In HearSway

Whether it’s a cool night in the mountains or a hot day by the lake, North Carolina always has your best interests at heart. We’ve compiled a list of places that are loved by the state’s longtime residents and newcomers alike.

Jordan Lake

Jordan Lake is a reservoir that has it all right by the Triangle. You can hike, swim, boat, fish, and camp all in the same areas. You might even catch a glimpse of a Bald Eagle.

Image of lakefront car camping via Reddit

Stay or Day: You can stay at Jordan Lake campgrounds or take a day trip and have fun either way! There are options for tents, trailer & RV, and equestrian campsites.

Attractions: There are trails to hike less than a mile and trails that are over 3 miles, as well as equestrian trails. The Crosswinds Boating Center is a nearby business that rents out kayaks and pontoon boats. There are also beaches for swimming and passes last for a day.

Restaurants: Chapel Hill and Pittsboro are nearby, with gems like Gov’s Burger & Tap & S & T Soda Shoppe. You could also take a short trip to Durham for restaurants at The Streets at Southpoint


Some North Carolina natives might roll their eyes, but Charlotte’s Carowinds (while, ok, it’s no Six Flags) has something from the whole family — from roller coaster enthusiasts to waterpark lovers or kids who want an age-appropriate thrill. The water park, Carolina Harbor, opens June 12 with boogie board races, lazy river and more.

Image via Chris Shearer / Google reviews

Restaurants: Being in the city of Charlotte, there are a ton food options outside the park. Dogwood Southern Table serves home-cooked Southern Style food and Paco’s Tacos serves Tex-Mex and takes group reservations.

Stay or Day: Springhill Suites by Marriott Charlotte at Carowinds or Carowinds’ Camp Wilderness Resort is nearby and kid friendly! Charlotte is around 2 hours from Southern Pines, making Carowinds close enough for a day trip if you’re game.

Attractions: Ride the Hurler, a sun-bleached wooden coaster that turns 27 this year; or Fury 365, one of seven giga coasters in the world — with a top speed of 95 mph. Something slower more your pace? Head to the park’s “County Fair” section.

National Whitewater Center

Another Charlotte attraction is the National Whitewater Center, which is great for outdoor enthusiasts. Kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing, and whitewater rafting are all available in the center. 

Image via National Whitewater Center on Facebook

Restaurants: There are restaurants in the Whitewater Center with full and counter service and coffee. There’s also a full bar. 

Stay or Day: Charlotte is close enough for a day trip, so the Whitewater Center is within a day’s reach, but there are a plethora of nearby hotels and Airbnbs.

Attractions: Whitewater rafting, ziplining, kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking and ropes courses are all available with an all-inclusive pass. You can also buy individual activity passes, or multi-day options. 

Wet N’ Wild Emerald Pointe

With attractions from a wave pool to intensely steep slides, Greensboro’s Wet N’ Wild Emerald Pointe is perfect for a family trip. 

Restaurants: There are restaurants in the park, as well as snacks and Icees. You can also enjoy a packed lunch before or after going into the park, at the picnic area right outside the gates.

Stay or Day: A Greensboro hotel or Airbnb would work perfectly for an overnight stay, but Greensboro is also a great location for a day trip. 

Attractions: A splash pad, wave pool, and daring slides are all attractions of Wet N’ Wild Emerald Pointe. Daredevil Drop is an extreme slide with a 73-ft drop, but there are less intense slides as well. 

Uwharrie National Forest

Uwharrie National Forest sports hiking trails for horses and humans, plus swimming, fishing, camping, and places to picnic for lovers of the outdoors. Stick around long enough and you just might catch a glimpse of the elusive Bigfoot.

An over 100-year-old “cave,” aka diversion tunnel, at Falls Reservoir in the Uwharrie National Forest. | Photo via River Daisy Outdoor Co.

Restaurants: Scallywag’s Bar & Grill at Badin Lake and Sweet Tee Grille in Troy are top-rateed restaurants serving up post-adventure meals near Uwharrie National Forest.

Stay or Day: There are many bed and breakfasts, as well as camping or cabin options in the park for people who want to stay overnight and explore as much of the forest as possible. However, Uwharrie is close enough to do a fun day trip and make an adventure out of it. 

Attractions: Biking, hiking, and horseback riding are all options for visitors of Uwharrie. There are also camping, climbing, and fishing available, so no matter what your preferred outdoor activity is, Uwharrie most likely has it. 

Greensboro Science Center 

The Greensboro Science Center is the place for anyone who loves animals. The indoor aquarium may be on the small side, but features fish you won’t find elsewhere plus chances to have behind-the-scenes encounters. Adrenaline junkies can strap into a safety harness and tackle the challenging treetop zipline and ropes course at Skywild, where you’ll get a birds-eye view of exhibits.

Image via Skywild

Restaurants: Being in the city of Greensboro, there are a ton of food options. Pita Delite Battleground and Stamey’s Barbecue are both good choices close to the Science Center.

Stay or Day: There are hotels and Airbnbs a plenty, and also bed & breakfasts if that’s your thing.

Attractions: The Greensboro Science Center has a zipline, ropes course, museum, aquarium, and zoo. The ability to travel between the outdoors and indoors will help to keep you cool and still have the adventure you may be looking for.

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