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Top 10 Places to Visit in North Carolina

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Photograph by Ken Thomas, via Wikimedia Commons

#1 Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers plenty of things to do and see. Oconaluftee and Clingmans Dome visitor centers are located within the North Carolina side national park. Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the park at 6,643 feet. Cataloochee Valley is one of most popular attraction and historic area within NC Smoky Mountains. Visitors can tour homes, school, and church to learn about life of the early settlers in the area. Mingo Falls is the tallest waterfall along with Deep Creek waterfall, Chasteen Creek Falls, and Twentymile Cascade. Fontana Dam located east of the Mississippi River offers fishing, boating, and other recreational activities.

Photograph by Nheyob, via Wikimedia Commons

#2 Charlotte

Known as "the Queen City", Charlotte is one of the largest city in the southeast United States. Charlotte is home to many corporate headquarters and their tallest building. Bank of America Corporate Center in Uptown is 871 feet tall. Duke Energy Center is the 2nd tallest skyscraper with 786 feet. The Hearst Tower is the 3rd tallest rising 659 feet. The city is known for arts and culture, historic museums, performing arts, and annual festivals. Charlotte has many popular landmarks and attractions including NASCAR Hall of Fame, Discovery Place Science, Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Billy Graham Library, and Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden.

Blue Ridge Parkway
Photograph by Ken Thomas, via Wikimedia Commons

#3 Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway is a 469 miles National Parkway known for its scenic beauty. The parkway runs through Virginia and North Carolina counties and it connects Shenandoah National Park to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It runs along the spine of the Blue Ridge Mountains and offers spectacular views of the mountain landscape. The parkway is popular and has been the most visited for its scenery.

Photograph Flickr by Michael Tracey, via Wikimedia Commons

#4 Asheville

Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is the largest city in Western North Carolina. It is a popular tourist destination for its proximity to Great Smoky Mountains. Asheville is also known for Blue Ridge Parkway and its scenery. Downtown area includes Art Deco Asheville City Hall and other unique architecture buildings. Street performance, outdoor live music, and feativals such as Bele Chere offer opportunities for visitors to experience the city culture. Outdoor adventure and fun activities include whitewater kayaking, Blue Ridge Parkway, Biltmore mansion, Pisgah National Forest, and The North Carolina Arboretum.

Photograph by James Willamor, via Wikimedia Commons

#5 Raleigh

Known as the "City of Oaks", Raleigh is the state capital of North Carolina. Raleigh is home to North Carolina State University. The city is known for its historic downtown, world-class museums, performing arts, and family fun attractions. Places to visit include North Carolina State Capitol, North Carolina Museum of Art, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, North Carolina Museum of History, and Pullen Park.

Chimney Rock State Park
Photograph by Jmturner, via Wikimedia Commons

#6 Chimney Rock State Park

Chimney Rock State Park is located 25 miles southeast of Asheville. The park is known for 315-foot rock formation and 404 foot Hickory Nut Falls waterfall. You can hike to the top of the rock via Outcroppings trail or just climb 44 steps to enjoy the spectacular views of Hickory Nut Gorge and Lake Lure. Park activates include hiking, rock climbing, and bird watching.

Hanging Rock State Park
Photograph Flickr by Jacalyn Engler, via Wikimedia Commons

#7 Hanging Rock State Park

Located north of Winston-Salem, Hanging Rock State Park is known for spectacular views of Sauratown Mountain Range. The park offers over 20 miles of hiking trails, waterfalls, peaks, lake, campground, and picnic areas. Admission to the park is free. Park museum offers education on natural and cultural history of the Sauratown Mountains. Recreational activities include hiking, mountain biking, swimming, rock climbing, and boat rentals.

Old Salem Museums & Gardens
Photograph by David Bjorgen, via Wikimedia Commons

#8 Old Salem Museums & Gardens

Mount Mitchell State Park
Photograph by Sweeny, via Wikimedia Commons

#9 Mount Mitchell State Park

Located near Burnsville, Mount Mitchell State Park is known for 6,684 feet Mount Mitchell. It is the highest point east of the Mississippi River. The observation deck offers 360 degree views of of Mount Mitchell State Park. A museum at the summit providers information about the mountain's cultural and natural history. There are several other peaks including Mount Hallback, Mount Craig, Big Tom and Balsam Cone in the park area.

Raven Rock State Park
Photograph Flickr by Sarah and Jason, via Wikimedia Commons

#10 Raven Rock State Park

Located near Lillington, Raven Rock State Park covers area along the banks of the Cape Fear River. 150-foot high massive Raven Rock is the landmark of the park and main attraction for visitors. The park offers many recreational activity including hiking trails, fishing, canoeing, and picnic area. Scenic overlook structure located high above the Cape Fear River offers spectacular view of river and the woodlands.

Best State Parks to Visit in North Carolina