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From the mountains to the coast, North Carolina has everything vacations are made of and there’s an endless list of awesome places to visit. Having lived here for seven years now, I thought I’d choose one special place I visited during each of my seven years, and I hope this list inspires you to visit the Old North State soon.

Visit the Largest Private Home in the US

The Biltmore Estate, George Vanderbilt’s grand country mansion in Asheville is a wonder of architecture, artwork, interior design and landscaping. Wander the property on a self-guided tour or choose one of the many docent-led behind-the-scenes tours. Don’t forget to visit the winery for a complimentary wine tasting.

the Biltmore Asheville

Photo by The Biltmore Company.

Take a Sunset Stroll Along the Waterfront Boardwalk in Washington

There’s something about being near the water that soothes the soul. Whether it’s the gentle lapping of the waves against the docked sailboats or the golden glow of a softly setting sun, there’s no denying the peaceful charm of this historic town on the Pamlico River.

sailboats-in-Washington-NC

Visit the Country’s Largest Museum Art Park

Art and nature are woven together beautifully in this Raleigh community park filled with giant art installations, colorful gardens, a terraced pond, picnic areas and miles of recreational trails.

Museum-of-Art-Park-NCMA

Hike at Pilot Mountain State Park

Two prominent pinnacles of the old Sauratown Mountains rise majestically into the sky out of seemingly nowhere. Visitors can hike to the top of the smaller pinnacle for a sweeping view of Big Pinnacle and the Piedmont, and the slightly more adventurous can hike the circumference of Big Pinnacle where they’ll be within inches of the rock face.

Pilot-Mountain-State-Park

Take a Mayberry Squad Car Tour

It’s really the town of Mt. Airy but you’ll feel transported to Mayberry when you ride down Main Street with sirens blaring past Floyd’s Barbershop and Snappy’s Lunch in one of the squad car replicas from the Andy Griffith show. Aside from the obvious charm, you’ll hear all kinds of trivia and lore about the making of the show in this one-of-a-kind North Carolina town.

Mayberry-squad-car-tours

Walk Across the Mile-High Swinging Bridge at Grandfather Mountain

Cross the bridge to Linville Peak, the highest peak in the Blue Ridge Mountains for a panoramic view you’ll never forget. Visit the nature center and see wildlife and wildflowers along the walking and hiking trails. A single entrance fee allows you to stop at all the attractions spending as much time as you wish in each area. Don’t worry… you don’t have to cross the swinging bridge unless you want to, but the view from up there is magnificent!

mile-high-swinging-bridge-photo-by-Helen-Hopper

Photo by Helen Hopper.

Relax in the Quiet of Ocracoke Island

Take a ferry to the Southern tip of the Outer Banks for the peaceful “island time” paradise of Ocracoke. This laid-back, quiet and charming place is the cure for whatever ails you. Visitors use golf carts or bikes to traverse the village and whether you choose to simply sit and soak up the sun or visit the lighthouse, historical attractions, restaurants and shops, Ocracoke Island will forever be a part of your soul.

Ocracoke-Island-lighthouse

This article was written by Liz Mays of Eat, Move, Make.

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Check out our other North Carolina posts:

Visiting Carrboro, North Carolina

Asheville: Small Town Flavor with a Twist of Sophistication