Something For Everyone: Make The Most Of A North Carolina Adventure

Boasting everything from beautiful beaches along the Atlantic Ocean, to the breathtaking Appalacian Mountains; North Carolina really does have a varied landscape, and offers its visitors an array of things to do. The southeastern U.S state provides travelers with the bustle of city life, along with the tranquility of incredible terrain and attractive country views. With so much to do and see, it’s no wonder that many are popping the state onto their travel itinerary. And, if it’s somewhere you’re planning to take an adventure, you’ll not be disappointed, or stuck for something to satiate your senses.

With so much to do and see in North Carolina; you’ll want to ensure that you’ve ticked as much as you can off your list of plans. Therefore, you’ll need to put some thought and effort into your list itself, and preapre as much as possible before you arrive. Grab your notebook, and start looking into the various areas of the state, and what they have to offer, You can then narrow-down, and prioritize what you want to enjoy and experience. The following are some ideas, inspiration, and advice, for those about to embark on their first travel adventure in North Carolina.

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Great Smoky Mountains

The Smokies (as locals call them) are a beautiful mountain range, largely protected by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The clue’s in the name; however, you’ll find all the beautiful mountain terrain and nature, you could possibly want here. If you’re after plenty of fresh air, outdoor activities, and incredible photo opportunities; it’s worth heading to the mountain range when you arrive in North Carolina. It’s worth checking out some of the organized tours available so that you can make the msot of the rich forests and black bear habitats.

Asheville

For something totally different, Asheville can offer its visitors a plethora of museaums, galleries, and theaters. With a vibrant cultural and art scene, coupled with plenty of historical charm and architectecture, you can’t get much farther from the bears you’ll see in the Smokies. City-savvy travelers will already know about the new restaurants in Asheville, and those trendy bars that keep popping-up; book your tables and booths before you arrive so that you can fuel your cultural adventure.

Charlotte

Another major city, but with a commercial vibe, is Charlotte. Here you’ll discover museums that celebrate the states sporting and auto-racing history. You’ll also find places to learn about the Civil War, modern science, and there’s no shortage of interactive exhibitions to enjoy. For some respite and downtime, you can make the most of one of the many fashionable cafes in Charlotte, before heading to enjoy some of the modern art on display in the east of the vibrant city.

Outer Banks

When you feel like it’s time for some fresh, salty. ocean air, it’s worth heading to the beach; the Outer Banks are barrier islands that surround the coast of North Carolina. You’ll find open sea beaches and diving sites, making them ideal for either relaxation, or adventure, depending on how you’re feeling.

Blue Ridge Parkway

Heading South

Over the Christmas/New Year holiday period we decided to drive to New Orleans for New Years Eve. We left New York City, five days before Christmas heading south. The only ‘plans’ and accommodation we had wasn’t until the 30th, so we could enjoy the drive and see where we would end up! Looking at the map of the USA, I also decided that I would love to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the way down. So we headed for the Blue Ridge Parkway.

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Scenic drive

The Blue Ridge Parkway is an absolute dream, the scenery is breathtaking.  It is America’s longest linear park, stretching 469 miles, connecting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Shenandoah National Park. Located in the States of North Carolina and Virginia. Parts of the Appalachian mountains are also included in the parkway.  The Blue Ridge Parkway is a nature lovers dream, rich in biodiversity. There is so much variance in the fauna, flora, climate and geological features.

 

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Peaks of Otter

Before we left NYC, we had decided that we would rather camp in various National forest or State forest camping grounds, so the trip could remain relatively unplanned and be more cost effective. So the first area that we stayed at, was Peaks of Otter,  now being that this was in the middle of December and we did not do any research, the visitor center and camping area is actually closed at this time of year! It was raining and getting late, and as our car is set up for sleeping in ect we still stayed near the visitors center. The next morning we woke up to a blanket of fog, I felt that the thick fog enhanced the beauty. Peaks of Otter surrounds the Jefferson National Forest, and provides breathtaking views. You can take multiple hiking trails near the visitor center. Due to the fog being so thick, we decided to hike the shortest route, the elk run loop. This hike offers a self guided ecology walk, with displays along the walk describing the forest community, very cool.

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Overlooks

Next stop along the parkway, the Head Foremost Mountain overlook and the Arnold Valley Overlook.

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The fog had still not cleared up by lunch time! I can only imagine how spectacular these views are on a clear spring or summers day.

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Curtis Creek

For our second night, we camped at Curtis creek, a camping ground nestled in the mountains at the base of the Blue Ridge mountains. This campsite was open (Closes December 31st) and works on a first come, first serve system.  Near the camp ground, there are multiple hiking trails on offer, plus the pretty creek.

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Nantahala National Forest

After hiking during the morning at curtis creek, we drove to Asheville, N.C to spend the day there ( a separate blog post). After Asheville, we continued the journey towards the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This time, camping in the Gorgeous Nantahala National Forest. Nantahala is Cherokee for “land of the noonday sun” a very fitting name for this beautiful forest. The forest is half a million acres of pristine woodlands. A true beauty to explore. Our campsite for the night was located at Lake Santeetlah, a mountain lake surrounded by the Nantahala National Forest. A really pretty and relaxing place to camp.

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Next stop – The Great Smoky Mountains National Park