9 One Of A Kind Day Trips In North Carolina You'll Absolutely Love (2022)

Posted in North Carolina Day Trips June 02, 2020by OnlyInYourState Staff

Exploring North Carolina often means packing up the car and hitting the road for an epic journey. Truly, it never ceases to amaze us that some of the best destinations in the U.S. are located right in our backyard. Whether you’re looking for beautiful scenery, mountain adventures, cool swimming holes, quality time with animals, beautiful gardens, or something else entirely, the following best day trips in North Carolina belong on your radar. Along the way, you’re sure to make loads of memories and appreciate all that the Tar Heel State has to offer in the way of extraordinary adventures.

9 One Of A Kind Day Trips In North Carolina You'll Absolutely Love (1)

Seeking a natural body of water to swim in? Across the state, you'll find a number of lakes, rivers, waterfall pools, and even some hidden secret spots to elevate your typical swimming experience. Hanging Rock State Park offers mountain vibes in the Piedmont with Lower Cascade Falls, the hidden Midnight Hole in the Smokies is worth the hike, there's even Jordan Lake in Apex for those in the Triangle wanting to swim but not travel too far. Photographed above is Catawba Falls in Old Fort, North Carolina.

Looking for more spots? Read our full guide here.

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This sapphire quarry in Mooresville typically kicks off its first open swim of the season Memorial Day Weekend. Throughout the summer, the quarry will be open daily from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm. Just be sure to make a reservation first.

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Divine Llama Vineyards in East Bend is a unique destination for a weekend day trip. From sipping award-winning vino to hanging out with llamas, this eclectic destination is a well-kept secret and perfect for both the wine enthusiast and animal lover!

More info and directions here.

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Aloha Safari Zoo in Cameron is a must-do for a beach road trip detour, day trip, or even just a fun place to take the kiddos. The owners have dedicated their lives to helping animals. A newer venture opened in 2010 with a mission to protect and foster rehabilitated wildlife. From tigers to peacocks and every unique animal in between, there are over 400 residents of this 60-acre farm.

More info and directions here.

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If you find yourself along the Outer Banks, you should definitely take time to visit Elizabethan Gardens in Manteo. The two-acre garden serves as a nod to history (Queen Elizabeth I loved elaborate, fanciful gardens) as well as an ode to Sir Walter Raleigh and the Lost Colonists. Today, this beautiful garden adorns unique history, statues such as the Virginia Dare statue, gorgeous plants, and flowers.

Curious to learn more? You might want to check out the full story behind the history of this unique destination before you go.

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Carver's Creek State Park opened in 2013 on the historic Long Valley Farm in Spring Creek. In addition to the 100-acre lake, longleaf pines, and millponds, you can also explore the old buildings and structures that highlight the park's colorful past.

More info and directions here.

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Located along the rolling base of Linville Gorge, Lake James offers open water scenery and pristine camping for those looking to escape the crowds. Visitors can look forward to taking a dip in the blue-green water, sunbathing on the shore, hiking along the lake, and even pitching a tent near the water. In short, Lake James is a serene escape.

More info and directions here.

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Few people realize that it's possible to hike to the top of Looking Glass Rock. Starting in Brevard, the Looking Glass Rock Trail off of Forest Heritage Scenic Byway lets you ascend 1,700 feet in just three miles. At the top, you'll be treated to stunning Blue Ridge Views as well as an up-close-and-personal view of the dome that makes this pluton monolith so eye-catching. More info and directions here.

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Waterfalls, forest canopies, zip lines, treetop stairs --- all in Fayetteville? Yep, you read that right! The amazing ZipQuest Waterfall and Treetop Adventure will quite literally take your summer to the next level. With the right amount of adventure, it's perfect for the whole family.

More info and directions here.

As you can see, there are endless memorable things to do in North Carolina. Did any of your favorite North Carolina day trips miss the list? If so, we’d love to hear from you! Join in on the conversation by leaving a comment below.

