Category: North Carolina (page 1 of 2)

How Healthy is Hiking?

You know the saying “fresh air is good for you”? Well, it’s true. Getting outside in the great outdoors is good for your health, both mentally and physically. Your body will reap major benefits from hiking. Next time you’re going for a hike, remember how you’re doing your body good by taking your health to a new height.


Reduces Risk of Disease


Physical activity improves your overall health and quality of life. Therefore, hiking also improves your health. Hiking can lower your risk of diseases , like heart disease, strokes, anxiety, and diabetes. While you’re in the fresh air, you’re also doing your body a favor. Because hiking elevates your heart rate for the entire duration of your excursion, it keeps your heart healthy.


Tones Muscle


Like any other physical activity, hiking tones your muscles. Hiking is a weight-bearing activity that forces your muscles to push. The higher you go in elevation, the more your muscles work to get there. Hiking also strengthens your core, because your body attempts to balance as it climbs. It not only works your core, but your legs as well. For a full-body workout, you can also work your arms by using a walking stick or hiking poles.


Improves Sleep Quality


As you burn calories and engage in the fitness activity of hiking, you’re putting your body to work. When your body works hard, it makes it easier for your body to want sleep. This means that after hiking during the day, it will be easier to fall asleep at night. Getting a good night of sleep is good for your health because it not only improves your mood, but it helps you maintain your weight and heart as well.


Reduces Depression


Physical activity has been linked with boosting your mood. When you hike, your body is releasing “feel-good” endorphins that make you feel happy. Therefore, hiking has been found to reduce depression. The scenic views of hiking are a great bonus to getting physical activity, rather than surrounding yourself by the four walls of a gym. Through hiking, you can elevate your mood while you elevate your location.
Hiking is a great way to get outside and enjoy fresh air. While you’re taking the time to hike, you’re also taking time to benefit your body. Keeping your body in a healthy shape is key to maintaining a higher quality of life.

3 Amazing Things To Do In North Carolina

Living in North Carolina, I’m lucky enough to experience all of the beauty that the state has to offer. But sometimes, I forget that most others have never even been to North Carolina before, let alone the east coast. That being said, I would like to share some of the beautiful things that visitors can see and do when in the Tar Heel State. Here are, in no particular order, three things to do when visiting North Carolina.


Visit the Sarah P. Duke Gardens

For those of you who are curious about the flora of the Old North State, be sure to visit the Sarah P. Duke Gardens. Bringing in over 300,000 visitors each year, the Sarah P. Duke Gardens are located in the heart of Duke University. The Gardens’ Blomquist Garden is undoubtedly its most unique and enticing attraction. Featuring over 900 species of regional native plants, a wildlife and carnivorous plants section and a relaxing bird watching area, the Blomquist Garden is a botanist’s dream. The Gardens also feature an 18-acre Asiatic Arboretum, a series of historic gardens, a cafe and a souvenir shop. Bring the family for children and adult-oriented educational programs. With so much natural beauty to experience, Sarah P. Dukes Gardens are definitely a must see for North Carolina visitors and natives alike.


Family Fun at Carowinds

One of North Carolina’s more adrenaline-fueled attractions, Carowinds is an amusement park that packs as much of a punch as Six Flags or Universal Studios. With 10 heart-pounding rides—Afterburn and Hurler are standouts—Carowinds is guaranteed to prove a much needed escape from a stressful work week. And, for those that are not as keen on losing your lunch, Carowinds offers a bevy of family friendly rides, including Plants Vs. Zombies Garden Warfare: 3Z Arena and the Do-Si-Do. If you’re visiting during the sweltering summer months, make sure to visit Carolina Harbor, Carowinds’ water park. With food, fun and thrills, Carowinds is sure to offer an exciting trip to North Carolina, for both families and singles.

North Carolina Zoo

For those more interested in fauna, North Carolina’s got you covered. Visitors can enjoy a trip through Africa, with a multitude of wildlife that populates the African plains, featuring lions to elephants to sitatungas. From there, visitors can take a stroll through the R.J. Reynolds Forest Aviary which contains more than a whopping 3,000 exotic plants and several birds, from the Chilean flamingo to the amethyst starling. Finally, visit familiar yet exciting territory at the North America exhibit. Featuring animals from arctic tundras to swampy marshes, the North America exhibit features the most eclectic mix of animals throughout the zoo. The zoo even features several kid-friendly attractions and events and a 4-D theater that takes visitors on an exciting prehistoric adventure. All of this combined makes the North Carolina Zoo one of the nation’s greatest.

