Blake Walsh

70 Best Things to Do in North Carolina

  • Published 2022/09/14

Nothing beats the unique opportunity to experience both the thrill of the mountains and the calm of the coast that North Carolina offers.

Also called “Tar Heel State,” the backstory of the state’s nickname is shrouded in mystery.

However, historians believe it comes from North Carolina’s lengthy history as a manufacturer of naval stocks, including tar, rosin, pitch, and turpentine from the state’s abundant pine trees.

North Carolina consists of three regions: Coastal Plain, Piedmont, and the Mountains.

Coastal Plain consists of low level ground near the Atlantic Ocean.

It’s split into the outer and inner coasts.

Meanwhile, Piedmont sits in the state’s center, between the arid Coastal Plain and the forested Mountains.

“Piedmont” is a French term that means “foot of the mountain.”

You may also find the state’s Mountain area in its western half.

Its size is significantly less than that of the neighboring Piedmont and Coastal Plain.

Still, over a mile in altitude, this area is among the world’s highest.

If you’re looking for a place to visit for a day, a weekend, or a more extended vacation, look no further than North Carolina!

Visitors return year after year to reconnect with the area’s richness and diversity, which includes new attractions and novel take on old favorites.

Buckle up as you explore the best things to do in North Carolina!

1. Coastal Plain

The Coastal Plain region consists of 300-mile barrier-island beaches along North Carolina’s coast.

Each has its personality and set of attractions.

Visitors come back year after year because there is always something new to discover in the area’s picturesque seaside villages!

Here are the best things to do in Coastal Plain:

Pay Honors to the Aircraft Pioneers at Wright Brothers National Memorial

Daytime view of Wright Brothers National Memorial

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The Wright Brothers are household names because they were the first to pilot a powered flying machine (an airplane) to a successful flight.

You may honor them at the Wright Brothers National Memorial, whose namesake is now universally recognized as a byword for technological progress in aviation.

The Wright Brothers National Memorial lies at the first airplanes’ historic takeoff and landing sites.

First flight at Wright Brothers National Memorial

Zack Frank /

Big Kill Devil Hill, a 90-foot dune, is the site’s foundation.

The town of Kill Devil Hills, Dare County, rebuilt the buildings to look and feel as they did when they were newly built.

It has brought back memories of working under such conditions.

Photographer statue at Wright Brothers National Memorial

Grindstone Media Group /

Those interested in aviation and history will find this a must-see destination.

There is a Visitors Center at the Wright Brothers National Memorial, where you may get further details.

At this museum, you can learn about the Wright brothers and their achievements through various exhibits, including a pair of reproductions of their original flying planes from 1902 to 1903.

Fabric flyer wings at Wright Brothers National Memorial

Teresa Otto /

Experience the Bizarre Side of NC at Cryptozoology & Paranormal Museum

Cryptozoology and Paranormal Museum in North Carolina is a must-see for anybody curious about the state’s most out-there attractions.

For those familiar with North Carolina, cryptid sightings are more common in the state’s rural parts.

This museum in Littleton is all the more fitting.

Local cryptozoologist Stephen Barcelo is in charge of the Cryptozoology & Paranormal Museum.

He maintains a healthy supply and adds items from various inquiries and studies to his collection.

A section devoted to fakes discusses proven frauds, like the Feejee mermaid and a haunting doll called “Mrs. Beasley.”

There are also testimonies and images purportedly showing UFOs.

Barcelo not only shows people how to use the museum’s specialized ghost-hunting equipment, but he also leads excursions through the quiet town of Littleton to look for ghosts.

Visiting the museum is a great way to learn about Littleton’s past.

Intriguingly, there were numerous sightings reported after its inception in 2015.

The owner believes people find it more convenient to report sightings to a specialized organization, like the Museum of Cryptozoology and the Paranormal.

Still, there’s also talk that the logging activities in the area are making some cryptids angry.

Celebrate the Birth of Independence during Halifax Resolves Day

On April 12, 1776, 83 leaders unanimously voted a resolution known as the Halifax Resolves to North Carolina’s Fourth Provincial Congress.

The said resolutions called for the breakup of North Carolina’s relations with England and showed that the colonies favored declaring independence from Britain.

The province of North Carolina was the first to put its plans for freedom in writing, dealing the first significant blow to the idea of a united, sovereign United States of America.

The “Halifax Resolves” were the first time a colonial government formally advocated for independence from Britain.

The town of Halifax in Halifax County honors them through Halifax Resolves Day.

Living history demonstrations, historical interpreters, historical-themed speeches, and memorial observances provide a full day of events.

Revisit North Carolina’s history through the costumed reenactors, military camps, and vintage weapon exhibitions.

Get the Best of Golf Coast Bald Head Island Club

The championship 18-hole Bald Head Island Club course at Bald Head Island, Brunswick County, stretches across dunes above the Atlantic Ocean and surrounds freshwater lagoons. It spans 6,855 yards.

Its Pro Shop has a wide variety of top-quality golfing gear and athletic apparel.

The club also has four hard-court tennis courts with a view of the ocean, a 25-meter swimming pool with views of the Atlantic Ocean across a lagoon, and regulation greenswards ideal for the elegant game of croquet.

Additionally, a recently added, fully-equipped fitness area ensures that you may continue your workout routine regardless of the weather outside.

Aside from the beautiful dining room, Bald Head Island Club also features a stunning lounge and a members-only barbecue.

Take Photos with Old Baldy

Beautiful sunset over Old Baldy

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Old Baldy in Brunswick is the oldest and most well-known lighthouse in North Carolina.

This lighthouse has stood in its exact position and original design since its construction in 1817.

This landmark is 110 feet tall and features 108 steps and five landings.

Exterior of Old Baldy

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Although Old Baldy is no longer in service as a lighthouse, people are welcome to visit and climb to the summit to take in the stunning scenery.

You may hire a guide to show you around the island in detail, or you can buy a ticket to the top of the structure.

Learn about the Local Aquatic Life at the Museum of Coastal Carolina

Explore Ocean Isle Beach, Brunswick County, and the most expansive “dry aquarium” in the Southeastern United States, the Museum of Coastal Carolina.

In this museum, you may personalize your own aquatic species and scan it into an online marine environment.

You may also find shark teeth in the fossil crate.

See awe-inspiring displays of shark teeth and marine shells.

Explore the wildlife dioramas depicting the ocean reef, barrier islands, and Green Swamp of Coastal Carolina.

Make a mountain range or dunes in an augmented reality sandbox and watch the water flow.

The Touch Tank allows visitors to interact with living marine life, such as sea stars and urchins.

For gifts with a natural theme, check out Nature’s Treasures.

Call or visit the museum’s website to get the most up-to-date schedule of events since it varies with the seasons.

Cherish the Scenes of Safe Haven at Fort Fisher State Recreation Area

Daytime view of Fort Fisher State Recreation Area

Spencer Kent /

Fort Fisher State Recreation Area is one of the locations where the filming of Safe Haven, based on the novel by Nicolas Sparks, took place.

The site lies in Kure Beach, New Hanover County.

It is where they shot the kissing scene between Josh Duhamel’s character Alex and Julianne Hough’s Katie.

