North Carolina Bucket List: 185 Things to Do in The Tar Heel State

Blue waters and golden sand at Avon Beach Pier in the Outer Banks of North Carolina

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Welcome to our ultimate North Carolina bucket list- your guide to some of the most exciting and memorable experiences in the Tar Heel State!

North Carolina features a diverse geography- from the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains in the west to the rolling hills of the Piedmont region, where major cities like Charlotte, Greensboro, and Durham thrive. 

Along the eastern coast, the Coastal Plain boasts picturesque beaches, including the renowned Outer Banks with its sandy shores, historic lighthouses, and maritime heritage.

So whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast who enjoys exploring nature, hiking, being outside in the sun or someone who likes soaking up the local culture and learning about the arts and history, there’s something for everyone.

We’ve organized this bucket list by towns and cities, making it a breeze for you to navigate your way through the plenty of fun things to do in North Carolina.

You may also like our list of NC state parks, things to do in Fayetville, NC, Goldsboro, and Concord, NC.

Free North Carolina Bucket List

Asheville Bucket List

Located in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, Asheville is a haven for art lovers, food enthusiasts, and nature seekers.

With its vibrant arts scene, farm-to-table culinary delights, and breathtaking mountain vistas, this city offers a unique blend of creativity and outdoor adventure.

  • Enjoy breathtaking views of North Carolina with a scenic helicopter ride.
  • Take a guided walking brewery tour and enjoy samples.
  • Have a spooky evening with a haunted pub crawl.
  • Explore the property of The Biltmore, or stay the weekend.
  • Have lunch at The Biltmore café, Stable Cafe.
  • Relax with a wine tasting at Biltmore Winery.
  • Check out the Asheville Gem Mine store.
  • Marvel at the beauty of the Basilica of Saint Lawrence Church.
  • Have a hotdog from Celebrity’s Hotdog.
  • Have fun at the Asheville Pinball Museum.
  • Admire the architecture of The Grave Arcade shopping mall.
  • Treat yourself to something decadent at The Chocolate Fetish.
  • Attend a concert at the Asheville Symphony Orchestra.
  • Stroll through the River Arts District.
  • Dine at Zambra.
  • Eat at 12 Bones Smokehouse River.
  • Visit Riverside Cemetery.
  • Wander around the WNC Farmers Market.
  • Relax at Still Point Wellness Spa.
  • Visit The North Carolina Arboretum.
Aerial view of Asheville in North Carolina.

Blue Ridge Mountain Bucket List

Spanning across the western part of North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Mountains provide a majestic backdrop of rolling peaks, lush forests, and cascading waterfalls. 

This mountain range offers endless opportunities for North Carolina outdoor activities such as hiking, sightseeing, and breathtaking scenic drives. 

  • Take a self-guided driving audio tour along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
  • Visit during fall to see the colors change.
  • Enjoy a hike and yoga on Blue Ridge Mountain.
  • Hit the slopes of Appalachian Ski Mountain (Boone) during winter for ski days.
  • Explore Mount Mitchell State Park.
View across the evergreen tree tops of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina

Charlotte Bucket List

Known as Queen City, Charlotte boasts an arts scene, diverse culinary offerings, and sporting events. 

Explore its museums, fun tours, and neighborhoods.

  • Discover more about the history of Charlotte in this fun Segway tour.
  • Get spooked with a haunted walking tour.
  • Do a scavenger hunt.
  • Gather your friends for a 4-hour private party tour.
  • Spend the day with your kids at Discovery Place Science.
  • Enjoy a meal at The Capital Grille.
  • Check out what shows are playing at the McGlohon Theater.
  • Visit the Nascar Hall of Fame.
  • Catch a game at BB&T Ballpark.
  • Have a meal at The King’s Kitchen.
  • Explore the Mint Museum.
  • Watch a football game or check what concerts are scheduled at The Bank of America Stadium.
  • Eat at the Midnight Diner.
  • Check out the ImaginOn Children’s Library.
  • Learn about life in the early 1800s at the Historic Rosedale Plantation which presents information on “the five generations of the Frew, Caldwell and Davidson families, and the enslaved and free African Americans that lived and worked on the land.”
  • Dine at Rooster’s Wood Fired Kitchen.
  • Admire the architecture of the Fourth Ward neighborhood.
  • Check out the menu at Cabo Fish Taco Baja Seagrill.
  • See what is happening at the Knight Theatre for the Arts.
  • Treasure hunt at The Sleepy Poet Antiques Mall.
  • Enjoy BBQ at McKoy’s Smokehouse and Saloon.
  • Visit the Metalmorphosis Status.
  • Learn about the history of the area at the Charlotte Museum of History.
  • Go to Hall Family Farm for a fun-filled day.
  • Splash around at Ray’s Splash Planet.
  • Visit the Old Settlers Cemetery.
  • Check out the Museum of Illusions in Charlotte.
  • Visit Olde Mecklenburg Brewery.
  • Stroll through the Wing Haven Gardens.
  • Shop at Charlotte Premium Outlets.
  • Spend a few hours in nature at McDowell Nature Center and Preserve.
  • Test your skills at Timed Out Escape rooms.

