Discover Nirvana in the Air in North Carolina

Will you be overcome with joy as you soar with the breeze on a hang-gliding excursion or laugh with delight as you zip past waterfalls? True thrill seekers will rent a replica of the Wright Brothers’ 1902 glider.

1 Zipquest Waterfall and Treetop Adventure

1 Zipquest Waterfall and Treetop Adventure

FayettevilleSee on mapSee on map

The moon casts a glow over riders daring enough to take on the NightQuest Waterfall Expedition. The dark enhances the thrill of navigating eight zip lines, three suspension bridges and four spiral staircases.

2 Skydive Coastal Carolinas

2 Skydive Coastal Carolinas

SouthportSee on mapSee on map

The weird thing about jumping from an airplane and falling toward Earth is that it doesn’t feel like falling. It feels like floating on a cushion of air. Moving 120 mph – the speed you reach as you hurtle toward the Southport coast – never seemed so mellow.

3 Highlands Aerial Park

3 Highlands Aerial Park

Scaly MountainSee on mapSee on map

The Brave Indian Challenge Course was built with kids in mind, but it thrills adults too. All adventurers expand their comfort zones on zip lines, a suspension bridge, a balance beam and more.

4 The Gorge Zip line Canopy Tour

4 The Gorge Zip line Canopy Tour

SaludaSee on mapSee on map

Why let the birds have all the fun? The Gorge Zip Line sends you flying on one of the fastest and steepest zip line canopy rides in the country. Eleven lines cover 1.25 miles and drop 1,100 feet. Three rappels plunge you into acres of lush old-growth forest.

5 OBX Biplane Tours

5 OBX Biplane Tours

ManteoSee on mapSee on map

The wind whips across your face as you sit in the open cockpit of a biplane. The large radial engine shakes you, while the views of the coast move you.

6 Duck Parasail

6 Duck Parasail

DuckSee on mapSee on map

By the time you reach 500 feet, you will no longer be freaked out by the fact you are being pulled by a boat and held aloft by a sail. Instead, you will be mesmerized by the 360-degree view of the Outer Banks on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other.

7 1902 Wright Glider Experience

7 1902 Wright Glider Experience

Nags HeadSee on mapSee on map

Do you have what it takes to fly a glider like the one the Wright Brothers used at Kitty Hawk before they gave birth to powered aviation? Only one is available to rent. With Kitty Hawk Kites, get a running start … and fly.

8 High Gravity Adventures

8 High Gravity Adventures

Blowing RockSee on mapSee on map

Zip lining at top speed is fun. Stopping, not so much – at least not when you have to do it yourself. At High Gravity, guides provide the brakes, allowing guests to lean back and fly. An optional simulated free fall ends the adventure.

9 Nantahala Outdoor Center

9 Nantahala Outdoor Center

Bryson CitySee on mapSee on map

Choose from five zip line excursions, including the scene-stealing Mountaintop, with a half-mile zip (the region’s longest) sending riders across Great Smoky Mountains ridgetops.

10 Thermal Valley Hang Gliding

photo: Burke County TDA

10 Thermal Valley Hang Gliding

Burke CountySee on mapSee on map

It takes a few seconds to get used to the silence at 1,500 feet, but the peace of floating soon takes over as you cruise above the rolling green forest and marvel at the snaking Catawba River and the mountains that surround it.

 

Updated January 2, 2020
About the Author

Matt Crossman

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