1. Visit Biltmore Estate, 2. Enjoy a scenic drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway, 3. Go to NASCAR Hall of Fame, 4. A trip to Grandfather Mountain State Park, 5. Pay a visit to Wright Brothers National Memorial, 6. Ride the rapids at the U.S. National Whitewater Center, 7. Scale the dunes at Jockey's Ridge State Park, 8. A tour to North Carolina Museum of Art, 9. Watching sunset at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, 10. Contemplate the beauty of North Carolina Arboretum, 11. Take in the view from Chimney Rock State Park, 12. See Sliding Rock, 13. Sunbath at Outer Banks Beach, 14. Take a journay to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 15. Visit Highlands, 16. Travel to Cape Lookout National Seashore, 17. Sample a pint or two at Asheville's breweries. A trip to North Carolina guarantees a unique synthesis of exhilarating mountain excursions and relaxing beach days. Visit the site of Orville and Wilbur Wright's maiden flight, climb the biggest living sand dune on the Atlantic coast, or drive down America's Favorite Scenic Drive—North Carolina has it all. You'll need to plan your trip to North Carolina well if you want to take in both the mountains and the ocean. You may maximize your trip by using the list of the greatest things to do in North Carolina compiled by Toplist.
- Visit Biltmore Estate
- Enjoy a scenic drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway
- Go to NASCAR Hall of Fame
- A trip to Grandfather Mountain State Park
- Pay a visit to Wright Brothers National Memorial
- Ride the rapids at the U.S. National Whitewater Center
- Scale the dunes at Jockey’s Ridge State Park
- A tour to North Carolina Museum of Art
- Watching sunset at Cape Hatteras National Seashore
- Contemplate the beauty of North Carolina Arboretum
- Take in the view from Chimney Rock State Park
- See Sliding Rock
- Sunbath at Outer Banks Beach
- Take a journay to Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- Visit Highlands
- Travel to Cape Lookout National Seashore
- Sample a pint or two at Asheville’s breweries
Visit Biltmore Estate
Did you know that North Carolina is home to the largest privately owned residence in America? Asheville’s Biltmore Estate, a National Historic Landmark, is tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The 8,000-acre French Renaissance estate has 250 rooms, 65 fireplaces, 35 bedrooms, 43 baths, and more. The residence, which George Vanderbilt designed in the late 1800s, functioned as his country hideaway.
Parts of the opulent house are now accessible to the public. Walk the grounds, which were planned by Frederick Law Olmsted (who also created Central Park in New York City), or indulge in a taste at the on-site winery when you’re not awestruck by the mansion’s 10,000-volume library, the centuries-old tapestries, or the indoor swimming pool. Many tourists recommend seeing this sight while in Asheville, but they caution that it can get very busy.
In order to secure your favorite time, visitors also advise purchasing your tickets well in advance. Many people also advise upgrading your ticket to the “Exclusive Experience” so that you can view parts of the house that aren’t included in the normal tour (like the guest and servant quarters) and have the chance to be taken around the property by a knowledgeable guide. If you can’t get enough of the breathtaking surroundings, think about reserving a room at one of the nearby hotels, such the Inn on Biltmore Estate.
TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5/5.0
Address: 1 Lodge St, Asheville, NC 28803
Phone: +1 (800) 411-3812
Enjoy a scenic drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway
North Carolina is traversed by a portion of America’s Favorite Scenic Drive. Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks are connected by the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway. There are many free entry sites to the parkway in southern Virginia and northern North Carolina, but you should travel near Asheville if you want to see some of the tallest peaks east of the Mississippi River.
Popular destinations along the parkway include Linville Falls, Mount Mitchell, the highest mountain in the eastern United States, and Craggy Gardens, which is renowned for its 360-degree views and abundance of rhododendrons (a three-tiered waterfall that cascades into the Linville Gorge). Numerous hiking routes, like the kid-friendly Graveyard Fields, are accessible from the parkway when you’re ready to get some exercise.
