Check Out These 15 Fun Family Destinations
North Carolina is filled with attractions the whole family will enjoy. Plan your next excursion with our list of family favorites from across the state.
In the Mountains
Beach at Lake Lure
Gaze up at Chimney Rock as you sunbathe on the beach or float on the lake, then stop for a bite or an ice cream cone at one of the restaurants by the shore.
Located near the High Country, North Carolina’s only show caverns allow visitors to glimpse nature at work "inside" the mountains. Slow moving ground water created underground labyrinths forming an incredible series of rooms and passages and spectacular formations.
Mile High Swinging Bridge at Grandfather Mountain
Enjoy the cool mountain air as you cross Mile High Swinging Bridge, a 228-foot suspension bridge spanning an 80-foot chasm at more than one mile in elevation. Eleven trails dot this highest peak in the Blue Ridge Mountains, so you can take on anything from a gentle walk to a rigorous trek.
Wear your old blue jean cut-offs to sit and slip down this 60-foot natural water slide in the Pisgah National Forest. The 60-degree pool you land in sure beats summer heat.
This family theme park features a three-mile, steam-powered train ride, plus shopping, live entertainment, amusement rides and a petting zoo.
In the Piedmont
Boomerang Bay Water Park at Carowinds
You can bob in the swells of two huge wave pools, ride the slides, float down the lazy river and even rent a cabana with chair-side service in this Aussie-themed water park.
North Carolina Transportation Museum
Explore antique locomotives, rail cars, automobiles and more at a site that was once a national hub for steam engine repair. You can also take the train ride around the historic 57-acre site, enjoy the many family-friendly special events and learn how transportation helped build North Carolina.
North Carolina Zoo
Connect with wildlife from two different continents as you explore 500 acres of exhibits carefully constructed to resemble natural habitats. You can walk, or take a tram, from Africa’s grasslands to North America’s Arctic coast, all in one fun day.
Old Salem Museums & Gardens lets you experience early American history in the unique Moravian settlement of Salem. You can witness craftsmen performing historic trades, recreate Moravian crafts, enjoy an heirloom puppet show, visit the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA) and enjoy the Gardens at Old Salem, an essential part of life in Salem since 1766.
With eight unique golf courses, Pinehurst says it’s the largest golf resort in America. Non-golfers in the family can relax in the award-winning spa, take a lesson in lawn bowls or croquet, or kayak on the private lake.
On the Coast
Battleship North Carolina
The most decorated U.S. battleship of WWII offers you a chance to explore nine decks, crew's quarters, gun turrets and much more. Afterwards, visit Downtown Wilmington for shopping, day or evening riverboat cruises, museums showcasing North Carolina artists and history, or tours of the historic district, nature preserves and movie studios.
Birthplace of Pepsi
Pharmacist Caleb Bradham invented Pepsi in his drugstore in New Bern in 1898. Today, you can visit the Pepsi Store and browse through memorabilia while learning more about the history of one of the world’s favorite soft drinks.
Kitty Hawk Kites
Learn to hang-glide over soft sand dunes or fly tandem with an instructor. Other activities include kiteboarding lessons, dolphin, Lost Colony, and bioluminescence kayak tours, as well as parasailing and stand-up paddleboarding.
North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores
In addition to areas that celebrate mountain waterfalls, Piedmont rivers and coastal swamps, you can see three exhibits that replicate famed shipwrecks off the North Carolina coast -- the sunken German sub U-352, Blackbeard’s flagship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, and the Caribsea freighter.
Learn to surf in the emerald green waters of Wrightsville Beach with private and group surfing lessons and camps. Whether you’re a beginner or have surfed before, the staff of trained educators will take you to the next level.
added: December 5, 2008
updated: May 1, 2013