You may visit more filming locations by taking a boat from Fort Fisher Ferry Terminal to Southport.

Visitor center of Fort Fisher State Recreation Area

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During the park’s warm season, loggerhead sea turtles come ashore to nest on Fort Fisher State Recreation Area’s sandy shoreline.

At the end of a route across the salt marsh, visitors may take in breathtaking views of Zeke’s Island and the Cape Fear River.

A marsh is an excellent place for photographers and birdwatchers to see a variety of species throughout the year.

Great egret at Fort Fisher State Recreation Area

Greg Farley /

Hop in a Beach Party during North Carolina Festival by the Sea

Each year, Holden Beach in Brunswick County hosts the North Carolina Festival by the Sea, a popular seaside arts and crafts fair.

It’s been nearly 40 years since the first event of its kind started.

There will be live music, contests, food, fun for the whole family, and artwork created by local artisans in various mediums.

The festivities begin with a procession over the Holden Beach Causeway; this is the only time of year that the scenic Holden Bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway is available to foot traffic.

There is also a yearly sandcastle competition and horseshoe tournament that you may join.

The whole family will certainly have a good time at the North Carolina Festival by the Sea.

Discover more about America’s Favorite Town at Beaufort Historic Site

The salty-sweet aromas of a historic nautical tradition carried in on the ocean breeze from the Atlantic make Beaufort Historic Site‘s Federal-style buildings unique.

Beaufort, Carteret County, dubbed “America’s Favorite Town,” is the site’s location.

The private guided tours feature ten historic structures, including a jail, courtroom, pharmacy, and doctor’s office.

You may also find three houses from the 1700s and 1800s here.

Explore the historic neighborhood aboard a classic English double-decker bus from 1948, in addition to the guided walking tours.

See Majestic Mustangs with Shackleford Wild Horse and Shelling Safari

Herds of Wild Spanish Mustangs call the southernmost island in the Outer Banks’ Cape Lookout National Seashore home.

Seeing these horses is quite the experience.

The island they live on lies about three miles to the sea, and you can only reach it by private watercraft or passenger boat.

The Cape Lookout National Seashore Visitor Center on neighboring Harkers Island is an excellent resource for information and safety reminders.

See the horses yourself, and don’t forget to take snaps.

Shackleford Wild Horse & Shelling Safari in Beaufort provides guided excursions and ferry service to Shackleford Banks.

The day is yours to spend at the beach, taking pictures of the horses or collecting some of the most fantastic shells on the Carolina coast.

The tours only last three hours, and the ferries return to the mainland regularly during the afternoon.

When visiting Shackleford Banks, remember to pack a hat, sunblock, and lots of water.

Look Back to a Mysterious History at The Lost Colony

Earthwork site at The Lost Colony

Teresa Otto /

On Roanoke Island in 1587, a group of English settlers comprising 117 people built up a permanent English colony in the New World.

When English resupply ships arrived in 1590, they found the island abandoned and uninhabited.

It was just three years after the initial colonists had arrived.

The colonists’ disappearance is still a mystery over 450 years later.

The Lost Colony brings back to life the mysterious disappearance of the first English colonists in the New World.

It’s America’s longest-running symphonic outdoor drama.

Check out the Indian dances and epic wars!

Commemorate the first English child born in the Americas with the Queen and her court as they honor the birth of Virginia Dare.

You’ll find music, comedy, romance, and dancing in this Mateo Dare County theater.

Explore the Birthplace of Pepsi

Exterior of the Birthplace of Pepsi

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Caleb Bradham founded Pepsi-Cola in his New Bern, Craven County, drugstore in 1898.

That pharmacy is now known as the Birthplace of Pepsi.

Interior of the Birthplace of Pepsi

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The Minges Bottling Group of Ayden, North Carolina, unveiled the Birthplace of Pepsi Store to the public for the first time in 1998 on the occasion of Pepsi Cola’s centennial.

Soda cases in the Birthplace of Pepsi

Grzegorz Czapski /

See the origins of one of the world’s most beloved beverages at The Birthplace of Pepsi-Cola Store.

Visit the shop, buy some memorabilia, and sip some fountain Pepsi!

Mugs displayed in the Birthplace of Pepsi

Grzegorz Czapski /

Uncover the Terrors of the Pirate Blackbeard at North Carolina Maritime Museum

North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort, Carteret County, represents coastal life and provides an interpretation of topics, including lighthouses and lifesaving stations, the seafood business, motorboats, and more.

Children and adults can participate in marine biology, ecology, and science courses.

The museum also features cannons, grenades, belt buckles, and beads from Blackbeard’s sunken flagship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge.

Back in his day, Blackbeard had the notoriety as a terrifying pirate.

Some say he practiced voodoo and the black arts and had a tendency for brutality.

The Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center at the museum provides boat-building instruction to visitors of all ages.

Donations are welcome but not required.

Tour Tryon Palace

Aerial view of Tryon Palace

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Experience live history like never before at Tryon Palace in New Bern, where modern technology meets authentic artifacts from bygone eras.

Encounters of all kinds and educational adventures await you and your loved ones.

The North Carolina History Center’s multi-player games and hands-on exhibitions are a hit with guests of all ages.

The gardens of Tryon Palace

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At the same time, the Governor’s Palace’s guided tours, theatrical reenactments, and chats with costumed interpreters bring the building’s history to life.

Explore the surrounding gardens and the region’s historic landmarks.

Tryon Palace offers various activities perfect for creating lasting family experiences, such as strolling around one of its riverbank gardens or learning new skills, like quilting, printing, sailing, or blacksmithing.

Vine arch pathway at Tryon Palace

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Appreciate the Value of Conservation at Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center

Visit the turtles at Surf City‘s Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center.

Its Topsail Turtle Project aims to promote the conservation and research of sea turtles breeding on the beaches of Surf City and Topsail Island.

The rehabilitation center welcomes visitors on one of its informative excursions daily.

It also has a gift shop featuring several turtle-themed items.

This nonprofit organization provides medical and rehabilitative services only to sea turtles.

All its workers are also volunteers!

If you’re lucky, you may catch its sea turtle releases and see them safely freed back into the ocean.

Stroll around Lejeune Memorial Gardens

Located in a calm area of Jacksonville, Onslow County, Lejeune Memorial Gardens is home to several memorials reflecting the city’s military past and present.

Marine Corps Air Station New River and Camp Lejeune maintain this tradition by preparing service members for deployment worldwide, both in times of war and peace.

Even if you did not serve, you might find significance in the gardens’ solemn grounds and the thoughtful ways they commemorate those who did.

Download their map as your first stop, then head toward City Hall, where Johnson Boulevard changes name to Lejeune Street.

The Freedom Fountain is here to tribute to the armed forces personnel who have served in Jacksonville and Onslow County.

The water cannons stand in for the federal, state, and municipal governments, while medallions and flags represent the 50 individual states.

Walk along Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Cape hatteras lighthouse at Cape Hatteras National Seashore

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Cape Hatteras National Seashore in Buxton, Dare County, offers a wide range of natural environments, from the roar of the ocean to the quiet of the salt marshes and all in between.

Since the islands are constantly affected by the elements (sea, wind, and storms), they are ideal places to visit.

