North Carolina Travel Guide

“At last, I have struck it rich here in North Carolina and am in the most peculiar and one of the most poetic places I have ever been in.”

William James, 1891. Even in the early days of NC, people visited and saw the magic. There’s something special about my home state, and today, I’m going to share a bit of what makes this place the best in the US. If you’re thinking about visiting North Carolina or you’re curious about what makes this state so great, you’re in the right place!

The Basics
  • The Tar Heel State
  • Population: almost 10 million 
  • Capital: Raleigh, home of NC State University and the NC State Fair [read a blogger recap here, and read about the State Fair here]
  • Neighbors: South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee
  • Popular Destinations: Charlotte, Asheville, Raleigh, the Outer Banks, Wilmington
  • Flower: Dogwood
  • Bird: Cardinal
Fun Facts 
  • In Fayetteville, North Carolina, Babe Ruth hit his first home run as a professional baseball player.
  • Mount Mitchell, the tallest mountain in the eastern United States, is in North Carolina. 
  • Asheville’s Biltmore Estate, the largest privately owned house in the United States, has 250 rooms.
  • Virginia Dare, the first person with English parents to be born in America, was born in NC.
  • The University of North Carolina was the first public university in the United States.
  • North Carolina was the first state to establish a state symphony and art museum.

Source: USA Today

Here’s how it works:

I’m going to share what do to, where to eat, and where to stay for the three popular places of NC: the mountains, the city, and the beach. I’ve collaborated with some of my blogging friends & GlampingHub to provide the ultimate traveling guide.

…so where should I stay?

Enter GlampingHub. Your #1 spot for luxury camping & odd homes across the country. Use GlampingHub to create the ultimate vacation experience with unique getaways in the form of tents, treehouses, airstreams, and so much more. 

“Whether you’re in search of a romantic coastal getaway, you’re looking for a unique rental near Asheville, or you’d simply like to escape to solitude for the weekend, we’ve got your covered. With everything from lakeside cottages to unique tents and cozy cabins, we’re certain there’s something here for you. Book your getaway with us, and get ready for a memorable time in North Carolina.”

Click HERE to see a complete list of North Carolina getaways.

The Mountains: Asheville

// Visit the Biltmore Estate.

Credit: My Beautiful Adventures

Credit: My Beautiful Adventures

// Walk to the top of Mt. Mitchell, the highest point on the East Coast!

// Go to a farmer’s market, like this one next to UNC Asheville:

// HIKE! Duh!! I just got back from backpacking  and it was an interesting experience, to say the least. If backpacking isn’t your thing, find a spot off of the Blue Ridge Parkway, like Rough Ridge or Craggy Gardens and bring your camera! Pictured below is a spot in Pisgah National Forest, which is less than an hour from Asheville. 

Pisgah National Forest

Pisgah National Forest

// Eat at White Duck Taco. Seriously. You won’t regret it. And check out my in depth post about more places to eat in Asheville here.

// If you’re into all things coffee, stop by Jongo Java Coffee nearby in Hendersonville or another shop in Asheville, like Double D’s Coffee and Desserts – and when I say Double D, I mean double decker!!

Credit: romanticasheville.com

Credit: romanticasheville.com

The City: Charlotte

// If you’re outdoorsy trying to be outdoorsy like I am, there’s still a mountain for you to hike in Charlotte, NC! Try visiting Crowder’s Mountain. 

// Eat at funky new places in the city, like Le Kabab for Arabic food or Boudreauxs Louisiana Kitchen.

// Nobody puts Baby in a corner. Visit Lake Lure, close to both Charlotte and Asheville, to see where Dirty Dancing was filmed! 

// About 45 minutes away from Charlotte, you can catch a hot air balloon ride in Statesville, NC.

Credit: Gina Alyse

Credit: Gina Alyse

The Beach: Outer Banks

“The Outer Banks, a series of barrier islands on the northeastern edge of North Carolina, truly has it all. The area has seen 500 years of history, from early colonial settlers to pirates and WWII. Atlantic waves make for great surfing, and the quieter waters of the sound side offer other water sports options.”

// Leigh from Hines-Sight  wrote a great review of the Outer Banks and includes some fun activities, like watersports such as kiteboarding, paddle boarding, and more! She says, ” REAL Watersports, near Rodanthe, offers classes for beginners and rental equipment packages for those who need it. Other active adventures along the Outer Banks include fishing charters, off-roading in 4X4 vehicles (with permit), and hiking and biking the many trails here. Families traveling with younger kids might appreciate the offerings in Nags Head — especially with all the indoor opportunities to escape a rainy day!”

// There is so much history behind the Outer Banks, and you can discover the stories and secrets by taking historic tours, such as the Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station.

// Who goes to the Outer Banks and doesn’t see a lighthouse? I mean, seriously! There are 4 active ones and they hold so much history and they make for such a great trip, even with kids!

// Leigh from Hines-Sight also recommends a couple of places to eat in the Outer Banks, like Orange Blossom Bakery “in Buxton, open mornings, is home to the world famous ‘apple uglie,’ an enormous apple fritter easily shared by 3 or 4, is a great place to get breakfast and cup of coffee.”

// Leigh also recommends Diamond Shoals, “also in Buxton, is a local restaurant with a great reputation. The servers are knowledgeable about each dish and make recommendations you can trust. Expect a wait, especially for breakfast and dinner.”
Credit: Hines-Sight

Credit: Hines-Sight

Have you been to NC? If you haven’t, better start packing. I love my home state and I know you will too.

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  • Thank you so much for using my photo! NC is the best state!!! 🙂

    • Savannah Ward

      Thank you so much for sharing your photos and posts! Your blog is wonderful.

