North Carolina is a great place to visit or live, and the state offers so many great places to go. You need to get down there to experience the southern hospitality that makes it famous.
North Carolina is a state that definitely lives up to the original thirteen colonies it formed one part of, and its rich history is the story of the United States in itself. The very first English colony in the New World was actually founded at Roanoke in 1585. This is more than twenty years before the famous and permanent Jamestown Colony in neighboring Virginia. Mysteriously, the colony disappeared in between ships from the motherland, completely gone from the map except for the word, “CROATOAN.” To this day, thousands visit the island on the Outer Banks to try to unravel the disappearance for themselves.
A wide state that encompasses beaches, mountains, and deep forests, North Carolina is available to anyone for a great visit. If you have the time to stay longer, you’ll discover new things to love every moment.
Landmarks and Major Cities
The largest city in the state is Charlotte, located inland from the coast. It’s home to a thriving bar scene and a renewed local economy. The Research Triangle is formed of the intellectual centers of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. It holds two top universities and a wide variety of vibrant culture.
Best Restaurants in the State
If you are anywhere near Chapel Hill, you absolutely must try out the meltingly-delicious and unpretentious offerings of Sunrise Biscuits. It’s a Sunday Morning ritual for most in the area, but all newcomers will be instantly won over by the traditional biscuits and delicious sweet tea. Be prepared to wait in line, but it’s completely worth it!
For those who make it down to the coast, Sanitary Fish Market is a must. It’s a family-owned and operated fish restaurant, open since 1938. It’s a big place, with tons of fresh and flavorful seafood on offer. They also allow boats to dock overnight, so you can stick around for breakfast.
Inland, North Carolina has kept up amazingly with the growing slow food and farm to table eateries, especially around the Asheville area. In the western parts of the state, with the beautiful Smoky Mountains as a backdrop, the food is amazing a local. Artisanal is a seasonally-open eatery that built an incredible reputation for service and food. Definitely a beautiful spot for a romantic meal.
These are just a few ideas, but believe us when we say that you should make sure to ask the locals where they recommend. The state is full of amazing, hidden places that will knock your socks off.
Activities and Outings
If you love being outdoors and having adventures, North Carolina offers a lot for you. In all, the state has:
27 State Parks • 2 State Forests • 1 State Fish Hatchery
1 State Fish Hatchery • 1 National Park • 4 National Forests
1 National Memorial • 2 National Historic Sites • 8 National Wildlife Refuges
2 National Seashores
You can go biking in a National Forest, or rock climb at Chimney Rock State Park. Another high-adrenaline option is the large zipline in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Even just visiting the beach can be a great experience, and North Carolina’s Crystal Coast is perfect for any beach lover.
If you like sailing, you need to spend a couple days on the Intercoastal Waterway. It’s almost like a highway, but for sailing. You’ll meet people from all over the Eastern USA and beyond on those waters.
Historical sites are a great find, too. You can visit the place of the first ever motorized flight at Kitty Hawk (Wright Brothers National Memorial, Kill Devil Hills). Another great option is to source your own Civil War memorabilia from the battlefields in the state, where metal detecting has turned up thousands of bullets. You can even travel back to colonial ties by visiting the beautiful Tryon Palace Historic Sites & Gardens, New Bern.
Festivals and Gatherings
The Lost Colony is a summer theatrical performance that explores the Roanoke Colony mystery live, with reenactments of the most haunting parts of the story. Performances take place on the actual historical sites associated with the Lost Colony. They also put on a historical-dressed party with a Wine Festival every September.
Of course, bluegrass forms an integral part of the summer in North Carolina. The Ashe County Bluegrass and Old Time Fiddlers Convention is a great way to meet other people who love this art form and learn about it from experts. It’s held each July.
You simply must try some old timely moonshine while in NC. Make a date to go to a family owned and operated still for tastings of the liquor that made the state famous. Broadslab in Benson was North Carolina’s first farm distillery and offers tastings and tours every Thursday through Saturday.
Planning on traveling to Charlotte? Read here to learn about the best things to do in Charlotte in order to maximize your experience.