Jelly Fish at the Sealife aquarium

North Carolina Winter | 30+ Fun Things to Do 2023|2024

Looking for details on what a North Carolina Winter is like?

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North Carolina boasts a diverse range of attractions and features, but it’s not typically associated with extreme winters. That’s not to suggest that North Carolina lacks a winter season altogether; instead, the state experiences varying degrees of winter weather across its regions.

On average, North Carolina receives approximately 5 inches of snow annually. However, specific areas within the state exhibit differences in snowfall. The Piedmont region, encompassing cities like Charlotte and Raleigh, generally records around 6 inches of snow each year.

In the mountainous regions, residents and visitors can expect a more substantial 10-16 inches of snow annually. For those seeking a true winter wonderland, the town of Beech Mountain stands out, with an impressive average snowfall of over 60 inches.

The transition of seasons in North Carolina is a delightful aspect of the state’s allure. With its diverse landscapes, climates, and varying elevations, you can embrace an array of winter weather experiences.

North Carolina Winter

As you traverse the state, you’ll encounter varying degrees of snowfall and diverse winter experiences in the Mountain region, the Piedmont region, and the Coastal region.

The Mountain region, with its higher elevations, hosts the most intense winters in North Carolina. Winter-like conditions in this area extend from November to March, making it the lengthiest season. The coldest month in the Mountain region is January, when temperatures can plummet below freezing.

Moving to the Piedmont region, winters are generally moderate and less severe than in the Mountain region. While cold temperatures and occasional snowfall are part of the winter landscape, they are more manageable in this area.

In contrast, the Coastal region of North Carolina enjoys the mildest winters, with hardly any snowfall and daily temperatures that remain comfortably above freezing. This region offers a more temperate and welcoming winter experience.

Things to Do During Winter in North Carolina

Mountain Region

Winter activities come alive in North Carolina’s Mountain Region, where snowfall and colder temperatures create a playground of seasonal fun. If you’re looking for an exciting winter adventure in this part of the state, here are some delightful activities to look forward to:

❄️ Ski Resorts

The ski resorts nestled in North Carolina’s mountain region might not rival the grandeur of larger destinations, but they certainly bring their own unique charm and excitement to the area. With approximately six ski resorts to choose from, each one offers something distinctive and promises an excellent winter ski resort vacation.

Two of the top contenders for the title of the best skiing experience in North Carolina are Sugar Mountain Ski Resort and Beech Mountain Resort. Sugar Mountain is known for its accessibility and reputation, while Beech Mountain sets itself apart with an abundance of trails and a higher elevation reaching 5,500 feet.

Beech Mountain is especially beloved by the locals. Both resorts provide off-site lodging options, a variety of trails suited for all skill levels, comprehensive lessons, equipment rentals, and a host of other enjoyable winter activities.

Skybar at Beech Mountain Resort

For those inclined towards snowboarding, Wolf Ridge Ski Resort and Ski Sapphire Valley offer an enticing blend of snowboarding opportunities alongside traditional ski trails. While these ski mountains are smaller in scale, they make up for it with excellent amenities. Ski Sapphire Valley, in particular, is a favored choice among families and beginner skiers.

Additional ski resorts that have earned popularity in the Mountain Region include Appalachian Ski Mountain and Cataloochee Ski Area. Appalachian Ski Mountain stands out for its diverse selection of skiing experiences, the thrill of night skiing, and a calendar brimming with exciting events.

On the other hand, Cataloochee Ski Area holds historical significance as the first established ski area in the state, welcoming winter enthusiasts since 1961. With an extensive array of ski trails catering to all skill levels, it continues to be a cherished destination for snow sports aficionados.

❄️ Snow Tubing

Snow tubing, often considered the next best outdoor winter activity after skiing or snowboarding, promises fantastic fun for the entire family. In the Mountain Region of North Carolina, you’ll find a little over 15 excellent locations that offer premium snow tubing experiences.

Among these options, some of the most popular snow tubing spots are conveniently situated at ski resorts. These include:

Beech Mountain Resort Snow Tubing: Offering thrilling tubing lanes that are approximately 700 feet long, along with the added charm of night tubing, refreshments, and family-friendly fun.

