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Best things to do in North Carolina

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Where in the world: USA  /  North Carolina
Boasting beautiful landscapes and temperate climate, North Carolina is a top destination for a holiday in nature. Many tourists come to hike, mountain climb, and ski, but you'll find many things to do in North to Carolina even if you're not into outdoor activities. Nicknamed the "Paris of the South," Asheville offers a lively and varied music scene and heritage, including Renaissance-inspired Biltmore Estate--the largest privately owned home in the world built by the Vanderbilt family. At Wright Brothers National Memorial, you'll learn how airplane travel got its start. The large, busy city of Charlotte hosts a flourishing cultural scene and a range of kid-oriented attractions, such as Carowinds amusement park.

North Carolina is best known for its Historic Sites, Specialty Museums, and Zipline.

Top 15 things to do in North Carolina

1. Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina Mountains

One of the country's longest scenic drives, Blue Ridge Parkway runs for 755 km (469 mi), cutting its way through two states and 29 counties. Constructed in the 1930s to connect two major national parks, the road runs mostly along the Blue Ridge, a mountain chain of the Appalachian Mountains. Most visitors choose to travel this road in the spring when the surrounding landscape blooms with native wildflowers. You can also pick a less crowded time of year, like autumn, when you can photograph the changing colors of the forest. Stop at any one of a dozen visitor centers scattered along the road to take a short rest, re-energize with a cup of coffee, or get a free map.
Suggested duration: 4 hours
Tours from $15 › Learn more about Blue Ridge Parkway

2. Wright Brothers National Memorial, Kill Devil Hills

Learn how airplane travel got its start at Wright Brothers National Memorial. The site commemorates the first successful powered flight in 1903. Although Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, receives more attention, the site lies several miles south near the town of Kill Devil Hills. You can visit the memorial's granite monument, which pays tribute to Orville and Wilbur Wright and other pioneers of aviation, as it stands more than 18 m (60 ft) tall on a hill above town. Go to the visitors center to view a full-size replica of the first aircraft, as well as models, tools, and a recreation of the aircraft hangar used in the endeavor.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about Wright Brothers National Memorial

3. Back Country Safari Tours, Corolla

Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
Learn more about Back Country Safari Tours

4. Blue Ridge Parkway Waterfalls Hiking Tour from Asheville

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Our 9th Season offers a local guide who will pick you up at your location within 3 miles of city center (One North Pack Square) No car, no problem. A small group tour, we provide all window captain chair seating in a Ford transit van and drinks/snacks as part of our service. We will travel along the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway to discover the amazing views and scenery surrounding this iconic road that connects two National Parks on our way to the hiking portion through the  mountains from Asheville. (scheduled bathroom stops :). You'll drive through some beautiful mountain scenery on the way visit three waterfalls and two protected forests IMPORTANT Before booking this tour please know that we will be walking approximately 3 miles on the hiking portion of this tour over 2 hours at pace of about 1 1/2 miles per hour, including stops at the falls and you should feel comfortable walking this distance before making a booking. Our normal return to Asheville is between1:30 & 1:45pm.
Suggested duration: 5 hours 30 minutes
Tours from $97 › More about this tour at viator.com ›
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Best tours in North Carolina

5. Battleship North Carolina, Wilmington

Explore the decks and hear stories about the most decorated U.S. Battleship of World War II. Battleship North Carolina was built using the latest shipbuilding technology of the time and participated in every major naval offensive of the Pacific Theater. A self-guided tour will take you to nine decks, gun turrets, living quarters, and a surgical clinic. Learn about individuals who served on the ship from oral histories, photographs, and mementoes. Read the Roll of Honor to see names of North Carolinians who died serving in World War II. The ship is not air-conditioned, and you will be walking a lot, so bring a bottle of water.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
Tours from $21 › Learn more about Battleship North Carolina