What to Do in North Carolina During the Winter

north carolina winter

Snow flutters, icicles hang, people shiver and the radio overflows with Christmas tunes. The holidays have arrived, and we’re all looking forward to a much-needed chance to reunite with family, catch up, sip some eggnog and have a great, relaxing holiday vacation.

For those of us on the prowl for a perfect place to come together with loved ones, the holidays can sometimes send us spiraling into stress. But finding a premiere location for your tribe’s holiday reunion doesn’t have to be an exercise in rising blood pressure; in fact, fun is a guarantee for any clan of adventurers willing to make great memories exploring the captivating winterscape of the Old North State this holiday.

As a North Carolina native, I’m proud to live in one of the truly gorgeous regions this country has to offer. If you’re a frequent visitor to my site, you might already know of the many outdoor wonders that wind, trickle and soar around North Carolina’s every corner. What you may not know is that seasonal shifts here result in a unique and unforgettable winter experience, and an excellent itinerary can be a tricky thing for those not intimate with everything the area has in store. To help, I’ve put together this list of exhilarating activities and must-see spots hidden in the wintry North Carolina countryside.

  1. The Outer Banks – Often overcrowded every other time of the year, the Outer Banks are all but abandoned during winter months, which leaves an ideal space for peaceful relaxation.
  2. Ice Climbing – Looking to feed your adrenaline craving? North Carolina winters are known to bring about some of the greatest conditions for ice climbing in the region. Beginners to the sport can use this site to schedule classes.
  3. Pilot Mountain – Photographers looking to hone their visual chops shouldn’t skip a visit Pilot Mountain, one of North Carolina’s most picturesque sights. Pilot mountain is a great getaway for hikers and non-hikers alike, as it is possible to drive to the summit.
  4. Dry Falls –  Have you ever walked under a frozen solid waterfall? If not, I highly recommend a winter trip to Dry Falls, where rushing water blends seamlessly with nature-sculpted icy masterpieces.
  5. Hawksnest at Seven Devils – If tubing is your thing, Hawksnest is your mecca. You won’t find better slopes to slide down anywhere in the East.  For scheduling and additional info, this is their site.
  6. Crowder’s Mountain – Maybe the cold is catching up with you. If so, you might consider a trip to Crowder’s Mountain. It’s south of Charlotte, so you’ll be spared winter’s worst while roaming one of nature’s greatest trails.

So be adventurous this holiday season, and give your loved ones an unforgettable North Carolina tour!


Jonathan Farber PhD | Must See Campsites in North Carolina

If you are looking to plan your next camping trip in North Carolina, I highly recommend these 3 camping sites:


3 Must See Camp-Sites in North Carolina


Summer time is here in full swing, meaning it is time to get outside and enjoy the beautiful and warm outdoors! Whether you want to plan a week long getaway or just a weekend trip, this blog post will go over all of my favorite places to plan a camping trip in North Carolina.

From camping right on the beach and playing in the Atlantic Ocean to hiking the beautiful Smoky Mountains, North Carolina is the place to go if you want to have some fun in the sun. Come for some hiking, biking, fishing, and my favorite, wildlife viewing.

Check out these three campsites for your next camping adventure in North Carolina:



This is a private campground that is nestled in the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains. If you are newer to camping, going with a private campground can help to alleviate any worries you may have. Campfire Lodgings has options for tent or RV camping, plus there are rental cabins, yurts, and the Cliff House. There are 100 acres of woods and more hiking and biking trails than you can imagine.



There are 10 campsites located in Great Smoky Mountain National Park that are accessible by cars and RVs. You can also do backcountry camping and there is a horse campground also available. For car camping, check out either Cades Cove or Smokemont campgrounds for RV and tent camping. This national park is full of wildlife viewing of elk, white-tailed deer, black bears, raccoons, and wild turkeys. There are waterfalls to hike back to, trails to bike and wander on, and beautiful fall colors to see while you are fishing the day away.



There is nothing quite like visiting the Outer Banks of North Carolina. There are beautiful beaches, marine life, and a way of life that slows down with the rolling in of the waves. At Cape Hatteras National Seashore you can choose from four different campgrounds. All of them have space for RVs and tent camping, and have dump sites, showers, and fireside grills. These campgrounds are ocean-side so you can fall asleep to the sound of the Atlantic Ocean. The Frisco Campground is located right in the sand dunes, whereas the others are separated by the beach with barrier dunes.

Summer in North Carolina


Summer is just around the corner, and with the earliest possible Memorial Day and the latest possible Labor Day, there are 15 exciting weeks of summer this year!! That means even more time to explore all that beautiful North Carolina has to offer during this extended season of possibilities! With long, warm summer nights just a few days away, I couldn’t help but day dream about all the fun that was ahead.

