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Ultimate North Carolina Road Trip

Written for the Adventurous

North Carolina, a state that seems to have it all. Growing up in North Carolina you learn that our state is separated into three geographic regions. The mountains, the piedmont, and the coast. This in itself is crazy, that one state can have such a vast array of regions. This provides all sorts of activities and cities to behold.

Now as a North Carolina native, I might be a bit biased. Don't get me wrong though, as a teenager I wanted to be anywhere but my home state. As an adult, I still love to travel but love my home state with all my heart. Living here for 20+ years means that I have seen all that this state has to offer. If you're looking for an adventure, then road tripping the tar heel state might be just for you.

*This road trip can be done in reverse*

Pit Stop #1 - Cherokee

An almost forgotten Native American tribe resides in Cherokee, North Carolina. The tribe by the same name (Cherokee) resided in the mountainous region of the tar heel state. Their history lives deep in the hills and valleys. This adventurous town is abundant in outdoor activities, museums, shops, and much more. The famous Harris Cherokee casino is located in the historic Native American land. All ages can enjoy what Cherokee has to offer, which makes it a great start to your North Carolina road trip.

Attractions

  • Museum of the Cherokee Indian
  • Mountain Farm Museum
  • "Unto These Hills" outdoor drama
    • Awesome outdoor theater right in the mountains where you can learn about the Cherokee Tribe's history
  • Harris Cherokee Casino Resort
  • Fire Mountain Trails
    • Brand new trails for biking, running, and hiking
  • Oconaluftee River
  • Oconaluftee Indian Village
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • The Elvis Museum
  • Gift, Novelty, and Souvenir Shops
  • Authentic Indian Rituals and Practices
    • Check out when various demonstrations will be held including, dancing, and arts and crafts

Pit Stop #2 - Asheville

Another mountain stop on your list should be Asheville. Home to the eclectic and the adventurous. Asheville is a prime tourist spot in North Carolina. I am originally from the Asheville area so I guess you could consider me an expert on the scene. With so much to do and see, it's no wonder that Asheville is growing as a vacation hub. Dance in downtown with the locals, sample the dozens of local breweries, or shop your heart out. There are plenty of adventures to be had in this mountainous city.

Attractions

  • Biltmore House & Estates
    • Tour the massive home of the Vanderbilt's
    • Shop, drink, and dine in the Biltmore villages many shops and restaurants
  • River Arts District
  • Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Pisgah National Forest
  • Grove Park Inn
  • Explore Downtown
  • Live Concerts
    • The Orange Peel Music Venue

Pit Stop #3 - Charlotte

Next stop is the big city of Charlotte, also know as the Queen City. Being the largest city in North Carolina it's no wonder there are so many attractions and adventures to be had. Now entering the flat piedmont region of the state, you can trade your hiking boots for stilettos as you hit the town. Make sure to check out downtown, (referred to by locals as "uptown") and the surrounding areas for the complete Queen City experience.

Attractions

  • "Uptown"
  • Bank of America Stadium (home of the Carolina Panthers)
  • Spectrum Center (home of the Charlotte Hornets)
  • Carowinds
  • NASCAR Hall of Fame
    • Charlotte Motor Speedway is a short 17 miles from downtown
  • Discovery Place
  • Billy Graham Library
  • Lake Wylie and Lake Norman
  • Museums
    • Mint museum
    • Levine museum
    • Bechtler museum

Pit Stop #4 - Raleigh

Last stop in the Piedmont region is Raleigh, the capitol of North Carolina since 1792. Raleigh is a bustling city with plenty of universities, shopping, and museums. Raleigh offers a nice look at North Carolina's history with tons of historical locations. Get lost in this natural playground. Raleigh also provides shopping for all ages and styles, so be sure to check out the many malls and local shops.

Attractions

  • Museums/Historical Sites 
    • North Carolina Museum of History, North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, City of Raleigh Museum, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Gardens, Raleigh Fire Museum, North Carolina Railroad Museum, North Carolina State Capitol, Andrew Johnson's birthplace, and many many more
  • Shopping
    • Downtown Raleigh, North Hills, Cameron Village, Crabtree Valley Mall, etc.
  • Sports 
    • Home of the NHL Carolina Hurricanes 
  • Live Concerts
  • Carolina Ballet
  • William B. Umstead State Park
  • N.C. State, Home of the Wolfpacks

Pit Stop #5 - Wilmington

The final stop on your North Carolina road trip has to be a coastal town. The outer banks spans over 200-miles and hosts hundreds of coastal towns and islands. This makes the decision of which outer banks location to visit overwhelming. Wilmington is the perfect town to visit along the outer banks because of its vibrant city life and blissful beach feel. Wilmington provides access to multiple family friendly beaches including, Wrightsville Beach, and Carolina Beach. Go ahead and stick your toes in the sand and celebrate the end of your road trip with a drink along the Outer Banks.

Attractions

  • USS North Carolina
  • Bellamy Mansion Museum
  • Fort Fisher State Historical Site
  • North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher
  • Wilmington's Scenic Riverwalk
  • Beaches
    • Carolina Beach
    • Kure Beach 
    • Wrightsville Beach 
  • Live Concerts 
  • Coastal Shopping for Days 
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Ultimate North Carolina Road Trip
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