Tube World at Cataloochee Ski Area: An ideal destination for tubing enthusiasts, providing a delightful tubing experience with lanes extending 700 feet. It’s a perfect place for both daytime and nighttime tubing.

Wolf Ridge Tubing: A fantastic choice for snow tubing, where you can relish the excitement of tubing down lanes that are around 700 feet long, and it’s an enjoyable experience for the entire family.

Sugar Mountain Snow Tubing: Known for its exhilarating tubing lanes, extending around 700 feet, this spot also offers night tubing for those who crave winter adventure under the stars.

Hawksnest Snow Tubing: One of the standout favorites in North Carolina for tubing enthusiasts, especially among the locals. Hawksnest stands out with an impressive array of 20 tubing lanes, ranging from 400 to 1,000 feet in length. What sets it apart is the fantastic viewing deck, where visitors can savor hot chocolate and snacks while watching the tubing action unfold below.

With such a wide variety of snow tubing options available in the Mountain Region of North Carolina, you can look forward to a winter adventure filled with thrilling descents and plenty of family-friendly fun.

Snow tubing rows

❄️ Winter Hikes & Frozen Waterfalls

Exploring the great outdoors through winter hiking offers a wonderful way to experience nature from a new perspective during the colder months. Winter hikes are a serene escape, often characterized by tranquility and a lack of crowds. All you need to do is bundle up warmly and ensure you have suitable footwear to embark on these snowy adventures. 

In the Mountain Region, you’ll discover a range of extraordinary winter hikes where you can frolic in the snow, traverse through enchanting forests, and encounter frozen waterfalls. While there are numerous winter hikes to choose from, here are some of our personal favorites:

BOOK A Waterfall TOUR
blue ridge parkway waterfalls crabtree falls

Blue Ridge Parkway Waterfalls Hiking Tour from Asheville

Explore the finest sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway with a guided day trip from Asheville, featuring visits to three stunning waterfalls.

Elk Knob State Park | Summit Trail: Situated on the Tennessee/North Carolina border, Elk Knob State Park features the Summit Trail, a 1.9-mile journey that leads you to the mountain’s peak. This trail treats you to breathtaking panoramic vistas and is particularly enjoyable during the North Carolina winter, offering a hike that is both invigorating and accessible.

Looking Glass Falls | Pisgah National Forest: This destination is renowned for its captivating beauty, and during the winter, it takes on a new allure as incredible ice formations grace the waterfall and its surroundings. Reaching Looking Glass Falls is a breeze, with an easy walk that leads you to the falls in under ten minutes.

Mingo Falls | Great Smoky Mountains National Park: The hike to witness Mingo Falls is not only easy but incredibly rewarding. You can get up close to the falls in the winter when they are entirely frozen over. The hike spans just over half a mile (resulting in a one-mile round trip) and commences at Mingo Falls Campground in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

These winter hikes in the Mountain Region of North Carolina promise unforgettable encounters with the serene beauty of nature, making them perfect for those seeking a peaceful and picturesque winter adventure.

Image of Mingo Falls

❄️ Museums in Asheville and Hendersonville

During chilly and inclement weather days, our inclination often leads us to seek indoor sanctuaries, such as museums. The region between Asheville and Hendersonville is home to a plethora of captivating museums, each offering a unique experience to cater to a diverse range of interests.

Here, you can discover an array of fascinating museums, including:

Henderson County Heritage Museum: Immerse yourself in the rich history of Henderson County through the exhibits and collections showcased in this captivating museum. It’s a window into the area’s past, providing insights into its heritage and evolution. Address: 1 Historic Courthouse Square #4, Hendersonville, NC 28792

Asheville Museum of Science: For science enthusiasts and curious minds, the Asheville Museum of Science is a treasure trove of knowledge. Explore hands-on exhibits, engage with interactive displays, and delve into the wonders of the natural world. Address: 43 Patton Ave, Asheville, NC 28801

Hands On! Children’s Museum: A haven for young explorers and families, this museum is a playground of learning and fun. It offers interactive activities and exhibits designed to stimulate curiosity and creativity in children. Address: 318 N Main St, Hendersonville, NC 28792

Hands On! Children's Museum

❄️ Christmas at the Biltmore

The Biltmore Estate stands as one of Asheville‘s most historic, grandiose, and sprawling architectural marvels, boasting 250 opulent rooms and an expansive 8,000 acres of picturesque land. For over 120 years, Christmas at the Biltmore has been a cherished tradition in the region, providing a heartwarming way to immerse oneself in the holiday spirit.