Hikers can reach two waterfalls on this approximately three-mile circle trail. There is also the harder, 2.6-mile Mount Pisgah Trail, which goes out and back and offers views of Cold Mountain from its 5,721-foot summit if you’re up for the challenge. Retire to one of Asheville’s premier hotels after spending the day admiring the views along the parkway.
TripAdvisor Rating: 5.0/5.0
Address: Blue Ridge Pkwy, Asheville, NC 28802
Phone: +1 (828) 298-0398
Go to NASCAR Hall of Fame
You should visit this interactive museum in Charlotte if you’re a lover of NASCAR. The hall of fame features a stunning collection of historic vehicles, including Jack Ingram’s 1972 Chevrolet Monte Carlo and Wendell Scott’s 1962 Chevrolet Impala, in addition to racing simulators and exhibits that let visitors use augmented reality to glimpse inside a race car engine.
Additionally, the attraction provides the well-liked Pit Crew Challenge, which challenges guests to perform tasks that would be expected of a pit crew, including as jacking up a car, changing a tire with a real air cannon, and filling the fuel tank. In addition, the NASCAR Hall of Fame features amenities including a broadcast studio, a gear shop, and a theater that seats close to 300 people.
Visitors affirm that you don’t need to be a fan of NASCAR to enjoy a stop here because of the friendly personnel and entertaining exhibitions. A number of notable hotels and attractions, such as Discovery Place and the Mint Museum Uptown, are also conveniently close by due to its Uptown location.
Address: 400 E Martin Luther King Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28202
Phone:+1 (704) 654-4400
A trip to Grandfather Mountain State Park
Grandfather Mountain State Park, located in northwest North Carolina about 70 miles northeast of Asheville, is a playground for thrill seekers. At almost 6,000 feet, the park’s namesake is the tallest peak in the Blue Ridge mountain range.
The park is renowned for having the most severe weather in the South in addition to having a tall mountain. Therefore, pay attention to the weather prediction if you intend to hike the park’s 13+ miles of trails. If you’re ready for the task, think about hiking the 2.5-mile Grandfather Trail, one of the toughest in the Southeast thanks to a network of 18 ladders placed to help hikers scale the trail’s numerous cliffs and crags.
Less experienced hikers might wish to attempt the Nuwati Trail, a 1.2-mile out and back route that follows the path of an old logging road and gives stunning views of the Boone Bowl and Calloway Peak from Storyteller’s Rock. Set pitch a tent at one of the 13 primitive hike-in campsites in the park when it’s time to retire; these campsites must be reserved in advance (for a fee).
Address: 9872 N Carolina Highway 105, Banner Elk, NC 28604
Phone:+1 (828) 963-9522
Pay a visit to Wright Brothers National Memorial
Visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial at the Outer Banks to see where Orville and Wilbur Wright first took flight as well as where they made their landings. Reconstructed structures like a hangar and living quarters that give tourists a peek of what life was like for the Wrights in 1903 are among the area’s attractions.
The Wright Brothers Monument, which is located atop Big Kill Devil Hill, where the brothers tested their gliding experiments, is another attraction in the region. Visit the visitor center, a National Historic Landmark with a ton of hands-on exhibits, to find out more about the brothers and their quest to fly.
Visit Jockey’s Ridge State Park after exploring the memorial, which is located about 5 miles to the south. You can better understand why the Wright Brothers choose the Outer Banks when looking for the best circumstances for their flying experiments by visiting the state park, which is renowned for its tall sand dunes and fierce winds.
Yelp Rating: 5/0/5.0
Address: 1000 S Croatan Hwy, Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948
Phone: +1 (252) 473-2111
Ride the rapids at the U.S. National Whitewater Center
The U.S. National Whitewater Center, one of the best things to do in Charlotte, with more than 30 distinct recreational activities spread across its 1,300+ acres. The center’s greatest human-made whitewater river, which features Class II to Class IV rapids, is its main draw.