There is a constant adaptation cycle among the local flora, fauna, and human population.

The sands of Cape Hatteras National Seashore

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Everyone has something to do here, whether strolling the beach, paddling out on the sound, or ascending the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.

This national seashore protects and preserves 75 miles of North Carolina’s Outer Banks and is home to three lighthouses: Cape Hatteras, Bodie Island, and Ocracoke.

The waters of Cape Hatteras National Seashore

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Stroll around Battleship North Carolina

Daytime view of the docked Battleship North Carolina

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Start your tour of the remodeled WWII Battleship North Carolina on the ship’s Observation Deck.

You may reach it by crossing the river from downtown Wilmington, New Hanover County.

There are nine floors of living quarters, gun turrets, meal decks, sick bay, powder storage, and more available for self-guided tours.

Displays on Battleship North Carolina

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Battleship North Carolina is accessible daily and is a tribute to the 11,000 North Carolinians who lost their lives in the war.

Do not miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime chance to participate in a thrilling historical experience.

Visitors can now stroll around this place for free during battleship hours on the SECU Memorial Walkway.

Engine room of Battleship North Carolina

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Go Kiteboarding at Kite Point

Kiteboarding at Kite Point

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Suppose you ask a group of traveling kiteboarders how to get to Kite Point.

In that case, they will gladly point you toward the unmarked yet world-famous sound side beach.

Kite Point, near Buxton, Dare County, on the Pamlico Sound, transformed from being an uninhabited stretch of beach to a kiteboarding Mecca in a matter of years.

Visitors to Hatteras Island will find this beach covered with stretched-out kites and rigging and the waters crowded with giant, multicolored kites zipping in every direction.

Whether or not you’re die-hard fans of kiteboarding, you’ll feel awed by this stunning scene, enhanced by the presence of the majestic Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in the backdrop.

Admire the Flora and Fauna of Airlie Gardens

Reflection pond at Airlie Gardens

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Airlie Gardens lies in northeastern Wilmington, North Carolina, along Airlie Road.

When Pembroke and Sarah Jones bought the land in 1884, they began developing it into the beautiful landscape known today as Airlie Gardens.

To purchase and restore the garden, New Hanover County relied on a grant from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund and the generosity of local citizens, both of which came through in 1999.

Bottle house at Airlie Gardens

Matt Trostle, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Two miles from Wrightsville Beach, you may find 67 acres of formal gardens, animals, ten acres of lakes, more than 75,000 azaleas, the approximately 500-year-old Airlie Oak, and a seasonal butterfly house.

Hike the trails or take a tram through settings where new flowers are always blooming.

Flowers behind a statue at Airlie Gardens

Matt Trostle, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Catch the Sunset at Wilmington Riverwalk

View of the sunset from Wilmington Riverwalk

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Wilmington Riverwalk is a spectacular path and an experience in itself.

It was initially built in the 1980s to attract more visitors to the Cape Fear River waterfront areas of Wilmington’s historic Downtown.

The riverwalk is now a mile-long scenic boardwalk that runs along the riverbanks.

It offers visitors picturesque views and convenient access to many of the area’s most famous landmarks.

Some of Wilmington’s finest architecture flanks the scenic wooden boardwalk, and beyond that are miles of sea and sky.

Buildings at Wilmington Riverwalk

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Various works of art depict Wilmington Riverwalk due to its assortment of pastel businesses and old architecture.

The riverwalk is a pedestrian path along the coast, popular with joggers and runners due to its flat terrain and abundance of natural shade.

The course is lit at night by decorative hanging street posts.

It features benches and embedded stools along the way for those who would like to rest their weary legs and take in the sea breeze.

Light posts at Wilmington Riverwalk

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Learn Surfing or Rent a Board at Wilmington Surf Adventures

Wilmington Surf Adventures in Wrightsville Beach is the go-to South Eastern North Carolina outdoor adventure outfitter for surfing lessons.

Jimmy Fallon and Ty Colagerakis opened their surf school in 2018 to make surfing instruction on Wrightsville Beach more accessible to the local community.

Wilmington Surf Adventures can easily accommodate your holiday plans.

It can provide safe and enjoyable surf, kayak, and stand-up paddleboard tours.

Check Out the Insect-Eating Plants at Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden

Venus flytrap at Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden

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The Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden in Wilmington, developed by the eponymous Stanley Rehder, is one of the most unusual nature-themed destinations in North Carolina.

The Flytrap Man got his moniker from devotion to that subset of carnivorous plants.

After he died in 2012, Wilmington named a modest garden after him, now known as the Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden.

The theft of $20,000-dollar worth of venus flytraps from the amusement garden in 2013 catapulted it to notoriety, but not for the right reasons.

Bumblebee on a plants at Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden

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While the thefts were a terrible setback for the garden, they did have the positive side effect of drawing attention to it.

Since then, visitors have had a good time roaming the compact half acre.

It has a unique microclimate that keeps plants blooming throughout the year so that you may visit at any time.

2. Piedmont

The Piedmont region in North Carolina’s central area is home to cities like Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, and Durham.

These locations provide the conveniences of a city getaway with their host cities’ unique charm and personality.

Enjoy the many museums, vineyards, breweries, golf courses, and natural wonders found in this region!

See the best things to do in Piedmont below!

Bring Your Kids to the Museum of Life and Science

Butterflies in the Museum of Life and Science

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The Museum of Life and Science in Durham, Durham County, is a stunning institution dedicated to natural history and aimed squarely at young people.

Guests will find enough to do on the property’s 84 acres, as the main structure is two stories of beauty and is jam-packed with engaging displays and exhibitions.

The Museum of Life and Science is home to more than 60 different types of living creatures, including a plethora of butterflies that fly freely in one of the largest butterfly conservatories on the East Coast.

The conservatory is also home to many avian and flora-based inhabitants.

You may see animals in the outdoor farmyard and the rest of the flora and wildlife in the Explore the Wild displays.

The Dinosaur Trail’s skeletons are a crowd-pleaser, but there are displays of other extinct species.

Pay a Visit to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

Exterior of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

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Two separate structures—the Nature Research Center and the Nature Exploration Center—make up the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, the state’s first and oldest museum.

You may visit it in Raleigh, Wake County.

Not only does it house the Prairie Ridge Ecostation, but it also houses the North Carolina Museum of Forestry, making it the largest natural science museum in the southeastern United States.

Because it is free of admission, this museum is one of the best free attractions in the state.

You may learn information about the state’s coastline regions, gemstone industry, and rainforest and tropical environments in the Nature Exploration Center.

Welcome sign of North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

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You may even check out the resident sloth that only has two feet!

It is also home to the sole publicly displayed Acrocanthosaurus skeleton, or “Terror of the South,” in the world.

Alternatively, the Nature Research Center will teach you how scientists collect and analyze data to understand the natural world.

The topics covered range from DNA research to deep space travel to studying weather patterns.

Interior of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

Mark Turner, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Learn about Celestial Bodies at Morehead Planetarium and Science Center

Side view of Morehead Planetarium and Science Center's exterior

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Since its opening in 1949, the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center has attracted more than seven million annual visitors, making it one of the state’s top tourist destinations.

