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As a North Carolina native and road trip fanatic, I feel that it is my responsibility to share some fantastic, intra-state options for fall road trips. These are for everyone, and especially for my girlies looking to get away after the re-recording of the Red album. 

Grandfather Mountain

One aspect of living in North Carolina I’ve always appreciated is the presence of natural beauty from both mountains and beaches. Among the must-sees, especially in autumn, is Grandfather Mountain. Choose a hike among many with wide diversity in difficulty and terrain, and prepare for shockingly beautiful views. A huge attraction here is the “Mile-High Swinging Bridge”, which is sure to implement a little bit of thrill into the trip. 

Also, if you choose to go here you’ll be on Blue Ridge Mountain Parkway, which means you are near another of North Carolina’s most well-known sources of natural beauty…

Waterfalls

When I was little, my family filled a book with our visits to different NC waterfalls. I speak from experience; these are worth it!

Linville Falls, perhaps the most photographed waterfall in North Carolina, is near Grandfather Mountain. A road trip could / should be planned to incorporate them both! 

I will recommend two other waterfalls for visitation. Take your friends to Looking Glass Falls if you’re looking for a longer road trip from Duke (~4 hours). The waterfall is beautiful, swimming is allowed, and viewing is wheelchair accessible. Closer to Durham (~2 hours), there is Hanging Rock State Park. The park offers a wide variety of hikes for any squad and multiple waterfalls. Also, many North Carolinians like to camp here!

Wilmington

It’s fall, but the beach shouldn’t be written out. Wilmington is a great choice if you’re looking for a college town vibe with bars and beaches. For my history buffs, make sure you check out Battleship North Carolina and the corresponding museum to learn about WWII battleships. For food, check out the Riverwalk, which has bunches of restaurants, galleries, and shops. Also, great news! A trip to Wilmington also provides an opportunity to see North Carolina’s fall beauty. Be sure to stop by Airlie Gardens to get your fix. 

One of my favorite ways to reduce stress as a college student is to physically get away with my friends, so I’m lucky to be in North Carolina. I hope these suggestions inspire you to plan a day or maybe a weekend trip to spend time with the people who love and support you. Not to be bossy, but try to find the time! You deserve it.

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My name is Gabrielle Fry! I'm a neuroscience major on the pre-med track at Duke University.
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