If you were to guess, how many waterways would you think are in North Carolina? Let’s take a poll. (No cheating! Don’t read below!)

If you’re in the 50+ camp, you’re right!

More than 100 rivers and large streams meander through North Carolina. We bet you’ve heard of the New (the second-oldest river in the WORLD) and the Cape Fear, but did you know about the Scuppernong? How about the Hungry, or the North Toe, or Rough Butt Creek (best name ever)?

Here are four beautiful, budget-friendly NC rivers just waiting for your vacation weekends. Putting your dollars back into our state helps our local economy, and getting out of dodge is great for your health. So get out the fishing gear, find yourself a canoe, or just put on your hiking shoes and go enjoy these little-known natural treasures!

The Haw

Saxapahaw, NC

If you’ve never visited Saxapahaw and you’re anywhere even remotely close to Burlington, then drop everything and head to Highway 54 or Highway 87. Drive as far as you can from anywhere and follow the smell of fresh growing things.

Saxapahaw is a tiny unincorporated township that’s become a really big deal in recent years for its artist influx and locally-grown gourmet cuisine. Enjoy a night at The Eddy Pub (pun intended), which manages to be a down-home bar and a local-grown gourmet eatery at the same time. See a show at the Haw River Ballroom, get some local home brews at the Saxapahaw General Store, and...here’s the point...meander along the trails by the Haw River, skipping stones and thinking beautiful things about life. You’ll be glad you did.

The Roanoke

Weldon, NC

Early settlements in the Carolina Colony dotted it the Roanoke River, a meandering beauty born in the Blue Ridge that was easily accessible to adventuresome traders from its mouth in the Albermarle Sound. If you’re a fishing fan, you’re in for a treat; striped bass repopulation in recent years has made the Roanoke River Valley a haven for anglers. Grab the rod and reel and go!

The Roanoke is dammed along its course to form several reservoirs, including Lake Gaston and Kerr Lake, both great for boating and general fun in the sun.

The Shallotte

Shallotte, NC

Do you love the beach but hate the crowds? Then try heading to the mouth of this little river instead, and get the best of both worlds. You’ll have a gentle, peaceful riverfront experience, but still enjoy easy access to the Ocean Isle or Holden Beach via the Shallotte Inlet.

Naturalists love the Shallotte River. The wetlands are a bird-watcher’s heaven, and we’d recommend it to kayakers who want to try their hand at freshwater and saltwater adventuring. And then, of course, there’s the famed carnivorous Venus Flytrap, which lures botanists worldwide along with all the flies. It’s only native to about a 75-mile radius around Wilmington — the Shallotte included. Go check it out. But watch your fingers!

The Scuppernong

Columbia, NC

We know the word sounds strange, but really, you should totally know what a scuppernong is if you live in NC. It’s our only native grape, and it’s awesome...extremely sweet and unusually large. No one seems to know whether the river was named for the grape or the other way around, but you give both a try — you won’t be disappointed. Check out the Scuppernong River Festival in Columbia for some local bluegrass, or just meander the trails that crisscross Tyrrell County.

So now you know. Pick a river, pack a bag and go!

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