Over the years, I have come to North Carolina for vacation. My grandparents have normally hosted us and they lived right on the North Carolina/South Carolina border right on the coast. I went to Myrtle Beach a lot as a kid (even went to college there, but look how that turned out) and got to experience a lot of things that I am thankful for and will remember for the rest of my life. But as I got older, the fun of Myrtle Beach just wasn't cutting it anymore and my tourist palate matured. North Carolina is a wonderful state to visit, so I figured, why not explore all the magic it has to offer? Now, I have not experienced a lot, but a lot of these things are secondhand opinions.
1. The North Carolina Zoo
The state's zoo is located in the Uhwharrie Mountains (Asheboro) and is the home of almost 2,000 animals ranging from Giraffes to Polar Bears. Admission to the attraction is less than $20 dollars a person. This attraction is good for family activities while on vacation, and personally I think this would be a pretty good date!
2. The Biltmore Estate
Countless family and friends of mine have ventured to Asheville to tour the exquisite Biltmore which lies along the Blue Ridge Mountains. This 8000 acre product of the Gilded Age was built by George Vanderbilt II and is the largest owned estate in the country. You can either visit for the day or stay in one of the three lodging options.
Fun fact, designer and socialite Gloria Vanderbilt (my parents made me wear her jeans as a kid and now I feel honored to have done so) is a descendant of the family, whose son is Anderson Cooper from CNN and has his own segment titles "Anderson Cooper 360".
3. Calabash, North Carolina
I might be a little bit bias because this is where my grandparents lived, but the town has grown on me and I always seem to relive my childhood a little every time I visit. With most of North Carolina mostly home to golf courses and retirement communities, this town is no different. But what this little coastal seaside town has to offer is remarkable. Located near the Brunswick Islands in Brunswick County, this town is a little bite with big flavor. With several restaurants close to the coast line, every dining experience includes the light smell of the salty air with a little breeze. I also recommend Callahan's of Calabash, a nautical gift shop with brands like Simply Southern, Kate Spade, Vera Bradley and Lilly Pulitzer. In the back the store transforms into a Christmas shop that makes you forget you're even on the continent!
4. Wilmington, North Carolina
Speaking of coastal towns, this gem only lies and hour from Calabash and is also right on the coast. This town is home of the UNCW Seahawks, the North Carolina Azalea Festival and the popular Wrightsville Beach. The historic downtown area lies upon the Cape Fear River and is home to many small businesses and restaurants along the water (Elijah's Waterfront is my favorite). This town is very family oriented and is good for small children and adults alike.