bodie island

Climb a lighthouse

With its iconic black and white stripes, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is one of the nation’s most recognizable and beloved lighthouses, but our state has plenty of others to pick from with equally interesting backstories. Old Baldy, Cape Lookout, Oak Island, Bodie Island, and Currituck Beach lighthouses may also be climbed.

Pan for gold

For being the official state mineral, gold sure can be elusive. Grab a pan and head for the hills. Perhaps you’ll be as lucky as the Cabarrus County boy who discovered the 17-pound gold nugget in 1799, marking the beginning of the first gold rush.

Watch a college basketball game

Every spring, the whole country catches March Madness, but when your state lays claim to the mighty Tobacco Road, college basketball fandom is a year-round fever. There are no prerequisites involved in becoming a fan of the Tar Heels, Blue Devils, Wolfpack, or Demon Deacons. Just pick wisely, love deeply, and yell at the TV irrationally.

nc basketball

Photograph by Travis Dove

See the Outer Banks’ wild horses

Untamed, awe-inspiring, and powerful, the horses of the Outer Banks personify the barrier islands on which they roam. Catch a glimpse of one of several herds on Corolla, Shackleford Banks, Ocracoke, and in Beaufort’s Rachel Carson Reserve.

Eat a barbecue sandwich

If politicians were to approach their issues with as much vehemence as North Carolinians do with their barbecue, we know for certain nothing would get done in Congress. Whether you prefer your barbecue Eastern- or Lexington-style, be kind to those who don’t agree with you, because though sauce preference divides us, the common love of slowly smoked pork unites us all.

barbecue

Photograph by Travis Dove

Celebrate the holidays at the Biltmore

America’s largest home becomes even more majestic when viewed by candlelight during the holiday season. Delight in the warmth of Biltmore’s many fireplaces and gawk at its abundant Christmas trees.

Play a round at Pinehurst

Pinehurst No. 2 has hosted more single golf championships than any other course in the United States. Put your skills to the test on the pristine greens, or pay a visit to Thistle Dhu Putting Course, named after the first miniature golf course in the United States.

pinehurst

Photograph by Travis Dove

Find adventure at the U.S. National Whitewater Center

Just on the outskirts of Charlotte, the U.S. National Whitewater Center serves as an Olympic training site for athletes who compete in whitewater slalom racing. After a day of zip-lining, kayaking, rafting, and rock climbing, satisfy your appetite at the center’s fantastic restaurant.

Take a byway drive

From the mountains to the sea, North Carolina has 54 scenic byways begging for a windows-rolled-down, music-turned-up Sunday cruise. For the ultimate North Carolina driving experience, head to the Blue Ridge Parkway during the fall to see the leaves change.

Photograph by Deborah Scannell

Photograph by Deborah Scannell

Tour the NC State Capitol

Crane your neck as you take in the vast rotunda of our state’s capitol building on a guided or self-guided tour. This year, the building is celebrating its 175th anniversary and is one of the best remaining examples of Greek Revival architecture in the United States.


Presented by BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina

BCBS_NC_WILDERNESS_300x250_r2Since 1933, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) has offered its customers high quality health insurance at a competitive price and has led the charge toward better health and health care in our state. BCBSNC is a fully taxed, not-for-profit North Carolina company with headquarters in Chapel Hill and major operations centers in Durham, Fayetteville, and Winston-Salem. We employ more than 4,800 North Carolinians and serve more than 3.9 million customers. Learn more about BCBSNC.

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Quine is the digital editor at Our State. Her favorite stories to write are those born out of conversation. She won the first-place 2013 NC College Media Association award for feature writing.