As fall is rolling in, we suggest escaping to a destination that offers every type of vacation travelers could want! From mountains to beaches and from cities to farms, North Carolina’s vast scenery allows visitors to enjoy every setting. While we’re sure you’ve heard of the most travelled trails, here is our list of intriguing destinations that you may not have heard of!
Whether you enjoy an adventurous hike through trails or a relaxing day on the beach, the nature in this sate is sure to have you enjoying yourself. Exploration and excitement await you in the beautiful, natural atmosphere throughout the state. Here are some of our suggestions of locations that you can find the hidden beauty throughout the state.
Pisgah National Forest near Asheville
If you are looking for a vacation filled with adventure and trails to keep you active, Pisgah National Forest is where you should head. Hike to beautiful waterfalls or bike through the forest. Visitors always enjoy their time spent here. Our favorite activity that this area offers is for the more adventurous, but beginners may enjoy this one too! White water rafting is very popular in the surrounding waters and the activity offers a perfect way to explore the state at a fast pace.
Elijah Mountain Gem Mine in Hendersonville
Planning on bringing the kids along on this road trip? We know the perfect stop to keep them entertained! The Elijah Mountain Gem Mine is a refurbished mine where visitors have the opportunity to sift for their own gems. Travelers can take a tour of the area or simply sift away until finding the perfect gem. This location serves as a reminder of how influential gem mining was to the development of the New World and as a fun activity for all!
Judaculla Rock in Sylva
North Carolina has always been known for it’s strong Indian roots. Many tribes including the Cherokee made this state their home. Today, archeologists are still uncovering ancient artifacts form the time and there is more to be learned every day. The Judaculla Rock is a reminder of the continuing discovery and learning that is taking place. The rock contains an ancient Cherokee petroglyph and is paving the way for more discoveries.
Brevard White Squirrels in Brevard
In the city of Brevard, visitors can view a multitude of white squirrels. Unlike any other squirrel in the united states, this species is not albino nor is it foreign. This population is believed to come from two white carnival squirrels that mixed with the local population and created a new species of squirrel. Animal lovers will fall for this city immediately and the family will enjoy this uncanny sight.
Jockeys Ridge in Kitty Hawk
Known for being the birthplace of flight from the Wright Brothers, these dunes hold much more than you would think! Jockey’s Ridge is a set of sand dune stretch along a portion of the Outer Banks. At the top of the dunes, visitors can achieve the most stunning view of the ocean and the sound. Be sure to travel with shoes or on a cool day as the sand can get hot!
This is one trip you won’t want to forget your camera for. The colors, sights and scenery are truly breathtaking and make any journey worth it. The range of views you can take in here are stunning. Get ready to take your social media to the next level and make your followers wish they were on vacation too. Here is some of our favorite views in the state.
Clingman’s Dome in Bryson City
While the Great Smoky Mountains are one of the most visited destinations in this area, we suggest delving a little bit deeper. Clingman’s Dome is a mountain that lies on the state border between North Carolina and Tennessee. It is the highest point of this mountain range and the lookout is worth the drive. At over a mile of elevation, on a clear day, this overlook will give you a view of the mountain range like you have never seen before. Check the weather before you go and be sure to bring a camera!
Sarah P Duke Gardens in Durham
If you are looking for the perfect backdrop for some photos or simply looking to capture some nature shots, Sarah P. Duke Gardens should be the next stop on your list. Find your way through the winding paths and stop along the walk to enjoy the landscape. With over 5 miles of trails and 55 acres of beautiful scenery, you will have a new picture to take around every corner. Enjoy this area any day of the year.
Hatteras Lighthouse in Cape Hatteras National Seashore
This iconic lighthouse has served for a picture of what a lighthouse is for generations. Cape Hatteras lighthouse was the first lighthouse to be painted in a black and white candy stripe and also stands as the tallest brick lighthouse in North America holding a total of 257 stairs to the lookout deck up top. We chose this as a picture perfect destination for its versatility! Snap a shop of the lighthouse from the beach or make the climb to the top and be rewarded with the breathtaking 360 view of the Outer Banks.
Biltmore in Asheville
Luxury truly takes on meaning when you are able to experience the Biltmore. This estate was originally built by George Washington Vanderbilt as a summer home in 1889. Construction, however, was drawn out over a span of 6 years. The home was used as a family gathering place, passed on as a valuable asset until 1963 when the land was established as a national landmark. The estate spreads vastly on over 4,300 acres of perfectly manicured land. Take a tour inside this modern day castle or simple explore the gardens and grounds that surround. No matter what you choose to do here, you are bound to be taken back by the intricate beauty everything on this property holds.
Mile High Swing Bridge in Linville
If you have an adventurous soul that loves a thrill, we know just the trek you need to take! This bridge hangs on Grandfather Mountain one mile above sea level and allows explorers to experience views of the mountain like none other. The panoramic picture scene you can capture from the bridge is incredible and will have you feeling a rush of excitement! Visitors can cross over 200 feet that hangs over an 80 foot drop on America’s largest suspension foot bridge. We suggest you conquer your fears and cross to the other side!
