From exploring marshlands to adventuring into white water rafting, North Carolina truly has a little bit of everything for everyone! If you’re planning a visit, browse through our North Carolina Bucket List to find your next adventure in The Tar Heel State.
Living on the southern border of Virginia, I’ve spent countless vacations in North Carolina. I hope you enjoy your time in NC as much as I do.
North Carolina Bucket List
The Great Outdoors
Mingo Falls – Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Mingo Falls is nestled on a land trust of the Cherokee Indians. The hike to the waterfall is less than a half mile each way, and is only moderately difficult, making it fun for the whole family. Wear your good hiking shoes, and don’t forget your camera!
Lighthouses – There are many lighthouses to see in North Carolina. Ocracoke Lighthouse is located on Ocracoke Island, accessible by ferry from Hatteras. It’s the state’s oldest lighthouse still in operation. Old Baldy is another lighthouse worth visiting. Visible from Oak Island if you just want a glance, or take a ferry to Bald Head Island and climb the 108 steps to the top of Old Baldy for the best views around.
Gem Mining – Franklin is known as the gem capital of the world. Because of that, gem mining is the major attraction in this town. Gem mining is fun for kids and adults alike, and there are several spots you can enjoy gem mining. Most mines have you pay an admission fee for the day, and they sell gem dirt in a bucket to dig through. Bring ziploc bags or some tupperware to take your stones home. Wear old clothes, because you’ll probably get dirty!
Jockey’s Ridge – The tallest natural sand dune system on the Atlantic Coast, Jockey’s Ridge is located in Nags Head and definitely worth the drive! Even if you’ve seen the dunes before, they’re always changing so they always look different. There’s a visitor’s center, museum, and boardwalk with exhibits explaining the dune’s ecology. Sandboarding is allowed with a permit, and the the park itself is great for sunbathing, wading, and hiking the nature trails. Don’t miss more of our fun & budget-friendly Nags Head vacation ideas.
Mile High Swinging Bridge – Get ready for 360 degree panoramic views from Grandfather Mountain, while walking across this 228-foot suspension bridge. If you’re scared of heights, you might want to skip this one. But if you’re looking for an adventure like no other, the Mile High Swinging Bridge is calling your name!
Oddities Only in North Carolina
Guns and Roses – This metal sculpture has also been called “man riding pig dog”, but the official name given by the sculptor was Guns and Roses. It’s located in Asheville, and worth a detour if you’re into cool/weird stuff.
Maggie Valley – Nestled in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains, Maggie Valley is home to some real oddities – most notably the Ghost Town in the Sky. It’s a town located 6,000+ feet above sea level, and is only accessible by ski lift. Planning a trip? Check out Things to Do in Maggie Valley.
Henry Mill Village – If you’ve read the books, or seen the movies, you probably love The Hunger Games as much as the rest of the world does! Henry Mill Village was built in 1904 and has long since been deserted. It features 21 houses and buildings that were used in filming for District 12.
What would you add to our North Carolina bucket list? Let me know in the comments!
If you’re planning to head further North, don’t miss our Virginia Bucket List to find 20 must visit sites in VA.