I can't believe I haven't posted this yet! It has been sitting in my drafts, I guess just waiting for today. The 3 years we lived in North Carolina were some of the best years of my life. We spent our first years as a married couple there, we got our dog Knox in NC. I really do love the state of North Carolina! So what better way then to give you my recommendations for this do to. 65 of the things are things we did that I most likely wrote blog post about. Search under the North Carolina label and the other 35 things are things that I wish I could have done/ you should definitely do! Let me know how your adventures go.Wright Brothers National Memorial): how could one visit North Carolina and not visit the place that NC is best known for (I mean it is on the NC licenses plates) FIRST IN FLIGHT.
2. Duck Donuts: One of the best little donut shops that was founded on the Outer Banks of NC. There are about 10 shops open now around North Carolina and Virginia. They make the donuts hot and fresh right in front of you and dip the frosting fresh and sprinkle the donuts.
3. Grandfather Mountain: This was one of the first state parks we visited in NC. We took a trip in October 2013 just a week after we got Knox to the mountains of North Carolina. The line was a little long to get into the state park but it was totally worth it. You get a CD to put into your player and you get to drive through the park while it tells you about the history and such. Even a scene in Forest Jump was filmed here.
4. Hanging Rock State Park
5. Fort Macon: I pronounced this wrong forever haha. It is a really good state park now that was involved in the Civil War and was in control of The South and then overtaken by The North.
6. Civil War battle fields: The first one I visited was Averasboro Civil War Battlefield near Dunn NC.
7. Cotton Field: These might be a bigger deal for me than other people. But coming from the Northwest of the USA I had never seen a cotton field in my life so if your like me go check them out!
8. South of the Border: so this is technically in South Carolina but it is right on the border. Hence the name. Definitely worth a visit. So kitschy!
9. Durham Bulls: If you haven’t seen the movie Bull Durham I highly recommend it. Then go to watch the Durham Bulls actually play baseball in Durham NC. We went once in the spring and then again for 4th of July.
10. Outer Banks: Home to most of the NC lighthouses which I love! Make sure to visit, Bodie Island Lighthouse, Cape Hattress Lighthouse, Currtick Lighthouse. Visit the Nights in Roadnathe House. Duck Donuts. Old fishing piers. Wild horses. Driving on the beach.
11. Jersey Mikes. Actually started in New Jersey but I had never eaten at one until I moved to NC. Life changer.. way better than Subway.
12. Carolina Ale House: A good restaurant chain that is mainly in NC and most of the locations even have karaoke.
13. Krispy Kreme. Yeah yeah I know they are everywhere but Krispy Kreme was actually founded in North Carolina.
14. Visit Fort Bragg. It is the largest military base in the world and home of the Airborne (soldiers that jump out of planes) You can get on base an civilian through the main All American Expressway gate. Just need your ID, car permit.
15. Downtown Wilmington. Wilmington is such a beauitful town. I recommend staying in downtown and walking to restuarants. It is also super dog friendly so bring the pup.
16. Kilwins: Ice Cream and Candy. This is a must eat place in Wilmington. There ice cream is so good and it smells like heaven inside. Usually there is a line out the door, but it moves fast and it is worth the wait.
17. Will’s Grill. This is a must eat place if you are in Fayetteville, NC! Great service and there signature pretzel bun burgers are so delicious.
18. Ocracoke Island beaches: my mom actually called me the other day to tell me she read an article that said Ocracoke Island is the 2nd best place in the United States to look for seashells. Unfortunately we were running behind and had to make a ferry and only had time to stop at the lighthouse and not comb the beaches :(
19. Cameo Art House Theatre. This is a movie theater located in Fayetteville NC. It is locally owned and totally awesome. It shows small movie that are lesser known but still totally great with big names. And they serve beer and wine at the theater so score.
20. Kalawi Farms and Ben’s Ice Cream. If you are on HWY 211 west of Pinehurst NC near Eagle Springs NC definitely store at this road side fruit and ice cream stand. In the summer it is open from 8am to 8pm but I would definitely recommend calling for specific phones.
21. Drive country roads to spot old grave site in corn and cotton fields.
22. Cape Lookout Lighthouse: One of the North Carolina lighthouses. You can only get to it by ferry or boat. It has a pretty black and white diamond pattern. The only thing on the island is the lighthouse and a little state park shop. You can camp on the island and beach for free!
