Maybe you’re born and raised, maybe you’re a transplant, maybe you’re just visiting, or maybe you’re here to stay, forever! No matter what, if you’re passing through for a while or looking to settle down…you NEED to do these 25 things to truly get the full NC experience!
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. Take a dip in a swimming hole!
Swimmin' holes are a favorite NC summer past time. No matter where you are in the state, you're guaranteed to find a body of water that will cool you off just right. Yet, the best ones are usually found in western North Carolina. There is nothing like cold, fresh, mountain water in the middle of summer..and yes, it is COLD (so be prepared).
2. Slide down sliding rock
No matter you're age...the adrenaline rush is the same. Everyone must slide down this rock, at least once!
3. Check out the view from the top of a lighthouse.
Lighthouses are an NC staple, and really, Cape Hatteras is like a right of passage. Pictured above is the Currituck Lighthouse on Corrolla, a unique, architectural beauty!
4. Eat cookout after a night on the town.
Anyone who grew up in North Carolina knows how crucial cookout is after a night of partying. It's basically the after party. Oh-and you HAVE to try a watermelon milkshake at least once (served July-August).
5. Make grits
And make grandma proud! Each family has their own "method" but grits are a true staple of this state.
6. Take a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway
This isn't an option! If you're here for a short amount of time, say school or study abroad, this should be top on your list! It really is a beautiful drive and you'll never get tired of it.
7. Visit the Biltmore House
America's castle is right here in North Carolina! The best time to go is RIGHT after Christmas, you'll skip the crowds but still get all of the amazing decor.
8. Ride a ferry to the Outer Banks
Riding the ferry is a cherished childhood memory of mine. There is so much adventure and anticipation in a ferry ride to the Outer Banks.
9. And once you're there...you have to see the wild ponies!
Magical, majestic, unique...the wild ponies of the Outer Banks are a sight to see! This one is at the top of my NC Bucket List.
10. And we can't forget eating fresh seafood at the beach! A must!!
This one is a lot more common than others, but there is nothing like a fresh caught piece of fish or fresh shrimp and grits. My mouth is watering! Plus, there are so many amazing restaurants on the Outer Banks and in Wilmington...good luck taking your pick!
11. The essential sports checklist.
College basketball game, Panthers game, Hurricanes hockey game. All three are totally essential to the NC experience!
12. Freak out just a little over snow
No one is saying you have to clear the bread and milk aisle, but freaking out a little over snow is actually kind of fun. There is definetly a pecuilar kind of excitement in the air when a snowstorm is predicted. Who cares if you're from the north, participate in the south's "preparation" and take it all in (sometimes with a good laugh).
13. Speaking of snow...go skiing and "pizza" it out on the top of a mountain.
Between Beech, Sugar, and Appalachian there are plenty of places to ski in North Carolina. Beech is my personal favorite, but with snow-filled adventures waiting for you....why not?
14. Drink a Cheerwine then take a bite of Krispy Kreme Doughnut
You're not a true North Carolinian until you take a sip of the sweet stuff!
15. Hike a mountain, see some waterfalls, jump off a rock into chilly mountain water, then pitch a tent!
North Carolinians live for adventure. One of our favorite past times being hiking the Blue Ridge Mountains and trying to check off our waterfall bucket list. This is an essential summer adventure!
16. Hippie it out in Asheville
Even the most Type-A personalities will find their hips shakin' to that lively drum circle. Everyone needs a weekend in Asheville to let their hair down, kick off their shoes, and live in the moment...fire hoops included!
17. Get a little sunburn at Carolina Beach
I'm not encouraging the use of no sunscreen...quite the opposite...but each North Carolinian is sure to have that story about an epic Carolina burn, usually starting with "well, that one time..."
18. Take a country drive and see tobacco fields!
You're not a true North Carolinian unless you 1.Enjoy Sunday drives and 2.Can spot a tobacco field and immediately know what it is
19. Go "all the way"
Get your mind out of the gutter! A true NC staple is a hot dog or burger served with chili, slaw, mustard, and cheese. You have try one at least once!
20. Two-step to bluegrass music
As the state that practically invented three- finger pickin' on the banjo, you must pay your respects and tributes to the legend himself, NC native Earl Scruggs, by catching a bluegrass concert.
21. Get in a fight about barbecue.
One day, I promise, you'll meet someone who will just be DARING to cross you with that tomato and or vinegar non-sense and you will have to defend your respective side. Until you can successfully argue about barbecue, your time in NC is not complete.
22. Take a sip of the good stuff, the REAL stuff
Not the kind you can buy...the kind you have to FIND.
23. Find the perfect joint
Get a barbecue sandwich from a window, or the best cheeseburger ever from what looks like an abandoned gas station. Bring cash with you...if they take credit cards it's not your place. Little "joints" are hiding all over North Carolina, usually a local can give you a few to visit. For me, being from Winston, I say try Ted's Kickin' Chicken!
24. Go with the flow
Hop in a canoe, be daring with a raft, or take it easy in a tube. The rivers of North Carolina, mainly the Dan River and French Broad River, are popular destinations for all sorts of water sports or a day of tubing. You have to experience tubing at least once...and I'd recommend the French Broad because you get amazing mountain views.
25. Feel some type of way when you reminisce on North Carolina.
Don't forget...you can always come back and we'll welcome you with open arms!