The following is paid content produced by Ingles Markets.

I’m Chris Bainbridge, and I love the Carolinas. This is an amazing place to find adventure in all shapes and sizes – even in our changing world. Ingles sent me on a mission to bring you the very best of what our beautiful home has to offer – food, fun, nature music, and more… all affordable, and all out of the ordinary. This is The Ingles Open Road.

We’re heading up not just up into the gorgeous mountains of western North Carolina but lightyears beyond our own solar system. If you’re a fan of the mystery of space, the pursuit of knowledge, or just really great views then it’s time to point your compass to Mayland Earth to Sky Park.

Located in Burnsville, North Carolina, this amazing new campus is part of Mayland Community College. Their mission is to encourage visitors to explore the natural world from the earth to the sky, and they have some amazing facilities to let you do just that.

This place is designated as an International Dark Sky Park – and is one of only two in the world that operates both an observatory and a planetarium. Both the Bare Dark Sky Observatory and the Arthur Planetarium are open to the public, and they’re awesome.

The telescope here is the largest in all of the Southeast that is dedicated to public use. You can get up close and personal with the moon, planets, and stars by gazing through this custom beauty. Over the course of 2 hours, the pros will take you on a tour of the night sky like you’ve never received before.

And that’s just one of the amazing scientific attractions on offer. Up next, we’re checking out the Arthur Planetarium.

This is a brand new 36-foot projection dome. With 60 seats and amazing projectors, it’s ready to wow you with shows about astronomy and a variety of other scientific genres. And this winter they’re also going to start with laser light shows.

When you’re ready to shift your focus from the skies overhead to the ground beneath your feet, the scientific journey continues in the Aquaponics and Hydroponics labs.

Here you can learn how water-based farming practices are put to use. Some of the herbs that you buy in the Ingles produce section are grown using methods just like these. And you can meet some of the fish that keep the tanks clean and the ecosystem thriving.

When you visit the Earth to Sky Park, make sure and hit up the Ingles in Burnsville for some great picnic items to enjoy these long-range mountain views.

Your weekend is waiting on the Ingles Open Road!