Looking for another totally unique day trip with an artistic touch? Find out why there are amazing murals dotting old tobacco barns in the middle of nowhere here.

Address: Hanging Rock State Park, 1790 Hanging Rock Park Rd, Danbury, NC 27016, USA

Address: The Quarry at Carrigan Farms, 1213 Oakridge Farm Hwy, Mooresville, NC 28115, USA

Address: 4126 Divine Llama Ln, East Bend, NC 27018, USA

Address: 159 Mini Ln, Cameron, NC 28326, USA

Address: Elizabethan Rd, Monroe, NC 28110, USA

Address: Carvers Creek State Park, 2505 Long Valley Rd, Spring Lake, NC 28390, USA

Address: Lake James, North Carolina 28761, USA

Address: Looking Glass Rock, Brevard, NC 28712, USA

Address: ZipQuest - Waterfall & Treetop Adventure, 533 Carvers Falls Rd, Fayetteville, NC 28311, USA

OnlyInYourState may earn compensation through affiliate links in this article.

9 One Of A Kind Day Trips In North Carolina You'll Absolutely Love (10)

The OIYS Visitor Center

Best Day Trips in North Carolina

June 16, 2020

Beth C.

What are the best outdoor adventures in North Carolina?

If the Tar Heel State had an unofficial motto, it might be “the land of adventures.” Finding outdoor adventures in North Carolina is an easy task, although you might be overwhelmed by the sheer number of options. For those who love exploring the mountains, North Carolina offers endless wooded trails that will take you to breathtaking high-altitude vistas. In fact, North Carolina is home to the tallest mountain in the east: Mount Mitchell. You can hike or drive to the top of this epic landmark to enjoy some of the best views in the region. In addition to hiking in the mountains, other memorable outdoor adventures in North Carolina include kayaking, biking, horseback riding, boating, fishing, and many more.

Does North Carolina have any natural wonders?

Yes! North Carolina is home to a treasure trove of natural wonders that will impress just about anyone. Some of the most popular natural wonders in the state include Craggy Gardens and the Rhododendron Tunnels, Jockey’s Ridge in Nags Head, Linville Gorge, Grandfather Mountain, Whitewater Falls, the New River, and Lake Mattamuskeet. Of course, this list just scratches the surface of the incredible natural wonders hiding in North Carolina. Looking for more inspiration? Check out our article on some of the state’s must-see destinations.

Which state parks should I visit in North Carolina?

One of the best ways to experience and appreciate the variety of landscapes in North Carolina is to visit one of the many state parks. Did you know that North Carolina is home to 34 breathtaking state parks? It’s time to cross some of them off of your bucket list! While each is certainly worth visiting, many folks agree that the best state parks to see are Goose Creek State Park, Hanging Rock State Park, Morrow Mountain State Park, Pilot Mountain State Park, Eno River State Park, Lake James State Park, Raven Rock State Park, Stone Mountain State Park, Mount Mitchell State Park, and Carolina Beach State Park. Most of these parks offer wonderful recreational facilities, including camping, so you can look forward to extending your stay.

Address: Hanging Rock State Park, 1790 Hanging Rock Park Rd, Danbury, NC 27016, USA

Address: The Quarry at Carrigan Farms, 1213 Oakridge Farm Hwy, Mooresville, NC 28115, USA

Address: 4126 Divine Llama Ln, East Bend, NC 27018, USA

Address: 159 Mini Ln, Cameron, NC 28326, USA

Address: Elizabethan Rd, Monroe, NC 28110, USA

Address: Carvers Creek State Park, 2505 Long Valley Rd, Spring Lake, NC 28390, USA

Address: Lake James, North Carolina 28761, USA

Address: Looking Glass Rock, Brevard, NC 28712, USA

Address: ZipQuest - Waterfall & Treetop Adventure, 533 Carvers Falls Rd, Fayetteville, NC 28311, USA

OnlyInYourState may earn compensation through affiliate links in this article.

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