Located on Chapel Hill on the University of North Carolina campus, its original function was to serve as a training facility for NASA astronauts.

Between 1959 and 1975, it taught more than 60 of these officers the ins and outs of celestial navigation.

What was once only a planetarium has evolved into a complete science center.

Many informative displays at this entertaining public venue cover a wide range of themes.

Sundial of Morehead Planetarium and Science Center

KAD Photo /

One standout is Firsts in Flight, which honors and thoroughly examines African Americans’ accomplishments in space exploration and the evolution of aviation.

Another resource that emphasizes the importance of clean water availability is Water in Our World.

Seeing the exhibits is one of the best free things to do in the state.

However, planetarium shows have minimal charges, airing continuously throughout the year.

You’ll find exciting information on space travel, astrophysics, black holes, Galileo, and other astronomical phenomena.

Front view of Morehead Planetarium and Science Center's exterior

Yeungb, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Get Your Hands on the Interactive Displays at Marbles Kids Museum

Exterior of Marbles Kids Museum

Mx. Granger, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Marbles Kids Museum has been one of North Carolina’s most popular destinations for families with kids of all ages, but notably those in the 0-10 range, since it debuted in 2007.

It lies in Raleigh and offers various engaging and entertaining educational and enrichment activities.

The Marbles Kids Museum features exhibits on topics as diverse as electricity, water, and music throughout its five halls.

The Art Loft allows kids to explore their artistic sides, while Power2Play encourages active play even on rainy days!

The Marbles Kids Museum features two separate outdoor areas.

An example is a garden that boasts a 22-foot-tall bloom.

There is also an IMAX cinema showing documentaries and other informative films.

Workshops, events, and activities, including storytimes and games, are also conducted regularly throughout the week.

Get Up Close with Local Species at North Carolina Zoo

Giraffes at North Carolina Zoo

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Asheboro in Randolph County is home to one of North Carolina’s most popular tourist destinations.

The North Carolina Zoo is a global pioneer in animal conservation and a great place for families and friends to have an unforgettable experience.

Lions at North Carolina Zoo

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The animals here have lots of areas to wander because the zoo is the largest natural environment zoo in the world.

Guests may enjoy trekking paths and wander among 1,600 animals over five miles.

A bear at North Carolina Zoo

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Go Winetasting at RayLen Vineyards & Winery

Raylene Vineyards & Winery, with its unusual cupola roof, stands out in the southern Yadkin Valley Appellation.

Visit the property in Mocksville, Davie County.

You’ll feel like you’re in a movie as you wind your way among 35,000 vines of European wine varieties.

You may relax on the porch with a fine bottle of wine after tasting the wines and taking a tour of the vineyard and winery at RayLen Vineyards & Winery.

Chardonnay, pinot grigio, cabernet blends, merlot, and owner’s blends are all available from the wine selection.

Check Out Seagrove Pottery Gallery

The Seagrove Pottery Gallery in Seagrove, Randolph County, has been operating for almost 25 years.

In this one-of-a-kind shop, you may find all sorts of pottery, including pieces that serve practical purposes, traditional decorations, and even sculptures.

This unique pottery is perfect for starting or expanding a private collection of fine works of art.

This shop has some best examples of antique and modern pottery and other handicrafts worldwide.

It provides various locally made ceramics, sculptures, glass, basketry, lawn and garden products, and other decorative accessories for your home or business.

When planning a vacation in Seagrove, include this gallery in your itinerary.

Browse High-Quality Home Additions at Furnitureland South

Exterior of Furnitureland South's showroom

Sarahrosebudd, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Furnitureland South is the largest furniture retailer in the world.

Upon entering, you will receive a shopping guide with a store map to easily navigate the more than 1 million square feet of merchandise available.

It leads you to the exhibits in the showroom devoted to individual manufacturers.

Feel free to take your time and relax if you can’t find what you’re looking for right away.

Inquire about customizing the wood stain and fabric used for many of the components in your home.

Expect to spend the entire day perusing this furniture store.

See the Collections of Vollis Simpson’s Whirligig Park

Entrance to Vollis Simpson's Whirligig Park

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Vollis Simpson’s Whirligig Park in Wilson, Wilson County, spans two acres.

It features over thirty whirligigs, including some of the biggest in Vollis Simpson’s oeuvre.

There is always something exciting going on at the park, so guests will never get bored.

It also has a large outdoor stage where people may watch films or listen to live performances.

Colorful sculpture at Vollis Simpson's Whirligig Park

PT Hamilton /

The Wilson Farmers & Artisan Market and other informative and entertaining family events occur at the park shelter.

Picnics, reading, and relaxing in the presence of art and nature are all made more pleasant by the availability of benches, tables, and seats.

Among the reflected whirligigs, you may do everything from practice Tai chi to have a picnic or a family gathering to play flashlight tag.

Night view of Vollis Simpson's Whirligig Park

William Howard /

Try Your Best to Stay Sober at Elizabeth City Sipping Trail

The Elizabeth City Sipping Trail is a breeze to finish in Pasquotank County.

Upon entering a location, the staff will stamp your sipping passport.

You don’t have to buy anything, but you’d be missing out if you don’t sample a beverage at each stop.

There’s also a wide range of tasty selections, from red to white to pilsner to IPA to latte to smoothie.

To complete the passport, you must visit eight different drinking establishments in Elizabeth City and have each one stamp your passport.

After seeing all eight locations, you may turn in your passport for a chance to win a grand prize consisting of items from each participating Sipping location.

To get started on the trail, visit the Welcome Center or the information booth at Mariners’ Wharf Park to pick up a physical copy of the passport or print one from its website.

Experience the Southern Charm of Old Salem Museums & Gardens

Visitor center of Old Salem Museums & Gardens

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The Moravian, African-American, and Indigenous communities of the American South are all represented in Old Salem Museums & Gardens.

It features original buildings, storytelling, hands-on activities, music and events, and world-class treasures.

These elements provide an unforgettable experience for visitors, especially history buffs.

Single brother's house at Old Salem Museums & Gardens

Bryan Pollard /

Visits to Salem, Burke County, and its award-winning heirloom gardens offer an immersive look into the lives of early Southerners.

To see the oldest bakery in the United States that is still in business today, stop by Winkler Bakery.

First house at Old Salem Museums & Gardens

Bryan Pollard /

Support Women Empowerment at Single Sisters Museum

Exterior of Single Sisters Museum

Bryan Pollard /

Sixteen courageous girls left Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in 1766 to start a new life in the wilderness of North Carolina.

Later, these single female members of the Moravian community founded their own house in the town of Salem.

Twenty years and 500 miles after their first departure in April 1786, they finally settled into their new home.

The building housed enthusiastic educators and young women eager to study music, sketching, needlework, geography, and the hard sciences.

The school was run by the Single Sisters for many years as a profitable business venture, serving as a constant reminder of the importance of women’s access to education and economic opportunity.

Today, it serves as a museum commemorating the contributions of the Single Sisters to the community.

Single Sisters Museum is the oldest structure on a college campus in North Carolina.

It has been continually linked to the education of women and girls in the United States for almost 200 years.