6. Off-Road Tours, Corolla

Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about Off-Road Tours

7. Sarah P. Duke Gardens, Durham

A living memorial, Sarah P. Duke Gardens showcases a collection of landscaped gardens. Over 100 flowerbeds with more than 40,000 irises blossomed in the gardens in 1935. These original gardens were washed away in 1936, but Ellen Biddle Shipman redesigned them into an area called the Terraces. The terraced greenery includes a variety of species that release heady scents into Duke University's campus air. This blossoming memorial is open to the public with 8 km (5 mi) of walkways that wrap around different plant life.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about Sarah P. Duke Gardens

8. Waterfalls and Blue Ridge Parkway Hiking Tour with Expert Naturalist

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As featured in Southern Living Magazine and MSN News, discover the authentic beauty of the Blue Ridge Parkway with a naturalist guide to show you the best vistas, photo spots, and waterfalls that make Asheville famous. This intimate, small-group tour makes it easy to get to know your experienced, expert guide and learn more about the region. -Learn about the area’s history, plants, and wildlife from your naturalist guide -Visit famous waterfalls and ones that most tourists miss-See the best of the Blue Ridge Parkway’s expansive mountain views
Suggested duration: 4 hours 45 minutes
Tours from $79 › More about this tour at viator.com ›

9. The North Carolina Arboretum, Asheville

The North Carolina Arboretum is home to 26 hectares (65 acres) of cultivated gardens and 16 km (10 mi) of hiking and biking trails. Head to the stream to visit the National Native Azalea Collection, where you can see nearly every U.S. azalea species. Learn about traditional North Carolina crafts, such as basketry and broom-making, at the Heritage Garden. The bonsai collection features an array of traditional Asian trees alongside some American species. You can explore more gardens and discover stunning views of the Pisgah National Forest via one of the easy, moderate, or difficult hiking or biking trails.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
Learn more about The North Carolina Arboretum

10. Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Buxton

A life-saving piece of engineering, Cape Hatteras Lighthouse protects sailors from what's been nicknamed "The Graveyard of the Atlantic." The lighthouse rises 64 m (210 ft), making it the tallest lighthouse in the world. Start exploring across from the lighthouse at the Hatteras Island Visitor Center and Museum of the Sea, where you'll discover the history and legend of the lighthouse. Here you'll also find information about Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

11. Food Tours, Asheville

Suggested duration: 3 hours
Tours from $60 › Learn more about Food Tours

12. Guided Horseback Ride through Flame Azalea and Fern Forest

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The flame fern trail ride combines the Majestic Flame Azalea and the lush Fern Forest for a really enjoyable trail ride for everyone. You start up the mountain traveling through a hard wood forest filled with wild Flame Azaleas. After the hardwoods, you enter an enchanting white pine forest just like in the Star Wars movie.
Suggested duration: 1 hour 15 minutes
Tours from $110 › More about this tour at viator.com ›

13. Jockey's Ridge State Park, Nags Head

See the tallest sand dune on the Atlantic coast at Jockey's Ridge State Park, and look below the dune for a hiking trail through a maritime forest. Try picnicking, bird watching, kite-flying and even hang gliding at North Carolina's most-visited park. At an estuary just below the dune, head for a swim or go kayaking. The visitor center has an exhibit hall where you can learn about the park and its history. Remember to be cautious of hot sand.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Tours from $116 › Learn more about Jockey's Ridge State Park

14. Zipline, Lake Lure

Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
Learn more about Zipline

15. Eagles Island 50 minute Narrated Boat Cruise

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Enjoy a relaxing ride on the river on our comfortable 46' catamaran as you learn more about Wilmington, NC from our friendly captain and crew. Gain a new perspective on our history and ecology as we share fun facts and historical anecdotes as we cruise along the Cape Fear River. We promise that no two cruises are alike!If you would like a private charter or one of our other cruises, please give us a call.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
Tours from $21 › More about this tour at viator.com ›

Best tours in North Carolina