15 Must-Visit Tourist Destinations in North Carolina
Traveling to the United States of America is such a traveler’s dream. With each state having its own way of life, there’s surely a lot to be discovered every time you visit. If you’ve already been to the tourist-favorite states, then it’s time for you to visit the underrated ones– North Carolina. Also considered one of the best places to live in the U.S., North Carolina offers much more to all travelers who have yet to explore its state.
To convince you to visit North Carolina, we listed 15 must-visit destinations in North Carolina!
Morehead Planetarium and Science Center
Recognized as Southeast’s oldest planetarium and the first to be on a college campus in the US, Morehead Planetarium and Science Center boasts of its historic contributions to science since its establishment in 1949. It offers valuable lessons about astronomy and earth science, with various interactive exhibits for people of all ages.
Visit the planetarium to watch space exploration shows, attend fun science festivals, and watch futuristic exhibits that show the wonders of science. They also have youth and family programs, both virtual and live, that’ll make for a great family bonding experience that’s both recreational and educational.
Location: 250 E Franklin St | UNC-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill NC 27514
This 300-million-year-old mountain, aptly called Grandfather Mountain, is one of the most historical sites you’ll see in North Carolina. Standing 5,946 feet above Northwest North Carolina, this tourist destination gives you an unparalleled view of striking mountain ridges to the horizon. It’s best to visit this park during fall when the bright colors of fall make a picture-perfect view of the mountains. Wildflowers bloom in several months that add color to the surroundings. Some of the things you can do here include walking along the Mile High Swinging Bridge, spotting wildlife creatures such as squirrels and otters, hawk watching, and more!
Location: 2050 Blowing Rock Highway Linville, NC 28646
The Biltmore Estate
The great outdoors of The Biltmore Estate is an 8,000-acre paradise that you must visit when in North Carolina. This estate, situated in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Asheville, is a perfect weekend retreat that’ll surely make your summer vacation a memorable one.
The Biltmore Estate offers various activities that all kinds of tourists will definitely love. A winery is a good place for adults to relish their love for wines as they offer complimentary wine tasting. There’s also a tour of the Biltmore House, plenty of hiking spots along with Estate Grounds, rooftop tour, self-guided garden visit, and more. There are biking and hiking activities, a playground, and wildlife discoveries they’ll enjoy for kids.
Location: One Lodge Street, Asheville, NC
Chimney Rock State Park
If you’re into hiking, this place should be on top of your must-visits in NC. Chimney Rock State Park is a great outdoor experience for those who love nature and hiking. Apart from its numerous hiking trails, the park boasts of its magnificent vistas, animal discovery den. You can find several kinds of reptiles, cafes and deli, and fun activities such as rock climbing and rappelling.
Besides the adventures, Chimney Rock State Park is home to abundant flora and fauna, with more than 550 vascular plant species and a haven of birds, making it a favorite among bird photographers. It’s truly a natural wonder that you should explore in North Carolina.
Location: 431 Main St, Chimney Rock, NC
The NASCAR Hall of Fame
Auto fans, rejoice! NC is home to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, which honors auto racing. They have interactive exhibits such as Heritage Speedway, Whelen Hall of Champions, Hall of Honor, and more, which will surely entice all racing fans. There are guided tours you can join that show in-depth storytelling of the people behind NASCAR, the heritage, history, and facts, as well as personal anecdotes. They also have a gear shop where you can shop and a cafe, where you can refuel!
Location: 400 E M.L.K. Jr Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28202, USA
Marbles Kids Museum
If you’re traveling with kids, make sure to drop by the Marbles Kids Museum. This attraction is made for kids and offers various activities that they’ll learn and love. Go to the Marbles Princess Tea and enjoy fairy dust, meet other princesses, and have a magnificent sweet treat for your little princesses. There’s also a Marbles Evening with Elves where you can dress up like an elf and play fun games. There’s also plenty of exhibits that you’ll discover in this fun, family-friendly museum!
Location: 201 East Hargett Street Raleigh, NC
Southern Highland Craft Guild Folk Art Center
Art enthusiasts will be delighted to know that NC has a distinguished folk art center in its town. When you visit, you’ll be in awe of the stunning crafts you can see. Shop American craft, watch and interact with artisans in their daily craft demos, and attend events such as the Craft Fair that features works of wood, clay, mixed media, jewelry, fiber, and more in a three-day event. Going here will make you value the local craftsmanship of the town and support their creative pursuits when you buy their products!