So pack your bags and hit the coast where people of all ages can learn how to surf the emerald green waters of Wrightsville Beach or Topsail Island or take a historical excursion and visit charming New Bern, where you can tour the birthplace of Pepsi!

If you like waterfalls, then planning a trip to Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina should definitely be on your bucket list! With so many hikes to chose from and so many breathtakingly gorgeous waterfalls, what are you waiting for? Check out a recent blog post I wrote to see my favorite waterfall hikes in Blue Ridge.

If beating the heat with a smile on your face is your thing, check out the U.S. National Whitewater Center where your entire family can raft, bike and climb your way to lasting memories. This $38 million whitewater park is the largest in the world and home to the U.S. Olympic team. You don’t have to be a medal-holder to take a guided raft trip on the challenging, 3/4-mile, artificial recirculating whitewater river, though. Alongside are mountain-biking and running trails, a climbing center, ropes courses, ziplines and a canopy tour.

And if you covet a respite from the heat, revel in an even more refreshing option like Transylvania County where you can enjoy a heart-racing slide down Sliding Rock into refreshing mountain waters or a romantic trek to any of the area’s 250 idyllic waterfalls.

Lastly, I suggest you join the millions who have walked across the famed Mile High Swinging Bridge — so named because the 228-foot suspension bridge with steel cables is a mile above sea level and spans an 80-foot chasm. On the way up are marked viewing areas to see bears, cougar, deer, eagles and more in their natural habitats. You can even watch playful otters above in the open and below in an aquarium-like viewing area!


Where will summer take you this year?

Best Waterfall Hikes In Blue Ridge Parkway


If you like waterfalls, then planning a trip to Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina should definitely be on your bucket list! With so many hikes to chose from and so many breathtakingly gorgeous waterfalls, what are you waiting for?

Here are some of my favorites, just to name a few:

Crabtree Falls

This gorgeous 70-foot waterfall along the Blue Ridge Parkway, near Linville Falls, is accessed by a loop woodland hiking trail. An easier 3-mile hike to and from on the same trail with a steady descent and return climb. Or a more strenuous 3.5-mile loop trail that climbs a ridge above the falls. It’s a beautiful hike, complete with plenty of wildflowers.

Graveyard Fields Waterfalls

This popular hiking area on the Blue Ridge Parkway has two waterfalls. Second Falls is just 1/3 mile walk from the Parkway. Upper Falls is on a four-mile loop trail in the mile-high meadow. The area got it’s name years ago from the tree stumps and surrounding trees that looked like grave stones in a graveyard setting.

Setrock Creek & Roaring Fork Falls

Setrock Creek Falls is a hidden gem of a waterfall in the Pisgah National Forest at the base of Mount Mitchell. Take two one-mile roundtrip waterfall hikes, just a few miles off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Grassy Creek Falls

Located adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway in Little Switzerland, Grassy Creek Falls is a multi-cascade waterfall. A gentle hiking trail takes you to a beautiful collection of cascades. It’s a two-mile round trip hike: a gradual descent to the falls, so a gradual uphill hike back.

Some General Western North Carolina Mountains Hiking Tips:

  • Tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return.
  • Do research ahead and print instructions on hikes (since cell reception in the mountains is limited.)
  • Go early to avoid crowds and heat, and to take advantage of daylight.
  • Take extra clothes and rain gear, in case of a quick weather change.
  • Wear layers and good hiking shoes.
  • Stay on marked trails. Do not disturb any wildlife or plantlife.
  • Take plenty of drinking water. Although it may be tempting, don’t drink from the streams.
  • Take a cell phone in case of emergency. Coverage is surprising good on some mountaintops, although it is very spotty in valleys.
  • Take hiking maps and snacks, especially if you are going on a longer trail.
  • If you have an emergency along the Parkway, call 1-800-ParkWatch. Otherwise, call 911.
  • Trail lengths can be misleading if the trail has a big elevation gain. We do have the highest mountains in the eastern USA.
  • Dogs are allowed on most hiking trails (on a leash), except in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. See Pet Friendly Asheville for more info.
  • Follow principles of Leave No Trace.

For more tips and info on other trails, visit

7 Helpful Hiking Hacks

Here are some tips, tricks and hacks that I have learned along the way through my many years of hiking. These easy and simple steps can have a tremendously positive impact on your hiking experience if you incorporate them into your routine, so what are you waiting for?

1. Even if you’re going on a short hike, bring the essentials.

Even if you're going on a short hike, bring the essentials.