Biltmore Estate Christmas Outside with lights

This enchanting celebration at the Biltmore comprises three distinct events:

Christmas Daytime Celebrations: Spanning from November 3, 2023, to January 7, 2024, this event allows guests to bask in the magic of Christmas during daylight hours. Visitors are invited to wander through lavishly decorated hallways, admire the glistening holiday decorations, and marvel at the resplendent Christmas tree.

Biltmore Estate Christmas Library

Biltmore’s Candlelight Christmas Evenings: Taking place from November 3, 2023, to January 6, 2024, this evening event offers an entirely different and enchanting perspective. Tickets are required for this experience, which allows guests to revel in the mesmerizing beauty of Christmas lights under the cover of night.

Biltmore Estate Christmas Dining Area

The ambiance is further enhanced by the warmth of crackling fireplaces, live musical performances, and the soft glow of candlelight. Additionally, guests have the opportunity to purchase tickets for the Candlelight Christmas Dinner following the tour.

Winter at Biltmore: Taking place between January 8, 2024, and March 24, 2024, experience the lowest prices on tickets and overnight stays. Something new for this year: when you purchase tickets to the Biltmore House, you also include FREE next-day access to their grounds.  

Biltmore Estate

Read More: Our Guide to Visiting the Biltmore Estate during Christmas

❄️ Christmas Tree Farms

Exploring a Christmas tree farm is a heartwarming way to embrace the holiday spirit and relish cherished family moments in the great outdoors. In the Mountain Region of North Carolina, you’ll find an abundance of Christmas tree farms, each offering a unique and delightful experience. Here are some of our top recommendations:

Boyd Mountain Christmas Tree Farm | Waynesville, NC: Renowned as one of the finest Christmas tree farms in the region, Boyd Mountain stands out for its cut-by-appointment-only policy. This exclusive approach ensures a personalized and unforgettable tree selection experience.

C and J Christmas Trees | Boone, NC: C and J Christmas Trees is a delightful choose-and-cut Christmas tree farm, providing a range of activities and attractions. Families can enjoy Santa meet and greets, explore a selection of wreaths, and discover a wealth of festive offerings.

Appalachian Christmas Mountain Farm | Boone, NC: This farm offers a fantastic pick-your-own Christmas tree experience, creating lasting memories for visitors of all ages. The farm hosts engaging meet and greets with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, offers tiny trees for kids, and features charming hayrides through the picturesque landscape.

Exploring these Christmas tree farms in the Mountain Region of North Carolina not only offers the chance to find the perfect holiday centerpiece but also provides an opportunity to revel in the joy of the season and create lasting family traditions. The outdoor adventure and festive spirit make these farms a wonderful addition to your holiday celebrations.

Christmas Tree Farms near Boone NC

❄️ Enjoy Craft Breweries in Asheville

Savoring a robust craft beer is a fantastic way to gather with friends and make the most of the indoors on a chilly winter day. In Asheville, you’ll discover a multitude of welcoming breweries, each offering a delightful array of great beers, games, delectable food, and entertaining activities. Some even provide the additional allure of cozy fire pits on their outdoor patios, enhancing the overall experience.

Some craft breweries in Asheville with all of the above include New Belgium Craft Brewery, Wicked Weed Brewpub, and Wedge Brewing Company on Foundry Street.

New Belgium outdoor seating
BOOK A Brewery TOUR
Hi-Wire Outdoor Seating with lots of fun murals

3 Hour Brewery Bus Guided Tour in Asheville

All-inclusive, guided public and private brewery bus tours

❄️ Cross Country Skiing or Snowshoeing on The Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway boasts breathtaking beauty in various forms, and it also serves as an idyllic destination for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing enthusiasts. Among the favored routes are the Moses Cone Manor Carriage Trails, which offer an extensive network of over 25 miles of historic carriage trails that provide an ideal setting for cross-country skiing.

These trails are meticulously maintained, ensuring they remain in excellent condition, and they are easily accessible to all who seek a winter adventure amidst this stunning natural landscape.

