Whether you want to hike a trail in the mountains or relax on the beach, North Carolina has something for everyone.
The state is known for its stunning natural scenery, charming small towns, and booming cities. It’s also home to top universities and pro sports teams.
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Charlotte is a bustling financial hub with a diverse mix of stately neighborhoods and notable museums. It’s also one of North Carolina’s most exciting cities for outdoor recreation and specialty shopping, with a vibrant cultural scene that draws visitors from all over the country.
The city is renowned for its NASCAR auto racing, but there’s much more to do than just watch the action. The 150,000-square-foot Hall of Fame, where fans can go behind the scenes and learn about NASCAR’s history, is a must-visit.
For a different kind of fun, visit the unique ImaginOn, a children’s museum that features an open-air and fun library filled with activities that will keep kids entertained. It offers a puppet center, Lego playing area, magnetic poetry wall, touch screens and more.
Visiting Charlotte wouldn’t be complete without sampling the town’s delicious food options. From drive-thru mainstays that have lasted decades to cutting-edge culinary concepts, the city’s thriving restaurants are sure to keep you coming back for more.
Asheville is a beautiful city that has a lot to offer the visitor. There is a lively arts scene in the downtown district and there are plenty of places to visit if you like hiking or camping in the nearby mountains.
Another great thing about Asheville is that there are a lot of fun things to do in the area without spending too much money. One of the best ways to see all the city has to offer is on a tour, such as the Asheville Trolley Tour.
For foodies, the city has an incredible variety of restaurants and cafes, from breweries to gourmet dining. We recommend Curate, which is located right in the heart of Asheville’s downtown district and gives diners a front row seat to chef Katie Button’s kitchen.
We also recommend taking a drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is a 45 mph road that features gorgeous waterfalls, hikes, and scenic overlooks. It’s one of the most beautiful drives in the country and is definitely a must do while visiting Asheville.
Wilmington is a thriving port city with enough historical attractions to fill your vacation. From the historic 200-some block Historic District to the storied Cape Fear River, there’s something about this destination that captivates and transforms visitors with each new visit.
Its scenic Riverwalk hugs the Cape Fear River, connecting visitors to historic buildings, shopping, dining, and arts venues. It’s a favorite among locals and tourists, particularly in the warmest months, when it bursts into life with shops and restaurants opening their doors to the public.
If you love museums, be sure to stop at the Cape Fear Museum of History and Science, a captivating institution that showcases an extensive collection of artifacts, including Civil War memorabilia. It also features fascinating interactive exhibits, like a reenactment of the Battle of Wilmington and the Civil Rights movement.
There are also plenty of fun and free things to do in Wilmington. Whether you want to enjoy the beautiful weather, shop local boutiques or simply soak up the beauty of the area, these options are all budget-friendly and worth exploring!
Raleigh is a smart, modern city that’s full of history and cultural diversions for all tastes. The capital of North Carolina is a must-visit destination for art lovers, history buffs, and those who are passionate about outdoor adventures.
The city also boasts one of the most exciting culinary scenes in the state with a growing craft beer scene and numerous wine bars. From Ashley Christensen’s mini-empire to exciting strip mall finds, the city’s eateries offer something for everyone, from barbecue to farm-to-table fare.
A thriving downtown with many upscale dining options makes for an ideal weekend getaway. Start with a stroll down Morgan Street, home to many food halls and restaurants offering delicious and unique cuisine from around the world.
The city also boasts a large number of parks for all sorts of activities including fishing, bird watching, and walking trails. Visitors can enjoy 180 miles of greenway trails throughout the city.
5.Battleship North Carolina
Located just across the river from downtown Wilmington, Battleship North Carolina is a World War II veteran’s memorial. She was brought to her namesake state in 1961 as a way to honor the 11,000-plus North Carolinians who died during WWII.
The ship is a great place to learn about the history of North Carolina, as well as about the war itself. It’s also a fun and educational experience for children.
Visitors can take self-guided tours of the nine levels of this 45,000-ton megaship that earned 15 battle stars during the Pacific theater of WWII. It includes the crew’s quarters, galley, sick bay, engine room, pilot house and guns.
It can get pretty hot on the ship decks, so it’s important to arrive early in the day to avoid the midday heat and heaviest crowds. It can also be challenging to navigate the stairs, so ADA admission tickets are discounted and there is a waiting room inside the Visitor Center where people who need assistance can wait for others to join them.
6.The North Carolina Arboretum
The 434-acre public garden at the North Carolina Arboretum, part of the University of North Carolina system, fulfills landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted’s vision. Set amidst the Pisgah National Forest and the Blue Ridge Parkway, it is home to curated gardens, horticultural exhibits, hiking, biking, educational events and nature trails.
The NC Arboretum features a variety of gardens and cultivated areas, including the Blue Ridge Quilt Garden, Dickinson Holly Garden and National Native Azalea Repository. It also boasts a Bonsai Exhibit that showcases traditional, tropical and native species of Asian trees and plants.
For those interested in botany and horticulture, the NC Arboretum is a must visit for all ages. Take a stroll through the beautiful flora, or engage in an interactive science exhibit at the Baker Exhibit Center.
If you’re a hiker or biker, check out the 10-mile trail system that runs through the Arboretum. Hikers can take on the Owl Ridge Trail, Running Cedar Road and Rocky Cove Road while those who want to ride their bike can try the Bent Creek Road or Azalea Collection Trails.
7.Billy Graham Library
The Billy Graham Library, located on the grounds of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, is a 40,000-square-foot public museum and library dedicated to Billy Graham’s life and ministry. It was designed to reflect Graham’s journey from a humble farm boy to an international ambassador of God’s love.
Visitors can retrace Graham’s dynamic journey through stunning multimedia presentations, interactive kiosks, photos and memorabilia. Reminiscent of a dairy barn, the main building is styled after Graham’s boyhood home, where he spent much of his time.
In addition to the museum and library, the Billy Graham Center includes the archive of Graham’s papers and artifacts. Franklin Graham’s son, David Bruce, oversees the library and archive.
A tour of the library takes about an hour and a half. But it’s best to do it in one sitting because the rooms don’t open for breaks and volunteers block off entrances to make sure you go through all of the presentations.
8.Sarah P. Duke Gardens
A short drive from Raleigh, Sarah P. Duke Gardens on the west campus of Duke University is an incredibly picturesque place to visit. The garden is a wonderful destination for families and visitors to North Carolina who want to relax, enjoy nature and learn more about the area’s history.
This 55-acre botanic garden is home to a variety of specialized sections including an Asian arboretum, a white garden and a rose garden. It is open to the public daily, free of charge.
To help you get the most out of your trip, we recommend taking a self-guided tour or booking a guided walking tour at the visitors center. Guided tours take about 1.5 to 2 hours and give you an overview of the garden’s stunning displays, horticulture and native plant collections.
The park also features a beautiful rose garden that is well worth visiting during the springtime. You’ll also want to bring a blanket and some food for an afternoon picnic on the large lawn!