamon sugar rim that paired perfectly with the beer!
The Aviator SmokeHouse is another restaurant owned and operated by the Aviator brand. The SmokeHouse, which is located directly across the road from The TapHouse, specializes in BBQ, Brisket, Wings, Ribs (etc.) all of which are smoked to perfection! We tried their smoked wings (buffalo and mango habanero), and both were absolutely delicious! I am a huge wing fan (and buffalo anything as mentioned earlier), so trust me when I say that these are some of the best wings around!
The entire Aviator brand stems from the small start-up brewery, located right here in Fuquay-Varina. The story of how the brand has grown and continues to expand is very inspiring. I highly recommend stopping by Aviator Brewery for a tour if you find yourself in the area! The Brewery has an excellent outdoor patio, and tons of fun games inside – making it the perfect place to relax with a cold beer.
Fainting Goat Brewing Company
We sat and talked with the owners of Fainting Goat Brewing Co. for a long time, and their passion for what they do simply oozed through their words… and the quality of their beer backs that up. We were able to taste a flight of eight different beers, and each and every one of them was outstanding. For a flight that big, it is actually pretty rare to truly enjoy each and every one – but we did!
If you scroll back up, you’ll notice their sign about not having wi-fi. Fainting Goat Brewing Co. is all about community (along with great beer). The space is extremely open and inviting and they have frequent events and music. They are truly a special business and make the trip to Fuquay-Varina worth it in-and-of-itself.
I hope you enjoyed reading about all of the fabulous things to do in Fuquay-Varina. My time there was cut a bit short due to the snow; however, I was still able to visit and feature all of the places that I had originally planned to. It truly is a beautiful city with a magical small-town feel. I actually joked with someone that I could picture a Hallmark movie being filmed there.
I want to say a special thank you to John Byrne with The Fuquay Mineral Spring Inn for helping us to feel so at home during our stay. And to Susan Weis (and everyone else) in The Town of Fuquay-Varina who have made it such a great place to visit!
As for me and my future, I am hoping that school just keeps getting canceled this week due to snow… and I’ll just start packing for Jamaica right now. Follow me on Instagram and like my Wine and Weekends FB page for fashion inspiration and more traveling adventures. And if you ever have any questions, always ask. Talk soon!
Until next time,