The best place to visit in North Carolina
Tourist Attractions

The 12 Best Places in North Carolina to Visit This Year

North Carolina is a popular destination for tourists from all over the world. With so many amazing places to choose from, it can be hard to know where to go. To help make your decision easier, we’ve compiled a list of the best places to visit in North Carolina based on traveler ratings and reviews. So whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway spot or an adventure playground, there’s something for everyone in this metropolis!

The Best Place to Visit in North Carolina

Riverbanks Zoo & Garden

  • Address: 500 Wildlife Pkwy, Columbia, SC 29210, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.7 (17829)
  • Phone: +1 803-779-8717
  • Website: Link
  • Opening hours:
    Monday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Tuesday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Wednesday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Thursday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Friday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Saturday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Sunday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
The best place to visit in North Carolina
The best place to visit in North Carolina

5 Replies to The 12 Best Places in North Carolina to Visit This Year

  1. Riverbanks zoo reminds of Animal Kingdom set in good old Disney World without the financial hard ship going there. Riverbanks is simply an amazing zoo. I would recommend setting aside 3-4 hours to see everything, this of course is set with a two old in mind. We stopped and saw just about everything and even petted some very friendly goats. Some stuff does cost extra, $20 on the zoo card will be more than enough for two children.The giraffe feeding stops at 1:30pm so if that is on your agenda I would get in line early. We went on a Sunday and the crowds were not too bad. We will definitely become frequent visitors. 10/10 I highly recommend.

  2. The zoo was awesome! There were a lot of nice animals, and the enclosures/habitats were more than adequate for the animals. Healthy animals! My favorite places to visit had the flamingos and the lions. They had a grizzly bear, which I had not seen before. The botanical gardens were nice, as well. Small, but nice. There is a tram that takes you from the zoo to the garden. It took me and my partner about 3.5 hours to do the zoo and the garden.

  3. We really enjoyed our trip here over the weekend.

    The layout was perfect for making a lap around the entire zoo in order to see everything easily and efficiently.

    All the employees we spoke with were friendly and knowledgeable.

    It was unfortunate that several attractions were under construction during our visit, but it didn’t affect the overall experience.

    I will say you will definitely get your money’s worth, the sooner you decide to visit. Especially if you’re bringing children.

  4. Riverbanks Zoo & Garden is fabulous! We absolutely love it here and have been visiting regularly for 10+ years. The animal variety is second to none. The layout of the zoo flows very nice to ensure you can enjoy each stop to see all that it offers during your visits. The staff do a great job of keeping the zoo very clean and safe. They are very, attentive, and provide excellent service every time we are there. The expansions keep coming and continue improving and evolving this Zoo into one of the best visits you and your family can make.

    If I was going to provide a critique, I would recommend more fans through out the park. South Carolina (especially in the midlands) can get very hot and humid during the summer months and that heat can make visiting the park a less than pleasant experience if you are not use to the heat down here (heck even if you are 😂). More fans through out the park would add to the already amazing atmosphere and help create some more much needed cool zones through out.

    One last add. Please visit during the Halloween and Christmas events. They are fantastic and highly recommended. For adults the Brew at the Zoo is one of the best attractions around. Enjoy!

  5. This small zoo was awesome! Exhibits seemed nice bringing the animals up close but giving them some space too. Giraffes were galloping around, gorillas were performing for us and just a beautiful day. The cost was about $20 military with discount + $5 parking. It was well organized and easy to navigate.

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Top 12 Tourist Attractions in North Carolina

The best place to visit in North Carolina
The best place to visit in North Carolina

North Carolina Museum of Art

  • Address: 2110 Blue Ridge Rd, Raleigh, NC 27607, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.8 (8545)
  • Phone: +1 919-839-6262
  • Website: Link
  • Opening hours:
    Monday: Closed
    Tuesday: Closed
    Wednesday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Thursday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Friday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Saturday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Sunday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Reviews:
    What a nice community resource! The grounds are lovely. This is both an indoor and outdoor experience. The West Building has the permanent collection, and it’s very decent with a few big names (Raphael, Monet, Rodin). Loved that everything is free. Lots of outdoor space designated for events and short walks/hikes.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Michael Stephens (9 months ago)
    This art museum was under construction when we went but they still had a lot to see. We saw the very cool exhibits inside and they have a vending machine to purchase little handmade art pieces, which was a lot of fun and we got some cute things. The best part was the outdoor exhibits. They have amazing architecture and I want to return soon! It is also a great walking track for families and pets. Tons of parking.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Brave Root (3 months ago)
    This place is free? I just don’t understand how this huge place is free for all to enjoy. Amazing grounds, fun sculptures, interactive art,nature beautifully maintained, extensive walking trails… I could go on about the unique gem that this place is, but instead I say go see for yourself.

    All the amenities too, free parking, access to a cafe, bicycle rental, great places to relax and take a break.

