On the hunt for beautiful places in NC? North Carolina’s beaches, mountains, and rolling hills will leave you breathless.
Among the doom-scrollers on social media are countless people who would like to immerse themselves in the beauty of nature, a city skyline, or an historic site. Whether you’re hiking across a creek on a swinging bridge or rolling along a river on a greenway, there are loads of beautiful places in NC to choose from.
Capture a mountain view on North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Parkway, post it to social media and watch the likes and comments pour in. We’ve got 20 ideas for the best spots to capture that perfect Instagram post.
Nearby greenways and trails take you under and over this historic landmark, connecting the Davidson and Cornelius communities. Pro tip: Catch the light shining through the wooden bridge’s beams.
Pitch a tent at this peninsula campground area on W. Kerr Scott Dam and Reservoir for views of the beach and 1,475-acre reservoir. And with 40 miles of mountain bike trails, there are plenty more photo ops to explore.
Take your pick of backgrounds on this 2.2-mile trail (out and back) through marsh and maritime forest. Naturalists may enjoy photographing birds and boats on Cape Fear River. The World War II bunker offers a grittier backdrop for your poses, if that’s what you’re looking for.
View the Neuse River from 90-foot bluffs at Cliffs of the Neuse State Park. Visitors can camp (tent sites and cabins), bike, or hike at the park.
Enjoy a craft cocktail from the top of Embassy Suites Wilmington Riverfront. Cape Fear River, Wilmington’s historic district and the Battleship North Carolina are all visible from Cloud 9.
Order lunch and a gluten-free cupcake from Dom Bakeries then head to its second-floor terrace for views of the Brushy Mountains and Yadkin River. The nearby Yadkin River Greenway also leads to waterfalls, if you’re out there chasing photo ops.
Since 1972, Fayetteville Rose Garden on Fayetteville Technical Community College’s campus has been dazzling visitors with nearly 1,000 rose bushes featuring three dozen varieties.
Grab a loved one and ride the giant Ferris wheel at Carolina Beach’s seaside amusement park, bringing riders nearly 10 stories high. Watch the coastline and boardwalk go by as you go ’round and ’round.
Hope Mills Lake in downtown Hope Mills provides the perfect waterfront backdrop for a picnic lunch and an Instagram-worthy photo while you’re at it. Swim, fish, hike, and kayak while you’re there.
A special occasion calls for a romantic vignette assembled by Mackenzie Murphy with Carolina Picnic Company, LLC. Historic markers throughout the park help you connect with the history of the area and local citizens.
Follow a 2.45-mile paved fitness trail to see the Intracoastal Waterway, Banks Channel and surrounding salt marshes. Stops along the way include Harbor Way Gardens, NC Coastal Federation, Wrightsville Beach Museum, and Wrightsville Beach Park, offering a full afternoon of fun in a relatively short distance.
Tucked away on North Davidson Street, just over the train tracks from Birdsong Brewing Company, is McGill Rose Garden. Admission is free and visitors may bring a picnic, friendly pets and children, and take photographs during public hours (see website for the guidelines). Refuel at Rosie’s Coffee & Wine Garden, a cafe located on the garden’s property.
Boasting more than 120 different river- and land-based itineraries, it’s no wonder more than 1 million guests visit the Nantahala Outdoor Center. Grab an Adirondack chair along the Nantahala River for a front row seat to the Great Smoky Mountains.
Built as a primary water supply for the city of High Point, Oak Hollow Lake opened in 1972 for recreational use by the public. Fifty years later, a sunset on the lake’s floating dock is still one of North Carolina’s greatest hidden joys. Lavender Picnics will curate a custom picnic for a celebration … or just an ordinary day.
Imagine you’re in Italy while sipping Montepulciano, an Italian varietal grown right in the Swan Creek American Viticultural Area, a designated wine-grape growing region in NC. Mount Jefferson, Stone Mountain, Pilot Mountain, and other Blue Ridge mountaintops may be seen from the winery.
Wander off the beaten path for a pleasant surprise: a quarter-mile accessible trail with picnic tables and a 54-foot covered bridge over the West Fork Branch of the Little River in the Uwharrie National Forest.
Explore this 7.5-mile trail along Roanoke River by bicycle. The engineers in the group will appreciate the early-19th-century canal construction with a hand-hewn stone culvert, power canal bulkhead, locks, and an aqueduct that spans 35 feet in a single arch. For the birdwatchers: The trail is a stop on the NC Coastal Plains Birding Trail. Borrow a free bike from Roanoke Canal Museum and Trail or at Riverside Mill in Weldon.
In 2018, eight local artists transformed decommissioned satellites into art pieces. The murals are in a public park, Duke Arts Annex, and may be seen from sunrise to sundown.
Spend a luxurious weekend hang gliding, ballroom dancing, getting a massage, or doing goat yoga surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The Cox Mountain Trail, a 4.2 mile loop, leads to a suspension bridge over the Eno River. According to the website, “The swift, but often shallow stream of the river can make for difficult paddling but provides beautiful landmarks like the Cascades. This riparian environment is popular with anglers, birdwatchers, and photographers alike.”
Jason Dunkin lives out in the country on the same small plot of land he grew up on. When I met him at his house recently, the rain was beating down...