Explore the center’s array of additional activities, such as its Deep Water Solo complex, when you’re not riding the rapids. Overlooking a large pool of water, this structure is made up of five rock climbing walls that range in height from 20 to 45 feet. Because of this, you will climb without harnesses or ropes and fall into the pool as opposed to using conventional climbing equipment.
The activities offered here are rounded out by seasonal yoga, zip lines, a ropes course, and more than 50 miles of hiking, mountain biking, and trail running routes. Instead of trying your hand at every activity the center has to offer, take the advise of reviews and choose just one or two to enjoy. Plan your visit to coincide with one of the center’s yearly events to witness the site come to life with performances, contests, and exhibitions.
Address: 5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy, Charlotte, NC 28214
Phone: +1 (704) 391-3900
Scale the dunes at Jockey’s Ridge State Park
You can visit Jockey’s Ridge State Park to see the tallest living sand dune on the Atlantic coast. The park, which is 426 acres in size and can be found in Nags Head on the Outer Banks, has dunes that are over 60 feet tall. You can walk the park’s two pathways or the 360-foot-long boardwalk to discover the sand dunes. Keep a look out for animals like ospreys, foxes, brown pelicans, and coyotes when hiking.
Additionally, keep an eye out for fulgurites, which are glass tubes created when lightning strikes sand. This is a great place to try your hand at kite and model plane flying, as well as hang gliding, thanks to the park’s year-round prevailing winds. Kitty Hawk Kites, which is close to the park’s visitor center, offers hang gliding training.
The Wright Brothers National Monument is fewer than 5 miles south of the park, so you can visit both of these must-see destinations on the same day. Plan your trip to coincide with sunset, when visitors report that the park is especially magical. When it’s time to retire, park your rig at one of the many Outer Banks oceanfront vacation homes.
Address: 300 Carolista Dr, Nags Head, NC 27959
Phone:+1 (252) 441-7132
A tour to North Carolina Museum of Art
The North Carolina Museum of Art, which is based in Raleigh, has a fascinating history. When the North Carolina General Assembly appropriated $1 million towards the purchase of art in 1947, North Carolina became the first state in the union to do so. Nearly 150 paintings and sculptures from Europe and America were the collection’s first additions.
The museum’s collection today spans more than 5,000 years and is housed in an approximately 130,000 square foot building. Egyptian funerary art, the biggest collection of Rodin sculptures in the American South, and the 164-acre Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park, which has sculptures scattered among gardens, fields, and woodlands, are just a few of its features.
Consider visiting the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and the North Carolina Museum of History after you’ve seen the art museum, two other state museums Raleigh is home to. Additionally, locations like Pullen Park and William B. Umstead State Park can provide some much-needed fresh air when you need a vacation from the city’s interior activities.
Phone: +1 (919) 839-6262
Watching sunset at Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Cape Hatteras National Seashore, one of the best things to do in the Outer Banks, runs over 70 miles from the Oregon Inlet’s margin to the Ocracoke Inlet’s edge. The major activity in this protected region is lying on the gentle, golden sands, but there are three ancient lighthouses here, including two that guests can climb.
Lighthouse climbs are a popular (albeit slightly challenging) pastime that rewards with breathtaking views of Bodie Island, the Atlantic Ocean, and Pamlico Sound. Both the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and the Bodie Island Lighthouse are open annually for lighthouse climbs. Additionally, there are several opportunities for wildlife observation because the region is home to more than 400 different bird species.
Although the Outer Banks offer a variety of lodging options, such as beachfront resorts and vacation rentals, you might want to think about roughing it at one of the four campgrounds along the Cape Hatteras shoreline in order to experience some of the darkest night skies in the nation east of the Mississippi River.
TripAdvisor Rating: 4.6/5.0
Address: Nc-12, Nags Head, NC 27959
Contemplate the beauty of North Carolina Arboretum
The close-by Biltmore Estate has ties to the 434-acre North Carolina Arboretum. The surroundings of Biltmore were created by Frederick Law Olmsted, known as “the father of American landscape architecture,” before his passing. Olmsted included an arboretum in his ideas, but it was never built.
