As a native North Carolinian, one of my favorite things to do is to share favorite experiences of what to do and see in the state. North Carolina has a lot to offer, and it is important to note that tourism dollars helps fund public schools, which is another passion of mine. So, today, I am sharing the ultimate North Carolina Bucket List with 25 things to see and do in the state. I’ve linked to previous experiences I’ve written about and noted the experiences that are still on our list as well.
North Carolina Bucket List: Western North Carolina
Climb Mount Mitchell, the Highest Peak on the Appalachian Mountains
I have never climbed Mount. Mitchell, so it’s been on my bucket list for quite some time. David and I will have to change that this summer for sure. Stay in Asheville (check out my favorite Air BnBs here and here) and make the scenic hour drive.
Take in the Sights from the Mile High Bridge at Grandfather Mountain
Okay, so, I crossed the Mile High Bridge, but I did not stop to take in the scenes. I am petrified of heights, but I’m still so glad I did it. I was shaking like a leaf the whole time, though. Park details can be found here.
Go Down a Natural Water Slide in Bryson City
David and I thought this was such a great way to spend a warm, humid summer day last year! There are a lot to choose from right in Bryson City, so I definitely recommend a trip this summer!
Relax in the Treetop Soaking Tub Overlooking Fontana Lake
We spent our anniversary relaxing and decompressing at Lakeview at Fontana, and my favorite touch was the view of Fontana Lake from the treetop soaking tub.
Explore the Beautiful Biltmore Estate
I’ve always wanted to spend an entire weekend exploring the Biltmore Estate, especially at Christmas time. So, we finally got to spend a day on the property and it is truly stunning. I highly recommend a candlelight tour during the holidays. It’s truly the best way to experience the property.
Taste North Carolina Wines on the Yadkin Valley Wine Trail
This is one of my favorite experiences. The food is delicious, the wines are outstanding, and the hospitality is amazing. Also, the views of Pilot Mountain are gorgeous as well! Check out this overnight trip and then this weekend trip.
Check Out the Gingerbread House Competition with a Signature Hot Chocolate at the Grove Park Inn
I love spending some time at the Grove Park Inn for the views and the aesthetics of the property. The Gingerbread House Competition is really amazing and the signature hot chocolate makes for a great way to spend a winter afternoon in Asheville!
Book a Getaway in Blowing Rock
Blowing Rock is one of my favorite small towns in North Carolina! It is so beautiful, quaint, with great restaurants and shops. If you’re looking for a great spot to stay, check out the Meadowbrook Inn.
North Carolina Bucket List: Central North Carolina
Order Tomato Pie at Mozelle’s in Winston-Salem
Y’all, I love Winston-Salem and the culinary experience there is a delicious one. You have to eat at Mozelle’s and order the tomato pie.
Go Antiquing in Hillsborough
Hillsborough is another adorable small town in North Carolina perfect for a good day trip. The antiquing there is really great and I definitely recommend spending a Saturday afternoon checking out the antique shops.
Head to Durham for an amazing meal!
One of my favorite restaurants in North Carolina is Mateo in Durham. It’s the perfect spot for a girls’ night out to sample a variety of dishes! It’s a favorite date night spot and we also loved visiting for the Streetery in the fall of 2020. I’m also a big fan of the M Restaurants and you can see my takes on these restaurants here.
Plan a Getaway to the Proximity Hotel
The Proximity Hotel uses sustainable practices and is the first LEED Platinum “green hotel.” I love that there is a “taxi” that takes guests between the Proximity and the O.Henry Hotel, a beautiful garden, and a delicious restaurant, Print Works Bistro. Greensboro is a favorite city and would make a great weekend trip!
Have the Ultimate Staycation at the Carolina Inn
There is no where prettier than Chapel Hill in the spring! The Carolina Inn is the perfect place to have a staycation to explore the property, eat your weight in chocolate chip cookies, and dine at Crossroads! We had the most amazing getaway and can’t wait to plan another one soon.
Explore the Grounds at the Fearrington House & Enjoy Afternoon Tea
Fearrington Village is another great spot for a getaway, particularly if you visit Pittsboro. The afternoon tea at Fearrington Village is one of my favorite ways to spend a day with friends.
Take in the Charlotte Skyline at City Lights
David and I celebrated his birthday taking in the Charlotte Skyline at City Lights. Their drinks are delicious and the views are spectacular. For more great things to do in Charlotte, check out this post!
Spend a Spring Day in Saxapahaw
Y’all, I love Saxapahaw. I wish we lived closer to spend every weekend here hanging out on the Haw River. There are great restaurants, a great brewery, and a gorgeous setting.
North Carolina Bucket List: Eastern North Carolina
Enjoy the Ferry Ride and Escape Reality on Ocracoke Island
Ocracoke is one of our favorite places to spend time in the summer. I’ve been going every year since I was in 5th grade, and David is a huge fan. There is nothing better than getting on the ferry to start the relaxation.
Hike the Tallest Sand Dune at Jockey’s Ridge
David has never been to Jockey’s Ridge and I’m thinking we need to change that this year. The hang gliders, the sand castles, and the views make this a really fun way to spend an afternoon.
Take a Drive Down to Oriental for the Day
Oriental is one of the coolest towns in North Carolina! It has beautiful views, great shops and restaurants, and is a fun place to spend a day exploring and learning more about North Carolina.
Enjoy the Sunset at Bald Head Island
A couple of years ago for spring break, David and I headed down to Bald Head for the first time. We absolutely loved our time there, including kayaking through the marshes and hanging out on the beach. But our favorite was watching the sunset from the dock of our cottage.
Order the Flash-Fried Collards at Chef and the Farmer
Y’all know I love Vivian Howard and am so excited that she was named the 2019 Chef of the Year by Southern Living. Ain’t nothing better than her flash fried collards at Chef and the Farmer. Spend a night in Kinston and get a culinary experience!
Drive Over the New Outer Banks Bridge
The new bridge connecting Hatteras to the other parts of the Outer Banks is replacing the Bonner Bridge. It’s a spectacular drive down Highway 12 and an absolute must on a trip to the NC coast!
Order a Chocolate Milkshake at the Freez in Scotland Neck
Y’all, there ain’t nothing better than a chocolate milkshake at the Freez in Scotland Neck. Some of my most favorite childhood memories involve meals at the Freez. My dad loves getting milkshakes from there because they’re made with chocolate ice cream AND chocolate syrup, and he passed that obsession on to me. I used to think there was nothing finer than the Freez, and honestly, at 32, I’m not sure my opinion has changed. Also, If you want to spend the day in Halifax County, check out some ideas here.
Eat the Best Eastern North Carolina BBQ at Skylight Inn BBQ
Okay, I gotta admit, this is hard. I just specifically named what I think is the best BBQ in North Carolina, and I’m not sure that before now, I’ve officially decided this. Alas, here we are. Eastern North Carolina BBQ is the best, and I loved Skylight, so I’m going to own it. Here are other favorites here and here.
Spend a Day Exploring Edenton
Edenton is one of the oldest towns in North Carolina and a beautiful small town. There is a lot of history to experience, views to take in, and great shopping and restaurants.
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This post was originally published in 2019 and has since been updated and recirculated for 2020.