23. Birthplace of Pepsi Cola: pretty self explanatory. The place were Pepsi was invented. You can even buy the original recipe there, made with real cane sugar!
24. Know the speed limit. While everyone seems to drive 10-15 mph over the speed limit (yep, you read that right). Make sure you know it and don’t get pulled over because the NC traffic violation laws are pretty strict!
25. Carolina Beach State Park: One of the only places that the Venus fly trap grows in nature.
26. Kure Beach fishing pier: This was actually the first fishing pier on the Atlantic coast which I just think it totally rad. You do need a permit to fish on it but you can walk on it for free there is usually a friendly pelican out there.
27. Brits Donuts: Such a good donut place. They are comparable to Krispy Kreme originals but better. Get a few and eat them hot.
28. Cheerwine: This is a cola drink that was founded in NC and is very popular in the area. I haven't seen it many places but North Carolina. But it is sort of like a cherry Dr. Pepper. Its pretty good.
29. North Carolina Zoo: One of the best zoos I have ever been too. You can even feed giraffes lettuce for only an extra $1 (cash only). The habitats are all well taken care of.
30. Duke University: The campus has to much to offer. There are museums, gardens and world class sports teams to watch and an AMAZING chapel! The architecture alone is stunning. It is a very cool school with lots of history.
31. Chapel Hill: Okay the towns of Chapel Hill and Carasboro are so darn cute! They have tons of cute little shops and local restaurants the two towns basically fun into each other and you can’t tell where one ends and the other beginnigs. Go to Sutton’s drug store if you are in town and get a milkshake and crinkle fries! Also take photos by all the cool murals on the buildings so many cool murals.
32. Carolina Tiger Rescue: This tiger rescue is in Pittsboro NC. And it is awesome. They rescue tigers, lions and other exotic cats from captivity here in NC. They have also rescued cats from poor conditions in zoos across the south. They have a great facility and a very well informed staff.
33. Carolina Panthers : In 2015 the Carolina Panthers had the longest undefeated season of anyone in the NFL! The crowd at Bank of America Stadium is amazing and in such a pretty city!
34. Buca Di Beppos: So this is a chain restaurant. If there is one in your city/ state ignore this one. But there is only one in all of NC and I had missed it because in Seattle we used to go all the time. So it was fun to go again. It is an amazing Italian restaurant with sharing sizes! YUMMMMM.
35. Uptown Charlotte NC: so in Charlotte they call there downtown uptown. Just to clear that up. Beautiful city with lots to do. There is a beautiful view from Marshall Park of all the skyscrapers in Charlotte.
36. Crowders Mountain State Park / King's Pinnacle: King's Pinnacle is one of the peaks at Crowders Mountain State Park. It is a 4 mile hike to the top and back from the parks visitors center and totally worth it. Bring water though and a camera because the view from the top is outstanding.
37. Drive to Myrtle Beach: So technically not in North Carolina but Myrtle Beach SC is so close and it is a fun town with lots of tourist things! Mini golf, aquarium, boardwalk, gift shops, candy shops, lots and lots of kitschy stuff!
38. Southport NC: Southport is the town that the book and movie Safe Haven (Nicholas Sparks) is set. It is very pretty and we even got to see Alex's House and the dock were Katy worked. The town is so cute and very walkable.
39: Bald Head Island / Lighthouse: This is a cool lighthouse and island! There are no cars on the island but there are golf carts. You can walk to almost anywhere. It is kind of expensive to get out to the island, a round trip ticket is $23.00
40: Visit all the covered bridges. I love covered bridges they are a still standing part of history and we don't really have them in WA so it was fun to find all the covered bridges in NC.
-Gaddy Covered Bridge
41. Morrow Mountain State Park: in central NC. Not the biggest mountains ever but fun little trip especially in the fall when the leaves are changing.
42: North Carolina State Fair: the state fair is awesome and huge! If you go on the weekend like we did there will be LOTS of people. Don't forget to get your free hushpuppies!
43: Watch airplanes: Charlotte airport overlook, its free and has picnic tables and parking sports just to watch the planes.
44: Dusty Donuts food truck: These are amazing little cinnamon sugar donuts. You can get different stuff on them. It is a food truck that is mainly around the Raleigh, Durham area but they come down to Fayetteville occasionally. So yummy. You can find them online and twitter for there current food truck stops and events.