You may also like our list of things to do in Charlotte and romantic things to do in Charlotte.

Aerial view of Downtown Charlotte North Carolina's Skyline with Truist Baseball field

Durham Bucket List

Located in the central part of the state, Durham is known for its rich history, thriving research institutions, and innovative spirit.

Get ready to find some of the best things to do in North Carolina as you explore this city during your visit.

  • Walk around the Sarah P. Duke Gardens.
  • Take a walking tour of Duke University.
  • Visit the Duke University Chapel.
  • Learn about the Civil War at Bennett Place Historic Site.
  • Spend a few hours exploring the Museum of Life and Science.
  • Cool off with a treat from Pelican’s SnoBalls.
  • Watch a baseball game at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
  • Stop for lunch at Parker and Otis.
  • See what performances are happening at the Durham Performing Arts Center.
  • Sample hard cider at Bull City Ciderworks.
  • Indulge in ice cream from The Parlour.
  • Hike the Al Buehler Hiking Trails.
  • Browse the Durham Farmers Market.
  • Wander around the American Tobacco Historic District.
  • Check out shows that are playing at the Carolina Theater.
  • Eat at The Blue Note Grill.
  • Make an appointment to view the V & E Simonetti Historic Tuba Collection.
  • Enjoy a sandwich from Jason’s Deli.
  • Grab a cup of coffee from Cocoa Cinnamon.
  • Have some fun at Bull City Escape Room.
  • Dine at The Refectory Café.
  • Have a picnic at Eno River State Park.
  • Explore the West Point on the Eno.
  • Get a glimpse of life in the early 1800s at Stagville State Historic Site, the largest plantations in North Carolina which informs visitors about the lives and work of enslaved people on the plantation.
  • Taste the spirits at Mystic Distillery and Farms.

Read next: Things to do in Durham, NC.

Duke University Chapel in Durham North Carolina

Greensboro Bucket List

Greensboro, located in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, boasts both natural beauty and cultural attractions.

Visit the Greensboro Science Center, stroll through the lush gardens at the Greensboro Arboretum, and immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant arts scene. 

With its historic districts and lively downtown area, this place provides a delightful experience for those seeking fun activities in North Carolina.

  • Learn about Civil Rights history at the International Civil Rights Center and Museum.
  • Watch a live performance at Carolina Theater.
  • Discover the history surrounding the area at Greensboro History Museum.
  • Check out LeBauer Park.
  • Indulge at Cheesecakes by Alex.
  • Eat at Crafted the Art of the Taco.
  • Grab a smoothie from the Tropical Smoothie Café.
  • Admire the art exhibits at Ambleside Gallery.
  • Check out what is happening at The Greensboro Coliseum Complex.
  • Visit the Greensboro Science Center.
  • Learn about history at the Guilford Courthouse National Military Park.
  • Stroll through the Bog Garden at Benjamin Park.
  • Hike the trails at Lake Brandt Marina.
  • Browse the Antique MarketPlace.
  • Have fun at Wet’n Wild Emerald Pointe Waterpark.
  • Take a fun class at Reconsidered Goods.
  • Spend the day with your kids at the Greensboro Children’s Museum.
  • Eat at the Undercurrent Restaurant.
  • Let your kids burn off some energy at Safari Nation.
  • Enjoy dinner and theater at The Barn Dinner Theater.
  • Create a masterpiece at Nailed It DIY Greensboro.
  • Attend the Guilford Native American Association’s Annual Pow Wow.
Aerial view of Greensboro, North Carolina.

Outer Banks Bucket List

Prepare to explore the Outer Banks and tick it off your North Carolina to-do list.

This NC destination is a chain of barrier islands renowned for its stunning beaches, historic lighthouses, and rich maritime heritage. 

Whether it’s dining on fresh seafood or relaxing on the sandy beaches, this place has something for everyone.

  • Visit the Wright Brothers National Museum.
  • Explore Jockey’s Ridge State Park.
  • See wild horses at Currituck Beach.
  • Take this 4×4 tour to observe the horses.
  • Climb the Currituck Beach Lighthouse.
  • Pick up something sweet from Northern Lights Bakery.
  • Eat at The Dunes Restaurant.
  • Stroll along Jennette’s Pier.
  • Watch The Lost Colony performance at the Waterside Theater.
  • Enjoy an ice cream from Olde Towne Creamery.
  • Visit Fort Raleigh National Historic Site.
  • Wander around the Elizabethan Gardens.
  • Stop for lunch at The Hungry Pelican.
  • Experience what life was like for early settlers at Roanoke Island Festival Park.
  • Take a tour of Outer Banks Distilling.
  • Grab a sandwich from Poor Richard’s Sandwich Shop.

You may also like our guide to the best beaches in NC.

Cape Lookout Lighthouse in North Carolina

Pisgah National Forest Bucket List

If you love the outdoors and adventure, Pisgah National Forest should be on your list of places to see in North Carolina.

