North Carolina is increasingly becoming one of the most popular states to live in the United States. That is not a surprise if you know what North Carolina has to offer. This state is filled with beautiful mountains, coastlines, friendly people, and moonshine.
North Carolina’s temperature in the fall is quite appealing. Coastal areas can see 70-80 degree weather. Do not start packing for a beach vacation though. This trip is focused on the best places to visit in North Carolina for the fall spirit.
Best Places to Visit in North Carolina: Fall
Best Places to Visit in North Carolina: Cities
North Carolina really has the best of both worlds. You can plan a hiking trip with a few nights in the city, and still not be too far off from the beautiful nature North Carolina provides. So spend a wild night on the town before you enter the real wild of North Carolina. Here are three of the best places to visit in North Carolina if you are interested in embracing your inner city-slicker.
Asheville is known for being a city for the hippies-at-heart. Asheville is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, making it a perfect home base for any outdoor enthusiast. Asheville is filled with art and music around every corner, not to mention moonshine. There are quite a few moonshine distilleries in this mountain town, but the one you cannot pass up is the Howling Moon Distillery. They have an award-winning Apple Pie Moonshine that will surely get you feeling cozy and in the fall mood. Any visitors looking for a family-friendly activity should pay a visit to the historic Biltmore. They offer breathtaking views of the fall foliage, guided horseback rides, a farmyard, and more.
Charlotte is the most populated city in North Carolina. Guests looking to experience a big city vibe will enjoy starting their trip in Charlotte. Like any big city, you know that good entertainment, delicious food, and festivals are bound to be available at all times. If you want to do something a little different, visit the U.S. National Whitewater Center before they close for the season. Guests can paddle down the largest manmade whitewater course or enjoy any of the many activities the center has to offer.
Raleigh is the capital of North Carolina and has a history that intersects with the Revolutionary War and the American Civil War. There are many historical city tours visitors can take, whether it is about the history, the haunts, or prominent and historical structures. If a tour is not your idea of fun, think about getting a brewery passport and going on the Raleigh Beer Trail. Explore the city on foot, view the changing leaves, and try a crisp beer. Families should consider spending a day at Pullen Park for outdoor activities, a miniature train, and fall foliage.
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Best Places to Visit in North Carolina: The Coast
For those well acquainted with a map, you will know that part of North Carolina touches the Atlantic Ocean. This gives tourists plenty of options for a trip to the beach, even though it is the fall. As you heard before, the water and air have warmer temperatures that normally someone would not associate with fall. Visitors will find that North Carolina beaches in the fall will not be crowded or offer high-price accommodations, only quiet and accessible sands. Here are some of the best places to visit in North Carolina if you are wanting a fall on the coast.
The Outer Banks is going to be your go-to location if you are interested in water sports and wildlife. Guests can find surfing, kayaking, kiteboarding, and stand up paddleboarding. There is also amazing fishing on the beaches and piers. A good fishing season also means good seafood, so make sure to grab a bite during your travels. Do not forget to stop into the local shops and discover all of the shoulder-season deals.
Wilmington is one of the more lively coastal towns and boasts more live music, breweries, and art museums. Wilmington also has an exciting history involving pirates and historic battles. If guests are interested in the darker side of history, they can get in the Halloween mood with an extensive ghost tour or a Haunted Pub Crawl.
When you visit Brunswick Islands you will feel like you have already been there. Meaning, you probably saw it in the movies. Nicholas Sparks fans may recognize the sets from “A Walk to Remember”, “Safe Haven”, and “Nights of Rodanthe”. If this place is romantic enough for a Nicholas Sparks movie, just imagine what it looks like in the fall. Not to mention, that one of National Geographic’s “21 Best Beaches in the World” is Sunset Beach on Brunswick Islands.
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Best Places to Visit in North Carolina: The Outdoors
North Carolina is blessed with breathtaking natural beauty. Home to two large mountain regions, and other fantastic state parks, the great outdoors is one of the best places to visit in North Carolina. This means that during the fall season, the already magnificent sights become even more magnificent with the fall foliage. There are plenty of trails and parks to discover, but here are three standouts.
The Great Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains is one of there largest natural areas in the east. There are various hikes that can be taken in the smoky mountains, as well as some fun excursions. If visiting in the fall, you cannot miss taking a ride on the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad. Families should consider the Peanuts Pumpkin Patch Express. If you would prefer a longer and more scenic train ride, they have several options that allow for fall foliage viewing and exploration.