    The only thing that it might be worth knowing before going is if you mainly want to stay indoors call before you go, on our particular visit the west building was closed and the east building has a large number of exhibits getting redone, so if you plan was not to be outside and walking around talking it all in you may not have enjoyed it as much as there would be limited things to see.

    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Simi (4 months ago)
    The entire experience at this museum was exceptional!

    Outdoor areas are great, very peaceful and lots of sculptures. There is a lot of walking involved, so wear comfortable shoes.

    There are multiple nature trails as well as the outdoor exhibits, they are very relaxing and you can rent a bike. We also had lunch at the cafe and would recommend.

    The indoor exhibits are simply amazing! There is something for everyone, from Renaissance portraits to the ancient Egyptian collection to the Roman mosaic to the modern art. There is so much to look at and I would have spent a whole week there wandering around. There is also an interactive area that is fun for little and big kids, and even adults.

    Everything about this museum is great, and I would definitely recommend this for any art lover.

    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Maya Brogan (MayaB) (9 months ago)
    Of all the gems that North Carolina has this may just top the list!!! The outdoor exhibits are stunning! The grounds are spectacular! The traveling exhibit are always intriguing and beautiful. The museum store is so amazing and is filled with fun souvenirs. Not to mention the restaurant which has some delightful options. overall, you can spend a good half day here and have a wonderful time with the family.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Bugs Subu (4 months ago)

U.S. National Whitewater Center

  • Address: 5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy, Charlotte, NC 28214, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.7 (8338)
  • Phone: +1 704-391-3900
  • Website: Link
  • Opening hours:
    Monday: Open 24 hours
    Tuesday: Open 24 hours
    Wednesday: Open 24 hours
    Thursday: Open 24 hours
    Friday: Open 24 hours
    Saturday: Open 24 hours
    Sunday: Open 24 hours
  • Reviews:
    Had an amazing time here on a weekend. We were lucky to visit on the day they had the build your own boat event. It was packed and there was an amazing atmosphere. It was fun to watch the enthusiasm with which people cheered and the creativity and resourcefulness of the participants. I personally tried the mountain bike rental for the first time and enjoyed it. My friend tried the rafting and had a great time as well. They have a huge number of trails to explore and a wide range of activities (zip lining, rock climbing, rafting/ice skating) to choose from. Perfect spot to spend a day outdoors.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Chetan Suresh (3 months ago)
    Wow this place is amazing and has many outdoor adventures you can try. I brought my Mountain Bike to ride the 50+ miles of trails and it definitely didn’t disappoint. They also have rafting, kayaking, zip lines, walking, running trails and it’s just a great place to bring your family for a day of outside adventures.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Don Savage (6 months ago)
    Absolutely one of the best adventures available. Four of us had a fantastic time.

    Zip line very fun. 100 foot drop/jump. Seriously I was a great big baby.

    The staff member at the top of the stairs on the tower was Sooo sweet and patient with me. Walked me through it kept me completely safe. Scared totally.Safe absolutely.A complete blast yes.

    Do it again? Of course. Seeing the children with zero fear totally embarrassing.

    Rafting through the rapids so easy. 3 of us tried our best to fall out of the raft. But we stayed in and made it through 4 sets of runs.

    The rafts are safe, the staff super attentive. The equipment seemed quality. An hour went way too fast

    Good food, clean park, easy parking, ginormous 400 plus acre site. So many staff members.

    I was completely impressed

    Great store with fantastic equipment, supplies, clothing. Top notch.

    They provide everything you need to enjoy your day.

    This is a must see and experience adventure.

    ✭✭✭✭✭ By S R (8 months ago)
    One of the best places in the Charlotte area. They have something for everyone to enjoy the outdoors. From hanging out in the shade people watching to trail running, mountain biking, zip lining and climbing. Seriously, there’s also yoga and kayaking and I could go on. The facilities are well kept and maintained and the trails are well managed. Events (races) are run efficiently and are adorable. Love love love the whitewater center.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Pinky Parsons (7 months ago)
    This place is so fun and amazing! Definitely worth the drive from Hampton roads! From the customer service(shout-out to Mr. Bill in guest services) to the instructors. Customer service is not lacking. Everyone was pleasant, knowledgeable and enthusiastic about helping customers. The facility was very clean! Adventure Rafting was SOOO fun & I can’t wait to come back and try a full day pass to experience everything and even Big Water. Thanks for the incredible experience !!!
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By C.T Williams (4 months ago)

