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The state of North Carolina boasts so many picturesque spots, from its majestic mountains in the west to its pristine beaches in the east. You’ll find beautiful vistas, exquisite sunsets and shorelines that seem to stretch for miles. So, if you’re in the mood to enjoy some truly breathtaking scenery, check out these eight North Carolina spots.
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When you visit the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in Buxton, you’ll feel as if you’ve walked right into a postcard. The lighthouse is one of the most recognized in the world, with its famous black and white spiral stripes, and is also the tallest brick lighthouse in the world, at 208 feet tall. If you’re brave (and fit) enough to climb the 248 steps to the top, you’ll be privy to an amazing view of the surrounding Cape. But, even if you stay on the ground, the backdrop is still pretty beautiful.
Chimney Rock, a massive 315-foot granite outcropping located in the Chimney Rock State Park, provides unparalleled Blue Ridge Mountain views from its elevation of 2,280 feet above sea level. In fact, from the top, you can take in a 75-mile view in all directions, including the Hickory Nut Gorge and nearby Lake Lure. Although the climb to the top is intermediate in difficulty, it is kid-friendly and the views definitely make the climb worthwhile.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which spreads across both North Carolina and Tennessee, is the most visited national park in the United States. Offering multiple natural wonders that are considered must-see, including Clingman’s Dome and the Oconaluftee Valley, the most frequented spot in the park is Cades Cove. This peaceful valley with a majestic mountain backdrop is also a great location for spotting wildlife including turkeys, bears, coyotes and more. There’s a one-way road that loops for 11 miles through the entire area, so allow yourself enough time to take it all in and get your camera ready.
The Pisgah National Forest stretches for over 500,000 acres outside of Asheville. Besides offering hundreds of miles of trails for hiking and plenty of whitewater rafting opportunities, the Forest is also home to some of the most breathtaking views of the western mountains of North Carolina. Some of the best spots for taking in the scenery include Looking Glass Rock, Mt. Pisgah and Mount Mitchell.
The tallest natural sand dune on the East Coast stands in Nag’s Head. Jockey’s Ridge ranges in height, depending on the wind conditions, but can reach heights of up to 60 feet. It offers amazing views from the top, as well as unique opportunities for kite flying, hang gliding and sand boarding. Make sure to also stick around until dusk, so you can take in a breathtaking sunset.
Goose Creek State Park, located along the Pamlico Sound, offers unique views of the wetlands, complete with Spanish moss and large oak trees. There’s an extensive boardwalk that winds through the area, as well as eight miles of trails, so there are plenty of opportunities to stop and take in the scenery. There’s also a visitor’s education center nearby for learning about the plant and wildlife in the area.
Downtown Wilmington is situated right on the banks of the Cape Fear River and features a Riverwalk with shops and restaurants. You don’t have to head out of civilization to find the most beautiful scenery in North Carolina, as evidenced by the gorgeous views you can find right in the middle of historic downtown Wilmington. This quaint waterfront town offers amazing views of the Cape Fear River, particularly along its award-winning Riverwalk, where you’ll find plenty of shops, bars and restaurants. You’ll also catch glimpses of the U.S.S. North Carolina Battleship, which is permanently docked just across the river.
Grandfather Mountain, located just outside of Linville is the highest peak in the Blue Ridge Mountains, measuring in at 5,946 feet. Because of this, it provides some of the most breathtaking views in the area, making you feel as if you are floating above the mountains. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you may also want to check out the Mile High Swinging Bridge, which offers 360-degree panoramic views at over one mile in elevation.