From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Outer Banks, your adventure is waiting
Crank up the fiddle-and-banjo tunes while driving through the High Country, where campsites and high-altitude views along the Blue Ridge Parkway are marked by mists and mountains. The parkway rolls up to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, not far from the gorgeous homelands of the Cherokee tribe. Just east in Asheville, the Ale Trail rivals the Biltmore as the top draw, though live music and a fantastic culinary scene are close behind. Drive east to the windswept barrier islands of the Outer Banks for coastal camping, wildlife watching, and outdoor adventures that tear across sea and sky. Charlotte, Durham, Chapel Hill, and Raleigh anchor the booming Central Piedmont.
The Blue Ridge Parkway passes overlooks, waterfalls, and campgrounds in the rugged High Country of western North Carolina as it swoops south from Virginia. Mount Mitchell State Park, Linville Gorge, and Grandfather Mountain are Instagram-pretty while hiking and mountain biking trails beg to be explored.
Stories about Cherokee leaders and 19th-century mountain families add historic context to the mountain-and-forest views in the deep-green Smokies. Feeling social? Hit the welcoming Nantahala Outdoor Center for all-sorts of wild adventures, from rafting to ziplining. The Appalachian Trail runs along the North Carolina and Tennessee border in the national park then veers south through Nantahala National Forest.
An easy detour from the Blue Ridge Parkway, Asheville is a mountain town that’s going places. The craft beer situation is out of control—more than 30 breweries!—while innovative chefs keep the foodie scene abuzz. Chimney Rock State Park, Lake Lure, and gorgeous waterfalls are outdoor highlights in the foothills. Mountain bikers, get your fix in Pisgah National Forest.
Wind, water, and sunny skies set a mood for fun along the North Carolina Coast. For the best all-around beach scene head to the Outer Banks, a 100-mile stretch of rugged barrier islands marked by dunes, fishing piers, and wild horses. Try hang-gliding at Jockey’s Ridge, windsurfing off Hatteras Island, and parasailing and paddling in Corolla and Duck. For close-to-the-beach tent camping, drive south to Cape Hatteras National Seashore or ferry over to Ocracoke Island.