Pullen Park

  • Address: 520 Ashe Ave, Raleigh, NC 27606, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.7 (7112)
  • Phone: +1 919-996-6468
  • Website: Link
  • Opening hours:
    Monday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
    Tuesday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
    Wednesday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
    Thursday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
    Friday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
    Saturday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
    Sunday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Reviews:
    Beautiful public park with a great history. The old rides are really nice. I love how they have preserved the carousel, It feels like stepping back in time. Very family friendly with lots of activities. The rides I felt were reasonably priced at $2 each.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Liam Dobbie (5 months ago)
    Beautiful park with a large playground for kids of all ages. The train around the park was more fun than I thought and great for taking pictures. There is also a place to eat and a carousel here as well, and plenty of restrooms. You can even take a paddle boat out on the lake!
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Anthony Ferguson Jr (9 months ago)
    Very beautiful peaceful park with gorgeous nature and playgrounds. Cool thing that it’s close to the city and can be easily driven to in 15 minutes. Haven’t been there at the busiest , parking was really easy to find . There is a beautiful small lake on premises as well . Overall pretty park for relaxing
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Dmitry Trishkin (10 months ago)
    An absolutely beautiful park and great assett to the community! There are plenty of activities to keep any child happy for hours on end. Also, it’s worth noting that while the supervised activities close by 6pm, which google maps notes, the park and playground area stays open much later.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Taylor Jones (6 months ago)
    This is a 5 star park but only gave it 4 star due to lack of parking spaces. Otherwise beautiful serene peaceful park with natural beauty surrounding it. Definitely highly recommend taking the train!
    ✭✭✭✭ By MindfulLiving Bellevue (9 months ago)

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

  • Address: 45 Mitchell St, Bryson City, NC 28713, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.5 (5499)
  • Phone: +1 800-872-4681
  • Website: Link
  • Opening hours:
    Monday: 8:00 AM – 8:30 PM
    Tuesday: 8:00 AM – 8:30 PM
    Wednesday: 8:00 AM – 8:30 PM
    Thursday: 8:00 AM – 8:30 PM
    Friday: 8:00 AM – 8:30 PM
    Saturday: 8:00 AM – 8:30 PM
    Sunday: 8:00 AM – 8:30 PM
  • Reviews:
    Such an amazing experience. The whole trip was about 4-5 hours long and so you can buy your lunch before the trip or pack lunch for yourself. The train ride was full of scenic forests, lakes, etc. The host and caretaker of each cabin was extremely nice and helpful with little drops of knowledge provided to the whole visitors. They also have a singer that entertains people with beautiful country songs. You do stop by a kayak/water rafting area for about an hour which was nice so you can rest for a little bit before heading back. Overall a amazing experience.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Peter Miral (5 months ago)
    We thoroughly enjoyed our trip! Kyle was our guide, and he was super informative and educated about the area. We had the first car with controlled climate, and has the meal service. Food was average but the train ride was awesome. No kids were on the car, so it was a nice trip for adults with some good humor to be had.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Bri Silvious (7 months ago)
    We went on the 5 hour steam train ride and it was great! We rode in the open air car and the speed was perfect to help keep us cool on a VERY hot day but not windy at all. So if the wind is a reservation for you, it’s not a problem. It was so nice having wide unobstructed views! The only time it was stuffy was waiting to move before getting started and when leaving the NOC. Employees were all friendly! Bring on your own snacks or you can purchase from the concessions car.
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Jessica S (6 months ago)
    I enjoyed the ride, but it wasn’t what I expected for the price. I thought it would be more than just a ride since you get to stop at a small town for a short stay. There wasn’t much at the stop and they stop past the town location so you have to walk a good distance back to it. There really wasn’t much there either. If you decide to go be quick as you don’t have much time to enjoy it especially since the walk is quite a ways. We had older family members with us and it would have been impossible for them to make it there and back during the short stay. If I did it over I would take a picnic lunch and that would be more enjoyable to me since there are picnic tables at the stop and you won’t have to spend the whole time walking back and forth between the small town and the train stop.
    ✭✭✭ By Earl (2 months ago)
    Easily the highlight of any trip to the Bryson City area. Our waiter/guide (Kyle) was extremely knowledgeable and intelligent. He knew so much about the history of the area and was able to fill us in, all while making sure we were well fed and had plenty of booze!
    ✭✭✭✭✭ By Mark Shapiro (7 months ago)

South Carolina Aquarium

  • Address: 100 Aquarium Wharf, Charleston, SC 29401, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.5 (5294)

Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens

  • Address: 1235 Long Point Rd, Mt Pleasant, SC 29464, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.5 (4418)

Sri Venkateswara Temple of North Carolina

  • Address: 121 Balaji Pl, Cary, NC 27513, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.8 (1422)

Beech Mountain Ski Resort

  • Address: 1007 Beech Mountain Pkwy, Beech Mountain, NC 28604, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 3.6 (924)

Sri Shirdi SaiBaba Mandir of North Carolina

  • Address: 1150 SW Maynard Rd, Cary, NC 27513, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.7 (362)

Carolina Basketball Museum

  • Address: 450 Skipper Bowles Dr, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.8 (360)

Downtown Raleigh

  • Address: 300 Fayetteville St, Raleigh, NC 27602, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.4 (83)

Ebenezer Church Recreation Area

  • Address: 2582 Beaver Creek Rd, Apex, NC 27523, United States
  • Map: Click here
  • Rating: 4.6 (60)

Although North Carolina is a large state with many amazing places to visit, these 12 locations stand out as the best according to traveler ratings and reviews. Did your favorite spot make the cut? Let us know in the comments above!