A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

1. Walk barefoot in the sand. At your NC beach, of course. [caption id="attachment_172188" align="aligncenter" width="1140"] Claim a quiet strip of beach in Corolla. [/caption] 2. Cast a line from a

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

1. Walk barefoot in the sand. At your NC beach, of course. [caption id="attachment_172188" align="aligncenter" width="1140"] Claim a quiet strip of beach in Corolla. [/caption] 2. Cast a line from a

50 Simple Summer Pleasures


1. Walk barefoot in the sand. At your NC beach, of course.
Woman on the beach in Corolla, NC

Claim a quiet strip of beach in Corolla.  Photography courtesy of Currituck County Department of Travel and Tourism


2. Cast a line from a pier. Catching dinner is encouraged (but not required).
People fish off the pier at Lake Junaluska

For anglers, Lake Junaluska provides a similar lesson in patience. photograph by Robert Stephens


3. Bring home a peck of peaches from the Sandhills.
North Carolina peach

photograph by Roman Samokhin/iStock/Getty Images Plus


4. Dive off a dock into a cool mountain lake.
Fontana Lake

Deep in the Great Smoky Mountains, Fontana Lake boasts 238 miles of shoreline in an unspoiled landscape. photograph by Marje/iStock/Getty Images Plus


5. Fly a kite at Jockey’s Ridge.
Kites flying over Jockey's Ridge

Massive creatures glide over Jockey’s Ridge during the Outer Banks Kite Festival. Photography courtesy of KITTY HAWK KITES


6. Paddle down a river.
Kayakers in the Yadkin River

Take a scenic paddle down the Yadkin River. photograph by Paul Patrick/iStock/Getty Images Plus


7. Island-hop via ferry.
Birds-eye view of Ocracoke Island

After the U.S. Navy laid the first paved road in 1942, more roads — and cars — followed. Drivers now follow NC Highway 12 to ferry docks at either end of the island. But the best way to get around Ocracoke is still by bike, golf cart, or your own two feet. photograph by Emily Chaplin and Chris Council


8. Take the plunge down Sliding Rock.
Drew Perry two sons, and Perry and son at Sliding Rock.

Our State contributor Drew Perry and his family at Sliding Rock.  photograph by Tita Ramirez


9. Watch a classic movie at a drive-in theater.
Vintage cars at the drive-in theater

Line up at the drive-in theater with plenty of snacks.  photograph by State Archives of North Carolina


10. Road-trip down NC Highway 12 or the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Birds-eye view of the stretch of NC Highway 12 along the Pamlico Sound

With Pamlico Sound to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, NC Highway 12 extends north of Buxton toward Avon, just visible in the distance. photograph by Chris Hannant


11. Camp in your own backyard.
backyard camping

photograph by Drew Perry


12. Root for the home team at a minor league baseball game.

Do you recognize your favorite North Carolina team’s mascot? illustration by Ed Fotheringham


13. Spot lightning bugs at dusk.
Camping in the woods surrounded by fireflies

illustration by Patrick Faricy


14. Eat a juicy tomato sandwich. Soft bread. Duke’s mayo. Salt and pepper. Enough said.

photograph by Matt Hulsman


15. Pick out fresh produce at a farmers market.

photograph by iStock/letterberry


16. Put together a summer reading list.
Stack of books: The Island, Code Girls, The Other Einstein, Something in the Water

Members of the Clara Craven Book Club can appreciate the meaning of the Japanese word tsundoku: “to stack up books to read in the future.” photograph by Anna Routh Barzin


17. Savor a cold craft beer on a warm afternoon.
Flight of beers from Foothills Brewing in Winston-Salem.

Foothills Brewing has been offering flights of craft beer in Winston-Salem for nearly 20 years. photograph by J. Sinclair Photography


18. Eat Calabash-style fried seafood in Calabash.
Calabash, North Carolina, is positioned on the saltwater marsh.

The legendary restaurants of Calabash turned this small fishing village into the “Seafood Capital of the World.” Often imitated beyond our borders, their fried fare is a North Carolina original. Photography courtesy of NC’S BRUNSWICK ISLANDS


19. Watch a thunderstorm.
Pilot Mountain during a thunderstorm

Hopefully, you’re watching from somewhere dry and warm. photograph by Andrew Taylor/iStock/Getty Images Plus


20. Collect shells. Extra points if you spot a scotch bonnet.

Early in the morning or right after a storm is the best time to find beach treasures. photograph by Renato Arap/iStock/Getty Images Plus


21. Have a picnic at a state park. (There are 42!)
People picnic at Mount Mitchell State Park

At Mount Mitchell State Park, it’s mountains as far as the eye can see. photograph by Tom Moors


22. Make s’mores.
People roast s'mores by a fire

Whether you stoke up the fire at a campsite or rely on the broiler at home, a gooey, toasty s’mores is a summertime must. photograph by MundusImages/E+/Getty Images


23. Cool off in Linville Caverns.
Our State contributor Drew Perry's sons at Linville Caverns

photograph by Drew Perry


24. Go wild at the North Carolina Zoo.
Southern white rhinoceros Linda and her daughter, Nandi, graze on the Watani Grasslands.