Located in the western part of the state, this spot is a nature lover’s paradise, offering enchanting waterfalls, scenic hiking trails, and breathtaking mountain vistas.

  • Slide down Sliding Rock.
  • Check out Looking Glass Falls and Looking Glass Rock.
  • Explore Moore Cove Falls.
  • Hike the Devil’s Courthouse.
  • Climb to the summit of Cold Mountain.
  • Visit the Pisgah Fish Hatchery.
  • Rent a bike from The Bike Farm.
  • Get your blood pumping with Pura Vida Adventures.
  • Take a tour of Pisgah Climbing School.
  • Learn how to paddle board with White Squirrel Paddle Boards. 
Autumn at Pisgah National Forest, NC.

Raleigh Bucket List

Serving as the capital city of North Carolina, Raleigh is known for its rich history, diverse cultural scene, and thriving technology sector.

Raleigh offers a wide range of North Carolina activities for visitors- including exploring the fascinating North Carolina Museum of History, strolling through the picturesque gardens of Pullen Park, experiencing the lively atmosphere of the historic City Market, and more.

  • Visit the North Carolina Museum of Art.
  • Walk around the JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University.
  • Explore Pullen Park.
  • Check out the exhibits at The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.
  • Learn about the State’s history at The North Carolina Museum of History.
  • Dine at Second Empire Restaurant and Tavern.
  • Have fun at the Marbles Kids Museum.
  • Enjoy all-day breakfast at Big Ed’s City Market Restaurant.
  • Watch a hockey game or a concert at PNC Arena.
  • Browse around the State Farmers Market.
  • Let loose at Frankie’s Fun Park.
  • Go for a hike at William Umstead State Park.
  • Pick up something sweet from Escazu Chocolates.
  • See what is playing at the North Carolina Symphony.
  • Learn about some of the history of Raleigh at Mordecai Historic Park.
  • Visit the Historic Oakwood Cemetery.
  • Find a new book at Quail Ridge Books.
  • Relax in the beautiful WRAL Azalea Garden.
  • Check out the exhibits at Artspace.
  • Sample the beer at Crank Arm Brewing Company.
  • Have a fun-filled day at Buffaloe Road Aquatic Center.
  • Enjoy some family fun at Adventure Landing Raleigh.
  • See the North Carolina President’s Monument.
  • Kayak on Lake Raleigh.
  • Take a canoe out on Lake Wheeler.
  • Check out the North Carolina State Fair in October.

You may also like our guide to things to do in Raleigh.

The outdoor park grounds of the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, which includes trails and sculptures

Wilmington Bucket List

Situated along the southeastern coast, Wilmington features a historic downtown, picturesque riverfront, and pristine beaches. 

Discover its rich maritime history, explore its lively arts scene, and soak up the sun on its sandy shores. 

This town offers a perfect blend of coastal beauty and Southern charm, making it an ideal destination to get started with your North Carolina summer bucket list.

  • Relax on a sailboat cruise.
  • Take a guided day tour on an electric bike or a scooter.
  • Wander around the Airlie Gardens.
  • Eat at the Famous Toastery of Wilmington.
  • Check out the Battleship North Carolina.
  • Have dinner and a beer at Front Street Brewery.
  • Satisfy your sweet tooth at Kilwin’s Ice Cream and Candy.
  • Wander around the Historic District.
  • Stroll along the lovely Wilmington Riverwalk.
  • Take a tour of the Bellamy Mansion.
  • Dine at Savorez.
  • Learn about the history of Wilmington at the Cape Fear Museum.
  • Check out The Peppered Cupcake for a sweet treat.
  • Go for a wine tasting at Noni Bacca Winery.
  • Spend a few hours at the Wilmington Railroad Museum.
  • Stop for a meal at the Copper Penny.
  • Explore the Cameron Art Museum.
  • Take a boat tour of Henrietta III.
  • Spend the morning with your kids at The Children’s Museum of Wilmington.
  • Take a tour of the Antebellum Victorian Zebulon Latimer House, who state they are improving their “representations of what life was like for both the Latimer family and the enslaved people—and later, servants who lived there” although the website doesn’t reflect this.
  • Have a fun-filled day at Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park.
  • Eat at Casey’s Buffet Barbecue and Home Cookin.
  • Kayak to Masonboro Island Reserve, which can only be reached by boat.
  • Visit the historic Wilmington Oakdale Cemetery.
  • Spend some time at Greenfield Park.
  • Let loose at the Green Light Escape Room.
  • Have a unique experience at The Museum of The Bizarre.
  • Check out the Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden.
  • Start your day with breakfast from Our Crepes and More.
  • Let your inner child out at Battle House Laser Tag.
  • Visit the Poplar Grove Plantation Museum to learn more about the history of the Gullah Geechee people.

Looking for more things to do in this town?

Read our guide to fun things to do in Wilmington and check out our favorite romantic things to do if you’re taking a special someone for a getaway.

Wilmington Riverwalk at twilight

Final Thoughts

We hope our NC bucket list guide provided you with lots of ideas on what to do in North Carolina.

What are your favorite places or activities in the state? Tell us in the comments.

Our North Carolina Travel Guides

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