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North Carolina, you are in a gem. I was born and raised in North Carolina, but it wasn’t until I was older I realized how wonderful this state truly is. Mountains, beach, good sized cities, small towns, and so. much. to do. I’ve barely even scratched the surface of this massive bucket list of the best things to do in North Carolina and I’ve lived here almost 30 years!
If you live in North Carolina and are looking to explore more, you can knock off so many of these with weekend trips… you can even knock off several items in one visit! If you’re on the East Coast, you owe it to yourself to take a long weekend down to North Carolina. It’s just that lovely. And if you’re from the West Coast, may I suggest an East Coast road trip? You’ll be able to see some of the highlights with a short stop in NC, but I’m biased and think this state might deserve a bit more of your time 😛
So without further ado, here is a MASSIVE guide of the best things to do in North Carolina! I’m only human though, so if I missed anything, make sure you chime in on the comments and let me know what I need to add!
North Carolina Bucket List: Best things to do
1. Drink craft beer in Asheville, NC – Asheville is a foodie + beer lover’s dream. Take a day to brewery hop. Some of our favorites include Burial, Wicked Weed, Hi-Wire, and Sierra Nevada.
2. Visit the Lemur Center in Durham, NC.
3. Tube down the French Broad River
4. Hike in Pisgah National Forest
5. Enjoy small town mountain living in Bryson City
6. Try your luck at Harrah’s casino in Cherokee
7. See the elk in North Carolina’s Maggie Valley
8. Chase waterfalls: Bridal Veil Falls (Highlands), Catawba Falls (Pisgah National Forest), Glen Burney Falls (Blowing Rock), Graveyard Falls (Asheville), High Shoals Falls (South Mountain State Park), Linville Falls, Lower Cascade Falls (Hanging Rock State Park)
9. Eat a shrimp burger at Big Oak Drive In & BBQ
10. Visit the NC zoo in Asheboro
11. Grab your bathing suit and head to Sliding Rock in Brevard
12. Climb the tallest sand dune in the state at Jockey’s Ridge to watch the sunrise or sunset
13. See the blue fireflies in May at Dupont State Forest
14. Watch the wild horses in Corolla
15. Scout for bald eagles at Jordan Lake State Recreation Area
16. Climb to the top of Hatteras lighthouse–the tallest brick lighthouse in North America!
17. Visit the Biltmore Estate
18. Take a hike in Grandfather Mountain State Park and then walk along the Mile High Bridge (this is where we got engaged!)
19. Experience a UNC v. Duke basketball game (Go Heels!)
20. Visit the Apple Festival in October in Hendersonville
21. Relax in a treetop soaking tub at Fontana Lake
22. Spend a day (or a weekend!) exploring the wines of the Yadkin Valley Wine Trail
23. Take a ferry to Ocracoke Island
24. Tour the USS North Carolina Battleship
25. Visit America’s most visited National Park: Great Smoky Mountains National Park (and stay in Bryson City to mark 2 things off at once!)
26. White water raft on the Nantahala River
27. Summit North Carolina’s highest peak: Mount Mitchell
28. Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway
29. Attend a Durham Bulls Baseball game (ever watched Bull Durham?! Yeah, it’s that team!)
30. Take in the beauty of Sarah P. Duke Gardens
31. Get a good Instagram photo at the NC Museum of Art
32. Adventure at the US National Whitewater center
33. Get spooked at Scarowinds (Carowinds near Halloween, at night!)
34. Play golf in Pinehurst (just know you won’t catch me hitting the links… I suck)
35. Visit a haunted abandoned town (Henry River Mill Village.. was also used as District 12 in the Hunger Games!)
36. Drive through the Lazy 5 Ranch zoo
37. Enjoy the foodie scene in Downtown Durham
38. Indulge in a luxurious weekend away at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC
39. See the Lost Colony at Manteo
40. Walk along the yellow brick road at Beech Mountain’s annual Autumn of Oz event
41. Visit Hendersonville in mid-May to mid-June to see the Blue Ghost Fireflies
42. Leave a note in the Kindred Spirit mailbox on Bird Island
43. Take a weekend to explore Winston Salem and Old Salem Museum & Gardens
44. Learn about the greats at the NASCAR Hall of Fame
45. See the world’s largest Chest of Drawers in High Point, NC.
46. Head to Lake Lure to enjoy a weekend lounging in the same waters were Johnny practiced lifting Baby in Dirty Dancing.
47. Who said traditional Appalachian dances were dead? I didn’t even know they were ever alive… but they’re kept alive at the weeklong festival in Swannanoa. Visit during this time to try your hand (or feet) at a new jig.
48. Visit the monument of where the first ever flight took place in Kitty Hawk, NC.
49. Hike to Looking Glass Rock — which gives off a magnificent reflection when the sun hits the rock. Brevard, NC.
50. Take a ferry from Beaufort to Sand Dollar island
51. Visit Chimney Rock
52. Try Eastern NC BBQ
53. Cheer on the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, NC
Wow. What a list. What things have you marked off? I’ve still got a ways to go and I’m sure I’ll keep adding to this list of best things to do in North Carolina.
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