Southern white rhinoceros Linda and her daughter, Nandi, graze on the Watani Grasslands. photograph by Nathan Burns


25. Watch the sunrise from Clingmans Dome.
People view the sunset from the observation deck at Clingmans Dome

An observation deck at Clingmans Dome, located about half a mile from the Appalachian Trail, gives visitors a 360-degree view of the landscape. photograph by Tom Moors


26. Watch the sun set over a sound. Take your pick — Albemarle, Bogue, Core, Croatan, Currituck, Pamlico, Roanoke — or visit all seven.
Sunset over Bogue Sound

Bask in golden hour while boating on Bogue Sound near Emerald Isle. photograph by J. SILKSTONE PHOTOGRAPHY


27. Sit a spell in a rocking chair. Combine with No. 28 for the perfect afternoon.
Rocking chairs at Cone Manor

Beat the heat this summer at Cone Manor on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock. photograph by Tim Robison


28. Sip sweet tea in the shade.
Glass of iced sweet tea

photograph by Charlotte & Johnny Autry


29. Stroll through a vineyard.

Gain a new appreciation for the land where grapes grow, like at Junius Lindsay Vineyard in Lexington. Photography courtesy of NORTH CAROLINA WINE AND GRAPE COUNCIL


30. Look for sea turtles.
Baby loggerhead turtle

Loggerhead sea turtles hatch on the beach before scurrying quickly to the surf. photograph by Rebecca Mack/iStock/Getty Images Plus


31. Listen to live music at an outdoor concert.
Steep Canyon Rangers perform at an outdoor concert

The Steep Canyon Rangers are a Grammy Award-winning bluegrass band from North Carolina. photograph by Sara Brennan


32. Wander to a waterfall.
Children play at Lower Cascade Falls in Hanging Rock State Park.

Dip your toes in the water at Lower Cascade Falls in Hanging Rock State Park in Stokes County. photograph by Joey Seawell


33. Order a shrimpburger at Big Oak Drive-in in Salter Path.
North Carolina shrimpburger with fries.

Fried shrimp, tartar sauce, slaw, and ketchup on a steamed bun — the shrimpburger is a North Carolina icon. photograph by Baxter Miller


34. Take a day hike on the Appalachian Trail or Mountains-to-Sea Trail.
Hiker at Linville Gorge

An overlook at the Linville Gorge, along the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. photograph by Justin Costner


35. Frolic at a flower farm.
Butterfly at Fernrock Farm in Hillsborough.

photograph by Anagram Photo


36. Climb to the top of Chimney Rock.
An American flag on top of Chimney Rock, billowing above Lake Lure and Hickory Nut Gorge.

The view from the Opera Box is Chimney Rock State Park’s most recognizable: an American flag on top of the rock, billowing above Lake Lure and Hickory Nut Gorge. photograph by Tom Moors


37. Squeeze lemons for ice-cold lemonade.
Watermelon Arnold Palmer or bourbon-rosemary lemonade

Which will you choose, watermelon Arnold Palmer or bourbon-rosemary lemonade? photograph by Matt Hulsman


38. Swing in a hammock.
Hammock in the Asheville.

Find a quiet spot along the French Broad to secure your hammock. photograph by huePhotography/iStock/Getty Images Plus


39. Attend a local festival.
Illustration of unloading a massive watermelon from a pickup truck

Don’t miss the Fair Bluff Watermelon Festival happening July 27. illustration by JAMES OLSTEIN


40. Eat homemade ice cream.

Get our recipe for homemade strawberry ice cream. photograph by Elena Brent Rosemond-Hoerr


41. Ride a bike on a greenway.
Cyclists on the Neuse River Greenway

A segment of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, the Neuse River Greenway extends from Falls Lake to the Wake/Johnston County line. photograph by Michael Robson/visitRaleigh.com


42. Watch fireworks. Whether it’s over a ball field or a boardwalk, sparks will fly.

The Carolina Beach Boardwalk hosts live music and fireworks on Thursday nights from Memorial Day to Labor Day. photograph by Eric Alter Photography


43. Take a hot dog tour. Your order: a Carolina dog “all the way” — topped with chili, slaw, onions, and mustard.
Carolina Dog topped with chili, slaw, and mustard

photograph by Tim Robison


44. See wild horses in Corolla or on Shackleford Banks.
Wild horses near the Cape Lookout Lighthouse

Spot wild horses along the Shackleford Banks near Cape Lookout. photograph by Charles Harris


45. Watch an outdoor drama in Cherokee, Boone, or Manteo.
The Lost Colony performs in Roanoke Island.

Summer nights mean the return of stirring productions of The Lost Colony on Roanoke Island. photograph by Chris Hannant


46. Meander through gorgeous gardens at Biltmore Estate or Tryon Palace.

Take in the beauty in bloom at Latham Garden at Tryon Palace. photograph by Tryon Palace


47. Reconnect at a family reunion.
Family gathers at Wrong Way River Lodge & Cabins in Asheville

In the evening, family members and friends can gather by the fire together at Wrong Way River Lodge & Cabins. photograph by JOE BALCKEN AND STEVEN FREEDMAN, COURTESY OF WRONG WAY ASHEVILLE


48. Spend the day at a museum.
In the “Terror of the South” exhibit at the Museum of Natural Sciences, an Acrocanthosaurus (left) battles a sauropod while pterosaurs circle overhead.

In the “Terror of the South” exhibit at the Museum of Natural Sciences, an Acrocanthosaurus (left) battles a sauropod while pterosaurs circle overhead. photograph by Karen Swain/visitRaleigh.com


49. Go berry-picking.

Whether you bake with ’em or eat ’em straight from the bush, fresh blueberries are sweet with the taste of summer.  photograph by Hispanolistic/E+/Getty Images Plus


50. Stargaze along Cape Lookout National Seashore.
The Cape Lookout Lighthouse at night

Cape Lookout Lighthouse was built in 1859 to help mariners find their way through the darkness of the southern Outer Banks. Today, that darkness draws stargazers who marvel at the Milky Way and other cosmic wonders. photograph by Alex Gu/National Park Service


This story was published on Jun 12, 2024

Our State Staff

Since 1933, Our State has shared stories about North Carolina with readers both in state and around the world. We celebrate the people and places that make this state great. From the mountains to the coast, we feature North Carolina travel, history, food, and beautiful scenic photography.