Celebrate the Life of a Hollywood Icon at Ava Gardner Museum

Actress Ava Gardner was born only ten minutes away from Smithfield. She is one of Hollywood’s all-time icons.

Ava Gardner Museum dedicates itself to the screen star in Smithfield, Johnston County, which houses an extraordinary memorabilia collection.

Visitors to the museum may watch a 15-minute documentary on Ava’s life as soon as they enter the building.

Her early life, discovery by MGM, film career, marriages, and time spent in London and Spain are all chronicled in the various permanent exhibitions.

The museum also works hard every year to unveil new temporary exhibitions.

Enjoy Various Lakeside Activities at Lake Norman

The waters of Lake Norman

Jon Bilous /

Duke Energy began the construction of Cowan’s Ford Dam on the Catawba River Chain in 1959, creating Lake Norman near Mooresville, Iredell County.

The lake, which spans four counties with its 520 kilometers of shoreline and surface area of more than 32,475 acres, makes it the largest artificial lake in the state.

Paddle-boarding on Lake Norman

Jon Beyerle /

At Lake Norman, you may enjoy beautiful sunsets, waterfront dining, boat rides, regattas, and, if you’re lucky, a glimpse of Normie, the Lake Norman Monster.

You may enjoy fishing, boating, skiing, paddling and swimming, wakeboarding, hiking, biking trails, and other recreational activities in and around the lake.

The waters of Lake Norman

jdwfoto /

Unleash Your Inner NASCAR Fan at Charlotte Motor Speedway

A race at Charlotte Motor Speedway

Grindstone Media Group /

Take a tour of Charlotte Motor Speedway, “America’s Home For Racing,” and satisfy your inner racing fan.

The guided tour of this Concord attraction usually takes an hour.

You may drive on the high banks of the 1.5-mile track and have your picture taken in Victory Lane without making a single contact with the ground.

The station you tune into will have exciting trivia and information about the track’s 60-year history.

Racecars at Charlotte Motor Speedway

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Learn how The Dirt Track and zMAX Dragway operate from the inside out with the Speedway Tour!

In addition to soaking in the sights and sounds of “America’s Home for Racing,” you may also study up on the track’s storied past.

The AutoFair, the Speedway Christmas holiday light show, and the ride-and-drive experiences are additional attractions for car fans of all ages.

The excitement continues across the street at zMAX Dragway and The Dirt Track.

Pit stop at Charlotte Motor Speedway

Grindstone Media Group /

Practice Your Swing at Pinehurst Resort

Exterior of the Pinehurst Resort

KAD Photo /

Pinehurst Resort in Pinehurst, Moore County, may be a golf destination with nine courses, including the Cradle.

However, it began in 1895 as a health resort styled after New England communities.

The spa at Pinehurst Resort

KAD Photo /

If you stroll around the picturesque village, you’ll see that the fresh pine air has curative properties.

Additionally, the resort houses three historic hotels, tennis courts, a golf course, a swimming pool, a spa rated four stars by Forbes, a putting green, a putting green, a bike trail, and a BMX track.

Gain an Insight into the Armed Force’s History at Fort Bragg

Welcome sign of Fort Bragg

RedCom Productions /

With around 54,000 active-duty and reserve service members and civilian employees, Fort Bragg is one of the most significant military outposts in the world.

Fayetteville, Spring Lake, and Southern Pines lie at the border of the military reserve that spans both counties of Cumberland and Hoke.

The United States Army Special Operations Command, the United States Army Parachute Team, and the XVIII Airborne Corps are all based out of Fort Bragg.

Airborne and Special Operations Museum at Fort Bragg

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Fort Bragg is the headquarters for the XVII Airborne Corps (also known as “America’s Contingency Corps”) if the United States needs to deploy its military.

Visitors who do not have a legitimate Department of Defense or other valid ID must first attend the All American Visitor Control Center to access the base.

Statue at Fort Bragg

Glynnis Jones /

Cycle through Uwharrie National Forest

Nature trail at Uwharrie National Forest

Andy Fogelsonger /

The Uwharrie National Forest spans 51,546 acres in Montgomery, Randolph, and Davidson counties.

Located in Uwharrie National Forest, the Uwharrie National Recreation Trail spans 25 miles.

Over time, it will grow to 40 miles and link up with the Birkhead Mountains Wilderness.

The path’s starting point in the south lies on NC-24/27.

Covered bridge at Uwharrie National Forest

Andy Fogelsonger /

The first nine miles form a double loop with Dutchmans Creek Trail and connect to the Wood Run Mountain Bike Trails.

You may reach Yates Place Campground from here.

As the Uwharrie Trail travels north from its starting point on NC-109, it will reach Morris Mountain, where you may find more camping facilities.

The path crosses one of the few open balds in the Uwharrie Mountains, between Dark Mountain and Little Long Mountain. You may have a picnic at its day-use area.

Set up your tent at an established campsite for a minimal fee.

The grounds of Uwharrie National Forest

Andy Fogelsonger /

Catch a Horse Race at Pinehurst Harness Track

Daytime view of Pinehurst Harness Track

Jerrye & Roy Klotz, MD, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Pinehurst, located in Moore County, is home to the 111-acre equestrian complex known as the Pinehurst Harness Track, which has served as a winter training facility for standardbred equines since 1915.

The grounds have three separate training tracks, several barns with a total of about 300 stalls, and a variety of paddocks.

The 1/2 mile sand/clay track, the 5/8 mile sand/jog track, and the one-mile clay track are all suitable winter training facilities for champion trotters and pacers.

The infield of the half-mile track has a permanent outdoor horse riding facility.

When not used for training, the tracks host other events.

Watch horse shows, dog shows, vehicle displays, and rugby matches.

Visit the Exhibits of Artist League of the Sandhills

The Artist League of the Sandhills houses more paintings and sculptures than any other gallery in the Sandhills.

To see artists at work and have a conversation with them, drop by any of its 34 studios.

Take some time to wander the studio and take in the many artworks on display.

A group of artists set out in the early 1990s to fulfill their vision of an artist community by providing a physical and social space for creative expression.

The group’s gallery lies in a former railroad storage station.

Many local artists and merchants contributed to the event’s theme and ambiance.

As time went on, the Artists League established itself and expanded rapidly, eventually reaching a membership of over 200 people.

Artists can use the “terminal’s” studio spaces, big lecture halls, galleries, and libraries.

All are welcome to attend the free classes and seminars constantly advertised in the press.

The League is financially independent, thanks to contributions from members and proceeds from events like classes and workshops.

Explore the Wildlife in Greensboro Science Center

Peacocks at Greensboro Science Center

Lillian Wagoner /

Greensboro Science Center in Greensboro, Guilford County, has a zoo, a museum, and an aquarium, all in one location.

Meet creatures from all over the world, some of which are critically endangered, such as pygmy hippos, African penguins, the Sumatran tiger, and a red panda.

Petting goats and lambs, playing in the farmhouse, and witnessing North Carolina crops are just a few hands-on activities available at the farm.

Tortoise at Greensboro Science Center

Amanda Reyes /

Inside the museum, you may explore the dinosaur-filled Prehistoric Passages, brave the elements in Extreme Weather, and have a blast in SciPlay Bay.