The arboretum was finally built in 1986, over a century after Olmsted initially envisioned it, in the Bent Creek Experimental Forest, close to Asheville and the Blue Ridge Parkway. A renowned collection of bonsai trees is among the more than 65 acres of groomed gardens that make up the arboretum’s modern greeting to guests. The arboretum is home to gorgeous plants, but it also has more than 10 miles of hiking trails that lead to magnificent places like Lake Powhatan, the Pisgah National Forest, and the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Additionally, the arboretum holds numerous indoor and outdoor exhibitions and activities, including exhibitions of sculpture by regional and international artists. Although many tourists praise the gardens for their tranquility, they advise picking up a map at the entry to prevent getting lost.
Address: 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville, NC 28806
Phone:+1 (828) 665-2492
Take in the view from Chimney Rock State Park
A 25-mile drive southeast of Asheville will get you to Chimney Rock State Park, where you may catch a peek of some of North Carolina’s most breathtaking mountain landscapes. The park’s 315-foot-tall namesake offers 75-mile views of Lake Lure and the Hickory Nut Gorge from its summit (on a clear day). Either climb the 500 steps to the top of Chimney Rock or take the elevator.
The park’s six designated hiking trails, which range from the family-friendly Great Woodland Adventure, which includes interactive exhibits and sculptures about the park’s animal residents, to the more challenging 1.9-mile out and back Four Seasons Trail, which includes a 400-foot elevation gain through the hardwood forest, will be of interest to more adventurous visitors. You should visit Hickory Nut Falls, which is located within the state park, after gazing in awe at the alpine landscape from Chimney Rock. It is one of the tallest waterfalls east of the Mississippi River at 404 feet.
Address: 431 Main St, Chimney Rock, NC 28746
Phone: +1 (828) 625-9611
See Sliding Rock
The 60-foot mountain waterslide Sliding Rock is located in the Pisgah National Forest not far from Brevard and Asheville. It ends in an 8-foot-deep pool of water. Each minute, about 11,000 gallons of water flow down the rock.
This natural attraction is especially well-liked in the summer because the water is cool (between 50 and 60 degrees). If you don’t feel like sliding down the rock face, there are two observation platforms where you may watch sliders. Lifeguards are on duty from Memorial Day to Labor Day; during the off-season, you can still visit, but be aware that they aren’t on patrol.
Explore some of the other surrounding trails and waterfalls that are scattered along U.S. Route 276 (also known as the Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway) after you’ve cooled off. While the picturesque Looking Glass Falls are 2 miles away along the highway and are easily accessible via an observation deck at the base of the falls, the family-friendly Moore Cove Falls Trail is only a mile away.
Sunbath at Outer Banks Beach
This chain of barrier islands off the coast is arguably best known for its more than 100 miles of beaches and is a well-liked getaway for families and visiting groups because of its plethora of beachfront vacation rentals. Visitors can find a little something unique at each beach.
The northern beaches of the region’s coastline are noted for having some of the largest waves, making Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills particularly well-liked among surfers and skimboarders. Frisco, however, offers ideal terrain for four-wheel-drive beach outings. However, Nags Head, which has plenty of space to spread out, is the place to go if you just want to unwind.
Otherwise, you can take a fishing pole and camp in Hatteras, a popular fishing location. If you happen to experience one of the islands’ infrequent wet days, think about spending some time indoors at one of the region’s attractions, such the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island or the Whalehead Club home on Corolla.
Google Rating: 4.8/5.0
Address:3901 N Croatan Hwy, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949
Phone:+1 (252) 255-1255
Take a journay to Great Smoky Mountains National Park
This protected region, which stretches across more than 520,000 acres along North Carolina’s western border, is one of the most popular national parks. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which spans Tennessee and North Carolina, is regarded as the national park system’s most biodiverse park and has more than 850 hiking routes.
