Attractions November 11, 2017
8 Off-The-Grid Destinations In North Carolina That Will Take You Away From It All
In today’s world, we’re constantly bogged down. Social media always keeps us plugged in and it’s almost stranger to be staring off into space than down at your phone. We’ve started to shift our day-to-day away from appreciating the beauty of all around us and more in a place of FOMO (fear of missing out) or vicariously living through other’s perceived life. Although it’s the norm, there’s plenty of people (myself included) who would go crazy without checking out from the world for a bit and going off the grid.
It might be a long weekend camping (with no cell service), a beautiful drive, or even a destination that still feels outside of reality. If you’re looking to retreat these 8 destinations will renew the soul.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here:
1. Cherohala Skyway
This gorgeous drive spans 18 miles through North Carolina and 22 through Tennesse. A great alternative to the popular Blue Ridge Parkway, drivers are treated to stunning (sometimes stomach-dropping) vistas. Popular stops along include Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, Little Huckleberry Knob, Hooper’s Bald, Laurel Top and John’s Knob. The drive ascends 5,400 feet and has been listed as one of the Top 10 Motorcycle Rides in North America.
Hop in the car and read our full guide
2. Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest
Speaking of, the immense and stunning Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest spans 3,800-acres and home to some of the largest and oldest trees in the state and Appalachians. Named for the famous poet, who fittingly wrote 'Trees,' it's a place that inspires more than literature but whimsy and adventure. Some trees reach over 100 feet high with a circumference of 20 feet. The two-mile Poplar Cove Loop Trail weaves you around everything there is to see.
Read our full guide
3. Great Dismal Swamp
This eerie yet beautiful swamp is shared with Virginia and home to enchanting cypress merely floating in the water and twists, turns, and canals through dark woods and mature oaks. It's no surprise this destination has a literary connection, Harriet Beecher Stowe used the swamp as the setting for her second novel, which largely focused on the 'Maroons' (African American refugee slaves who had escaped) who hid and lived within the swamp. Today, archaeological evidence reveals humans have inhabited Great Dismal for nearly 3,000 years. During the day, it's a popular spot for all sorts of water activities from kayaking, canoeing, to fishing.
4. Frisco Beach
While days are certainly numbered for the Frisco Pier, the quiet and remote stretch of sand on the Outer Banks will see many more days. Frisco Beach is one of the few spots along the coast that allows camping on the beach. If you've ever dreamed of falling asleep to the sound of waves and waking up to a blazing sunset above the water - here's your chance. With cooler temperatures and less crowds come winter, now is the perfect time to find a remote escape within the dunes.
5. Frying Pan Tower
A hotel surrounded by water and only reachable by boat or helicopter? Sign me up. It might cost you a pretty penny to spend the weekend at Frying Pan Tower, but this Coast Guard station turned bed and breakfast is easily one of the most unique overnight accommodations in North Carolina. Situated 40 miles off the coast, you'll be 'sleeping with the fishes' in the best way possible. Read our full guide
6. Waterfall Byway
While North Carolina is home to plenty of iconic drives, Blue Ridge Parkway, Outer Banks Scenic Byway, etc...some of the best drives are hiding down long, winding country roads. While U.S. 64 spans from Murphy to Manteo, one portion to take is Waterfall Byway. Spanning 98 miles between Rosman and Murphy, you'll pass by some of North Carolina's most pristine waterfalls and also DuPont State Forest. From the walk-behind waterfall, Dry Falls, to an entire day viewing multiple waterfalls in DuPont; this is a remote and scenic drive that will make you forget the world exists.
Read our full guide
7. Portsmouth Island
Venturing to Portsmouth Island isn't an easy feat, you'll need a boat and at least a friend or two to accompany once you arrive here. A 'beach ghost town,' Portsmouth Island was one of the first ports following colonization with a mixture of settlers, businessmen, and sailors. By 1860 the island was home to 700 residents, yet between the Civil War and opening of a new port, Portsmouth soon quietly faded away. Today, the original post office, lodges, cottages and even a church dot the island. It's one of the most popular, remote camping destinations known for great fishing and shelling.
8. Max Patch
Flat, wide-open fields surrounded by panoramic mountain views? While it might sound very Sound of Music, it exists here in North Carolina. Both Max Patch and Roan Mountain are home to grassy balds that make a great location to take in the views or pitch a tent. The gorgeous Max Patch is found in the Pisgah National Forest near Hot Springs. Home to multiple hiking trails, scenic overlooks and camping options - it's a unique setting to escape into.
Read our full guide
All of these destinations are such remote, beautiful escapes. Which ones have you visited and which ones do you want to visit now?