You may also relax with a fantastic performance in the OmniSphere Theater.

There are additional opportunities for kids to attend camps and workshops.

Discover the County’s Rich Textile History at Textile Heritage Museum

Alamance County and the state of North Carolina have a rich textile history.

The Textile Heritage Museum, located in the renovated Company Store and Management offices, is the best example.

One of Alamance County’s early mills, the Glencoe Textile Mill, was in operation from 1880 until 1954, creating a broad range of plaids and other textiles sent worldwide.

This 6,000-square-foot museum showcases the history of the textile industry in the area.

See fabric samples, uniforms, pictures, papers, diaries, early office equipment, and relics from mill workers and the town of Glencoe.

There are also hundreds of other one-of-a-kind treasures relating to the textile industry that is on exhibit.

Additionally, the museum has a theater, a gift shop, and hiking trails.

See Quirky Gourds at Marvin & Mary Johnson Gourd Museum

In 1965, Marvin and Mary Johnson decided to launch the Marvin & Mary Johnson Gourd Museum after realizing they had an abundance of gourds lying around the house.

His license plate reads “GOURD”; therefore, it’s safe to assume that Marvin knows more about these peculiar gourds than anybody else.

There is a little, musty structure hidden in the woods behind Johnson’s house in Angier, Harnett County, which houses the museum.

It features a Last Supper replica crafted from gourd seeds, a gourd “Shamu” created by Brenda Pawlak of Cleveland, a gourd Popeye and xylophone, and many, many gourd animal designs.

You may also see the photograph of a guy standing on top of a gigantic African mammoth gourd.

Book your tour in advance before heading to the museum.

Support Civil Movement at The International Civil Rights Center & Museum

Exterior of the The International Civil Rights Center & Museum

NatalieSchorr /

The International Civil Rights Center & Museum, a Top Ten Stop on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail and a designated International Site of Conscience, commemorates a watershed moment in American history.

The International Civil Rights Center & Museum’s fixed galleries, The Battlegrounds, tell the story of the American civil rights movement.

Discover the American Civil Rights Movement via photographs, relics, interactive galleries, and film reenactments at the old F.W. Woolworth store on South Elm Street.

Whites only lunch counter at The International Civil Rights Center & Museum

User:RadioFan, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The A7T Four, then teenagers attending North Carolina A&T State University, sat at a “Whites Only” lunch counter more than 50 years ago.

They sparked the American sit-in movement and a countrywide call for racial equality and justice.

A symbol of bravery and progress, the museum is a landmark in the present day.

If you’re looking for park information, a map, or a copy of the Smokies Guide newspaper, stop into the Oconaluftee Visitor Center in Cherokee, Cherokee County.

See the Tiny Fantasy World of Shangri-La Stone Village

Shangri-La Stone Village in Prospect Hill, Caswell County, was a side project for its creator.

After Henry L. Warren retired in 1968, he began constructing the stone, concrete, and arrowhead buildings.

When Warren passed away in 1977, the miniature hamlet had 27 completed structures, making it the perfect size for tiny fantasy gnomes.

Since then, the structures’ sturdy stone construction has kept them standing through rain, snow, and even earthquakes.

One of the most enjoyable things in North Carolina is to make your way through the thousands of arrowheads, forming a meandering path among them to look at the adorable little cottages.

3. Mountains

The Mountains is home to famous landmarks, like the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Appalachian Trail.

From farm-fresh cuisine and incredible craft beer to majestic waterfalls and one of the oldest rivers on the continent, there’s so much more to discover in this region.

Check out the list of the best things to do in the Mountains!

Immerse Yourself in the Splendor of Nature at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Scenic view of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

ZakZeinert /

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States.

Go camping and hiking in one of the oldest mountain ranges in the United States.

Located on the state line between North Carolina and Tennessee, Great Smoky Mountains National Park was established in 1926 and consisted of apparently unending forested ridges.

The Smokies is a mountain range in the southern Appalachians.

Waterfall at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Photosbyjam /

It is famous for its abundant plant and animal life, stunning old mountains, and rich history.

It is the center of southern Appalachian mountain culture, despite the constant morning fog that gives them the name.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to a wide variety of attractions, such as 80 historic structures, beautiful flora, and plentiful fauna.

Landscape of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

David7 /

Reach the Top of Clingmans Dome

Scenic view from Clingmans Dome

Jason Sponseller /

Intriguing in its mist and height, Clingmans Dome is accessible through a tortuous path.

It towers 375 feet into the air atop the tallest mountain in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, an altitude of 6,643 feet.

About a mile of the trail leads up from Clingmans Dome Road to the top of the dome, and it’s a hefty incline the whole way.

North Carolinians consider Clingmans Dome one of the best locations in the state, and it’s easy to see why as you reach the peak and take in the breathtaking panorama.

However, there is a sad note to it as well, since you may visit the remains of once-proud fir trees from here.

Curved trail of Clingmans Dome

TheCameraObscura /

Whitebark and bare green Fraser fir snags were poisoned in the twentieth century to combat the spread of the invasive balsam woolly adelgid.

Over ninety-five percent of the fir trees in the park’s surrounding area have undergone degradation.

The devastation you may see from Clingman’s Dome is sad yet curiously, tragically beautiful.

Though morbid, it’s worth seeingat least once!

People watching the sunset from Clingmans Dome

Kemboslice /

Visit Grandfather Mountain

Scenic view of Grandfather Mountain

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This enormous mountain in Linville, Avery County, stands about 6,000 feet tall and is home to the best and most ecologically diversified nature preserve in the area.

In addition to the breathtaking panoramas afforded by the Mile High Swinging Bridge, visitors to Grandfather Mountain can get up close and personal with native wildlife.

Catch the sight of otters, bald eagles, and deer!

You may also take guided hikes along tranquil nature trails or challenge yourself on rugged alpine terrain.

Welcome sign of Grandfather Mountain

Kristi Blokhin /

Bordering the Grandfather Mountain Attraction is the Grandfather Mountain State Park.

Visitors may reach the State Park’s network of trails through the Swinging Bridge.

You may access Grandfather Mountain State Park trails outside the park’s main entrance at no cost.

The high swinging bridge of Grandfather Mountain

Cvandyke /

Step Back in Time at Biltmore

Exterior of Biltmore Estate

24dupontchevy, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Visit Asheville, Buncombe County, and learn about the delights of Biltmore.

Experience the awe-inspiring splendor of America’s most expansive private residence, the Biltmore House, with its 250 rooms and century-old grounds.

Try your hand at anything from rafting to horseback riding throughout the backyard’s expansive 8,000 acres.

Banquet hall in Biltmore Estate

Comtesse d’Autodidactica, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Stop by Antler Hill Village, home to the Biltmore Winery and a link between the estate’s history and present.

It also offers a tranquil setting for dining, shopping, viewing historical displays, and discovering fresh ways to experience Biltmore’s famous hospitality.

The Inn on Biltmore Estate is a four-star hotel where you may enjoy the enduring pleasures of a magnificent vacation.

