2 Best Road Trip Itineraries for Visiting North Carolina

It’s no secret that at Campendium, we love road trips. They are a great way to experience the natural beauty, culture, and local flavors that make a state unique. And one great state to explore by road is North Carolina. With a wide variety of landscapes and a rich history, North Carolina has many places to explore and soak up the past.

Waterfall at Black Mountain Campground
Black Mountain Campground | Burnsville, NC – Photo by: Trndgc

Trip #1: Mountains to the Sea

When to Go: April-September
Duration: 10 days

North Carolina is one of only a handful of states in the US that have both rugged mountains and stunning coastline. The Mountains-to-Sea Trail takes backpackers from the highest points in the East to the Atlantic Ocean. But don’t worry, if you’re not up to a 1,200-mile hike, you can turn it into one amazing road trip.

Begin your trip at the highest point east of the Mississippi River, Mount Mitchell, in South Toe, North Carolina. Standing tall at 6,684 feet above sea level, you can hike through spruce and fir forest and see sweeping vistas of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. One thing I love to do when visiting these high Appalachian Mountains is to take note of how the vegetation changes the higher I climb.

Must-do Adventures

Where to Stay

From Mount Mitchell, drive north along the Blue Ridge Parkway. This 469-mile drive spans two states and takes in some of North Carolina’s most beautiful mountain scenery, like the Linville Gorge and Grandfather Mountain. Be sure to budget lots of time to stop and take pictures. There are numerous pullouts along the route that allow you to stop and take in the vistas from the ridge.

Must-do Adventures

Where to Stay

After you leave the Appalachian Mountains, head east toward the Falls Lake State Recreation Area, in the middle of the state. This over 12,000-acre reservoir is undeveloped and a great place to relax on the beach, go for a float or watch for wildlife. And for those wanting a little more adrenaline, it has one of the best mountain biking trail systems in the area. With three loops to choose from, there is something for everyone’s level.

Must-do Adventures

Where to Stay

After enjoying your time in the middle of the state, it’s now time to complete your journey to the sea. Cape Hatteras is part of North Carolina’s Outer Banks and offers so much to do. Cape Hatteras National Seashore is one largest preserved areas of the Outer Banks, and visitors can enjoy the true wilderness of this tiny strip of land.

Must-Do Adventures

Where to Stay

Trip #2: Historic North Carolina

When to Go: March-September

Duration: 7 days

Start your history lesson in the town of Asheville high up in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Asheville has a long and storied history in and of itself, but probably one of the most famous places to visit is the Biltmore Estate. A historic house museum, Biltmore is one of the United States true castles. It is the largest privately-owned house in the US and is a great example of the Gilded Age.

Must-do Adventures

Where to Stay


Next, swing northeast toward the towns of Winston-Salem and Greensboro. North Carolina was one of the Thirteen Colonies, and its American history is long and rich. There are several museums where you can learn about the Revolutionary War and educate yourself on America’s dark history in the Jim Crow era.

The Guilford Courthouse Military Park is the site where the Americans began to gain a stronghold to lead them to the victory of the American Revolutionary War. At the Horne Creek Living Historical Farm, you can step back in time and see what life was like more than 100 years ago. The Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum commemorates a woman who was determined to help other African Americans rise above oppression. The International Civil Rights Center & Museum honors the February 1, 1960 sit-ins. It is a great place to learn more about those who stood up against social norms and injustice.

Must-See Museums

Where to Stay

From the Winston-Salem and Greensboro area, head east toward Roanoke Island, which is your last stop on this week-long road trip. If you’re interested in the Underground Railroad history, you can make a stop by Dismal Swamp State Park and learn more from park staff and interpretive signs along the trail that lines Dismal Swamp Canal.

Roanoke Island was home to one of the first British colonies in the United States. The Roanoke Colony is one of America’s great mysteries as the entire colony vanished and its resident’s fate remains unknown. At the Roanoke Island Festival Park, historic-costumed interpreters and interactive exhibits allow you to step back in time.

Must-Do Adventures

Where to Stay

Do you have a favorite destination in North Carolina? Please share with us in the comments!