Where are the most beautiful places in NC for outdoor fun (+ great pics)?

Where are North Carolina’s Most Scenic Spots for Outdoor Fun (+ Great Pics)?

Photo courtesy of Piccione Vineyards

By Vanessa Infanzon

August 29, 2023

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.

Antiquity Bridge

Davidson

Where are North Carolina’s Most Scenic Spots for Outdoor Fun (+ Great Pics)?

Photo courtesy of Scott Chisolm via Instagram

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.

Bandits Roost Campground

Wilkesboro

Where are North Carolina’s Most Scenic Spots for Outdoor Fun (+ Great Pics)?

Photo courtesy of Wilkesboro TDA

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.

The Basin Trail at Fort Fisher State Recreation Area

Kure Beach

Where are North Carolina’s Most Scenic Spots for Outdoor Fun (+ Great Pics)?

Photo courtesy of Wilmington and Beaches Convention & Visitors Bureau

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.

Cliffs of the Neuse State Park

Seven Springs

Where are North Carolina’s Most Scenic Spots for Outdoor Fun (+ Great Pics)?

Photo courtesy of Jerry South via Instagram

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.

Cloud 9 Rooftop Bar

Wilmington

Where are North Carolina’s Most Scenic Spots for Outdoor Fun (+ Great Pics)?

Photo courtesy of Wilmington and Beaches Convention & Visitors Bureau

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.

Dom Bakeries

North Wilkesboro

Where are North Carolina’s Most Scenic Spots for Outdoor Fun (+ Great Pics)?

Photo courtesy of Dom Bakeries North Carolina via Instagram

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.

Fayetteville Rose Garden

Fayetteville

Where are North Carolina’s Most Scenic Spots for Outdoor Fun (+ Great Pics)?

Photo courtesy of DistiNCtly Fayetteville

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.

Giant Ferris Wheel

Carolina Beach

Where are North Carolina’s Most Scenic Spots for Outdoor Fun (+ Great Pics)?

Photo courtesy of Wilmington and Beaches Convention & Visitors Bureau

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

Hope Mills

Where are North Carolina’s Most Scenic Spots for Outdoor Fun (+ Great Pics)?

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Coleman via Instagram

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.

L.P. Willingham Waterfront Park

Jacksonville

Where are North Carolina’s Most Scenic Spots for Outdoor Fun (+ Great Pics)?

Photo courtesy of Carolina Picnic Company, LLC

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.

The Loop

Wrightsville Beach

Where are North Carolina’s Most Scenic Spots for Outdoor Fun (+ Great Pics)?

Photo courtesy of Wilmington and Beaches Convention & Visitors Bureau

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.

The McGill Rose Garden

Charlotte

Where are North Carolina’s Most Scenic Spots for Outdoor Fun (+ Great Pics)?

Photo courtesy of McGill Rose Garden Events via Instagram

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.

Nantahala Outdoor Center

Bryson City

Where are North Carolina’s Most Scenic Spots for Outdoor Fun (+ Great Pics)?

Photo courtesy of Nantahala Outdoor Center

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.

Oak Hollow Festival Park

High Point

Where are North Carolina’s Most Scenic Spots for Outdoor Fun (+ Great Pics)?

Photo courtesy of luxurious Lavender Picnic via Instagram

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.

Piccione Vineyards

Ronda
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.

Pisgah Covered Bridge

Asheboro

Where are the Most Beautiful Places in NC for Outdoor Fun (+ Great Pics)?

Photo courtesy of HeartofNorthCarolina.com

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.

Roanoke Canal Trail

Roanoke Rapids

Where are North Carolina’s Most Scenic Spots for Outdoor Fun (+ Great Pics)?

Photo courtesy of Visit Halifax County, NC via Instagram

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.

Satellite Park

Durham

Where are North Carolina’s Most Scenic Spots for Outdoor Fun (+ Great Pics)?

Photo courtesy of Discover Durham

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.

Sky Retreat

Purlear

Where are North Carolina’s Most Scenic Spots for Outdoor Fun (+ Great Pics)?

Photo courtesy of Sky Retreat via Instagram

Spend a luxurious weekend hang gliding, ballroom dancing, getting a massage, or doing goat yoga surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Suspension Bridge at Eno River State Park

Durham

Where are North Carolina’s Most Scenic Spots for Outdoor Fun (+ Great Pics)?

Photo courtesy of Discover Durham

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.”

 

READ MORE: 7 Summer Vacation Destinations to Check Out in North Carolina

Author

  • Vanessa Infanzon

    Vanessa Infanzon moved from New York to NC for college and never left. When she’s not writing, she’s paddle boarding at the Whitewater Center.

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