Appalachian Mountains: Mount Mitchell
The Appalachian Mountains are a long string of mountains that cover around 16 different states. Mount Mitchell, located in North Carolina, is the highest peak of the Appalachian Mountains. Mount Mitchell State Park offers many different trails, scenic viewpoints, and picnic areas. Visitors can devote a day to Mount Mitchell and climb the highest peak east of the Mississippi River.
Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway is a highly scenic parkway as well as the largest linear park in the United States. This route mostly winds beside the Blue Ridge Mountains, also known as a section of the Appalachian Mountains. Guests of the state will take this path to get to Mount Mitchell. The fall foliage surrounding the winding road might be so beautiful that some may enjoy the journey, more than the destination.
Best Places to Visit in North Carolina: Fall Festivals
Some of the best places to visit in North Carolina depend on the festival being held. You will find very unique festivals that can only be experienced at this one place and time. It might be wise to plan an itinerary around these festival dates or double-check to see if they naturally overlap. Here is a selective list of some of the best and quirkiest fall festivals in North Carolina.
Autumn at Oz – Beech Mountain
This festival is located at the Land of Oz which used to be a Wizard of Oz-themed park. The property now opens only for special occasions, Autumn at OZ being one of those times. Guests take a trip down the yellow brick road with Dorothy and her well-known friends from the book and movies.
Autumn at Oz is a favorite among regulars because extra time is given to guests to explore the park at their leisure or enjoy the petting zoo, pony rides, musical performances or memorabilia from the movies. There are only a few tickets released every year and they have been known to have a waitlist. So if you want to come to the Emerald City, plan ahead of time.
Mayberry Days – Mount Airy
Any fans of the classic Andy Griffith Show? This is the festival for you. Mayberry Days takes place in Mount Airy, Andy Griffith’s hometown and the inspiration for The Andy Griffith Show. Over a week, guests can see characters from the show and enjoy activities that take you back to the “good ole days”.
Scarowinds – Charlotte
Visit the classic theme park Carowinds, but with a twist. During the fall Carowinds gets a makeover to become Scarowinds; the largest Halloween-themed event in the state. This is one of the best places to visit in North Carolina if you are looking for a scare.
Yadkin Valley Pumpkin Festival – Elkin
Farmers from across the east coast join together during the Yadkin Valley Pumpkin Festival to see who wins the honor of having the largest pumpkin. Guests can enjoy eating pumpkin-flavored treats, snacks, and games on top of some classic carnival rides.
Brushy Mountain Apple Festival – North Wilkesboro
The Brushy Mountain Apple Festival event is free, only for one day, and is the largest arts and crafts festival in the Southeast. So, it does not get much better than that. Enjoy making your own crafts and admire Appalachian Heritage crafts.
Wings Over Water Wildlife Festival – Outer Banks and the inner coastline
The Wings Over Water Wildlife Festival is a spectacle and should not be missed by nature lovers. During this festival is one of the east coast’s largest natural wintering of waterfowl. Guests will walk the shoreline or paddle to get the best view. On top of that, there are visiting speakers, and opportunities to paddle out at night a visit at the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, or even experience an encounter with other wildlife. This might be one of the best places to visit in North Carolina if you are interested in exploring the coast during your trip.
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Carolina BalloonFest – Statesville
Not every state has a BalloonFest, but when you find one you have to see it to believe it. Marvel at the sight of a sky filled with hot air balloons at the Carolina BalloonFest. Enjoy the spectacle during the day or at night during the balloon glow. Not to mention, live music and craft beer and wine samplings.
LEAF Festival – Black Mountain
Channel your inner hippie and come to this picturesque retreat and multi-day music festival. The mountainous location makes for a beautiful setting to camp and watch the fall foliage change while discovering bands you never thought to listen to until now.
North Carolina is already a near-perfect state, but visiting in the fall is that much better. The temperature is not-too-hot and not-too-cold. Not to mention, the pricing for accommodations is lower in the fall. With all of the mountains, coastlines, and festivals, it is hard to narrow down the best places to visit in North Carolina. No matter where you visit, you can be assured that you will fall in love with fall in North Carolina.
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