Cool Off at These Summer Vacation Spots

Cool Off at These Summer Vacation Spots

Looking Glass Falls in Pisgah National Forest

As summer temperatures begin to crest, you can escape the heat wave at some of the coolest vacation spots in our state. With mountain breezes, underground adventures, water escapades and more, a trip to North Carolina will help you beat the heat.

Stand in the mist of a cascading waterfall
Land of Waterfalls, Transylvania County
With more than 250 waterfalls to explore, Transylvania County, in Western North Carolina near Lake Toxaway, is known as the Land of Waterfalls. Looking Glass Falls is one of North Carolina’s most popular waterfalls. Whitewater Falls, known as the “king” of waterfalls, is considered the highest cascade in the East.

Go for the gold down under
Reed Gold Mine, Midland
Reed Gold Mine in Midland is the site of the first documented gold find in the United States, but what makes this place really cool is the underground tunnels that feel like ice-cold air conditioning. The tunnels, dug to follow gold-bearing quartz veins deep underground, stay at 55 degrees. You’ll also find wooded trails, a visitor’s center with historical mining equipment, and places to pan for gold.

Wet wildlife world
North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores
The aquarium’s largest exhibit, the 306,000-gallon Living Shipwreck, features a replica of a sunken World War II German submarine amid a variety of diverse marine life. In this exhibit, you’ll see the aquarium’s largest animals, sand tiger sharks, each of which weighs hundreds of pounds and has scary tri-cuspid teeth. Expect to get some chilling stares as these fearsome sand sharks swim around their cool home.

Arctic blast
North Carolina Zoo, Asheboro
The Rocky Coast exhibit at the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro is a cool re-creation of the frigid Arctic world, where visitors enjoy above- and below-water views of harbor seals. These sleek divers can stay submerged for up to 30 minutes. The exhibit is complete with jagged rocks, waterfalls and streams, and is home to seabirds that thrive in cold waters, such as horned puffins.

Cool view from the top
Mount Mitchell
At 6,684 feet, Mount Mitchell is the highest peak in the East and offers views of up to 80 miles on a clear day. Part of a 1,946-acre North Carolina State Park, Mount Mitchell is off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 355 in Burnsville. You can camp, hike, picnic, horseback ride, tour the exhibit hall or take part in an educational program, all while enjoying temperatures that are usually 10 to 30 degrees cooler than downtown Asheville, 35 miles away.

Enjoy mile-high breezes
Mile High Swinging Bridge, Grandfather Mountain
Stop to enjoy the cool mountain air as you cross Mile High Swinging Bridge, a 228-foot suspension bridge in Linville, which spans an 80-foot chasm at more than one mile in elevation. Take in the inspirational vistas stretching out for miles in every direction from one of the highest peaks in the Blue Ridge Mountains or hike one of 11 trails varying in difficulty from a gentle walk in the woods to a rigorous trek across rugged peaks.

Go underground
Linville Caverns, Marion
In the caverns, you’ll find a constant 52-degree temperature. After remaining a mysterious secret for centuries, North Carolina’s only show caverns in Marion near the High Country give you a glimpse of nature at work “inside” the mountains. Slow moving ground water created underground labyrinths forming an incredible series of rooms and passages and spectacular formations.

Catch a wave
Surf Camp, Wrightsville Beach
Learn to surf in the emerald green waters of Wrightsville Beach and forget all about the hot weather. Surf Camp offers safe and exciting, 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 while you enjoy cool ocean breezes.

Chill out with an ice-cold Pepsi
The Birthplace of Pepsi, New Bern
What could be cooler than sipping an ice-cold Pepsi on a hot summer day at the place where Pepsi was born? The inventor of Pepsi, pharmacist Caleb Bradham, invented Pepsi in his drugstore 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.

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