Blue Ridge Mountains

❄️ Linville Caverns

Linville Caverns, nestled in Marion, North Carolina, offers a truly unique and captivating experience. It stands as the sole cave system open for public tours in North Carolina, allowing visitors to witness the mesmerizing natural formations of limestone stalagmites and stalactites. The allure of Linville Caverns is particularly pronounced during the winter season as the climate inside the cave remains a constant and comfortable 52 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year.

Daily guided tours, each lasting approximately 30 to 40 minutes, invite guests to explore the depths of the cave. As they journey through the underground wonderland, visitors are encouraged to capture the beauty on camera and savor the enchantment of the caves, including the intriguing blind fish that inhabit the cave’s subterranean waters.

Linville Caverns offers a unique and educational excursion that is especially enjoyable on a cold winter day, providing a cozy and awe-inspiring escape from the chill outside.

Piedmont Region

The Piedmont Region of North Carolina is known for its vibrant cities, significant museums, and sizable population. While snowfall is limited, the cold winters provide a backdrop for a variety of winter activities and festive holiday celebrations.

❄️ Raleigh Museums

Raleigh has earned the moniker “Smithsonian of the South” owing to its abundance of free museums. For those with a penchant for museums or a keen interest in history and science, Raleigh is an ideal destination for extended indoor explorations during the winter months.

The city boasts a remarkable array of museums, including the North Carolina Museum of History, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Marbles Kids Museum, and CAM Raleigh.

These cultural gems offer a wealth of educational and engaging experiences that make Raleigh a must-visit destination, especially for museum enthusiasts.

Raleigh Museum Sperm Whale

❄️ Charlotte Museums

Charlotte, renowned for its wealth of museums and cultural treasures, offers a myriad of opportunities for immersive exploration. A visit to Charlotte could easily fill your days with museum-hopping adventures.

Among the city’s captivating museums, some stand out as must-visit attractions, including the NASCAR Hall of Fame, The Mint Museum, Discovery Place Science, the Museum of Illusions, and Discovery Place Nature.

These cultural gems promise an enriching and engaging experience, making Charlotte an ideal destination for those seeking a deep dive into art, science, and history.

Mint Museum display

❄️ North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival

The North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival is a breathtaking holiday tradition that showcases the artistry of Chinese craftsmen through the creation of over 40 intricate lanterns and luminous displays. Among these captivating installations, you’ll encounter larger-than-life interactive features that beautifully encapsulate the essence of Chinese culture.

This enchanting festival is scheduled to run from November 17, 2023, to January 14, 2024, offering ample opportunities for visitors to experience its wonders. Tickets can be conveniently purchased online, with options that cater to various preferences, including night tickets, twilight experience tickets, VIP tour tickets, date-specific tickets, sensory-friendly night tickets, and tickets designed for large groups and students. 

The festival is held at the Koka Booth Amphitheater in Cary, NC. This cultural extravaganza is a must-see event that promises to leave visitors in awe of its artistic splendor and illuminating displays.

❄️ Nutcracker with the Charlotte Ballet

Witnessing the exquisite Nutcracker Ballet is a timeless holiday tradition eagerly anticipated each December. The dedicated dancers of the Charlotte Ballet invest their time and talent to deliver a breathtaking and grandiose Nutcracker performance.

This beloved ballet production will grace the stage at the Belk Theater in Charlotte, enchanting audiences on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and select Thursdays from December 8 to December 23, 2023. For your convenience, tickets are readily available for online purchase, ensuring you can secure your spot to partake in this enchanting holiday spectacle.

Nutcracker Ballet

Read More: Christmas Activities to Do in Charlotte, NC

❄️ Tanglewood Park Festival of Lights

Tanglewood Park’s Festival of Lights is a cherished annual tradition that transforms the park into an enchanting winter wonderland. Running from November 17, 2023, to January 1, 2024, the park will come alive with a dazzling display of thousands of twinkling lights and festive decorations. 

Visitors can indulge in the delights of horse-drawn carriage rides and hayrides, indulge in delectable treats at the s’mores station, and explore a gift shop brimming with holiday gifts, décor, crafts, and artisanal treats. This delightful event promises to envelop you in the magic and joy of the holiday season. You can visit Tanglewood Park in Clemmons, NC, just outside of Winston-Salem.

