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The 11 Best Things to Do in North Carolina



North Carolina is the 28th largest and 9th most populous state of the United States. It is a famous travel destination thanks to its depth and richness, and the fresh and fun experiences you’d get coming here. Here are the 11 best things to do in North Carolina:

1. Take a Stroll Through the Gorgeous Sarah P. Duke Gardens

Photo credit: Samuel McCloud via Flickr

The Sarah P. Duke Gardens is Duke University’s pride and joy. Over 55-acres of magnificent landscaping and wooded areas make up the gardens. If you could choose only one place to see in all of North Carolina, then this should be it. The gardens are divided into four sections: the Historic Core and Terraces, the H.L Blomquist Garden of Native Plants, the William Louis Culberson Asiatic Arboretum and the Doris Duke Center Gardens.

The gardens exhibit thousands of different species of plants. The magical beauty of this place has made it a popular wedding ceremony location. It’s also a favored place for photoshoots and live performances.

Take a guided tour of the gardens or stroll freely with your family, friends, and/or significant other. You couldn’t choose a more romantic place to take your date this Valentine’s Day.

Sarah P. Duke Gardens’ Hours

Gardens hours: The gardens are open 365 days a year from 8 A.M. to sunset

Doris Duke Center hours: 

Monday through Friday – 9 A.M. to 6 P.M.

Saturday & Sunday – 9 A.M. to 5 P.M.

Winter hours: The Doris Duke Center closes at 5 p.m. daily until March 1, 2020

Admission to the Gardens

It is always free to visit the gardens. Though you will have to pay for parking at Duke University, which is $2 per hour.

The Sarah P. Duke Gardens address is 420 Anderson St. Durham, NC 27705

2. Go Shipwreck Diving at Outer Banks

The Outer Banks of North Carolina is dubbed as the Graveyard of the Atlantic because of the thousands of shipwrecks along the islands, with some going back to the first settlements in America.

Try shipwreck diving and take photos of the beautiful sea life while clinging to the hope of finding treasures. Keep your eyes open for the following:

  • U352. This is a historic World War II Nazi Germany’s Kriegsmarine U-boat. It was sunk on May 9, 1942, by the Coast Guard Cutter Icarus.
  • W.E. Hutton or Papoose. This shipwreck is one of the most popular wrecks along Outer Banks. The Papoose was torpedoed by the U-124 during 1942 and it has now become a shark site with more than 15-20 sand tiger sharks, if not more. The ship is completely intact, but it rests upside down.
  • Aeolus. Can you believe that there’s a “shark lounge” in North Carolina? The Aeolus looks like one given the numerous sand tiger sharks that claimed their residences inside the shipwreck. This ship was cut in two during a powerful hurricane that devastated the region back in the 90s.

3. Visit the Sliding Rock

Sliding down the Sliding Rock is one of the best things to do in North Carolina, especially during the summer season! Every year, thousands of kids and adults slip and slide down this natural waterfall located in the Pisgah National Forest.

The natural slide is fueled by 11,000 gallons of water and the person would end up being splashed onto an eight-foot deep pool. What are you waiting for? Get in line, slide down, swim to the shore, and do it all over again!

What you should know:

  • It costs $3 per person to enter the recreation area when staff members are on duty. They accept both cash and credit card for payments.
  • Children 3 and under are free.
  • Sliding Rock closes during dangerously high water or lightning due to summer storms.
  • Avoid peak visiting hours of 12-4 PM on Saturday and Sundays.
  • There may be a poor mobile phone reception. There is also no wi-fi available.

4. Take the Charlotte Historical City Tour

Charlotte Historical City Tour
Source: Charlotte Historical City Tour | Viator

Do you know what’s better than driving around North Carolina’s largest city? Simple – it’s taking a guided and fully-narrated tour while riding an open-air golf cart!

Check out the top attractions in the area and learn about Charlotte’s history and culture. You can just sit back and relax because this is a smooth tour you definitely shouldn’t miss. You’ll be riding past the Victorian Homes in the Historic Fourth Ward, breweries and art galleries, as well as NoDa and Plaza Midwood.

