Some of the best places to travel are closer than you think. North Carolina offers the best of both worlds. You can visit magnificent mountain ranges throughout this lush state, or head east to engulf yourself in the serenity of the seashore. Not only does this state offer gorgeous scenery — there are vast activities and adventures for everyone. Whether you are an adrenaline junkie or want to sift through dirt to find the next gemstone for your collection — this state has all that and more.
1. High Gravity Adventure Park
Head to Blowing Rock to High Gravity Adventure Park to fulfill your adrenaline pumping adventure. You can start your day zipping through the trees with the Pro Zip Guides ensuring your safety and having fun as you go. You cross the infamous sky bridge along the way then take your final zip over a stunning valley. Once you reach the end, you have an option to utilize the exhilarating 70 ft. free fall drop!
The Ariel Adventure Park is perfect if you’re looking for a fitness challenge. This course contains over 75 aerial elements that vary by level and difficulty. You can top it all off with a 45 ft — Giant Swing ride. You have to decide which of you pulls the ripcord to take the plunge.
2. Doc’s Rocks
Just a few miles down the road from High Gravity Adventure Park is Doc’s Rocks Gem Mine. Spend the afternoon panning through buckets of dirt to find raw gems. You can purchase different sizes of Rough Mine Ore Buckets that have a variety of gemstones and rocks that are collected from different mines from the Appalachian Mountain Mountain Range and has not been enhanced or seeded. There are a variety of seeded ore bag sizes available also.
After you collect your precious stones, the knowledgeable staff will sort through your treasure and tell you what the different rocks are. You can even have your gems made into beautiful jewelry. Explore the Appalachian Fossil Museum while your there.
3. The Land of Oz
There is no place like Oz. The Land of Oz is located at Beech Mountain truly captures the essence of Oz. It was open for a decade to the public in the 1970s. It is now open twice a year for their Journey with Dorothy and Autumn at Oz events. Take a Journey with Dorothy in June to find the wizard and interact with beloved characters. If you’re lucky, you might get chosen to play a role during the tour.
Autumn at Oz is a three-day Wizard of Oz Festival. You start the party shopping Wizard of Oz theme goodies and eating tasty treats offered by the vendors. Don’t forget to get your face painted like your favorite character before heading to the park. You take a shuttle all the way to the top of Beech Mountain to access Oz. After a grand performance — you enter Auntie Em’s house, and once you survive the horrific tornado, you arrive into Oz. You will walk the yellow brick road and meet all the delightful characters you watched as a child.
4. Elizabeth Garden’s
The Elizabeth Gardens is a majestic garden that was created on Roanoke Island as a tribute to the first English Colonists in the New World. Stroll through the winding paths and view over 500 types of flowers, plants, and herbs. Vibrant Camellias bursting with various shades of Pink are accompanied by singing birds and fluttering butterflies. Admire the Ancient Live Oak tree that dates back to the 1500s. Be sure to explore all the paths of this glorious garden. One of them takes you to a view from the Overlook Terrace to gaze out into the open blue ocean.
5. Roanoke Island Aquarium
This marvelous Aquarium is established on Roanoke Island. Get eye to eye with sharks and various fish at the Graveyard of the Atlantic exhibit. Throughout the aquarium, you will visit Turtles, Alligators, Frogs, Otters and more. Get groovy with the Jellyfish at the Delicate Drifter Exhibit. Be sure to visit the Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation Center to witness the conservation of these beautiful creatures. If you go during the summer, you can venture through the outdoor interactive Dinosaur Exhibit.
6. Jennette’s Pier
Venture to the Outer Banks and walk 1,000 feet out over the Atlantic on Jennette’s Pier. Although this pier is a prime fishing location — it is excellent for the family or a romantic evening with your spouse that includes spectacular views. As you walk along the pier, you will find exhibits on animals, surfing and more. You might luck out and have a chuckle with the beautiful laughing gulls that adorn these shores. Stop by the new 3,000-gallon aquarium known as the Life on the Ledge exhibit.