For me, there are a few key ingredients to a perfect summer: live music, fresh-caught seafood, great golf and stories.
Here are some of my recommendations for a summer as rich and inspiring as a favorite record.
Seek Out Stories
There’s something about learning the history of a place – its people, its culture, its origin – that makes it all the more special to visit. Where are my fellow history buffs? This section’s for you.
Civil War, Movements and Battles
We have some fantastic Civil War Trail stops, like the marker unveiled this March in Goldsboro honoring the 135th US Army Colored Infantry Regiment of 1865. Several descendants of those who fought in the infantry still have ties to Goldsboro today. Here are some more story-centric spots:
- Explore more NC Civil War battlefields
- Visit battleships and the “Birthplace of Independence” in Eastern NC
- Interact with history at these NC museums and cultural centers
There are many special opportunities around the state to gather in celebration and remembrance of Juneteenth. One of my favorites is the Capital City Juneteenth Celebration at Dorothea Dix Park. The event opens with posting of the colors by the US Colored Troops, followed by an afternoon of food, music, children’s activities and fellowship. Here are some other great Juneteenth destinations:
- Charlotte: Juneteenth Festival of the Carolinas from June 15-18
- Durham: Bull City Juneteenth Parade on June 17
- Cary: Celebrate Freedom on June 17
Find Your Soul
For me, summer in NC has a jazz soundtrack.
Give me a lawn chair, a nice breeze and some top-notch live music, and I’m pretty much as happy as can be. Which is why I can’t wait for the 13th annual Ocean City Jazz Festival beginning June 30 in Topsail Beach. It brings gold-standard jazz performances, food trucks and an ocean view, complete with evening sunsets. I’m literally counting the days. If you love jazz as much as I do, here are some other festivals to check out:
- Boone: High Country Jazz Festival from June 9-11
- Wilmington: Cape Fear Blues Festival from June 9-11
- High Point: The John Coltrane International Jazz and Blues Festival from Sept. 2-3
Embrace the Outside
When I’m in between jazz festivals, there are two places you can find me in summer: on the golf course or on the beach. Here are some of my favorites:
My wife and I always celebrate our June wedding anniversary at one of the many awesome NC beaches. One year, we took the ferry to Bald Head Island in NC’s Brunswick Islands and enjoyed the laid-back pace. We also rode the length of the island on bikes, taking in the sights and sounds (and seafood!). This year, we chose New Bern and had an amazing meal at Persimmons Waterfront Restaurant (I always order the fresh catch of the day, of course).
Golf? Beach? At the Currituck Club in Corolla, I don’t have to choose – I get a challenging, beautiful golf course with coastal views. And now that my golf game is getting a little stronger, I can’t wait to get back this summer.
Last but not least, round out your summer with a few of my favorite stops:
- Graham: Smokehouse at Steve's
- Tryon: Nina Simone Childhood Home
- Hope Mills: Dirtbag Ales
- Milton: Thomas Day Museum
- Rocky Mount: Harlem Brew South
For more insider tips, see how Visit NC Director of Tourism Marketing Scott Peacock spends his summer months, and start planning your spring break trips now with Visit NC insiders Dana Grimstead and Veda Gilbert.