Using #NCbucketlist as the hashtag, travelers can share photos of 20 essential experiences on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram and potentially reach a community of 135,000 VisitNC followers. The collected images will extend an inspiring conversation about places of great beauty, homegrown flavors and choice destinations across North Carolina.
“We built the Summer Bucket List with simple experiences found in the moment,” said Wit Tuttell, executive director of the North Carolina Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development. “It reflects the state’s natural beauty, a sense of adventure and traditions at the table. We hope our followers will be excited about sharing what makes their travels across North Carolina so memorable.”
Travelers can check coastal sunrises, mountain waterfalls and river excursions off the list, then take their pick of North Carolina’s famous barbecue, award-winning craft beer and wine from picturesque vineyards. Historic sites, Donald Ross golf courses and the North Carolina Zoo are other conversation-starters.
“We hope that people who cover all 20 items will feel a sense of achievement, and they’ll have a ready-made album to show for it,” Tuttell said. “But the beauty of a bucket list is that it can always grow.”
Bask in a coastal sunrise
Welcome your day with a scenic start over one of our barrier island beaches. From the Outer Banks to the Brunswick Islands, the view will set the standard for your vacation, whether your day includes fishing, golf or historic sites.
Explore a farmers market
North Carolina is a wonderfully bountiful place with an abundance of farmers markets where you’ll find locally produced fruits, vegetables and baked goods, along with flowers, homemade goods, art and crafts.
Taste wine from the Yadkin Valley
An ideal blend of sun and soil make the Yadkin Valley a perfect place to experience wines crafted by vintners who welcome guests as if they're family. Enhancing the wine experience are the local cuisine, charming B&Bs, local arts and plenty of outdoor activities.
Pick a barbecue team – Eastern or Western style
Barbecue fanatics argue passionately over the styles prevalent here – Western (or Lexington) versus Eastern. It’s all about smoking choice cuts of homegrown pork crowned with imaginative sauces, so take your palate on a statewide taste test (and don’t forget the hushpuppies).
Explore one of 27 historic sites
Visit one or all of these 27 sites to reimagine our Native American heritage and the first English colony in the New World, traverse battlefields and plantations, learn about North Carolina’s historic figures and famous personalities, pan for gold and much more.
Marvel at one of 350+ waterfalls
Discover hundreds of waterfalls around every bend in the North Carolina mountains. In Transylvania County alone, more than 250 falls welcome you to drive by, hike to or walk under them, giving the county its nickname, “The Land of Waterfalls.” There’s even a 60-foot natural waterslide known as Sliding Rock.
Tee off at a Donald Ross golf course
Master designer Donald Ross made North Carolina his personal canvas, creating more than 50 courses that include his masterpiece, Pinehurst No. 2, site of the 2014 U.S. Opens. The Ross challenge awaits at courses from the mountains to the coast, and especially around Pinehurst and Southern Pines.
Visit the baby animals at the N.C. zoo
The North Carolina Zoo is the place for face-to-face encounters with more than 1,600 creatures in acres of natural habitats. Check out the cougar kittens and baby otter, while the enhanced KidZone will thrill young visitors.
Stroll through the Duke Gardens
Wander through one of the country’s premier public gardens, encompassing 55 acres graced with a living collection of native and exotic plants, flowers, trees and shrubs – and just steps from the Duke campus.
Climb to the top of a coastal lighthouse (or see all seven)
Seven historic lighthouses dot the state’s beaches welcoming visitors, including the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the nation’s tallest. Climb to the top – sometimes involving more than 200 steps – to enjoy spectacular ocean views.
Travel back in time on the Tweetsie Railroad
Hop aboard a historic steam-powered locomotive at Tweetsie Railroad, complete with a Wild West town featuring shoot-outs, musical shows, a ride-filled amusement park and plenty of old-fashioned fun. The July 4th fireworks show and Halloween Festival are favorite special events.
Jockey's Ridge hang glide
Soar solo or tandem off the dunes at Jockey’s Ridge for an unequalled oceanside experience – hang-gliding lessons and gear are available, even for kids – or try sandboarding down a dune, kayaking, windsurfing or a dip in the Atlantic Ocean.
Try a 2014 World Beer Cup winner
A recognized hotbed of craft brewing, eight North Carolina beers recently won prestigious national awards, including four gold medals. Whether you’re on the Outer Banks, in the mountains or Uptown Charlotte, you can taste these honored beverages and many others worth sampling.
Immerse yourself in NASCAR
If NASCAR is your thing, then North Carolina’s your place. Come to Charlotte Motor Speedway for a race, tour the NASCAR Hall of Fame and the North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame Museum, cruise the “Dale Trail” and check out the high-tech shops where race cars are built for speed.
Host a North Carolina film screening party
Whether you’re planning a visit or pining for Tar Heel scenery, stage a viewing party featuring a movie or TV show filmed here – there are only about 800 to choose from, including The Hunger Games, Dirty Dancing, Iron Man 3, Last of the Mohicans, Bull Durham and Homeland.
Live like a Vanderbilt at Biltmore
It’s America’s largest home, and you can stroll Biltmore’s hallowed halls, relive the past, and marvel at the exquisite architecture, furnishings and art. Then meander through the gardens, visit the winery and sample the estate’s wines and food.
Conquer the U.S. National Whitewater Center
Don’t miss this one-of-a-kind outdoor playground where you can try whitewater rafting and kayaking, bike miles of trails, test your rock climbing skills or cruise down a zip line. While you're there, enjoy food, beverages, festivals and music.
Float down the Dan River
More than 100 miles of refreshing water await you on the Dan River, making it perfect for tubing, kayaking and canoeing. It’s also a good place to fish, or just enjoy the natural surroundings. Go for the day, or make it an overnight at a campground nearby.
Roam the Outer Banks with wild horses
Witness the freedom and beauty of the wild horses of the Outer Banks. Descended from ponies brought here by Spanish explorers 500 years ago, they’re an awe-inspiring vision on the beaches of Corolla and the Shackleford Banks.
Take in a mountain sunset
There’s no better end to a day than to pause on a mountain ridge here in North Carolina and watch the sun descend behind a peak. Afterward, there’s still plenty of nightlife to explore and enjoy, whether you’re camping or wandering around town.