Known for being the state that was home to the first attempted settlement in the United States, North Carolina has always played a significant part in the course our our nation’s history. Discovery and expedition and loyalty to history are just a few qualities that makes this state’s heritage so impactful. Here are some destinations locals love to understand their roots!
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh
The North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences is one of the oldest and most respected institutions in the Southeast. The museum’s role is to explore history and nature to find out the answer to four questions, “what do we know?, how do we know?, what’s happening now?, and how can you participate?.” Every visitor is sure to learn something new on their journey through this museum. If museums aren’t exactly your idea of fun, we urge you to try out this one and dig deeper into how history was formed!
Corolla Wild Horse Beaches
If you love a nature tie in with your history lesson, head up Highway 12 on the Outer Banks to Corolla to see the wild horses roam the shore. These Spanish Mustangs are direct descendants of horses that were brought over by the Spanish and soon thereafter abondoned on the beaches. This small strip of beach between corolla and Virginia Beach is the only area in the US where wild Spanish Mustang still roam. The island has a wildlife committee of vets to monitor the population. However, they are set apart because they refuse to intervene in a horse’s care unless absolutely needed and once the horse is brought off the beach, it is no longer considered a wild horse part of the herd. We suggest taking a tour by Jeep, ATV or truck to experience these horses close up like never before.
Roanoke Lost Colony in Wanchese
We all know that Jamestown was the first successful US settlement, but many times we skip over the section of our history book that shares the previous attempts to start New World colonization and civilization. The most notable attempt is commonly known as “The Lost Colony” for it’s infamous disappearance. This colony made it’s home on the island of Roanoke. Split into two small regions named after the Indian rulers, Wanchese and Manteo, the island of Roanoke holds a historical area that visitors can explore. This area is also home to the country’s largest outdoor drama performance that occurs during the summer months. At the waterside theater, viewers are taken back in time to discover an interpretation of what really happened to the Lost Colony, Virginia Dare and so much more.
Discovery Place in Charlotte
This science and technology museum gives visitors a firsthand experience of history as it is developing. This museum focuses heavily on ensuring that education is integrated into everything they do. If you are driving by with your kids, this is the perfect half-day stop to keep them entertained, engaged and educated.
Battleship North Carolina in Wilmington
Known for being the most decorated American battleship of World War II with 15 battle stars, this ship sits at port in Wilmington for visitors to explore and learn more of the ship’s history. Here, you can experience what life was like aboard the ship by listening to many of the stories of the crew members that once served.
Quick Roadside Stops
From quaint roadside attractions to noteworthy drive-by locations, North Carolina holds a new adventure down every street! These stops are sure to have your attention and interest as you make your way through the state. If you are looking for a break from your car ride or just a fun day detour, here are some of our suggestions.
House of Mugs in Collettsville
Known to locals as the “Collettsville Cup House,’ this home is that of a dedicated coffee lover. The owner said that he came along a box of hundreds of coffee mugs at a market one day and began to hang them outside his home. Eventually, collecting every mug he could find became a hobby and he used the collection to decorate the exterior of his home. Years later, the house is now completely covered in hanging mugs and is viewable by the public! Take your coffee obsession to a new level and visit the place that has every mug you could dream of.
“The Fugitive” Train Wreck in Sylva
Just off Haywood Road in Sylva, visitors fan find the remnants of one of the most iconic scenes from the 1993 movie, “The Fugitive.” Starring Harrison Ford, this movie featured an intense train collision with a bus. Because this movie was shot before the luxury of CGI, the producers parked a bus on some train tracks, put the train full speed ahead and filmed the collision. Visitors interested can see the scene in the same state it was left from the side of the road.
The Road to Nowhere in Bryson City
Hidden in the Great Smoky Mountains, this road was once constructed in hopes of reconnecting abandoned communities to society. In the mid 1900’s, the road reaching out to the communities was covered by Lake Fontana. Later, a new highway 288 was promised and started. However, funds ran out as the project ran into some environmental issues. Now, this road to nowhere takes a scenic route through the mountains and dead ends at a tunnel. Take the family on this interesting road trip and stop at the tunnel to see the path the road was planned to take.
Grave Diggers Dungeon in Currituck
If you ever have seen or taken your kids to a monster truck rally, chances are you have seen a performance from the infamous lime green and black “Grave Digger” truck. What many don’t know is that the owner of this monster truck started out the roots of the journey to fame right in the Outer Banks near Currituck. Here, you can see and take pictures with many of the original trucks and shop in the gift shop for all the souvenirs you could want!
World’s Largest Chest of Drawers in High Point
Nestled in a rather small town, passerby can find a chest of drawers that tower 36 feet into the air breaking records of the time. In fact, this chest of drawers is completely functional as a building and was originally constructed to lay claim to make High Point, North Carolina the furniture capital of the world. In the early 1900’s the building actually served as the town’s bureau of information. Recently, the chest has been out build by an 80-foot one closer to the road, however we think both are worth the trip!
From sea to scenery, this state promises a getaway that you will love filled with new experiences. Pack the RV with the family and the essentials and explore the East Coast’s own hideaway.
Leave a comment down below and let us know what your favorite North Carolina destinations are!