Additionally, it is the location of some of the eastern United States’ tallest peaks. Clingmans Dome, which stands 6,643 feet tall and offers visitors 360-degree vistas of the Smokies, is one of those summits (on a clear day, visitors can see for 100 miles). Adventuresome visitors can trek the 3.6-mile round-trip Forney Ridge Trail to Andrews Bald from the parking area at Clingmans Dome for even more breathtaking mountain views.
The highest grassy bald in the park is Andrews Bald, which rises to a height of almost 6,000 feet. Depending on the time of year, hikers may see patches of blackberries and raspberries, Fraser firs, and wildflowers along the walk. In Bryson City and Cherokee, there are more conventional housing options, including hotels and bed-and-breakfast inns, for those who don’t want to rough it in one of the park’s campsites. The national park has no admission fee.
TripAdvisor Rating: 5.05.0
Address: 107 Park Headquarters Rd, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Phone: +1 (865) 436-1200
Consider Highlands, a mountain hamlet in southwest North Carolina close to the Georgia border, if you’re seeking for a charming weekend vacation that offers opulent lodgings, mouthwatering cuisine, and plenty of outdoor adventures.
Highlands is one of the highest settlements east of the Mississippi River, located at an elevation of 4,118 feet and surrounded by the Nantahala National Forest. Take advantage of the town’s height by hiking up Whiteside Mountain, which earned its name due to its stark white cliffs. You’ll have to travel a 2-mile circle track that is surrounded by wildflowers to get to the mountain’s summit. You’ll have breathtaking views to the east, south, and west when you reach the peak. Highlands is renowned for its assortment of waterfalls as well.
There are numerous that are conveniently reachable from U.S. Route 64, such as Dry Falls, which cascades 75 feet down a cliff and has a built-in path behind it (hence the “dry” part of its name). Highlands has you covered there, too, with opulent lodgings like the Old Edwards Inn and Spa and its sibling property, Half Mile Farm, for when you’re ready to pamper yourself after a day of adventure.
Location: North Carolina
Travel to Cape Lookout National Seashore
The adventurous tourist must stop at Cape Lookout National Seashore, which is only reachable by boat from Beaufort and Harkers Island. 56 miles of unspoilt beachfront are available at Cape Lookout, which is situated in the southern Outer Banks of North Carolina along the Crystal Coast. Cape Lookout is famous for both its distinctive lighthouse and the herds of wild horses that inhabit the barrier island of Shackleford Banks.
The lighthouse is known as the “Diamond Lady” because of the painted diamond pattern on her façade. This herd of more than 100 horses can be seen grazing on the dunes or in the grasslands. Cape Lookout is regarded as one of the best birding locations in addition to housing a herd of horses (more than 250 species have been spotted here).
With 112 miles of undeveloped shoreline, it’s also one of the top kayaking and canoeing locations on the mid-Atlantic coast. On the mainland, outfitters like Down East Kayaks rent out gear for water activities. Camping is allowed all year round at Cape Lookout even though there are no designated campgrounds there. Additionally, you can lease rustic log cottages.
Address:131 Charles St, Harkers Island, NC 28531
Phone: +1 (252) 728-2250
Sample a pint or two at Asheville’s breweries
The Blue Ridge Mountains in western North Carolina are home to this metropolis, which has more breweries per resident than any other city in the country. In Asheville, you can choose from a fruit-forward sour to a hoppy India pale ale. There are a lot of well-known local breweries in Asheville, like Sierra Nevada and New Belgium, but there is also a sizable contingent of national brands.
Narrowing down your personal list of Asheville’s more than 50 breweries might be challenging, but steadfast favorites include Wicked Weed Brewing, Green Man Brewery, Highland Brewing Company, and Burial Beer Co. Consider enrolling in the Asheville Brews Cruise bus tour, which takes guests to up to four breweries during the about three-hour excursion, if you’d like to let someone else show you around the city’s beer sector. When you need a break from sampling the city’s suds, make the best of Asheville’s location among the Blue Ridge Mountains by hiking the Appalachian Trail or floating down the French Broad River.