Location: Milepost 382 Blue Ridge Parkway, Asheville, NC
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Dubbed as America’s most visited national park, The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is known for its abundant flora and fauna. Here, there’s a lot to explore regarding the wonders of nature: animals, plants, people, and places such as learning centers and parks. More than 19,000 species have been documented to have lived here, as it is the biodiverse park in the National Park system. The best thing about this park is there’s plenty of activities you can join to make the most out of your visit: try fishing, bicycling, hiking, wildlife viewing, horseback riding, and more in this great park!
Location: National Park, NC, TN
Carolinas Aviation Museum
“Prepare for Takeoff,” they say as the museum takes everyone on a journey up in the air through their various exhibits at Carolinas Aviation Museum! Going to this museum must be on your list for those who have a special interest in aviation or are majoring in STEM. See a collection of historic aircraft, airline memorabilia, and other aviation-related items in this educational museum. Set to reopen in 2023, the museum aims to educate students with hands-on learning through their STEM-related resources.
Location: Charlotte, NC
JC Raulston Arboretum
Plant parents, NC has something for you! For those who love tending to plants, visit one of the “largest and most diverse collections of landscape plants”: the JC Raulston Arboretum. They have various events you can attend if you’re interested in gardening and all things about plants. This arboretum is located at the NC State University, aims to teach about how to grow plants and improve landscapes that’ll beautify nature and learn from it.
Location: 4415 Beryl Rd., Raleigh, NC
Cryptozoology & Paranormal Museum
If you’re into spooky adventures, you’ve got to visit the Cryptozoology & Paranormal Museum in North Carolina. Here, you can ghost hunt or join a walking tour with friends in the district of Littleton. They also hold two-hour tours to go inside historic houses such as the Alston House, established in 1895. You may also see the Person’s Ordinary, which is the oldest historical landmark of Halifax county. You might even feel, see, or hear a ghostly presence, so if you’re up for an adrenaline rush, this kind of travel experience is one you must not miss!
Location: 328 Mosby Ave, Littleton, North Carolina
Blue Ridge Parkway
A relaxing holiday is what you’ll experience when you go to “America’s Favorite Drive,” which is Blue Ridge Parkway. As you drive along the way, you are given stunning views of nature. It’s 469 miles long and is known to be America’s longest linear park. You’ll find hiking trails, picnic spots, and campgrounds, so those who want to experience NC’s outdoor adventure will best have them here. Go biking, visit the Folk Art Center, and see the peak of Mount Pisgah when in this area. The good news is, most of the things you can do here are free!
Location: Blue Ridge Parkway, Asheville, NC
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
There are just so many science-based tourist attractions in NC, but one thing you should really go to if you’re interested in the field of science is the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. In this museum, you can find several interactive exhibits, films, and other learning resources that will make you love the world of science even more. As the largest museum of its kind in the Southeast, you’re in for a valuable and fun adventure as you explore nature!
Location: 11 West Jones St. Raleigh, NC
Have you ever seen a gorge in this lifetime? If not, it’s your chance to see it up close and personal in NC at the Linville Gorge. This scenic gorge is such a beautiful sightseeing spot overlooking views of Table Rock and Hawksbill. There are several beginner-friendly hikes you can join if you’re up for it. But as a Wilderness Area, there are side trails that are quite hard to go to if you’re not a seasoned hiker yet. Don’t forget to drop by the Linville Falls!
Location: Marion, NC
North Carolina Zoo
See wild animals when you visit the North Carolina Zoo! This not-so-ordinary animal habitat is actually the “world’s largest natural habitat zoo.” Here, you’ll see wild animals living in natural locations. Say hello to the living creatures such as the African lion, North American River otter, polar bear, desert tortoise, and more! The zoo offers educational resources both for kids and adults as they impart the knowledge of the animal conversation. They also have a zoo school that lets you work with a zookeeper to know more about their roles! If you want to stay longer, they have day and overnight camps you can choose from.
Location: 4401 Zoo Parkway, Asheboro, NC
Note: due to the pandemic, the number of visitors allowed may be reduced due to social distancing. Visit their official websites and social media pages to know more about their safety protocols before your visit. Travel safely!
Which of the tourist attractions in North Carolina listed above sparks your curiosity? Share it with us in the comments section below!
Want more updates about new package tours and tourist attractions in North Carolina, USA, that you can add to your itinerary?