Just because the summer is almost over doesn’t mean the fun has to end. The beauty of our state is that our warm days last and last. August and September (and even early October!) can still mean sunshine and blue skies. Get out of the house and explore your state. Here are the Top 5 things to add to your late summer to-do list.

Cover Image Credit: http://smalltownlive.com/marshill-nc/marshill-nc.html

1.) The Theodore Roosevelt State Natural Area Park

Get presidential and explore the seaside in a different way. The Theodore Roosevelt State Natural Area on the N.C. Crystal Coast was donated to the state by the grandchildren of Roosevelt through the Roosevelt Trust in 1971, and allows visitors to experience a maritime forest preserved since the early 1900s. This hidden gem is located near the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores – park at the aquarium to enter the trails. The 1.2 mile Roosevelt Nature Trail is unpaved, and follows an ancient dune ridge through the maritime forest and salt marsh. Keep an eye out for river otters, raccoons, gray foxes, marsh rabbits, and snakes while walking, and peer over the marshes for egrets, kingfishers, herons, and ospreys taking flight.

2.) Whiteside Mountain

The highest cliffs in the eastern United States are right here in N.C. in the Nantahala National Forest. Whiteside Mountain is four million years old, with 750 feet of sheer cliffs. As Cherokee legend would have it, the mountain was once home to the shape-shifting witch Spearfinger, who had an appetite for human livers (yikes!). The cliffs were created when a large rock bridge to her dwelling place was destroyed. At Whiteside Mountain, you can explore a two-mile trail that is 4,930 feet high and winds through an old-growth forest of northern red oaks. The once-endangered peregrine falcon was reintroduced to the area in 1985, and visitors can spot the bird flying overhead. The cliffs can be used for rappelling and climbing when the peregrine falcons are not nesting.

3.) Beanstalk Ziplines

Not in the mood for a hike? How about a zip? At Beanstalk Ziplines, you’ll be climbing as high as Jack on his beanstalk and flying through the trees – minus the giants. The themed beanstalk village allows for children as young as four to experience the thrill of safe ziplining. Older children and family members can explore seven treehouses and sky bridges that are 35 feet off the ground, scale the 40-foot climbing wall, and leap through the trees to experience a free-fall simulation. Beanstalk Ziplines is unique in that it is open to younger patrons, making this adventurous trip to Morganton, N.C. a family affair.

4.) Tuckaseegee River Rafting

The Tuckaseegee River in western N.C. is rafting-ready until September, so grab your swimsuit. Another family-friendly venture, the rapids are gentle enough that first-timers and small children (ages 4 and up, and at least 40 pounds) can experience the fun. Water temperatures are at 70 degrees, perfect for a swim after rafting. The river boasts a bit of Hollywood history from Harrison Ford’s great escape in the movie “The Fugitive.” Ford escaped from a bus by way of a train wreck. Both the bus and train used in the scene are still in Sylva, N.C., and can be seen from the river. It was too expensive to move the train and bus post on-film destruction, so there they sit to this day. (Harrison Ford, sadly, is long gone.)

5.) Cycle North Carolina’s 20th Annual Mountains to Coast Ride

Cycle North Carolina sponsors multiple biking events throughout the year to encourage cyclists to get off the treadmill and sidewalks and explore rural areas through biking. The CNC 20th Annual Mountains to Coast Ride starting Sept. 29th isn’t for beginners (smaller rides through the year are open to those just starting out), because the trek goes across the state in one week. Join more than 1,000 avid cyclists as they start in town at Black Mountain and ride to Oak Island on the shore. In between riding, stops include yoga classes and massages, and boast of local shops, restaurants, and breweries. Riders can join for 3-day western or eastern jaunts as well. If seeing N.C. by bike is on your bucket list, sign up for an adventure of a lifetime – or make it an annual one, and do it again next year!

What's your favorite N.C. adventure? Let us know in the comments or join us on our Facebook page.

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