Activities For Dogs In North Carolina On Cold Days

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Introduction

While cold days in North Carolina only last for about three months out of the year, trudging through them can be a severe drag. There are two general courses of action: stay inside and hibernate (which few would blame you for) or bundle up, go out and find some adventure anyway. For anyone who tends to lean towards the latter, cheers to you, we've got some good news: there's still plenty for you to do. Whether there is actual snow on the ground or just a chill in the air, we've got a list of great cold weather activities to help you skip the snooze and shake the winter blues.

Spooky and Bizarre

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Cold Day
Cheap
Easy
1 - 4 hrs
Items needed
Leash
Dog Bag
Dog Coat
Activity description
Generally speaking, October is the time where people in North Carolina start changing out of their summer wear and into that of fall and winter. And what's one of the first holidays you can celebrate for nearly a full month? Halloween! Thanks to its rich history, Wilmington has a ton of tours you can take from historic to haunted (we recommend the latter in October) and a few neat shops to go with them. For this cold-weather activity, we're sending you on a mini-adventure through the city in hopes that the sights and sounds will have you shivering more than the cold. They're all easy, inexpensive and are most appropriate around Halloween anyway.
Step
1
Get bizarre
The first stop on your Wilmington adventure should be the Museum of the Bizarre. It's loaded with tons of weird and creepy stuff to check out from shrunken heads to horror movie memorabilia and just about the entire place is dog-friendly. Make sure to call ahead to let them know you plan on coming, then pack some dog bags and a sturdy leash for the tour. There are some moving exhibits and strange noises so make sure your dog can handle some of the strangeness and surprises that will inevitably arise.
Step
2
Get ghosty
After you get some thrills inside, it's time to get some chills outside. Wilmington has several different haunted tour companies, so you'll want to do some preliminary research to figure out which ones sound the most entertaining and are dog-friendly. We recommend the Ghost Walk as it's dog-friendly and definitely has some creepy stuff -- just remember, some people might jump, so make sure your dog can handle sudden spooks. You'll get to see and hear about several haunted locations in Old Wilmington and get a good walk in the process. And don't forget to bundle up beforehand!
Step
3
Then toasty
The last stop on your mini tour should be The Black Cat Shoppe, which is dog-friendly and completely loaded with all sorts of oddball stuff that will help you unwind from the creepiness of the tour without getting you out of the Halloween spirit. It's generally open late, which means you can warm up and check out some cool and weird stuff before you head home. If nothing else, you can always stop for a night cap on one of the local dog-friendly patios if you're bundled well enough!
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At the Drive-In

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Cold Day
Cheap
Easy
80 - 140 min
Items needed
Blankets
Dog Bags
Leash
Activity description
Most people think that summer is the perfect time for a drive-in. You can roll your windows down, enjoy the breeze, lean back and catch a flick. But for those unaware, some drive-ins stay open even when it gets cold and North Carolina still has a few in operation for you to enjoy. It's cheap entertainment, eats up a few hours, means you can wrap in a blanket or stay toasty in your warm car and provides more than enough space for you and your dog to just hang out, if not explore the grounds nearby before, during, or after the movie.
Step
1
Find the right spot
There are drive-ins scattered all over North Carolina but you'll need to make sure to find one that's still operating in the colder months. Do an initial search online, then make sure to call and confirm the details and the dog-friendliness of the location (you can always find other things to do nearby before the movie so you can make a more exciting trip out of it). Figure out if you plan to eat beforehand, gorge on the snacks and drinks offered if there are any, or if you should bring your own. Then, pick a film you want to see if you plan to stay in the car, or a classic if you intend to do some exploring. Once you've got it all worked out, you can either buy your tickets in advance (if offered) or bring cash to pay in person.
Step
2
Drive in, lean back, and enjoy
Once you've got the details worked out, head on over to the drive-in. Make sure to give your dog a bathroom break before the movie begins if you plan on staying in the car so you're not interrupted mid-movie. If you need to get drinks or food, make sure to check to see if they're welcome in the concessions area (rarely, but sometimes) or if it's close enough, leave them in your vehicle a few minutes max (with a cracked window at least) while you secure your munchies. When you've got everything you need, hunker down and enjoy! You'll have the heat at your disposal and a great partner in the passenger seat.
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Cold and Wet at Dry Falls

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Cold Day
Free
Easy
45 - 120 min
Items needed
Dog coat
Leash
Dog Bags
Camera
Activity description
North Carolina has gorgeous scenery year round, most of which people tend to enjoy spring through fall. But there are certain locations that just can't be missed in winter, especially after or during a significant freezing period. Dry Falls is just that. Although the waterfalls found throughout the park are fantastic in all other times of the year, winter is easily one of the best to visit, as the falling water creates magnificent natural ice sculptures and sometimes even freezes over entirely, which is a sight in itself. It's cheap outside of the price of gas, provides lots to look at throughout the park area and isn't hard to get to, as there are designated paths that even take you under the falls themselves.
Step
1
Check the weather
If you want to witness the coolest aspects of what the falls offer in winter, you'll likely want to keep an eye on the weather in its zip code to make sure there are cold enough temperatures to see what you'd like to see. Many travel websites have their reviews and photos updated regularly, so make sure to bookmark a few and keep them handy for when you have a stretch of free time so you can easily keep track of the ice formation process. Once you've seen that there has been a significant freeze, just double check the hours, grab a map online, throw on some warm clothes, grab your dog, leash, and dog bags, and hit the road!
Step
2
Nice ice
Once you arrive, it does take a small hike to get to the falls, but it will be well worth it. Fewer people visit the area in winter, so you shouldn't be fighting too many crowds compared to the warmer months. There is plenty to see on the nearby trails as well, so don't forget to keep your eyes peeled for wildlife and other areas of natural beauty, as they're there whether you pay attention or not. Because it's such a rare phenomenon reserved to certain parts of the year, when the falls freeze or begin to freeze over, it makes for some pretty spectacular photos, so if you have a decent camera (even a phone camera), don't forget to take it with you. Make sure to watch your dog's comfort in the cold and let them do as much sightseeing as you are so they can enjoy the trip even if they're not as enamored with the falls themselves.
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More Fun Ideas...

Rent a Cabin in the Mountains

North Carolina has the advantage of being near both the coastline and a significant range of mountains. Take advantage of the views by renting a cabin with a picturesque view, even if just for the night so you can your pooch can explore the wilderness nearby and at the end of the day curl up next to the fire (hint: rent a cabin with a fireplace).

Beach Bums

While dogs are allowed on beaches during specific hours from spring through fall, in winter, most beaches allow dogs at any hour of the day. Take advantage of the beachgoing lull and have the sands to yourselves! Just make sure they stay on a leash of appropriate length so you don't get hassled.

Conclusion

Winter may be a drag but considering you're not in Alaska or the northern midwest, chances are still good you won't end up looking like Jack Torrence in the final scenes of The Shining. It might be cold but there's no reason you need to hole up and sleep away the winter when there are so many interesting things you can still do. So keep your chin up, grab your pup, and get out to find something new. After all, even the ice knows Tar Heel blue.