❄️ Illuminate Art Walk Raleigh 

The Illuminate Art Walk is a heartwarming annual community event that invites residents and visitors to participate in an art walk filled with holiday charm. From December 1, 2023, to January 1, 2024, this event unfolds in downtown Raleigh, with local artists setting the scene by adorning shop windows with creative holiday light installations. 

The event also features captivating large-scale interactive light art pieces that grace the streets, creating a stunning visual display. These beautifully crafted art pieces provide an excellent opportunity to bask in the holiday spirit and make for a wonderful family outing during the festive season.

❄️ Holiday Express At Pullen Park

The Holiday Express is an immensely popular holiday-themed train ride and event hosted at Pullen Park in Raleigh. This festive extravaganza features an abundance of holiday decorations and enchanting lights, making it a delightful family outing. 

The Holiday Express offers a rich array of activities, including a memorable train ride, kid-friendly dance parties, musical entertainment, arts and crafts, carnival games, Santa meet-and-greets, a whimsical carousel, delectable treats, and holiday beverages.

Holiday Lights at Pullen Park

In 2023, the Holiday Express is set to run for 17 magical nights, spanning from November 29 to December 15. To secure your spot at this beloved event, tickets will be available for purchase starting on October 4, 2023. 

Given the event’s immense popularity, it’s highly recommended to act swiftly, as tickets tend to sell out rapidly. The Holiday Express promises a joyful holiday experience that will create lasting memories for you and your family.

Train Decorated for the Holidays at Pullen Park

❄️ Winter Wonderlights at Greensboro Science Center 

Winter Wonderlights at the Greensboro Science Center is a mesmerizing light display that illuminates the zoo, creating a breathtaking spectacle. With millions of twinkling lights, enchanting holiday exhibits, interactive light displays, and a harmonious backdrop of music, it’s a heartwarming experience for all. One of the event’s highlights is the Snow Globe Theater, where animated penguins sing Christmas carols, adding to the festive ambiance.

Mark your calendars because this captivating event is set to run from November 3, 2023, to January 7, 2024. Experiencing the Winter Wonderlights at the Greensboro Science Center is an excellent opportunity to embrace the holiday spirit and promises to leave visitors with cherished memories and a warm glow in their hearts.

Read More: 50+ Great Things to Do in Greensboro NC

Greensboro Science Center

❄️ Christmas Town USA | McAdenville NC

McAdenville’s Christmas Town is a must-visit for families throughout the month of December. The entire town is magically transformed into a winter wonderland featuring 100+ decorated homes, millions of sparkling lights, festive music, a grand Christmas tree, and an array of events. 

The festivities commence with the Christmas tree lighting on December 1, followed by the Yule Log Christmas Parade on December 14. This is a fantastic thing to add to your things to do during a North Carolina winter.

Lighted Decorated House in Christmas Town USA

❄️ Ice Skating | US. National Whitewater Center

The U.S. National Whitewater Center, an expansive outdoor recreation hub featuring 30+ activities and sports, undergoes a magical winter transformation. The Upper Pond becomes a stunning ice skating rink accessible to all, regardless of age or skill level. The rink offers icy bridges, spacious skating areas, charming lighting, skate rentals, and delightful hot cocoa.

You can relish this winter wonder from mid-November through mid-February as the U.S. National Whitewater Center opens its enchanting ice skating rink to visitors.

US National Whitewater Center Ice Skating

❄️ Spa Day 

Indulge in the ultimate winter retreat with a rejuvenating spa day, offering the relaxation you deserve. The Piedmont Region boasts an array of full-service luxury spas that will leave you feeling like royalty.

Notable spas in this region include Adara Spa in Raleigh, Skin Sense in Raleigh, Pastara Spa in Charlotte, and Nature’s Spa and Wellness in Charlotte. Each of these exquisite spas invites you to unwind and pamper yourself, ensuring a revitalizing experience during the chilly season.

❄️ Krispy Kreme Challenge in Raleigh 

The Krispy Kreme Challenge is a unique 5K race and donut-eating contest rolled into one exhilarating event. Racers embark on a 2.5-mile run to the nearest Krispy Kreme, consume a dozen donuts, and conquer the remaining 2.5 miles, all within a single hour. 

This nationally acclaimed race, in existence since 2004, draws thousands of participants and has generated millions of dollars in support of the University of North Carolina’s Children’s Hospital.