45: If your into sports go see Michael Jordan's childhood home and high school in Wilmington NC.
46: Ocean Isle Beach: A cute little beach town in the south of NC, we even found whole sand dollars on the beach.
47. Currituck Beach Light: This is the most northern lighthouse in North Carolina and in Corolla NC! This was the last one I saw and if you drive like 1 mile past the lighthouse on the main road, the road just ends and turns into sand and you can drive on the beach if you have 4 wheel drive.
48: Wild Horses: Corolla NC or the Shattleford Banks: I never actually got to see the wild horses but there are tours on the Outer Banks and they live wildly on the wildlife reserves here in NC.
49. Jockey Ridge State Park: This state park is home to the largest natural sand dunes in the eastern USA. They are huge and so cool. People fly kites at this state park and also go sledding on the sand dunes.
50. Men's Duke Basketball Game: I was lucky enough to attend one of these when my dad and family came down. They got tickets for the family and it was so awesome! It was the best energy ever and if you can afford it I would totally recommend it. Even the seats way up high are worth it.
51. Pinehurst #2: A nice golf course and resort that is located in Pinehurst NC. The US Open is often held at this golf course.
52. Cook Out: A fun fast-food chain that is located in the southeast USA. They have super good hushpuppies and 40 flavors of milkshakes!
53: Raven Rock State Park: A fun state park located in Lillington NC. There are tons of trails and picnic tables and it is located on the Cape Fear River so there are places to swim and fish as well.
54: Lighting Bugs: We actually didn't see any lightning bugs until summer of 2015 so two years after living here. Also it should be noted that here in the south people call them lightning bugs and not fireflies.
55: North Carolina BBQ: There are two types of BBQ in NC. Western and eastern one is sweet and one is more vinegary. I like the more sweet one. Also, southern BBQ is the best BBQ. I am gonna resist order BBQ anywhere else in the US.
56: Strawberry picking: There are great places to strawberry pick in the sandhills of NC in the spring.
57: Golfing: There are so many golf courses in North Carolina and if you want to travel an extra hour, South Carolina too. And with the mild weather here you can basically golf year around. They have some of the best courses here in NC and SC and golfers come all over the world to golf here.
58: Lightning Bugs: aka fireflies but it should be noted that people in the south call them lightning bugs and never fireflies.
59: Civil War reattachment: We actually saw one in Savannah GA but they have them in North Carolina too and if you ever come to the south you should see one because they are definitely something different and interesting to do.
60: Blue Ridge Parkway: We traveled this in October 2013 and it was so beautiful during the fall. Definitely the perfect time to go. It is definitely a slow scenic drive.
61: North Carolina State Capitol: Located in Raleigh, NC. Very cool old building that you can tour and explore.
62: Wrightsville Beach: The closes beach to Wilmington NC and is usually packed during the summer! It has a great pier and is a fun little town.
63: Novelty Shell Station: A fun little roadside attraction! Here is my post all about it.
64: Old Salem: Located in Winston-Salem, NC. It is a historic district, it features a living history museum that interprets the restored Moravian community.
65: Roanoke Marshes Light: A cute little lighthouse on Roanoke Island. Read more about my trip to it here.
66. Chimney Rock
67. Asheville NC
68. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
69. The Land of Oz
70. Hunger Games District 12
71. Airlie Gardens Wilmington NC
72. Biltmore Estates
73. Sliding Rock
74. Looking Glass Falls
75. Wake N Bake Donuts
76. Castle Mont Rouge
77. Tweetsie Railroad
79. Lake Lure
80. Rainbow Falls
81. NASCAR Hall of Fame
82. Fort Fisher
83. Charlotte Motor Speedway
84. Billy Graham Library
85. The Road to Nowhere
86. Roanoke Island
87. Leave a Note of Hope
88. Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge
89. Mirror Head, Charlotte NC
90. Frying Pan Shoals
91. Yate Mills
92. Linville Caverns
93. Bellamy Mansion
94. Pullen Park
95. NC Pottery Highway
96. Hot Springs at Hot Springs, NC
97. Kayak Roanoke river and camp on a sleeping platform.
98. Go wine tasting
99. Castle Mont Rouge in Rougemont NC
100. Dry Falls
Enjoy and remember to take lots of pictures of your adventures and travels.