1. Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest
Named in honor of the poet, Joyce Kilmer, who wrote 'Trees,' this 3,800 acre-tract of publicly owned virgin forest has some of the most beautiful trees in North Carolina. Not to mention, some of the biggest. You can find four-hundred year old trees in this magical place.
2. Land of Oz Theme Park, Beech Mountain
Once a bustling theme park dedicated to The Wizard of Oz, this fictional, whimsical place now sits quietly on the side of Beech Mountain. Land of Oz has gained tons of attention in the past year. Each October, the yellow brick road brims with life at the Autumn in Oz event.
3. Frying Pan Tower
40 miles off the NC Coast, you'll find Frying Pan Tower. If you've ever wanted to spend the night in the middle of the Atlantic...you're in luck. The tower operates as a bed and breakfast for a wildly unique experience.
4. Whiteside Mountain
Whiteside Mountain is 400 million years old and home to the elusive and magical 'shadow of the bear.' For a couple of weeks in early Spring and Fall, the bear makes its way onto the mountain in the form of a breathtaking, and sometimes unbelievable shadow. Located not far from Highlands and Cashiers, there's also so much to explore in this area of Western, North Carolina.
5. Mingo Falls
Located on Eastern Cherokee Reservation in Charleston, NC, Mingo Falls is such a unique beauty. The water gracefully slides down the steep rocks lending an ethereal experience. This isn't your average waterfall!
6. Cape Hatteras National Seashore
With breathtaking views on both the Pamlico Sound and Atlantic, Cape Hatteras is magical. While some parts are very developed...you can take your SUV or truck and drive to some of the most remote, uninhabited stretches you'll ever find on the Outer Banks.
7. The Great Dismal Swamp
The Great Dismal Swamp is an eerie yet beautiful place. It even has a literary connection. Archaeological evidence shows that humans have inhabited the swamp for 13,000 years. Harriet Beecher Stowe used the swamp as a setting for her second novel, which largely focused on the 'Maroons' (African American refugee slaves who had escaped) who inhabited and hid in the area. It's a mysterious place, sometimes scary at night but beyond beautiful in the day.
8. Sarah P. Duke Gardens
Sarah P. Duke Gardens are beyond beautiful. It's the perfect place for a daytime stroll that will completely relax you and make you forget about the outside world.
9. Castle Mont Rouge
Located in Rougemont, it's hard to believe you can find this whimsical castle hiding in the woods. It was once a sculptor's dream-to-life vision. But the plans fell apart and were left in abandon after the death of his wife. While not in the best condition, many explorers take a day trip to witness the magic in the making.
10. DuPont State Forest
DuPont State forest has so much beauty - between gorgeous waterfalls (Triple Falls pictured above), adventurous hiking or mountain biking trails, and diverse scenery. One of my personal favorite places being High Falls. The power of the waterfall always manages to take your breath away.
What did you think of our second list? Would you add anything? Tell us in the comments!