Mark your calendar for February 3, 2024, as the race is now open for registration. Join the fun, test your limits, and contribute to a worthy cause.

❄️ THE RINK | Ice Skating at Red Hat Amphitheater

The RINK, an enchanting natural ice skating rink at the Red Hat Amphitheater in Raleigh, offers an array of exciting new activities this year. The winter wonderland theme sets the stage for an unforgettable experience, complemented by outdoor lounge stations featuring seat warmers and firepits. You can also marvel at the 20-foot decorated Christmas tree, savor treats from the snack bar, and enjoy outdoor games, themed nights, and live music.

This year’s season spans from November 18, 2023, to January 15, 2024. Tickets, available for purchase online or at the door, include a two-hour skate time and rentals. Immerse yourself in this winter wonderland and make memories to cherish.

Coastal Region

❄️ Wings over Water Encore | Bird Migration 

The Wings over Water Encore Festival, often referred to as the WOW Encore Festival, offers a captivating three-day experience that allows you to observe more than four hundred species of migratory birds and waterfowl as they seek refuge from the cold weather. This extraordinary event is scheduled for December 8-10, 2023.

Moreover, the WOW Encore Festival is not just a visual delight but also serves as a fundraising initiative benefiting the Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society while also providing educational grant funds for the Outer Banks school systems. This beautiful event offers a unique opportunity to witness and capture stunning moments in nature. 

Birds Migrating

❄️ Quiet Beach Getaways

Coastal region beaches in the “winter” season offer a fantastic escape with minimal crowds, no bugs, and serene tranquility. It’s the perfect time to have the sandy shores all to yourself and relish some peaceful solitude.

  • Shelling

Shelling is a delightful beach activity, especially during the winter. Rainy winter storms bring forth a bounty of beautiful shells and sand dollars to the shore, and with fewer people around, your chances of discovering these treasures are greatly enhanced.

Shells on Beach
  • Bird Watching

Bird watching is a highly sought-after winter activity along the North Carolina coast, as numerous avian species include this region in their migratory routes.

❄️ Drive a 4×4 on Beaches 

4×4 driving is a favored outdoor activity on the Outer Banks beaches. In select Outer Banks towns like Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills, beach driving is permitted only between October 1 and April 30, making the winter season the ideal time for a 4×4 adventure.

To hit the dunes, you’ll need a permit, available for purchase at town piers or visitor centers. Some 4×4 rental companies offer rentals that include permits. Remember to drive responsibly and adhere to the rules and regulations while enjoying this coastal experience.

Jeep on 4x4 Beach in Corolla NC
BOOK A 4X4 Wild Horse TOUR
Wild Horses near Corolla

2-hour Outer Banks Wild Horse Tour by 4WD Truck

Traverse the sand dunes and ocean in an open-air 4-wheel drive vehicle to observe these magnificent creatures. Learn about the island’s history and ecology, capture horse photos, and enjoy exclusive access to the Wild Horse Conservation Area.

​​❄️ Annual Celebration of The Wright Brothers First Flight 

On December 17, 1903, the Wright Brothers achieved the first powered flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Annually, a commemorative event is held at the Wright Brothers National Memorial to honor this pivotal moment in history. This year’s celebration marks the 120th anniversary of this historic flight on December 17, 2023. 

❄️ Explore Lighthouses

The North Carolina coast boasts a total of nine lighthouses, with the iconic five lighthouses gracing the Outer Banks. Each of these lighthouses carries a rich history and captivating tales, making them excellent subjects for memorable photographs.

The Island Marshes Roanoke Lighthouse

❄️ Hike Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge

Pea Island, nestled within the Outer Banks just 10 miles south of Nags Head, is home to the stunning Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. Covering over 5,000 acres, this sanctuary serves as a vital haven for migratory birds and various wildlife.

While hiking Pea Island is always a delight, it tends to get busier during the summer. This makes winter the perfect season for a tranquil nature walk. The premier trail on Pea Island, the North Pond Wildlife Trail, spans an easy 1.2 miles and offers spectacular sights and abundant wildlife encounters. It’s important to note that dogs are not allowed on this trail.

