When one thinks ‘North Carolina’ certain things come to mind: hiking in the Blue Ridge, visiting Grandfather Mountain, a long beach trip at the Outer Banks, and maybe visiting the Capital city of Raleigh or the Queen City of Charlotte. Yet, beyond all the popular towns and tourist attractions there’s also a whole world of culture, secluded small towns, and fun places to visit. These ten might fly under the radar, but you won’t regret making a visit!
1. Latta Plantation, Huntersville
If you're not from Huntersville, or Charlotte, you might have never heard of Latta Plantation. Located on 52 acres, the living history farm allows you to tour circa-1800s houses and building from this former cotton plantation. Nestled near the gorgeous Mountain Island Lake, there's plenty to see and do here. Take a guided house tour and walk around the grounds freely.
2. Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens, Belmont
Not far from Latta Plantation, the gorgeous grounds of Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden are perfect for Christmas lights, a day trip, and even host to weddings and special events. Located in Belmont, there's gorgeous gardens with diverse plant life, a fountain, a conservatory with tropical plants, and also a gift shop and nature walk.
3. Tweetsie Railroad, Blowing Rock
While I would never consider Tweetsie underrated, many people prefer the more adventurous Carowinds to the more culture-filled Tweetsie Railroad. Here, you can hop on board vintage trains, ride through the mountains, go to a can-can show, or even a wild-wild west train adventure. There's so much fun to be had here. The park opens again in the spring of 2017.
4. Sciworks, Winston-Salem
While Discovery Zone might be your go-to option for a fun day with the kids, if you're in the Piedmont SciWorks is a great alternative. There's interactive learning activities, a large slide, reptiles on display, a large room where children can race one another on push-karts, and also the amazing planetarium that feel as if you're gazing right into the galaxy.
Located a bridge over from popular Crystal Coast beach, Emerald Isle, sometimes the quaint town of Swansboro goes a bit unnoticed, but it's a must for a beach day trip. Stop by Yana's for fried fritters or a hearty breakfast, get some shopping done, and enjoy it all with a waterside beer. I love Swansboro!
6. South Mountains State Park, Burke County
While many head straight to the Blue Ridge or Smoky Mountains, this gem near Morganton is a great escape minus the extra time traveling. There's miles of hiking trails, beautiful mountain views, and a breathtaking waterfall.
7. Lazy 5 Ranch, Mooresville
To witness animals in the wild, you might think of visiting the Asheboro Zoo (which is great) but what about feeding a giraffe right from the sunroof of your car? At Lazy 5 ranch, this drive-thru zoo puts you in the heart of the wild, with over 750 animals from six different continents. It's a one of a kind experience.
8. Jordan Lake, Apex
Not too far from the Capitol city (and hustle and bustle) there's beautiful wilderness and water views to be found at Jordan Lake. The state park spans 4,558 acres and the lake 13,940. During the warmer months enjoy taking a dip from the small beach, boating, fishing, and hiking. During cooler temps, you can still enjoy plenty of treks that take you through the wilderness and areas with perfect water views.
9. Mountain Magnolia Inn, Hot Springs
The Mountain Magnolia Inn isn't so much underrated, it's actually highly-rated, it's just a hidden gem! If you want a unique stay in the beautiful town of Hot Springs, or even a five-star meal, this is your destination. The decor is Victorian-inspired and the food is fancy American-fare. Walk through the gardens and grounds, and also enjoy the view of the mineral hot springs just across the street.
While people typically travel north to the more popular destination of Manteo, Wanchese is a secluded fishing village rich in culture. It's also home to North Carolina Seafood Industrial Park, as the mid-point of the east coast in the US, it's a major fishing hub. The best part is you can witness all the action, from shrimp boats bringing in the day's catch to larger ships preparing for a month-long voyage. There's not much to do here, besides enjoy the scenery and everything the town has to offer - but sometimes that's all you need.
There really is something for everyone in North Carolina, have you visited these places or have anymore you’d like to add to the list?
While not so much underrated, sometimes this place goes unnoticed because it’s SO remote, in fact, it’s the most remote place in North Carolina – and you can visit for yourself.
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