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Places to Visit in North Carolina

Places to Visit in North Carolina

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11 Places to Visit in North Carolina

You can let the seasons guide your vacation in North Carolina.

#1 Asheville North Carolina

Places to Visit in North Carolina

A charming mountain town. Known as a hipster haven. Beer City. College town. Bluegrass town. Destination for foodies. You can’t label Asheville with just one label, no matter how hard you try. The city is an unexpected gem just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, where a vibrant arts scene blends with Southern traditions and beautiful scenery. No matter what your interests are, Asheville has something for you.

As history buffs stroll through the grounds of the Biltmore Estate, foodies can sample a culinary smorgasbord and test their taste buds at one of the city’s many breweries. Visitors to the city can wander through the River Arts District, while adventure seekers can go full-throttle hiking, biking, zip-lining, or whitewater rafting in one of the many parks and forests. In Asheville, these personalities combine to create something uniquely its own, with an identity constantly changing but somehow staying true to its roots.

The Omni Grove Park Inn

#2 Outer Banks

History abounds on the Outer Banks: Here, aviators Orville and Wilbur Wright took their famous first flights (at Kill Devil Hills), a pirate fought his last battle (at Ocracoke), and the Lost Colony disappeared (exact location unknown, but it was last seen on Roanoke Island near Manteo). This chain of barrier islands located off the coast of North Carolina – affectionately known as OBX – isn’t just for history buffs. Fishing, windsurfing, and wildlife watching are also popular among adventurers. The Outer Banks’ roughly 3,000 shipwrecks can be explored by snorkeling or scuba diving, earning the nickname “the graveyard of the Atlantic.” Families enjoy the beaches, the mini-golf courses, and the North Carolina Aquarium at Roanoke Island.

Each neighborhood has its charm: old lighthouses, rugged dunes and secluded beaches in the South, vacation rentals, water sports, and kitschy beach shops in the north. The OBX is best for those who want to skip overdeveloped touristy towns and head straight to the unspoiled beaches. There isn’t much nightlife, but there is plenty of natural beauty. There are more people on the beaches during the summer. Still, with so many destinations scattered along with the barrier islands, you are unlikely to encounter unmanageable crowds at any time of year.

#3 Charlotte, North Carolina

Charlotte, North Carolina

This bustling metropolis is anything but a quiet Southern belle in the sleepy Piedmont region’s rolling hills. In Charlotte, North Carolina, businesses are growing, sports franchises are booming, and expanding the culinary scene. Charlotte, North Carolina, is known for the Charlotte Motor Speedway and the NASCAR Hall of Fame, but it’s much more than that. Unlike downtown Charlotte, uptown Charlotte is crawling with suits and tourists, while art enthusiasts and culture hounds flood the Plaza Midwood and NoDa (or North Davidson) neighborhoods. Those seeking a pint of local beer won’t want to miss South End, which is home to some of the city’s top breweries.

Its ever-expanding city keeps an East Coast pace without sacrificing its Southern roots; the locals are dedicated to preserving it. The blending of these two personalities is exciting.

#4 Raleigh, North Carolina

Raleigh is a testament to the rebirth of the South. It is a smart city. In the Greater Raleigh area, there are a few colleges and universities. Raleigh is also part of the Research Triangle, a geographic area that includes Durham and Chapel Hill and is filled with tech jobs and techies.

Secondly, it’s a fantastic city. With about half a million population, the Greater Raleigh area welcomed more than 13 million visitors in 2013. Raleigh is filled with an entrepreneurial spirit, so it’s not surprising. There are dozens of craft breweries scattered throughout this city in central North Carolina. You’ll also find it in the proliferation of new restaurants and shops downtown and the trendy Warehouse District.

Thirdly, it is an aesthetically pleasing city in addition to the cosmopolitan charm of excellent coffee shops and independent businesses. The lush Neuse River Trail, the wooded splendor of Umstead State Park, or any of the city’s green areas serve as proof.

See for yourself – don’t take our word for it.

# 5 Bald Head Island

Bald Head Island

Take the ferry to Bald Head Island from Southport for a relaxing getaway. There are 10,000 acres of undeveloped land on this North Carolina island, including nature preserves and 14 miles of beaches. The popular activities here are surfing and boogie boarding at East Beach, climbing up Old Baldy (North Carolina’s oldest lighthouse), and viewing sea turtles, alligators, and birds at Bald Head Island Conservancy. This car-free island is also grand for hiking, biking, and kayaking.

# 6 Greensboro, North Carolina

North Carolina’s third-largest city (by population) has experienced a great deal of history, from a significant Revolutionary War battle to one of the civil rights movement’s most famous lunch counter sit-ins. Greensboro visitors can see battle reenactments today at Guilford Courthouse National Military Park and visit museums like the International Civil Rights Center & Museum for a glimpse into the city’s history. Nature lovers will also enjoy strolling through the city’s beautiful gardens, while families will enjoy spending time at the Greensboro Science Center.

# 7 Emerald Isle

Emerald Isle

Emerald Isle is a small-town atmosphere perfect for family beach vacations. Its 12 miles of coastline in North Carolina provide travelers with plenty of options for soaking their toes in the sand, including uncrowded beaches with excellent conditions for surfing and kiteboarding. Emerald Isle is also home to the Bogue Inlet Pier (a wonderful place for fishing), multiple championship golf courses, and the Salty Pirate Water Park, giving visitors a lot to do on and off the sand.

# 8 Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Winston-Salem, North Carolina, was founded by Moravians (a Protestant group from Eastern Europe) in the 1700s and is known for its historical charm, eclectic art scene, and tasty wines. Visit the Old Salem Museums & Gardens to see artisans at work, tour restored buildings, and taste Moravian pastries. Browse the collections of the Reynolda House Museum of American Art or visit the galleries and studios of the Downtown Arts District. Visit one of the nearby Yadkin Valley’s 40-plus vineyards and wineries for a glass of wine after a day of exploring.

# 9 Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Chapel Hill is the smallest city (by population) in the Triangle, an area of North Carolina known for its prestigious universities. However, it is still full of the energy of a college town. Explore the North Carolina Botanical Garden and the Carolina Basketball Museum at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the oldest public university in the country. Explore Franklin Street, the city’s social hub, for more museums, art galleries, live music, and award-winning restaurants.

# 10 Wilmington


Many TV shows and movies have been filmed in Wilmington, North Carolina, earning this riverfront city its nicknames, “Hollywood East” and “Wilmywood.” Wilmington is also known for its historical attractions and proximity to beautiful beaches. See old-world homes and museums like the Bellamy Mansion Museum in Wilmington’s historic district, or check out the Battleship North Carolina, one of the city’s most popular attractions up-close. Consider taking a stroll along Wilmington’s Riverwalk as well.

# 11 Pisgah National Forest

The Pisgah National Forest has more than 500,000 acres perfect for outdoor activities. Visitors will find waterfalls, whitewater rivers, lakes, and 1,700 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails in its three ranger districts. Visitors to the Pisgah Ranger District can see the park’s waterfalls, while the Appalachian Ranger District has some of the park’s best mountain vistas and opportunities for horseback riding. Experienced hikers and rock climbers will enjoy the Linville Gorge Wilderness in the Grandfather Ranger District.

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