Pea Island Hiking

❄️ WinterLights at The Elizabethan Gardens

The Elizabethan Gardens, a stunning botanical garden and historical site in Manteo, North Carolina, captivates visitors with ten acres of themed gardens, gift shops, statues, and a diverse array of flowers and plants.

Embrace the holiday spirit from November 17 to December 30, 2023, as the Elizabethan Gardens undergo a magical transformation into a winter wonderland. 

This cherished annual tradition adorns the entire ten-acre expanse with a breathtaking display of twinkling lights, graceful holiday decor, cozy fire pits, and the warm glow of candles, enveloping visitors in the joy of Christmas. Tickets are available for purchase online or at the door, ensuring a memorable experience for all.

Elizabethan Gardens Sign

❄️ Enchanted Airlie 

The Enchanted Airlie, a splendid holiday light display at Airlie Gardens in Wilmington, North Carolina, welcomes visitors to embark on self-guided tours through the gardens. Here, they can immerse themselves in festive displays and enchanting music.

For this year’s season, the event runs from November 24th to 25th and then continues from December 1st to 21st. Be sure to secure your tickets promptly, as this enchanting event is known to sell out quickly.

❄️ Island of Lights Festival 

The Island of Lights Festival is a festive holiday celebration held at Carolina Beach, North Carolina. The event showcases expansive interactive light displays along the lake and elaborately decorated boats vying for prizes. This year’s festivities also offer opportunities for meet and greets with Santa, family-friendly DJ entertainment, refreshments, dancing, and festive party favors, making it a delightful and memorable experience.

❄️ Aquariums 

A wonderful way to spend a cold day indoors is by exploring an aquarium, and the coastal region of North Carolina offers several exciting options to choose from.

  • North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher | Kure Beach, NC: The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher is a dedicated teaching and conservation aquarium and a valuable learning center. Their mission is to educate and inspire all about the significance of our oceans and the creatures that inhabit them. It’s an ideal destination for families with young children to experience and engage with marine life. The aquarium offers engaging programs suitable for all, including toddlers. To plan your visit, it’s advisable to purchase tickets online in advance.
  • North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores | Pine Knoll Shores, NC: The sister aquarium to the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. This facility features a substantial submarine tank and an interactive touch pool, providing an enriching and interactive marine experience for visitors.
  • North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island | Manteo, NC: The third sibling in this trio of aquariums. Distinguished as the largest among them, this aquarium boasts a remarkable 285,000-gallon shark feeding tank, an array of interactive exhibits, and a leadership role in the STAR system dedicated to Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation. It offers a comprehensive and immersive exploration of marine life.
Jellyfish at the Aquarium

❄️ Fort Fisher State Historic Site

Fort Fisher holds historical significance as a crucial army blockade during the Civil War and the location of the largest land-sea battle of that era. Presently, visitors have the opportunity to tour the site, delve into the bunker, and explore a museum featuring artifacts and detailed information, providing a captivating glimpse into this pivotal period in history. Fort Fisher is located in Kure Beach, NC.

❄️ Fort Macon State Park  

Fort Macon spans 1.5 miles of oceanfront beauty, offering a spectrum of activities like swimming, hiking, and fishing. Visitors can explore the fully restored Fort Macon, which played a significant role in the Civil War. As the second most visited state park in North Carolina, this scenic state park presents a multitude of outdoor adventures to enjoy. Fort Macon State Park is located in Atlantic Beach, NC.

Winter in North Carolina: FAQs

📌 Is North Carolina good in winter?
North Carolina typically enjoys mild winters, making it a favorable destination during the winter season.

📌 Where is the warmest place in North Carolina in winter?
The warmest place in North Carolina during the winter season is Southport, along with other towns like Wilmington, situated along the southern portion of North Carolina’s coast.

📌 Does North Carolina have four seasons?
North Carolina indeed enjoys all four seasons, with Western North Carolina being a prime example of this seasonal diversity.

📌 Does North Carolina get blizzards?
Although it’s not a regular occurrence, the mountain region of North Carolina does experience blizzard conditions from time to time.

📌 How long is winter in North Carolina?
Most “winter weather” in North Carolina spans from December to February, although some areas may witness snowfall extending into March.

Final Thoughts

Winter in North Carolina doesn’t have to be the dull and monotonous season many envision. It offers the choice between a snowy winter or a milder, beachy one, catering to a variety of preferences.

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