North Carolina goes big, and that includes its options for adventurous travellers. From the towering peaks of the Appalachian Mountains, to the beaches and sunny skies of the coast, to the restaurants and wineries that are attracting international attention, here are twelve great ways to get away in the Tar Heel State.
Visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park
A jewel in the National Park System, and its most visited park, the Smokies have been designated an International Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations, thanks to their rich and diverse ecosystem, which hosts 100,000 different types of plants and animals. Whether explored by auto tour, or by camping and hiking, the park is a true must-see destination.
Cruise the Blue Ridge Parkway
For the ultimate scenic drive, follow the Blue Ridge Parkway as it winds its way 252 miles along the ridge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Enjoy the astounding beauty of the mountains aflame with fall colours, see dozens of species of plants and wildlife, enjoy southern Appalachian folk music and art, and much more.
See the Banker Ponies
These mysterious ponies have an intriguing history. The descendants of Spanish mustangs, some believe they swam ashore from the shipwrecks of Spanish explorers. Today two major herds roam the outer banks, and can be viewed by travellers on their own, or accompanied by an experienced guide.
Mountain Bike in Transylvania County
The trails in and around Transylvania County in western North Carolina have fostered a vibrant mountain bike culture centred in the town of Brevard. Some of the highest peaks in the East, access to Blue Ridge Parkway, 400 miles of single-track trails, as well as rare features such as slickrock and abundant waterfalls attract cyclists from across North America.
Tour Coastal Wineries and Vineyards
The vibrant wine scene in North Carolina is perfectly suited to a road trip of several days. The outer banks are home to the Scuppernong River region, home of the scuppernong muscadine grape and the delightfully fruity wines it produces. Wineries with tours, gift shops and restaurants exist up and down the coast.
Experience a High-Flying Thrills!
High flying adventures can be had across the state. Why not try hang gliding in the High Country mountains, or experience high speeds on the zip lines on the course at Chimney Rock Zip Line at Navitat. If those natural attractions are not enough, head to Charlotte to ride the world’s tallest giga-coaster, Fury 325, at Carowinds Amusement Park.
Enjoy Durham, a Foodie’s Paradise
Thanks in part to a vibrant community of world-class chefs, Durham has become one of the most talked about food cities in the country. Take dynamic twists on cuisines from all over the world, add some of the best traditional southern cooking you’ll find anywhere, mix in dozens of food trucks and a few local breweries, and you’ll begin to understand why Southern Living named Durham the
Tastiest Town in the South.
Take a Farm-Fresh Tour of Western North Carolina
The western part of the state is an eco-conscious foodie’s dream come true, rich in agritourism sites and farm-to-table dining options. You’ll travel some of the most scenic roads in the country as you meet farmers and their livestock, learn about sustainable farming and sample some incredible food and wines.
Have a Blast on the Water
Over 300 miles of warm waters and blue skies make up the North Carolina coastline, making watersports one of the premier activities for vacationers in the state. Scuba divers are attracted by the shipwrecks that litter the coast, “the graveyard of the Atlantic;” stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking are popular ways to explore, and kiteboarding is a great way to catch some air.
Visit Coastal Lighthouses
For a more laid back trip, and a chance to truly soak in the beauty of North Carolina’s shores, a road trip to view the lighthouses of the state offers travellers the chance to see some of the most spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean they will ever see. The Roanoke River Lighthouse is the last of its kind in the world, and “Old Baldy” in the Brunswick Islands served for over 141 years.
Sample Authentic Coastal Cuisine
For another side of scrumptious southern cooking explore the incredible seafood that can be found up and down the Carolina coast. From Calabash-style fried seafood, to succulent steamed oysters and blue crabs, its always fresh and delicious. Don’t forget a side of the south’s legendary hushpuppies.
Surf Wrightsville Beach
Wrightsville Beach has been named by National Geographic one of the world’s 20 best surf towns. With an abundance of surf schools and camps and world-renowned surf conditions, it’s a great place for veteran surfers and beginners of any age.
For more information please visit: www.visitnc.com