Cruise the Blue Ridge Parkway

Viaduct of the Blue Ridge Parkway

anthony heflin /

Blue Ridge Parkway, the first of its kind in the United States, was explicitly built for leisure driving.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is the best-preserved rural highway for cars in the United States from before and after World War II.

The parkway’s route is a thriving landscape and worldwide engineering model.

Aerial view of Blue Ridge Parkway

Kirk Wester /

This parkway links two of America’s most visited national parks, the Shenandoah and the Great Smoky Mountains.

It covers 469 miles, equivalent to 29 counties, in Virginia and North Carolina.

It provides access to the tops of five distinct mountain ranges in the central and southern Appalachians.

Tunnel along Blue Ridge Parkway

Jon Bilous /

Hop on Your Bike at Tail of the Dragon

Scenic view along Tail of the Dragon

Steve Lagreca /

Dubbed “Tail of the Dragon,” this length of highway stretching for 11 miles near Deals Gap is considered the best road for motorbikes and sports automobiles in the United States.

US 129 is a straight shot between the Cherokee National Forest and the Great Smoky Mountains with no offshoot roads to slow you down.

Hundreds of bikers and sports car fans pilgrimage every year between spring and fall.

Tree of motorcycle parts at Tail of the Dragon

Steve Lagreca /

Can you see yourself succeeding here?

Even though the Tail of the Dragon turns is exceedingly tight, riding it is the most exciting thing you’ll ever do on a roller coaster.

Visit the stores in both the Tail of the Dragon area!

Dragon sculpture at Tail of the Dragon

Steve Lagreca /

Zip through The Gorge Zipline

Explore the unspoiled nature by starting at the edge of the Green River Gorge.

The Gorge Zipline exciting opportunity might be waiting for you in Saluda, Polk County, or Henderson County.

Fly through the air on 11 separate ziplines, cross a sky bridge, and down three huge rappels while gazing over 18,000 acres of protected Green River Gamelands.

The gorge has integrated hands-free brakes to ensure everyone’s safety and enjoyment.

Any trip to the mountains of western North Carolina should include a stop at The Gorge Zipline.

Spend the Night at Campfire Lodgings

Ten minutes from downtown Asheville, you’ll find Campfire Lodgings atop Goldview Mountain.

Views of the mountains and the French Broad River complement over 100 acres of woodlands and trails.

Park amenities include “home-style” stalls, cable TV, and direct-dial phone lines.

Near more than 30 points of interest, there’s much to explore with less time in the car.

There are no electronic diversions but plenty of beautiful flowers and a campfire.

There are 20, 30, and 50-amp full hookups available at each site.

Take Snaps of Looking Glass Falls

Scenic view of Looking Glass Falls

CeGe /

If Niagara Falls is the most famous waterfall in the United States, then Looking Glass Falls is the most popular tourist attraction in the state.

Looking Glass Rock got its moniker because, in the winter, water freezes on its sides and reflects the sun like a mirror or looking glass.

The nearby stream, also called Looking Glass Creek, was so named because of the imposing rock formation it flows past.

Front view of Looking Glass Falls

Terry Honeycutt /

Because it cascades next to a road, it is one of the few waterfalls that those with limited mobility can easily reach.

Visiting this place is a must for everyone traveling through Transylvania County and stopping in Brevard.

Downstream of Looking Glass Falls

William Fowler /

Admire the Views from Wiseman’s View Scenic Overlook

View of the sunset from Wiseman's View Scenic Overlook

anthony heflin /

This overlook in Marion, McDowell County, provides a breathtaking view over the Linville Gorge.

Facing East, it is an ideal place to see the dawn.

Wiseman’s View Scenic Overlook is a hidden gem tucked away from the crowds in the Linville Gorge region.

You have to see this breathtaking view to believe it, and it’s only 0.2 kilometers (0.1 mi) from the nearest parking lot.

See the incredible panoramas of the valley below and the Hawksbill and Table Rock mountains on the other side of the chasm.

Don’t miss out on Wiseman’s View, a prize of Pisgah National Forest.

Enjoy the stunning views of Linville Gorge, the Linville River, and its surrounding mountains from a large, open observation spot you may easily reach through a short walk.

Begin your hike at the parking area, filled with helpful signposts.

Go Hiking at Chimney Rock

Aerial view of Chimney Rock

Chansak Joe /

Treat yourself to the incredible views of Hickory Nut Gorge, Lake Lure, and beyond from the top of 315-foot Chimney Rock in Rutherford County.

You may reach it through the 499-step Outcroppings walk (or an elevator and two stair-flights).

Be sure to stop by the Grotto, Pulpit Rock, and Subway along the route for breathtaking panoramas that can’t be seen anywhere else in the park.

Steps leading up to Chimney Rock

Kevin Ruck /

The park features various hiking paths, from the easy-going Great Woodland Adventure Trail.

It has 12 discovery stations to the more challenging Four Seasons Trail, which gains more than 400 feet in elevation.

Please keep your pets on a leash and enjoy your stay.

Since there are no developed trails in the state park, you will have to rely on backcountry hiking.

Daytime view of Chimney Rock

Sean Pavone /

Explore the County’s Mining History at Gem Mountain Gemstone Mine

The Gem Mountain Gemstone Mine in Spruce Pine, Mitchell County, has been a popular tourist attraction for over 35 years since it opened in June 1987.

The owners, Charles and Kay, have devoted their lives to delivering a one-of-a-kind and unforgettable vacation experience for those who visit their gem shop.

The couple opened it out of a love of gemstones and a desire to share the history and tradition of gem mining in Mitchell County.

Gem Mountain Gemstone Mine aims to ensure you and your loved ones have a great time while visiting the Blue Ridge Mountains.

There is a wide variety of gems waiting for you to unearth.

You may also go on a mine tour, visiting one of the mines where they unearthed precious stones like emeralds and aquamarine.

Try Gold Panning at Gold City Gem Mine

Welcome sign of Gold City Gem Mine

Kristi Blokhin /

Franklin’s Gold City Gem Mine is a one-stop shop for all your gem and mineral needs, as well as gold panning, cutting and mounting, jewelry, general merchandise, antiques, and more.

So that you can sluice in any weather, it features an outdoor and an inside flume, with heating for the colder months.

In addition, it features natural and enhanced gemstone storage containers.

After panning, have a professional jeweler examine your rough stones for free!

If you want a genuinely stunning keepsake, have your stones cut and mounted in one of several different gold or silver settings.

Hop in a Train Ride at Tweetsie Railroad

The train of Tweetsie Railroad

DanaForeman /

Wild West Adventures await you at Tweetsie Railroad.

You may ride a restored narrow-gauge steam engine, experience traditional amusement attractions, visit the animals at Deer Park Zoo, try your luck at panning for gold, and more!

Day Out With Thomas, Ghost Train, and Tweetsie Christmas are three special events that happen yearly.

Tweetsie Railroad has a rich history as the first family theme park in North Carolina.

It is an exciting place where kids and their families can use their imaginations while doing much more.

Exterior of Tweetsie Railroad

Nolichuckyjake /

Work as an engineer, a cowboy, or a cowgirl.

Enjoy window shopping on Main Street, gold panning in Prospector’s Park, and a trip to the Deer Park’s animal inhabitants.

