What started out as a mobile ice cream truck in a converted school bus is now a full-blown brick-and-mortar shop. Located in downtown Durham, the Parlour offers a variety of cold treats, like sorbets and coconut milk ice cream, and warm treats, like vegan pastries. Owners Yoni and Vanessa Mazuz churn out creative flavors like rosewater stracciatella and labneh, made with cow or goat’s yogurt, olive oil and fresh mint.
Lovingly called the “Little Charleston of the Mountains”, Flat Rock houses quaint shops, art galleries and restaurants. The entire district of Flat Rock is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was home to famous American author Carl Sandberg during the last 22 years of his life. The Flat Rock Playhouse puts on a variety of live shows, from comedies, musicals and dramas. Whether you’re a churchgoer or not, visit St. John in the Wilderness Episcopal Church; it’s an architectural gem from 1833 with a magnificent, original organ and grave plots of aristocratic southern families.
Home to some of the world’s most beautiful natural beaches and unique wildlife, the Outer Banks’ five islands line the coast of North Carolina. Ocracoke, the most remote island in the Outer Banks, is rich in nautical history, most notably, housing the site where the pirate Blackbeard died. Each island has its own story to tell, be it about pirates, early English settlers or the Wright brothers’ first flight. But the Outer Banks’ main draw is its pristine, secluded, undeveloped beaches.
Chef and the Farmer
Vivian Howard, native North Carolinian, opened Chef and the Farmer restaurant with her husband, Ben, in 2006. A progressive Southern cuisine restaurant may seem out of place in Kinston, the least populated county in North Carolina, but Vivian and Ben’s mission is to revitalize the area and reinvent traditional, regional dishes, like Tom Thumb. The couple stars in a television documentary series on PBS which follows their journey managing the restaurant, raising a family and exploring easter North Carolina.
BBQ: East vs. West
No, barbecue itself is not unique to North Carolina. However, the pit masters’ cooking methods make North Carolina pulled pork special. In North Carolina, there are two ways to make it: smoke the whole hog Eastern style and serve with vinegar-based sauce, or just smoke the shoulder Western (Lexington) style and serve with a tomato-based sauce. No matter which side you’re on, there are plenty of places to get your barbecue fix. Wilber’s Barbecue is an eastern North Carolina legend while Lexington Barbecue rules the western part of the state.
You knew this one would make the list. The largest privately owned house in the U.S. sits on 8,ooo acres of land just outside downtown Asheville. Each of the 250 rooms in the main house are as opulent and breathtaking as the last. The Estate includes a winery, inn, gift shops and restaurants.
This quaint little Yadkin Valley town sits on the border of North Carolina and Virginia. It famously inspired the fictional town, Mayberry, from the beloved 1960s television comedy, “The Andy Griffith Show”. Fans of Andy and his show can visit his childhood home, the Andy Griffith Museum and even local shops featured in the show. Additionally, Mount Airy boasts a booming wine region with many local vineyards.
Wicked Weed Brewery
In the past 10 years, Asheville’s craft beer scene has exploded. Today, it boasts 21 breweries with Wicked Weed at the forefront of the movement. Last year, Wicked Weed opened the Funkatorium, a brewery and tasting room featuring exclusive Wicked Weed sour beers. The Wicked Weed breweries also offer non-traditional food that perfectly compliments the beers they serve.
Scuppernong Grape "Mother Vine"
The Mother Vine, the oldest known producing grape vine in the U.S., grows in Manteo, N.C. While Scuppernong and Muscadine grapes are available in other parts of the U.S., the original, oldest known Scuppernong vine grows in North Carolina. Scuppernong, a Muscadine grape variety, is native to North Carolina; it’s also the state fruit of North Carolina. Duplin Winery in Rose Hill is the longest operating North Carolina winery that produces Muscadine and Scuppernong wines.
North Carolina is home to the only federally recognized tribe of Cherokee Indians in the Eastern U.S. Direct descendants of Cherokee Indians occupy 100 square miles of land in Cherokee, N.C. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is a sovereign nation with its own governing system. A majority of the Native Americans still speak the native Cherokee language. The Oconaluftee Indian Village brings to life the Cherokee heritage with authentic homes, medicinal practices and artisan goods from the 1760s.
Grandfather Mountain – Situated in Linville, NC, Grandfather Mountain is one of the highest peaks in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It contains 16 distinct ecological communities and the famous Mile High Swinging Bridge. Hanging 5,280 feet above sea level, the Swinging Bridge straddles an 80-foot chasm on top of Grandfather Mountain. The bridge “swings” because it is suspended and easily swayed by the high wind speeds.
The Lost Colony
Discover one of North Carolina’s greatest mysteries – the Lost Colony of Roanoke. In 1590, a group of 117 British men, women and children disappeared from Roanoke Island without explanation. They were the first permanent settlers in America, yet, to this day, no one knows their fate. In celebration of these early pioneers, the Waterside Theater, located in the Outer Banks, puts on a play every summer called the Lost Colony.
Unique to North Carolina, this 398-acre amusement park in Charlotte features classic fair rides on a boardwalk, as well as modern thrill rides. The park also contains a water park, wave pool, children’s play area, multiple food vendors and Peanuts-inspired rides for kids.
If you’re a native North Carolinian, then you certainly know (or should know) the lovable Plott Hound. The Plott is the only dog breed indigenous to North Carolina, and, appropriately, it’s also the state dog. They’re typically hunting dogs with brindle-colored coats.
Sanitary Fish Market and Restaurant
Sanitary Fish Market and Restaurant – This 77 year-old seafood restaurant, famous for its friendly staff, fresh fish and souvenir t-shirts, sits on the docks of Morehead City, overlooking the Harbor Channel. The Sanitary Fish Market and Restaurant attracts millions of new and returning beachgoers and fishermen each year. Many patrons even dock their boats overnight at the restaurant. One of the biggest draws to Sanitary is the converted boat stern bar and hushpuppies, a crowd favorite.
Next: 11 Amazing Fall Sights During North Carolina's Autumn
There are certain things that make us distinctly American, like our affinity for fried food, baseball, large plots of land and blue denim jeans.
But within our great country lies individual states that also possess unique qualities, food, destinations and goods. We associate Texas with sprawling landscapes and country music, California with year-round sunny weather and posh Hollywood stars, Kentucky with barrel-aged bourbon and horse racing and, well, you get the picture. States pride themselves on the attributes that define their character and heritage.
Today, let’s look at 15 unique things that are only found in North Carolina. When you think of the “Tar Heel State”, you might think of the noted universities, Duke, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Wake Forest and North Carolina State. You might envision the breathtaking mountain ranges in the west and the secluded beaches in the east. Or maybe you don’t think of any of these things because you don’t know the first thing about North Carolina. Whether you’re a native or a newcomer, you’ll love learning about these 15 most unique things about North Carolina.