REI / Via

You never know when something unexpected is going to occur that might take you a different path with more difficult terrain, or unexpected weather, etc… There is nothing to lose by being prepared!

2. Line your backpack with a garbage bag for extra rain protection.

Line your backpack with a garbage bag for extra rain protection.

If it doesn’t rain, you’ll have an extra bag for trash! If it does, hey! Your supplies will be protected!

3. If you’re prone to blisters in your hiking boots, coat those areas with petroleum jelly before putting on your socks and boots.

If you're prone to blisters in your hiking boots, coat those areas with petroleum jelly before putting on your socks and boots.

Hikers swear by this trick to prevent abrasive rubbing in certain areas, which can lead to bad blisters. Something as simple as having a small dose of this in your gear can make a world of difference on your hiking experience. 

Get more on info on foot blisters here.

4. Keep your phone in a plastic bag inside your backpack just in case.

You want to be prepared in case it starts to downpour out of nowhere or you fall into a river (hey, it happens)—keep your phone in a sealed baggie and all will be fine. And hold on to those takeout utensil bags—they are the perfect fit for an iPhone, and you can use them at beaches and music festivals.

Keep your phone in a plastic bag inside your backpack just in case.

Alison Caporimo

5. Even if you’re going for a short hike, BRING DUCT TAPE.

Hardcore hikers swear by duct tape, which you can use to waterproof ventilated boots, fix a cracked water bottle, and protect painful blisters. Or wrap a few feet of tape around a lighter. That way you can bring 2 essential tools without wasting any space in your backpack.

Learn more about how duct tape can save your life here.Or wrap a few feet of tape around a lighter.

6. Pack bandaids, antiseptic towlettes, a gauze roll, and a few aspirin in a prescription bottle.

The bottle will keep everything dry and in one place—and it’s mini size is perfect for packing light.

Get a list of hiker-approved First Aid materials here.

Pack bandaids, antiseptic towlettes, a gauze roll, and a few aspirin in a prescription bottle.

7. Bring binder clips so you can hang wet clothes off of your backpack.

Bring binder clips so you can hang wet clothes off of your backpack.

If you don’t have a clip, you can also wrap small pieces of clothing around handles and straps, but the binder clips help ensure they won’t fall off or get blown away.


“From the mountains to the woodlands to the coast, family experiences unfold on a variety of landscapes,” says Suzanne Brown, media relations specialist for VisitNC. “We are also a state with a full range of seasons, so there’s a variety of things to do all year.”

With so many options, finding the perfect destination for your next vacation or day trip can be a difficult decision. So to help, here are my top picks of fun outdoors activities to do in North Carolina:

See the wild horses along North Carolina’s coast.

North Carolina’s coast is home to several groups of wild horses: Corolla’s Wild Spanish mustangs; Beaufort’s wild horses at the Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve, Quarter horses, Shackleford Banks’ wild Banker horses; and Ocracoke’s Banker horses. In general, you can see the horses for free. All you need to see the horses in Corolla is a four-wheel drive vehicle so you can drive on the beach. Don’t have one? Several businesses offer four-wheel-drive guided tours.

Watch the sunset on top of Jockey’s Ridge.

There are very few spots in North Carolina where you can watch the sun set into a large body of water, but Jockey’s Ridge State Park is one of them. Through its popular Sunset on the Ridge summer program, you can climb to the top of the tallest active sand dune system in the eastern U.S. and watch the sun descend into the Roanoke Sound with the Atlantic Ocean behind you.

Take a plunge down Sliding Rock.

What could be more fun than a natural water slide?! Beat the heat this summer in North Carolina’s cool mountain water. Sliding Rock is a 60-foot natural waterfall/rock slide. At the base, there’s a 6-foot-deep pool for a refreshing splash at the end of your exhilarating slide.

See a bald eagle at Jordan Lake State Recreation Area.

Jordan Lake State Recreation Area has the largest population of bald eagles in the eastern U.S., and the best time to see one is during the spring migration (April-June). Arrive early morning or near dusk to increase your chances of spotting America’s national bird and find a location that gives you a wide view of the lake. Don’t forget your binoculars!

Admire the blue ghost fireflies in DuPont State Recreational Forest.

Chasing backyard fireflies at dusk is a favorite childhood activity, but you’ve probably never seen fireflies quite like these. Instead of a yellow glow, the blue ghost fireflies of Transylvania and Henderson counties emit a steady blue glow along the forest floor. The eerie light show is only about four weeks long starting in May and disappearing by mid-June. Check the Friends of DuPont State Forest website or call for information about occasional guided tours.