Visitors of all ages will enjoy the variety of rides and the regular live performances at Tweetsie.

Also, ride on a vintage train for a memorable three-mile Wild West adventure through the beautiful highlands.

The property lies in Blowing Rock, Watauga, and Caldwell counties.

Admire the Stunning Views as You Drive through Linn Cove Viaduct

Daytime view of Linn Cove Viaduct

Jon Bilous /

The Linn Cove Viaduct in Newland, Avery County, appears to float in the air as it runs parallel to the southern face of Grandfather Mountain.

But the best part about crossing the viaduct on the Blue Ridge Parkway is the journey to get there.

Head south on the parkway from US 321 in Blowing Rock.

As you go south, the highway rises through breathtaking vistas and gushing mountain streams that pour down Grandfather’s wrinkled brow.

The road of Linn Cove Viaduct

MarkVanDykePhotography /

At Milepost 304.6, the road begins a leftward turn that leads one to believe they are traveling into outer space.

When you reach Linn Cove Viaduct, get out of your car, park at the far end of the structure, and gaze at the viaduct below.

You may return to Price Lake after a 13.5-mile journey on the Tanawha Trail from Beacon Heights, which starts just beyond.

From Linville’s location on US Route 221, visitors may access the Blue Ridge Parkway and, from there, the Linn Cove Viaduct.

Have a Picnic at Doughton Park

Beautiful sunset over Doughton Park

Beach Creatives /

The Blue Ridge Parkway’s largest recreational area is this park near Sparta, Alleghany County, which spans an impressive 7,000 acres.

There’s a campsite, several paths, and some places to picnic.

Doughton Park is where you may experience the rich heritage of the Appalachian region among the rolling meadows and towering peaks.

Get your hiking along the 30 miles of trails here, or check out Brinegar Cabin for a glimpse of the mountain’s pioneer era.

The homestead of the Caudill family is a spectacular example of living in the mountains apart from civilization.

In the winter, you may cross-country ski in the park.

There are also many paths, and the land is pleasantly undulating.

Birdwatchers will surely enjoy exploring the area’s tracks and spotting various birds and other animals throughout the year.

Go Snow Tubing at Moonshine Mountain Snow Tubing Park

If you’re looking for a great spot to go snow tubing in North Carolina, go no farther than Moonshine Mountain Snow Tubing Park in Hendersonville, Henderson County.

People of all ages will have a great time on the more than 500 feet of vertical snowy fun and thrill.

Gather your loved ones with you because you’re about to make some memories that last forever.

Get together with your loved ones and prepare to have a blast!

You’ll have the pleasure of your life on the snow tubing slopes, whether you want to ride the tube alone or in a group train.

Do you need a moment to relax, refuel, or warm up?

Then enjoy a cup of hot chocolate while relaxing in front of the fire in this lodge.

Snacks to keep you going on your next ski run are available at the on-site lodge and food truck.

Moonshine Mountain Snow Tubing Park has loads of fun activities for the whole family, from snow tubing to eating to shopping.

Have a Retreat at Fontana Village Resort & Marina

Vacationers staying at the Fontana Village Resort & Marina near Fontana Dam, Graham County, will be treated to stunning views of the surrounding mountains and the confluence of the Fontana and Cheoah lakes with Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

It offers various places to stay, from rooms in the cozy lodge at Fontana to cabanas by the pool, suites with fireplaces, woodland cabins, and RV and tent camping on scenic Cheoah Lake.

It’s easy to understand why Fontana is the premier Great Smoky Mountain Destination.

It has a conference center, restaurants and catering, an outfitter and grocery, an inn pool, and disc golf.

The property also features Stone Creek Pool, Lazy River, Village Marina, and miles of on-property biking and hiking trails.

Try Your Luck at Harrah’s Cherokee & Casino Resort

Welcome sign of Harrah's Cherokee & Casino Resort

Billy F Blume Jr /

Harrah’s Cherokee Hotel & Casino Resort lies in Cherokee.

It features 150,000 square feet of gaming space, including live table games such as blackjack, roulette, craps, and more, digital blackjack and baccarito, and more than 4,100 of the newest Vegas-style slots.

Casino patrons must be at least 21 years old.

The hotel and convention center is waiting for you on the top 15 floors.

In addition to its three restaurants and 15,000-square-foot conference center, the hotel also features a covered parking garage, arcade, indoor pool, and fitness center.

The rooms have spacious bathrooms, separate sitting spaces, high-end furnishings and fittings, and unique extras like hair dryers, coffee machines, and 32-inch TVs.

Check in on one of its Tower suites for a more opulent stay.

The Event Center’s flexible layout of 16,815 square feet allows for gatherings of anywhere from 100 to 1,500 people.

Stop by Almost Rodeo Drive

One of the first shops in Blowing Rock is Almost Rodeo Drive.

Since 1984, the High Country has been able to use its unique fashions.

It is your one-stop shop for high-end women’s apparel, jewelry, accessories, housewares, and more in Watauga and Caldwell counties.

Many well-known labels are available at its store, including Joseph Ribkoff, Tribal, and Krazy Larry.

It also has on-site flower arrangement services and a wide variety of unique gifts, such as Greenwich Bay soaps, oil candles, flags, birdhouses, and more.

Sample the Spirits of Call Family Distillers

The Call Family Distillers are a heritage distillery that makes moonshine, bourbon, and brandy in Wilkesboro, Wilkes County.

It boasts using only the purest tap water and the finest ingredients in its homemade spirits.

Visitors over the age of 21 can participate in free tastings and tours of the distillery.

Enjoy a shot of Willie Clay Call’s authentic moonshine, produced in his original moonshine cars and at 110% proof.

See the actual moonshine vehicles in action.

The distillery offers tourists a taste of what it was like in Wilkes County when it was the world’s pioneering producer of illegal liquor.

Watch How Glass Comes to Life in Lexington Glassworks

Exterior of Lexington Glassworks

Fotoluminate LLC /

The Lexington Glassworks in Asheville is an internationally acclaimed glass art exhibition and a production facility.

The proprietors have an open-door policy so that customers may observe every step of the glassblowing process.

The average length of a demonstration is 30 minutes, and any group of more than ten individuals has to pay a nominal charge and schedule a presentation in advance.

Bill and Geoff, the studio’s proprietors, conceived and produced all available artworks.

The gallery is open weeklong.

Indulge in the Creativity of the Region at Folk Art Center

Interior of the Folk Art Center

EWY Media /

Folk Art Center in Asheville highlights the work of the Southern Highland Craft Guild’s over 900 hand-picked members.

The center boasts artists considered to be the best in the world.

You may find both historic and modern Southern Appalachian handicrafts at the center.s

Crafts in Folk Art Center

EWY Media /

The complex has three exhibit halls, a library, a bookshop, an information desk, and a gift shop.

The store is open on a seasonal basis, with summer hours including live craft demonstrations.

There is plenty of free parking, and there is no entry fee.

Exhibit in Folk Art Center

EWY Media /

Final Thoughts

North Carolina’s three regions seem worlds apart despite being in the same state.

It’s a state flush with Old South allure, magnificent beaches, and breathtaking mountain scenery.

Experience many firsts and make memories in North Carolina.

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