Solitude has its advantages! We’ve compiled a list of single-serving adventures in North Carolina that will have you ditching the crew for some quality time alone.
North Carolina is so full of options for family activities, group outings and dates, it’s sometimes easy for the single adventurer to be overlooked. But the state is literally overflowing with options, whether you’re searching for solitude or looking to make new friends. Here are some suggestions for local singles to try, whether in the city or the country, from the mountains to the sea.
Outdoor Roller Skating
Forget the rink and hit the streets for roller skating in the wild!
It’s a recreational sport with incredible benefits, such as reducing cholesterol, promoting weight loss, and providing a major boost of serotonin. With the right equipment, including outdoor wheels – they’re wider and softer for better traction, helmet, elbow pads, knee pads, and wrist guards, you can safely learn or improve at any age. And it definitely increases your “it” factor.
Besides the obvious choices like roller rinks and skate parks, head over to outdoor basketball courts, tennis courts, and even empty parking garages. And when you’re ready to level up with others, Charlotte has private coaches like @Roosterking333 on Instagram, and group skate outings with www.rollingCLT.com and other clubs.
Flowery Field Trip
Picture yourself in a sea of sunflowers, on a blanket with your favorite book and a small picnic. It’s solitude, but with the most cheerful, silent companions. Once you partake of enough peaceful relaxation, tap into your inner child, indulge your amateur horticulturist, or stage your own photo shoot. The possibilities are infinite in North Carolina’s sunflower fields. The rules vary, with some places requiring you to stick to paths and others allowing more freedom to explore, and many places allowing you to pick stems for a fee. So be sure to inquire if you want to bring more than memories and great pics home with you. A few favorite fields are:
Sunflower Fields at Dorothea Dix Park in Raleigh
Galloway Farm, 370 Artesia Road, Hallsboro (near Wilmington)
Hill Ridge Farms, 703 Tarboro Road, Youngsville
Odom Farming Company, 1426 Claridge Nursery Rd, Goldsboro
Kersey Valley, 1615 Kersey Valley Road, Archdale (near Greensboro)
Dogwood Farms, 8096 Belews Creek Road, Belews Creek, Forsyth County (outside Greensboro).
Dewberry Farm, 2585 Dewberry Farm Lane, Kernersville
Lady Luck Gardens, 55 Lanzi Ledge Road, Leicester (Asheville)
Kayaking by Moonlight
If you’re a solitary outdoorsy type, change up your routine with a little night paddling. Even if you’ve done a route dozens of times, you’ll discover it has an entirely different vibe alone, at night, with the moon shining down on the water.
Part of the mystery of night kayaking comes from witnessing bioluminescence in action. Bioluminescence is the appearance of small aquatic organisms, like krill, which light up as the around them is disturbed. In many natural bodies of water, you will see them dance and eddy about the paddles as you move through the water.
When planning a trip, it’s best to traverse the route in the daytime first, and pay attention to any significant landmarks. You do not want to be guessing your location in the dark! You can rely on your phone gps, but you’ll want to make sure it’s charged and in a waterproof case.
You also want to follow all the safety rules of daytime kayaking, and then some. Wear your PFD – personal flotation device – at all times. Although you’ll be paddling solo, you want to clearly see and be seen. So by law, you need to display a bright light that is readily visible to prevent possible collisions with other vessels. A large, waterproof 360-degree flashlight with a handle should be sufficient. Wear an emergency strobe light, such as a battery-powered LED model, high on the shoulder or chest that you can activate in case of emergency. And avoid areas populated with sailboats and speedboats.
Some of our favorite spots for nighttime kayaking are:
Crowders Mountain State Park (Kings Mountain). Known for its serenity, flat water, and excellent fishing. You can launch your own boat or rent one inside the park.
French Broad River (Asheville). Three separate routes (6, 7, or 12 miles) yield plenty to see, from the Biltmore Estate to Blue Ridge valleys and rare state birds to the historic buildings (and breweries) of the River Arts District.
Goat Island Park (Cramerton) no longer features roaming herds of the titular creature, but it does have some of the most scenic waters of the southern Catawba River and lush forest views to revel in.
Nags Head Beaches (Outer Banks) have some of the state’s best examples of bioluminescence, best visible after dark on a new or half-moon night.
Catching a wave has always been better solo, if only for the fact it’s hard to fit multiple people on a board. The best surfing in the state is concentrated in the Outer Banks, where tourists swarm Dare County beaches and clog the network of bridges and ferries; but a few areas further South have decent swells as well.
The seaside town of Buxton, on Hatteras Island, has the reputation for some of the best waves in the Carolinas. Perfectly placed to catch coastal waters from Virginia and North Carolina, the chilly Labrador Current, and the warm Gulf Stream, the stormy mix makes for some truly beautiful waves.
Nearby Nags Head may be the center of surf culture in North Carolina. Surfers have been flocking since the 1960s to the steady waves along Nags Head Pier’s 12-mile stretch of sand, making for a grassroots beach community that’s as unpretentious as it gets.
Further south near Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach is popular with the college crowd and for this reason has been called the Virginia Beach of North Carolina. Here you’ll find surfing competitions such as the Carolina SUP Surf Am and the Carolina Cup.
If you spend most of your time city-bound, in areas with a lot of light pollution, you may not have an accurate idea of how expansive the Carolina night sky really is. Take a cosmic journey to the stars when you visit one of these gems, especially on a moonless night. Going with a group is fun, but going alone allows for a better appreciation of the vastness of the universe and, if you’re feeling philosophical, your place in it.
Max Patch, a mountain bald along the Appalachian Trail in Hot Springs, is not an easy walk. An intermediately challenging 10-mile trail leads to the grassy, domed summit, some 4,600 feet above sea level. By comparison, the city of Charlotte is only 750 feet above sea level. The trials of the trek are forgotten as hikers take in breathtaking 360-degree views for miles in all directions. The best part? On a clear night the Milky Way looks close enough to touch.
The Bare Dark Sky Observatory, is run by Mayland Community College in Yancey County, and has the largest public telescope in the Southeast. If you’re worried about a line to use the Sam Scope, visitors are welcome to bring their own telescopes and set up outside. After-hours stargazers are welcome too. Just be sure to pack a flashlight, because the facility keeps light at a bare minimum for the darkest skies possible.
Town Creek Indian Mound, a prehistoric Native American archeological site in Mount Gilead, was once a sacred place for people to welcome the new year. Today, public astronomy events are held there. Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn sightings are common, and binoculars are encouraged.
Whichever adventure you choose, be safe. But don’t hesitate to shrug off consensus, flex your individuality and trust your instincts. You may discover a new passion, hidden talent, or make a new friend!