Scenic Beauty From The Mountains To The Coast
From the mountains to the coast, scenic beauty abounds in North Carolina. Taking in our exceptional surroundings is as ingrained in our culture as our signature hospitality, and below is a list of spots in each of our major regions to help you plan where to visit first.
Explore Our National Seashores
Stretching miles along the coast of North Carolina, both the Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout national seashores offer safe harbor to animals ranging from sea turtles to passing families of dolphins and deer to a variety of plant life. The Cape Hatteras National Seashore was the nation’s first, and the Cape Lookout National Seashore is home to the herd of wild ponies that live on Shackleford Banks, the southernmost island of the Outer Banks. Both of these areas are enduring examples of untouched coastline and pristine water, and although there is no development there, you can visit them through marked entrances, allowing you to experience these pieces of nature at its finest.
Mine for Treasure
Before the gold rush led everyone westward, gold was discovered here at Reed Gold Mine. Today, although few find significant amounts of gold, there are plenty of gems, from rubies to emeralds and amethysts, to be mined from our streams and rivers. Visit Franklin, the Gem Mining Capital of the World, for a taste of this age old trade. Franklin is a quaint small town in our mountain region nestled within the beautiful Nantahala National Forest that offers many gem mines in the area to explore.
Climb to the Top of Mount Mitchell
As the highest peak east of the Rockies, Mount Mitchell boasts numerous hiking trails, unmatched views and unique plants and animals. Whether you're interested in a day hike or a weekend camping excursion, Mount Mitchell has the hiking trail and campsite to accommodate you. At 6,684 feet high, the peak is surrounded by its iconic mist, and you can climb the trails to the summit to take in the exceptional views overlooking the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Experience North Carolina Wine Country
With more than 100 wineries across our state, North Carolina offers an exceptional wine experience. The natural settings that are home to these wineries only enhance each tasting. Surrounded by lush green country and rolling hills, you will enjoy one of the two types of wine here: varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, made with European-style vinifera grapes and muscadine wine made with scuppernong grapes. The state also boasts three American Viticultural Areas, or designated wine-grape growing regions: the Yadkin Valley, Swan Creek and Haw River Valley that are filled with both wineries and extraordinary scenery. Starting in the Yadkin Valley, you can take advantage of our suggested wine tours to have the complete experience of delicious wine coupled with equally wonderful views and surroundings.
Taste flavor that Travels from Farm to Table
Agriculture has long been an important part of our state’s economy and landscape, and now our restaurants are reaping the benefits of locally grown fresh ingredients. Goat Lady Dairy is one of the better known farms that provide cheese to many high-end restaurants. You can visit the farm situated on the rolling hills of Climax, see the goats and the farm’s newest addition: a non-certified organic garden. Goat Lady Dairy also offers a farm to table Dinner at the Dairy experience where you will enjoy dinner in the more than 200 year old homestead while taking in the surrounding 75 acres of pastures, ponds and meadows. Other restaurants known for fresh local ingredients include Chef & the Farmer in Kinston and Crossroads Restaurant at The Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill.
See for Miles from the Top of Jockey’s Ridge
As the tallest natural sand dune system in the eastern United States, Jockey’s Ridge is a natural wonder meant for visitors of all ages to enjoy. Only five miles from the spot the Wright Brothers first took flight, you can picnic there and take in sunset views of the spot where the Wright Brothers flew, the Atlantic Ocean or the Pamlico Sound. You can also explore the Soundside Nature Trail that focuses on the ecosystems filled with coastal plants and animals found throughout the park. The views from the top of the ridge are definitely worth the climb.
added: March 7, 2012
updated: August 31, 2012