North Carolina August 22, 2017
The 8 Coolest Attractions In North Carolina That Not Enough People Visit
North Carolina is known for its stunning Blue Ridge Mountains, larger-than-life sand dunes along the coast, miles of uncharted beach and sand along the Outer Banks, and all the character and culture found in-between. With so many notable landmarks, many other equally interesting places fly under the radar but are very deserving of a visit.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Blowing Rock
Many people think of Blowing Rock as the quaint Blue Ridge town and less of the unique attraction that defines it. Established in 1933 as "North Carolina's First Travel Attraction," Blowing Rock dates back 255 million years to when the Blue Ridge Mountains were first forming. Due to the fact wind flows upward from John's River Gorge, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not deemed "The only place in the world where snow falls upside down." At 4,000 feet elevation, the beautiful attraction is a must-see and learning the legends that also surround it are equally interesting.
Read our full guide on Blowing Rock
2. White Lake
Perhaps formed by a crater, perhaps fed by a natural artisan spring, the mysteriously beautiful White Lake boasts crystal clear water and white, sandy shores. Located near Elizabethtown, many keep driving east towards the beaches not knowing this quaint lake exudes coastal-vibes with oaks drenched in Spanish moss and plenty of perfect places for sunbathing.
Read our full guide on White Lake
3. Cherohala Skyway
Many consider the Blue Ridge Parkway or Outer Banks Scenic Byway as the "must-do" North Carolina drives. While they certainly are and are very deserving of such a title, there's another gorgeous drive hiding amid the Blue Ridge. The Cherohala Skyway is a National Scenic Byway spanning 18 miles through North Carolina and 22 through Tennessee. With curves, overlooks, and views that rival the Blue Ridge, it's a best-kept secret for motorists and vista-seekers everywhere. Named after the two forests it connects - Cherokee National Forest in TN and Nantahala National Forest in NC, this pristine drive ascends 5,400 feet offering drivers views of the mesmerizing Joyce Kilmer Memorial Fores and tLittle Huckleberry Knob, Hooper’s Bald, Laurel Top and John’s Knob; some of the oldest mountains in not just the Appalachian, but the world.
Read our full guide on Cherohala Skyway
4. Clamshell Shell Station
Now a museum, this quirky clamshell gas station in Winston-Salem was once one of 10 clamshells placed throughout North Carolina to attract customers. Sadly, the whole clamshell concept didn't really catch on and many of them closed. Luckily, one has been tirelessly preserved and turned into a museum. While the clamshell might be a bit small, the inside is just as eccentric as the outside and features displays and information on the rise and demise of the clamshell. Even if you're just visiting for a minute, it makes for some seriously interesting photos.
Read our full guide on the Clamshell
5. Divine Llama Vineyards
A charming vineyard that's also home to llamas? Sounds something more fitting for South America but actually exists in East Bend. Located amongst the rolling hills of the Piedmont with Pilot Mountain looming in the distance, Diving Llama Vineyards is home to five acres of vineyards and 20 acres for llamas and miniature horses. Visitors wanting to sip some vino in the tasting room can also pet the llamas or say hello to the miniature horses. While these four-legged friends might seem like the main event, you'll also want to pop in for the award-winning wine and llamas; their "In A Heartbeat" blend of 2007 Cabernet Franc and 2007 Merlot is named after their llama Heart Beat who placed as third best female llama at Grand Nationals in 2006. The "Red Rita Rose Blend" featuring 90% of the 2008 Chardonnay and 10% of the 2008 Cabernet Franc and 3% residual sugar is named after the llama herd matriarch. One unique aspect is that visitors can take "Llama Treks" where they walk to unique picnic locations with llamas in tow.
Read our full guide on Divine Llama Vineyards
6. Elizabethan Gardens
If you want to feel like royalty, you'll get just that at the exquisite Elizabethan Gardens in Manteo. The two acre property is home to a variety of different gardens exuding their own unique fauna and flora including the Queen's Rose Garden. Obviously Elizabethan Gardens is a nod to North Carolina's revolutionary past and to Queen Elizabeth I, who loved fanciful gardens as a form of entertainment. Today, this beautiful destination serves as a way to recreate that as well as a memorial for Sir Walter Raleigh and 'The Lost Colony' that lived here 400 years ago. Speaking of The Lost Colony, you'll also find the iconic and controversial Virginia Dare statue here.
Read our full guide on Elizabethan Gardens
7. Cameron Barnstormer Murals
At the intersection of Red Hill, Stanton Hill, and Nickens Road west of Cameron in Moore County you'll find a curious array of art adorning dilapidated tobacco barns. The murals are a part of what the town called the "barnstormers." Cameron native David Ellis recruited a group of fellow NYC artists to venture to his hometown and breathe back life into a place that almost fell into poverty from two major industries, railway and tobacco. The art goes back to 1999 when Ellis and his group first started to decorate the structures that served as metaphors for the town's decay. Today, art enthusiasts, Cameron natives and even a surprised traveler or two can view the work of the Barnstormers. It's rumored Ellis and his crew return every few years to freshen up pieces and paint new ones.
Read our full guide on the Cameron Barnstormers
8. House of Mugs
A cabin completely covered in mugs? Sounds a bit fairytale-like but exists in Collettsville. The mug craze started a little over 15 years ago when Avery and Doris Sisk decided their house could use a little sprucing up. It all started with a small box of mugs purchased from a flea market and has now grown to over 200,000 mugs adorning the house, with many travelers coming to add their own to the elaborate collection.
Read our full guide on the House of Mugs (including where and how to find it)
How cool are these places? Which ones have you visited, which ones are you now adding to your list?