Summer is one of our favorite times of the year. Not only is North Carolina a great place to visit in the summer, but it’s also a favorite time for locals because there are so many things to do in the summer in North Carolina. The flowers are blooming, and it’s easier to appreciate nature’s simple pleasures. The elevation in Western North Carolina means summers are cooler on the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau and outdoor activities like hiking and gardening are more tolerable.
When it comes to summer in the Carolinas, there are a variety of things to do in the summer in North Carolina. We recommend:
- Relaxing outside and enjoying the weather
- Go hiking and take in the natural landscape
- Visiting historic sites
Keep reading to learn how to have the ultimate North Carolina summer. Whether you live here year-round, part-time or you’re thinking about moving to North Carolina, this guide about all the things to do in the summer in North Carolina will help you plan for your best season yet.
Things to Do in North Carolina During Summer
Summer is a time for enjoying the weather and everything that comes along with it.
Whether you live in North Carolina all year or you have a second summer home you like to escape to, here are some things to do in the summer in North Carolina:
- Tend to your garden or plant a new one
- Have a picnic in your backyard or at a state park or destination around town
- Go camping
- Enjoy the weather and attend a local event
- Music concerts at The Village Green
- Get some delicious barbeque
What Can You Do at Home During Summer Break?
Whether you find yourself with some downtime during the summer or you’re looking for something to do to entertain the kiddos, there are a variety of things to do in the summer in North Carolina.
Western NC Mountain Garden Guide
Some people just can’t wait for summer because they know it’s one of the best times to tend to their gardens.
Here are some native plants to try planting in your Western North Carolina garden:
- Carolina Lupine, Thermopsis Villosa
- Bee Balm, Monarda Didyma
- Hydrangea, Hydrangea Quercifolia
- Oconee Bells, Shortia Galacifolia
- Crab Apple Trees, Malus Angustifolia
- Southern Magnolia Trees, Magnolia Macrophylla
When it comes to vegetables that grow well in North Carolina, NC State University says Western North Carolina is a great growing region since almost anything can grow well here.
Some vegetables that should do well in Western North Carolina include:
North Carolina Gardening Tips
If gardening and planting new trees, flowers, herbs and vegetables are your thing or something you want to try, you’ll need some gardening tips to set you up for success.
Start by assessing your yard. How much sunlight does it receive? Take note of the shady spots. See if you can determine the soil’s PH level, too. And take into account how much it rains. Determining these factors will help get you started. After you decide on what you want to plant, a local plant nursey can help get you started with the right materials and items you’ll need for your new garden.
Camping in Western North Carolina
Camping is a great thing to do in the summer in North Carolina because the weather is the most ideal. It’s a great summer activity for the entire family. Kids will love the adventure. Adults will enjoy the downtime and the peace and tranquility of being outdoors. And besides, where else in the United States is it as beautiful as Western North Carolina?
- Panthertown Valley in the Nantahala National Forest
- Mount Pisgah campground in the Pisgah National Forest
- Blue Valley Primitive Camping Area
- Ellicott Rock Wilderness
- Overflow Road Primitive Camping Area
What to Bring When Camping in the Mountains?
You want to be prepared when you’re out camping, away from the comforts of your home. Here is a camping checklist to help you prepare:
- Sleeping bags
- Tent and stakes
- Camping table
Best BBQ in North Carolina
There are a few places around the country that say they have the best barbeque, but we don’t think anything compares to North Carolina, and especially the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau in Western North Carolina. Nothing says summer like some good old-fashioned homemade barbeque.
Here are some popular barbeque places:
- On the Side BBQ in Cashiers
- Highlands Smokehouse in Highlands
- Cashiers Valley Smokehouse in Cashiers
Fun Things to Do in the Summer in North Carolina
Summer is all about spending time with your families and going on new adventures. After all, these are fun things to do in the summer in North Carolina:
- Lake Glenville offerings include boat rentals, hiking, waterfalls and the Pine Creek Recreation Area
- Celebrate summer with a local event
- Great Smoky Mountains Railroad
- Explore the Nantahala National Forest
- Check out the Blue Ridge Parkway
- See the historic Biltmore Estate
- Head over to Sliding Rock, a natural 60-foot waterslide.
Lake Glenville Summer Things to Do
Soak up that lake life for as long as you can and enjoy the juxtaposition of the mountains and the lake. This manmade lake in Jackson County features 26 miles of shoreline. Go swimming, boating, kayaking and more. Lake Glenville is especially popular around the Fourth of July.
Summer Events in NC
- Garden lovers won’t want to miss the Joy Garden Tour in July
- Get excited for Friday and Saturday outdoor concerts in Highlands from May through October
- Check out Concert on the Slopes in Sapphire in June
- July 4 fireworks
- The annual Franklin Area Folk Festival is a celebration of Appalachian heritage
- Groovin’ on the Green Summer Concert Series at the Village Green in Cashiers
Best Places to Visit in NC in Summer
Things seem easier in the summer. The days are longer and everyone seems more relaxed. Summer is a great time to do all the things you’ve been wanting to do. The kids are out of school and the weather is appealing. We wrote a blog about the 10 best hiking trails in Western North Carolina to help you plan your visit, including Frying Pan Tower and Secret Falls Trail.
Historic Places in North Carolina to Visit
History buffs will love visiting these historic sites. Some are in Western North Carolina and some are further away, but the day trip or weekend getaway is worth a drive.
Here are the best historic places in North Carolina to visit:
- Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills
- Zachary-Tolbert House in Cashiers
- Battleship North Carolina in Wilmington
- Reed Gold Mine in Midland
Outdoor Adventures in North Carolina
One of the best things to do in the summer in North Carolina is simply enjoying Mother Nature and the Great Outdoors.
Here are some family-friendly outdoor adventures in North Carolina we think you’ll love:
- Blue Ridge Mountains
- Blue Ridge Mountain Parkway
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- The Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail
- Panthertown Valley in the Nantahala National Forest
- Gorges State Park
- Grandfather Mountain
- North Carolina Zoo
Find a North Carolina Summer Home with Landmark
Living in the mountains in North Carolina is a treat and it’s truly one of the most relaxing places to live in the United States. This guide will help you have one of the best summers yet. Make a plan and do all the things to do in the summer in North Carolina or make a bucket list from this article and see how much you can do. The best part about living here is that you have the time!
Let us know what your favorite part about summer in North Carolina is, or if you have any other suggestions for summer activities in North Carolina.
We can also help you buy your next Western North Carolina home or sell your current one. Our team of professional real estate agents have lived on the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau for years and we’re passionate about sharing our slice of rustic paradise with our clients. Feel free to browse our available homes for sale in Highlands, Lake Glenville, Cashiers, Sapphire and Lake Toxaway. And be sure to let us know if you see something you like. We’re passionate about sharing our home and we can’t wait to help you find your North Carolina dream home!