I’m sure I speak for many of us when I say we are all eager to explore the world again and go on a memorable adventure. With the ongoing pandemic, I know it’s still quite risky to travel now especially with all the big crowds but don’t let that fear stop you. We are here to help you plan your future trip to North Carolina. Why North Carolina you may ask? Well, first and foremost it has some of the most beautiful scenic views, but there are also countless remote and uncrowded natural wonders to explore.
To make your travel experience that much easier, we have rounded up all the must-see places when visiting North Carolina for you!
1. Mount Mitchell State Park | Burnsville
As the highest point in the East, Mount Mitchell’s 6,684-foot summit overlook platform affords some of the longest mountain views in North Carolina. On clear days, you can see as far as 85 miles. The elevation also contributes to chilly or cool temperatures year-round. The mountain’s spruce-fir ecosystem is home to flora and fauna, more closely resembling that of New England and Canada than the surrounding Southeast. One of the best ways to experience Mount Mitchell’s ecological diversity is hiking one or more of the mountain’s seven trails.
Another cool place to visit is the museum that explains the mountain’s cultural and natural history, and its trail network allows visitors to explore up close, offering short hikes near the summit and challenging treks leading to adjacent wilderness areas. Plus, during the warmer-weather months, there is a nine-site tent campground! A concession area and a full-service restaurant serve visitors from May to October.
2. Cape Lookout National Seashore | Crystal Coast
Cape Lookout National Seashore might be comprised of remote barrier islands, but it has plenty of options once you arrive. You can swim, kayak, fish, camp or simply soak in the sun. On this portion of the Crystal Coast and in its surrounding waters, you can find four species of sea turtles, more than 250 species of birds and a herd of wild horses. Admire Cape Lookout Lighthouse from its base – it’s undergoing extensive renovations and is closed to climbers through 2023.
3. Chimney Rock State Park | Chimney Rock
An icon in Western North Carolina, Chimney Rock Mountain is the centrepiece of this state park about an hour southeast of Asheville. Climb the 26 stories of stairs that make up the Outcroppings Trail to reach the top and enjoy views of Hickory Nut Gorge, Lake Lure and the Piedmont region to the east. The Skyline Trail brings you to Exclamation Point, the highest peak in the park at 2,480 feet. The views from this route might look familiar; several scenes from The Last of the Mohicans movie were filmed here.
4. Fort Fisher State Recreation Area | Kure Beach
Fort Fisher interests history buffs, birders, beachgoers and the environmentally conscious. Five miles south of Carolina Beach in the Wilmington area, the fort was built in 1861 to defend the Confederacy. Then during World War II, the fort was used as a firing range for training military personnel. The grounds are more peaceful these days as visitors stroll along the marsh-lined boardwalks. Each season brings different natural wonders, from nesting loggerhead sea turtles to migrating warblers, hawks and peregrine falcons. Five miles of undeveloped shoreline make for a relaxing day at the beach.
5. Grandfather Mountain State Park | Banner Elk
With 2,456 acres of rugged backcountry, Grandfather Mountain State Park is ideal for the experienced hiker who enjoys a challenge. Not to be confused with the area of Grandfather Mountain that’s operated by a foundation (and known for the Mile High Swinging Bridge), the state park preserves an undeveloped area that’s home to more than 70 rare and endangered species. The Nuwati Trail, the only one rated “easy,” will take you to Storyteller’s Rock with views of Boone Bowl and Calloway Peak. For adventure-seekers, the Daniel Boone Scout Trail (rated strenuous) ascends about 2,000 feet across 3 miles, with the upper half offering incredible sights of the Linn Cove Viaduct. Additionally, hiking Black Rock Trail (accessible from the foundation attraction’s parking lot) will earn you views of the famous swinging bridge.
6. Great Smoky Mountains National Park | Cherokee
With more than half of its vast acreage in North Carolina, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most-visited national park in the country. If you prefer a rolling view, i.e., from the car, Cataloochee Valley at the park’s eastern edge is a popular destination for spotting elk. For hikers, a short journey through the Deep Creek area along the southern border brings you to three waterfalls: Juney Whank, Indian Creek and Tom Branch. This area is also filled with flowering plants, such as sweet shrubs and rhododendron.
7. Hammocks Beach State Park | Swansboro
For those who enjoy unspoiled shores, Hammocks Beach State Park in Swansboro is your sanctuary. Only 33 acres of the park are located on the mainland. The premier feature here is Bear Island, accessible by ferry, boat, canoe or kayak. The 892-acre island is 3.5 miles long and less than a mile wide with more than 3 miles of beach. The island is a prime location for hunting shells. The beach is also a popular destination for nesting loggerhead sea turtles.
If you want to reconnect with nature and go on a peaceful trip then North Carolina is your place to go! With so much to do, you’re bound to have a memorable time!