5. Cross America’s Highest Suspension Footbridge at Grandfather’s Mountain

Does standing one mile above sea level sound fun? Yes? Then you’ll surely enjoy crossing the Mile High Swinging Bridge, America’s highest suspension footbridge because it gives you access to the awesome view from Grandfather Mountain’s Linville Peak. All visitors say that taking the journey to the other side is the very highlight of a Grandfather Mountain trip.

Admire the engineering masterpiece, brave your fear of heights, or simply enjoy the scenery.

6. See the Wright Brothers National Memorial

Any lover of flight history would know that Wilbur and Orville Wright successfully flew their flyer four times here.

The Wright Brothers National Memorial commemorates the two ingenious brothers who had been coming to the Outer Banks to conduct flight experiments years before their success. Their story is not just about the realization of a dream or the birth of the world’s first airplane, it’s also about solving the problems of powered flight. Explore this place and appreciate the Wright brothers.

Fun fact: It took more than 2,000 tons of gravel,1,200 tons of granite, 800 tons of sand and almost 400 tons of cement to build the structure.

Address: Wright Brothers National Memorial, 1401 National Park Drive, Manteo

7. Hop Aboard the Historic Train at Tweetsie Railroad

Tweetsie Railroad
Source: Tweetsie Railroad

There’s so much to see, and so much to do Tweetsie Railroad, which is frequented by visitors who love the Wild West adventure. Enjoy the historic steam-powered locomotive ride as it runs in a loop around the park.

The park operates two vintage locomotives, the No. 12 “Tweetsie” and No. 190 the “Yukon Queen.”

8. Hit Asheville’s Breweries and Find the Best Craft Beer

Green Man Brewery Asheville
Source: Green Man Brewery

The beer scene in Asheville is something you should look into! They boast more breweries per capita than any other U.S. City. You can enjoy roughly 100 local beers (that is if you don’t get bloated right away) that are served in bottles or on draft.

It’s highly likely that the city’s breweries keep the beer flowing just like mountain water.

Check out these famous breweries:

  • Catawba. Try the brewery’s famed beers such as the White Zombie ale, Friki Tiki Hazy pineapple IPA, Cloud Cover: Lost Colony hazy DIPA, Farmer Ted’s cream ale, and the Peanut Butter Jelly Time brown ale.
  • Green Man Brewery. This is one of Asheville’s oldest breweries. It made the place’s beer scene more worthwhile by producing some of the most iconic ales.
  • Bhramari Brewing Company. This place is named after the Hindu goddess of bees and has certainly got everyone buzzing about it since opening in 2016. The beer selection is intriguing, and you’d only want to try more and more of them.
  • Burial Beer Co. What’s the rave all about? Many craft beer drinkers keep going back to this place to try a wide array of styles such as Saison, stouts, Bolo coconut brown ale, and more.

9. Embrace Nature at the North Carolina Arboretum

North Carolina Arboretum
Source: North Carolina Arboretum | Romantic Asheville

See the acres of manicured gardens and groomed trails at the North Carolina Arboretum. This place features some of the most beautiful and botanically-diverse plants in the region. You’ll love the Fall Red Maple Bonsai, Quilt Garden, Stream Garden, Forest Meadow, Heritage Garden, and the Cliff and Betty Dickinson Holly Garden.

10. Relax at the Sunset Beach

Sunset Beach North Carolina
Source: Sunset Beach NC

Plan your best summer yet and relax at Sunset Beach, where you’ll be treated to the beautiful views of seemingly endless sand. The peaceful vibe of the place will also give you the serenity you’ve been longing for.

When you’re here, you’ll realize that catching the sunset is one of the best things to do in North Carolina. But at Sunset Beach, getting up early to catch the sunrise is a good tradition as well.

11. Learn About the Marine Life at North Carolina Aquarium

The natural world is more fascinating than you think. Plan your visit and discover the aquatic wildlife through dive shows and animal encounters. You can also climb along the Adventure Reef, or witness an albino alligator in the eye.

Admission Rates:
$9.95 Adults (Ages 13-61):
$8.95 Seniors (Ages 62 and older)
$8.95 Military
$7.95 Children (Ages 3-12)
FREE for those ages 2 and younger and NC Aquarium Society Members

Okay, what do you think is the best thing to do in North Carolina?

A writer big on nature, travel, and dogs. If you can't find Errot with her furry pal, then she's probably out exploring.