North Carolina is a great place to live or just visit. Bordered on the west by the Appalachian Mountains, including Great Smokey Mountain State park, and on the east by the Atlantic Ocean with some of the best beaches in the US, you could say we have it all.

Cartoon map of North Carolina highlighting the mountains, ocean, Raleigh, and Charlotte.

But what is North Carolina best known for?

Is it our top-ranked college athletic programs? The annual UNC/NC State/Duke rivalries? Our wineries? All the famous people from NC?

There are so many things about NC it’s difficult to choose. We’ve got small towns, big cities, Ninja Warrior gyms, top restaurants, outdoor activities for everyone, well-known spas, great museums, and more.

50 Fun Facts About North Carolina.

Small Towns

While we have big cities, there are also plenty of small towns in North Carolina. They’re perfect for perusing local goods, eating great food, and enjoying a unique brew.

Mountain Towns

One of our most famous smaller towns is Asheville, NC. A little bit college town, a dash of historic NY, and a sprinkle of 5 James Beard-nominated chefs make this a must-see destination.

Aerial view of downtown Asheville at night with pink sky in the background.

Don’t forget to visit some of the nearby areas like Black Mountain while you’re there.

If you’re not up for a drive all the way to Asheville, we’ve got West Jefferson, Boone, and Blowing Rock all less than three hours from the Triangle.

Historic Towns

North Carolina, like much of the south, played a strong role in United States History. One of the largest Confederate surrenders was negotiated in Hillsborough, NC, and later signed at Bennett Place in Durham.

Rural Towns

Kinston, NC located near New Bern is the perfect example of a quaint downtown. It’s also home to The Chef and the Farmer restaurant made famous by the PBS show of the same name.

You can visit the downtown areas, hit the trails for a great hike, reach out to Nantahala Outdoor Center for a White Water Rafting trip, or even zipline. There’s a ton to do out west.

Beach Towns

For a relaxing day at the Beach, head to the Outer Banks or Kill Devil Hills. Kitty Hawk beach, located in Kill Devil Hills, is home to the Wright Brothers National Memorial. You can see where the first flight of a controlled airplane took place.

Stone marker to note the end of the first flight at Wrightsville Beach by Orville Wright.

There are tons of beaches in North Carolina from party towns to hidden gems.

Unique and Fun Things to do in NC

If off-the-beaten-path is your jam, then we’ve got you covered. From a hiking trail with a dinosaur statue to a restaurant with a giant robot, we’ve got quite a few fun and unique things to experience.

One of my favorites is Tweetsie Railroad. In October, the park transforms into the Ghost Train at night. The schedule is limited and you’ll want to grab a ticket as soon as they go on sale. Adults may enjoy it more than kids.

There’s also the Land of Oz theme park that runs for a limited time at Beech Mountain.

With hundreds of festivals and annual events, there’s something for everyone.

North Carolina Outdoors

With 35 State Parks, 4 State Recreational Areas, 6 State Parks System Units, and several town, city, and county parks, North Carolina has a lot of outdoor activities available.

We also have over 50 lakes!

Waterfall fans can enjoy the 5 waterfalls at Hanging Rock State Park, or the top 8 waterfalls near Raleigh NC.

Let’s not forget our Wilderness areas and, of course, Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Of course, we’re also home to a portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway. You can drive miles of the parkway throughout North Carolina, stopping at some of our great towns along the way.

And there’s no better way to enjoy the color change in fall than driving the windy Blue Ridge.

Red barn inside of wooden fence with red and orange trees in the background.

NC State Parks

Many of our parks offer hiking trails, primitive camping, family camping, rock climbing, and mountain biking. There are also several equestrian trails.

If you prefer water sports, there’s kayaking on many of our lakes. Adventurers can also contact one of the many white water rafting outfits for a day of fun.

In the winter, we’ve got tons of powder for skiers and snowboarders. Personally, I prefer the lodge and some cocoa, but I get it.

And we’re home to one of the best ziplines in the Southeastern US.  

If you can dream it, we probably have it.

So come visit North Carolina and see what we have to offer.

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