North Carolina is a state with something for everyone, from views on the edge of the Appalachian Mountains to seafaring beach communities and nationally recognized sites. With so much to see, narrowing down your future road trip destinations can be difficult. Here’s a small sample of the best road trip destinations in North Carolina that are more than worth the journey.
Blue Ridge Parkway
Covering 469 miles between Afton, Virginia, and Cherokee, North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Parkway winds its way through the Appalachian Mountains and provides visitors with a wide variety of attractions. Hiking trails of various skill levels appear every few miles, and the parkway provides several opportunities for biking, fishing, and camping. You can also take in several art galleries, historical sites, and restaurants of all varieties. In between all of those, the drive along the parkway itself contains some of the best mountain views this side of the Rockies. If you wish to continue your road trip north of Blue Ridge, as may travelers often do, you may want to visit a local tire shop along the way. Blue Ridge has some rough terrain, and a quick tire inspection from professionals can give you the peace of mind you need to keep going.
Outer Banks National Scenic Byway
For future travelers who prefer getaways along the beach, one of the best road trip destinations in North Carolina is the Outer Banks National Scenic Byway. The route takes you through 137 miles of beach towns, marshes, and dunes, with something different to see at every stop. Can’t-miss visits include the Frisco Native American Museum, the North Carolina Aquarium, and the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. You can also climb up the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse—the tallest brick lighthouse in North America—and go surfing and kayaking on Cedar Island.
Taking its name from the forest it passes through, this 43-mile trail traverses much of the twenty-mile Nantahala Gorge, home to some of the best white water rafting available. Brave your way through the river’s many rapids and relax in the calmer waters at the southern end. The gorge also provides great opportunities for canoeing and kayaking, and the byway leads to historical sites such as the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and the Qualla, a Cherokee Indian reservation. Whether you’re looking for more of an adrenaline rush or a chance to take in some history, this stretch of road has plenty to offer its visitors.