Climb to the top of Hatteras Lighthouse.

It’s a pretty steep climb with 257 steps, but you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous views from the top of the tallest brick lighthouse in North America. You’ll also have a great view of the lighthouse’s previous home before it was relocated in 1999. The self-guided climb is not recommended for young children because of narrow stairs and only one handrail on one side.

Cross the Mile-High Swinging Bridge.

Named for its elevation, the Mile-High Swinging Bridge spans an 80-foot chasm. Originally built in 1952, the bridge was rebuilt in 1999 using galvanized steel for the cables, rails and floor boards. While there, visit the Grandfather Mountain Nature Museum, the 11 hiking trails and the seven wildlife habitats to see different animals such as deer, bald eagles, bears and more!

Visit the site of the first U.S. gold rush.

When you think of a gold rush, California immediately comes to mind, but you might be surprised to learn that the first gold rush in the U.S. actually occurred in North Carolina. NC state also led in gold production until 1848. Reed Gold Mine is now a historic site open for tours.

Climb to the top of Chimney Rock.

Take an elevator or make the strenuous climb up 26 stories of stairs to reach the iconic monolith, which is 535 million years old. From the top, enjoy the spectacular view of Lake Lure and the Hickory Nut Gorge.

While exploring the park, kids will love the discovery stations on the Great Woodland Adventure, an easy .6-mile hike to discover the lives of frogs, owls, chipmunks and more. Also, don’t miss Grady’s Animal Discovery Den with live animals, and make sure the kids visit Hickory Nut Falls, the second-highest waterfall east of the Mississippi River.

Visit one of Blackbeard’s favorite islands.

While on the island of Ocracoke, visit Teach’s Hole, a channel named for Edward Teach, the infamous pirate known as Blackbeard. Ocracoke was one of his favorite spots to drop anchor, and it’s also where he lost his life in a fierce battle. Young pirate fans will enjoy the Teach’s Hole “Blackbeard” exhibit and Pirate Specialty Shop.

Fall Festivals in North Carolina


With the jaw-dropping foliage and the vibrant inspiration stretching across the state, fall in North Carolina is bursting with possibilities and must see beauty. With the diversity of seafood, beer, and music festival options available to you, there is no way you’re going to visit North Carolina without wanting to stay here forever. Regardless of where you visit this fall, inspiration is sure to find you in North Carolina.

The 23rd Annual North Carolina Pecan Harvest Festival

The North Carolina Pecan Harvest Festival will be held on November 7, 2015 and celebrates the annual harvest of the pecan crop! The festival will be showcasing both local and regional arts & entertainment. Held in historic downtown Whiteville and anchored at the North Carolina Museum of Forestry the festival includes a parade, antique car show, a pecan cooking contest, and free activities for children including inflatables and a train ride!

Vist here for more info on this festival

Onslow Oktoberfest

Onslow Oktoberfest will happen on October 24, 2015 and will be held at the lovely downtown Riverwalk Crossing Park. There will be plenty of bratwurst, sauerkraut and beer for you to enjoy…and don’t forget your lederhosen!

Enjoy a day of family fun with over a hundred vendors. This is a great event to bring your kids to, with an awesome children’s area set up with a stage that will feature live entertainment, games, educational exhibits and a trackless train! Enjoy great bands and featured entertainers on the Main Stage throughout the day.

All proceeds benefit the local Soup Kitchen, Homeless Shelter and the Caring Community Clinic.

For more information visit

Touchstone Energy Cotton Festival

The annual Touchstone Energy Cotton Festival is set for November 7, 2015. The event brings over 10,000 people each year and is a celebration of the cotton farmer and their contributions, as well as the cotton farming and harvesting heritage that plays an important role in the Dunn area.

During the festival, the local cotton gin offers free tours through the gin so that everyone can see cotton production up close and personal. There are also several blocks of carnival rides and games, stages of entertainment featuring a variety of music, a classic car show, food and crafts, downtown shopping from some of the most unique shops you can find, freebies and more!

For additional information visit


KingFest has been rescheduled for November 7th, 2015 at King Central Park in King, North Carolina. Enjoy live music performed at the amphitheatre featuring 50s, oldies, bluegrass and gospel music. Also included in the day’s events are arts and crafts, children’s activities, a youth fishing tournament, a horseshoe pitching tournament, community-prepared country food, heritage demonstrations, miniature train rides, a classic cruise-in car show, kids’ Olympics, a corn hole tournament, contests and prize drawings. And ready for the best part?! Admission and parking are free!

For more information visit