  • Kayleigh Adam

    Love this travel guide!

    http://www.kayleighskloset.com

    • Savannah Ward

      Thanks Kayleigh! 🙂

  • What a great comprehensive travel guide!
    I have always wanted to go to NC.
    http://www.breakfastatlillys.com

    • Savannah Ward

      Thanks so much Jenny! 🙂 Hope you’ve had a great week!

  • Merisa Ferrell

    This guide is incredible! I’ve always wanted to visit Asheville, it looks so beautiful. Definitely bookmarking this for when I travel to Florida next month, we’ll just have to make a few NC pit stops along the way! xx Merisa | Monogrammed Magnolias

    • Savannah Ward

      Asheville is so beautiful and you won’t regret driving through! Thanks for commenting and bookmarking 🙂

  • Claudia Jane

    I love North Carolina!! I go there almost every summer, either Highlands or Asheville! My cousin just moved to Asheville for a job so I am looking forward to visiting him, and my other cousin will be attending college in NC next fall to play lacrosse! Such a great state!
    xo, claudia
    http://www.chroniclesofclaudia.com

    • Savannah Ward

      I just had a photoshoot in Highlands and I’d never been before and I LOVED it. The town reminded me of Blowing Rock, which is near Boone. I love small mountain towns so much!

  • I haven’t been to NC for an extended period of time but am now convinced I need to 🙂

    • Savannah Ward

      I’m so glad this guide convinced you! You won’t regret visiting 🙂

  • How lovely! I haven’t visited NC but I drive through it every time I head home. Thanks for the recap and sharing such GORGEOUS photos!

    • Savannah Ward

      Driving through NC is soooo pretty, especially if its near the mountains. Thanks so much for commenting! 🙂

  • Cristina on Campus

    This is awesome! I’ve actually been wanting to visit NC for a couple years now and think I’ll be making a trip soon. So glad you wrote this post; it’s now my travel guide! 🙂

    • Savannah Ward

      Thanks so much!! I’m so glad you like it. Can’t wait for you to experience my home state! 🙂

  • I’ve never been to North Carolina, but I’m hoping to visit this year! My family lives in South Carolina, and I lived there for a few years as well, but I never made it over the border. I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll be visiting my friend in Wilmington next month though.

    • Savannah Ward

      My grandparents shag at Myrtle Beach so I go to South Carolina quite I bit. For SC I’m really excited to go to Charleston sometime soon!

  • Sara Kate Steadman

    Ooo! I love the Biltmore and Duke tacos are amazing!!!! Great round up, I couldn’t agree more.

    xo,
    Sara Kate Styling

    • Savannah Ward

      Thanks so much! Hope you’ve had a great week! 🙂

  • Lauren Ashley

    So beautiful! I’ve only gone twice and it was to visit family but we never really did that much exploring… well, not as much as I would have liked!

    xoxo

    Lauren

    http://www.thefashionistasdiary.com

    • Savannah Ward

      I hope you’ll be able to make it back soon so you can see and do more! 🙂

  • Allison Ellzey

    I love posts like these! I’ve been to the Biltmore during Christmas and it is BEAUTIFUL!

    • Savannah Ward

      I’ve never been to the Biltmore but when I do go, I definitely want it to be Christmas time!

  • Ashley

    I’ve never been to North Carolina, but these photos are stunning! I definitely want to visit someday!

    xo Ashley

    • Savannah Ward

      I was so excited when other bloggers shared their photos and posts with me. Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  • Courtney Dunsmore

    So so cute! I have some friends in NC, I’m sure on where to stop now!

    Courtney//As We Stumble Along

    • Savannah Ward

      Thanks so much! I know you’ll love visiting! 🙂

  • I’m born and raised in NC and currently live in Charlotte! There is so much to explore in this state from the mountains to the beaches!! Love this guide!

    -Morgan
    How 2 Wear It [] http://how2wearit.com

    • Savannah Ward

      Thanks so much! I recently moved to Charlotte for school and I love it so far.

  • Ally

    This is SUCH an amazing and resourceful guide! I can’t thank you enough for putting it together. Definitely bookmarking. NC seems so beautiful and I’d love go hiking there sometime.

    Alessandra | The PumpUp Blog

    • Savannah Ward

      Thanks so much!! I’m so glad you like it! Hiking here is always so fun and the views are incredible.

  • I’ve never been to North Carolina but I would love to for so many reasons. Charlotte seems like such a lovely city and the state as a whole seems really diverse with lots to do. Adding NC to my travel bucket list!

    • Savannah Ward

      I love NC because you have both the mountains and the beach with some great cities in between. I would definitely recommend stopping by one day! 🙂

  • I’m from Charlotte! It’s nice to read about new things to try in the area. I have been on a hunt for kebab for ages! I’m definitely stopping by!

    Leigha https://chasingsmilesalong.wordpress.com

    • Savannah Ward

      That’s awesome! I go to school in Charlotte 🙂 If you go to Le Kabab, make sure you try their baklava. Its amazing!

  • I’ve always wanted to go the Biltmore, it’s absolutely gorgeous from pictures!
    with southern grace,
    lindsey
    http://www.withsoutherngrace.blogspot.com

    • Savannah Ward

      I’ve actually never been to the Biltmore but I’m DYING to go! Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  • Cat

    Such a great post! I really want to go to the Biltmore and go hiking in some of the mountains.

    Cat
    http://classmeetscouture.com

  • Thanks so much for including my posts – this is seriously an epic guide of NC! I need to go back an explore all the places I’ve haven’t been to before! NC just captures my heart!

  • I’m from NC (about 45 minutes away from Charlotte) and I LOVE visiting Asheville. I will never get sick of it!