Many of us travel to the mountains and beaches of North Carolina every year to vacation. Most of us take advantage of the great food, entertainment, shopping, and amenities that a lot of the state’s popular tourist towns have to offer. But that doesn’t make for a complete vacation. These destinations offer one more important thing that makes traveling so great – adventure. We’ve made it easy for you and have compiled a North Carolina bucketlist with twelve amazing adventures for you and your family to remember for a long time to come.
Yadkin Valley Zipline
Sanders Ridge Winery and Vineyard is located smack-dab in the middle of the rolling hills of North Carolinaís wine country and creates some of the most sophisticated wines in the state. However it is not exactly an adventure destination. That is until you head just up the road to neighboring Big Woods. Here, there is no sipping or unwinding. Instead, Big Woods, home to one of the best ziplines in the area, gets your adrenaline pumping as you speed through the air day or night (moonlight tours offered) and take in the views of the surrounding lush forests and undilating hills.
Linville Caverns Caving
Definitely not for the claustrophobic but perfect for the curious – those who are interested in all our beautiful state has to offer, both above and below ground – Linville Caverns is a must. Located near the famed Linville Falls, these natural limestone caverns offer visitors a rare view of the inside of a mountain where you can see an underground stream, stalactite and stalagmite formations, and wildlife including bats.
Pamlico Kite Surfing
The ever-blowing winds of the Carolina coast combined with the shallow, calm lagoon-like waters of the Pamlico Sound make this area one of the best areas for kite surfing in the South. It is the perfect place for beginners entering the world of kite surfing or experts who wish to push the limits in one of the most exciting and up-and-coming adventure sports.
Wilson’s Creek Fly Fishing
You see the bumper stickers everywhere. They say, I’d Rather Be On Wilson’s and it is 100% true. This 49,000 acre wilderness area has incredible mountain terrain, lush forests, winding rivers and creeks and wonderful hiking trails. The kayaking, tubing, sunbathing, trailwalking are great but this river was made for the fisherman. For the best fishing, explore the delayed harvest areas about two miles past the Wilson’s Creek Visitor Center. This substantial stretch is full of twenty inch rainbow and brown trout that happily take flies (pheasant tails, prince nymphs, yellow sallys, and light cahills work well here). The best part of fly fishing at Wilson’s is that you can sight cast to trophy trout because the stream is glassy and gin clear.
Enjoy total freedom while getting a major workout. Paddleboarding is the newest and hottest adventure and exercise craze around and for good reason. Nags Head and the areas of the Outer Banks are perfect for paddleboarding. There are plenty of inlets and coves to explore, lots of fun to be had on the shallow water of the sound, and heaps of peace and quiet to enjoy while experiencing all of this areaís natural beauty.
Looking Glass Climbing
Get your arms, legs, and adrenaline pumping on Looking Glass Rock, one of North Carolina’s most notable rock climbing locations. This spectacular granite dome offers a South Face, North Face, and Nose climb and has routes for both beginners and experts that want overhangs and truly challenging cracks.
Kitty Hawk Skydiving
If you haven’t gone sky diving yet head to Kitty Hawk. After all, what better place to go sky diving and get the feeling that you are actually flying than the birthplace of aviation itself. The excitement of this adrenaline pumping sport combined with endless views of the coastal waters of the Outer Banks make this adventure one of the best on this list. The folks at Skydive OBX have years of training in the field, put safety first, and help make your experience one to remember.
Bradley Falls Rappelling
Have you ever wanted to rappel down a sheer vertical cliff? To some it sounds dangerous or completely absurd, but to adrenaline junkies, this is an ideal sport. If you want to get your heart pumping, there is no place better than Bradley Falls. Here, you don’t just descend down a simple rock face, but instead a 200 foot waterfall. It is a truly awesome adventure experience and the best part it is perfect for the family!
Bald Head Kayaking
Kayaks are the perfect solution to exploring the shallow waters, coves, and inlets around Bald Head Island. From Bald Head Creek to Fishing Creek you can navigate off the beaten path and see a wide variety of nature and wildlife from bald eagles to fiddler crabs and everything in between. This is a great family excursion that your kids wonít soon forget.
At nearly 6,000 feet, Grandfather Mountain is one of the tallest mountains east of the Mississippi. It is also one of the most challenging. For those that enjoy hiking and are very capable, the Profile Trail on Grandfather is one of the best in the state. The three mile trail starts at the Watauga River on Highway 105 in Foscoe, NC. It slowly meanders through the lush forests nestled at the base of the mountain. Once you reach Shanty Springs, the true test begins and the hike becomes somewhat strenuous but once you reach Calloway Peak and 5,945 feet the panoramic views are astounding.
Cape Fear Coast Saltwater Fly Fishing
Texas, Louisiana, and even our neighbor to the south are probably more famous destinations for saltwater redfishing, but for those in the know, whose hearts are tugged by fly line, North Carolina is the true redfish Valhalla. Records can attest to this, as the world record redfish was caught right here in our state. For the saltwater fly fisherman, the Cape Fear Coast offers year round opportunities to catch trophy redfish tailing in just inches of water. Along with redfish, you can catch sea trout, cobia, and more.
Asheville Hot Air Balloons
Now this is an adventure that will give you a new perspective, literally. If you enjoy getting some peace and quiet while taking in panoramic views of the oldest mountains on the planet, the Appalachians, then a hot air balloon tour in the Blue Ridge is just for you. Float 500 to 2,000 feet above the ground without a care in the world. www.ashevillehotairballoons.com
Nantahala Whitewater Rafting
After you get your practice here in Charlotte at the US National Whitewater Center youíll be prepared and ready to get out on a river. There are very few on the east coast that rival North Carolina’s Nantahala. This family friendly river is eight miles of fast flowing water that meanders through the beautiful Appalachian Mountains. The Nantahala offers everything from rapid riffles to challenging and very fun class 3 rapids.