4 Essential Tips for Planning Your First Vacation to North Carolina

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4 Essential Tips for Planning Your First Vacation to North Carolina

First-time visitor to the Tar Heel State? You’re in for all sorts of treats! North Carolina has tons of value to offer to the adventurer who knows where to look. Now, most travel guides out there will list the must-see events and attractions, and remind you to be smart and versatile when packing your essentials. And they’re right. But here’s what you need to know to actually plan for those essentials.

Plan your timing

Take some time to do your homework on North Carolina tourist seasons before you book any tickets or start prepping for a road trip. Like most destinations, the state experiences a greater influx of people at certain times of the year. That means a big crowd, more noise, more waiting in lines, possible traffic congestion, and possible changes in prices. You have to decide what you’ll put up with and what it’s worth to you.

For example, If you absolutely resent crowds, you might want to go in the off-season. Weigh that against the likely weather – most people like to travel when it’s nice, so the price of peace might be rain or cold. Also, consider timing on a daily level.

NC doesn’t allow alcohol sales or serving before 7 am and past 2 am Monday through Saturday. On Sundays, nobody will sell or serve you alcohol before 12:30 pm. If you like to party, keep those hours in mind so you can have your fun without getting in trouble.

Photo by Chuck Givens on Unsplash

Plan for the climate

Whatever season you pick for your visit to North Carolina, keep in mind that the weather and temperature will heavily depend on local geography. NC as a whole has a moderate climate, but the terrain is vastly different across the state. There are mountains, caverns, beaches, coastlines, islands, urban scenes (yes, cities count as a separate kind of geographical factor), and lakesides.

You can surf the state’s official web pages to see what the weather authorities and travel agencies have observed and what they predict and advise for the year. You can also look for insight from travelers’ forums and NC-based online communities. Use their information to plan the bulk of your clothing and footwear.

Have an idea of what to do if it rains during your visit, how to layer properly, etc. You might also want to revise your sun protection habits: SPF, accessories like hats and sunglasses (you need those even in winter!), proper hydration, and so on.

Plan your accommodation

There are a fair few options when picking where to stay for your North Carolina adventure. Depending on your specific destination, priorities, and budget, you can explore hotels of varying levels of luxury, private beach houses, Greenville NC apartments for city vacationers, or charming cabins for those who prefer a rustic experience (especially in the mountains).

Whatever accommodation type you’re interested in, do your due diligence. Do a basic check on the hotel company, rental agency, property manager, or cabin owner. Hotels and agencies nowadays can’t do business unless they have a strong online presence, which means plenty of user reviews for you to get an idea of what staying there is like.

Private properties might not be so obvious on the net, but if anyone has stayed there for a vacation before chances are they’ve shared their experience somewhere. Remember that lodging deals in NC follow a somewhat different schedule than the rest of the US, mostly because the school season over there ends in early June and starts in mid-August.

Photo by Parsa Mahmoudi on Unsplash

Plan your activities

Of course, it’ll depend a lot on where specifically you’re visiting and how long you’ll be staying for, but generally speaking, North Carolina tends to have options for literally everyone – and then some variations to boot.

For example, say that you love art and definitely want to see some on your vacation. You can book a tour of an art museum, visit a local exhibit, or go explore amazing beach murals on your own. It’ll be easy for you to find recommendations for activities, sightseeing, dining spots, bar crawls, events, etc. all around the web, so we’d like to point out something else.

Consider doing a base-and-road vacation model. Pick a city or town to book accommodations in (your base of operations) and then go on day trips to different places every day of your vacation.

Basically, make your NC trip include a bunch of mini-trips to make the most of your time and try as many things as you can. That way you’ll have a much better idea of what to focus on for any future visit – and you’ll definitely want to come back to this jewel of a state.

To sum up, planning your very first vacation to North Carolina is more logistics than anything else. After all, even if you don’t feel like reading hundreds of articles on where to go and what to do, you can always observe the locals and see what’s going on that might be fun.

But knowing when exactly you’ll visit and where exactly you’ll stay will dictate your clothes, itinerary, accommodation, transportation, and everything else. Once you’ve visited a few times and got a feel for the state, you can plan more or less on autopilot and instead go hunting for the hidden gems that most tour guides don’t even know about.

Mike Johnston

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