From the mountains to the ocean’s edge, North Carolina has some of the best exploring on the East Coast. Summertime in the Tarheel State is perfect for all sorts of adventures, but remember, it gets hot! Luckily there are plenty of destinations throughout the state that will keep you cool when the sun is heating things up. Check out these 10 summer escapes to cool off in North Carolina:
Green River Narrows: North Carolina's most famous rapids call in whitewater enthusiasts from all over the world. Only for experienced kayakers, most of the rapids are narrow and technical. "The Green" drops at an average of 178 feet per mile over a distance of 2.88 miles. Due to the fact that they are dam released, these rapids are open roughly 300 days per year, are very consistent, and are runnable at high or low water levels.
The Natahala River: The Natahala Cascades are another classic example of Class V whitewater in the Blue Ridge Mountains. With five rapids stacked over 0.7 miles and a total elevation drop of over 200 feet, these rapids are great for intermediate and advanced whitewater kayakers. The Cascades are conveniently roadside, making shuttling relatively easy.
Lake Lure Beach: Located in an area of the Blue Ridge Mountains that is famous for hiking and rock climbing, Lake Lure Beach is a great place to cool off after an outdoor adventure. It's a fun destination for everyone, with watersports rentals, a small waterpark, and guided tours. There are also shops and restaurants right across the street.
Whiteoak Creek Falls: Whiteoak Creek Falls is right off the road, but the roar of the water drowns out any noise from nearby traffic. An easy walk from the parking lot, this beautiful waterfall has a deep pool and a rope swing.
Skinny Dip Falls: A popular spot to cool off in the summer, Skinny Dip Falls has multiple tiers with pools to swim in, and it is accessible by an easy hike through the woods. It's a well known spot, so if gets too crowded, there are other swimming holes an easy hike upstream. Don't let the name fool you- clothing is required!
Shackleford Banks: Located in Cape Lookout National Seashore, this undeveloped barrier island is a great place to camp, see wildlife, and enjoy the ocean. It's one of the two places in North Carolina where you can see wild horses on the beach! Getting to the island is half the adventure- it's only accessible by water, and though ferries run there from the nearby towns of Beaufort and Harkers Island, a more adventurous way to get there is by paddling over in a kayak.
Buffalo City Paddling Trails: If you're making the drive to the Outer Banks, these kayaking trails are a great stop along the way. Depending on how long you want to paddle, there are trails ranging from 1.5 to 5.5 miles long. You can even make your way into Alligator River and explore from there.
Atlantic Beach: If you're in the Beaufort area, Atlantic Beach is one of the nicest beaches to visit. Because it is south facing, this stretch of shoreline stays warmer throughout the year relative to other North Carolina beaches, but it is still perfect for cooling off on those hot summer days.
Coquina Beach: Considered one of the Outer Banks' most beautiful beaches, Coquina Beach is located in an undeveloped area of Cape Hatteras National Seashore. There are shower and restroom facilities just over the sand dunes, and there is an off-road vehicle ramp for those who want to drive south on the beach.
Corolla Beach: Famous for both its wild horses and the fact that you can drive right onto the sand, Corolla Beach is at the northernmost point of North Carolina's Outer Banks. Wide and sandy, this beach is a great place to spend the day, see wildlife, and stay cool in the ocean.