5 Most Instagrammable Spots in North Carolina

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Photographer's boots and the mountains during sunset in North Carolina.

North Carolina is bountiful in its natural beauty with 14 National Park Service locations and both the forest and the sea. But its beauty doesn’t stop there. Several areas, including the Lost Colony and the glitz and glamour of the Biltmore Estate, also call North Carolina home, giving it historical beauty.

Finding Instagrammable spots in North Carolina isn’t a difficult task. What’s hard is deciding where to go and what to shoot. No worries. We’ve got five gorgeous photo ops listed here so you can get the perfect picture.

What’s So Special About North Carolina?

If you haven’t been to North Carolina, you may be wondering why it’s such a special place. There’s the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of 14 National Park Service locations in the state. But why stop there? North Carolina is also home to 41 state parks, the Appalachian Mountains, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the Outer Banks.

It also lays claim to four national forests, including the world-renowned Pisgah National Forest, the Atlantic coastal plain, and many historic towns in the Piedmont region. There’s no shortage of scenery or adventure here. In fact, Outdoria has ranked North Carolina the sixth most adventurous state in the nation. And adventures generally lead to phenomenal, Instagrammable moments.

Pro Tip: If you’re looking for hidden gems to share with your followers, hit up the best small towns in North Carolina.

Why Should Instagrammers Visit North Carolina?

Instagrammers should visit this coastal and forested state for one reason and one reason alone. It has everything. From the Atlantic Ocean to small-town vibes to the pulse of bustling cities, whatever your Instagram style is, North Carolina will deliver. You’ll never look as Instagrammable as you do here.

5 Most Instagrammable Spots in North Carolina

It’s not easy to pick the best Instagrammable spot in North Carolina. But having too many choices is a good problem to have. We’ve listed five of the most Instagrammable places in the state, including the Outer Banks, Pisgah National Forest, Grandfather Mountain, NoDa Murals, and Craggy Gardens. Let’s check it out.

#1. Outer Banks

About: The Outer Banks consists of more than 100 miles of shoreline, complete with quaint villages brimming with history, charm, and postcard-worthy scenic views. Here, you can experience boating, fishing, water sports, beachcombing, and more. You’ll also find a variety of shops and restaurants to explore while people-watching on Duck Boardwalk.

If sunsets are your thing, this is the place to capture them both in memory and for Instagram. Rather watch wildlife than people? The marine life and birds are ready to strike a pose. And being on the coast, you’ll come across a few lighthouses to capture your eye. But you can’t forget the history that lies here alongside the beauty. Check out the museums here that highlight the Wright Brothers and their first flight while also exploring The Lost Colony.

Wild horse eating grass on the beach in Outer Banks, North Carolina.

Best Photo Op: While all of the above offers great opportunities for fantastic photos, everyone captures those images. Why not be unique and attempt a chance at getting that million-dollar shot of some wild horses? You can find wild mustangs in Corolla on the Outer Banks. They’re descendants of horses brought over in the 1500s by Spanish explorers. Many wild ponies also wander near Shackleford Banks near Cape Lookout. While you can get a tour to increase your chances of capturing these beauties, maybe you’re up for the challenge of finding them on your own.

#2. Pisgah National Forest

About: Pisgah National Forest is renowned for its hundreds of miles of trails for hiking and mountain biking. With more than 500,000 acres home to waterfalls, mountain slopes, trails, and remote wilderness areas, your camera will never get bored.

This nationally recognized forest also includes Blue Ridge Parkway, one of the most scenic drives in the country, wildlife preserves, and observation towers. It’s also home to the first forestry school in the U.S. With Mother Nature as your backdrop, everything is Instagram-worthy, but the best photo op may just be the many waterfalls in this area. 

The sun streams through the trees in Pisgah National Forest as two boys play in a creek.

Best Photo Op: When seeking out one of the many waterfalls in Pisgah, you’re bound to come across many other natural wonders. So, don’t get too focused on just the waterfalls. The journey there is bound to create many other Instagrammable moments. Rachael Creek Falls, Pinnacle Falls, Cascades Flat, Looking Glass Falls, and Grogan Creek Waterfall are great starting points for what could become one of your most Instagrammable moments.  

#3. Grandfather Mountain

About: At almost 6,000 feet, Grandfather Mountain is one of North Carolina’s tallest mountains. Add America’s highest suspension bridge, hiking trails, and wildlife habitats, and you’ve got a picture-perfect location. 

While you may or may not come across wildlife photo ops on the many trails here, the habitats and nature museums give you a guaranteed animal visit. Envision a photo op with a cougar, which no longer lives in the wild here.

Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina

Best Photo Op: A photo op with a cougar sounds extraordinary, but if you want to experience nature at its finest without human interaction, then taking a walk across the Mile High Swinging Bridge, spanning an 80-foot-chasm, is the best photo op at Grandfather Mountain. You may have to wait your turn for that Instagrammable moment, as this is a popular spot. The builders of this 228-foot suspension bridge kept views in mind, giving visitors panoramic sights, including Linville Peak.

#4. NoDa Murals, Charlotte

About: NoDa (short for North Davidson) is the place for both art and food, along with shops, craft breweries, music, and people watching. NoDa is Charlotte’s arts and entertainment district and home to the NoDa Murals. You can find the NoDa Murals on many buildings, streets, and even dumpsters and trash cans throughout the neighborhood. The surrounding communities also offer a variety of art walks and galleries to keep you and your camera active all day long. With the vibrant colors, inspirational quotes, and eclectic artistry, everything is open to photographic magic.

Street art on on the side of a brick building in North Carolina.

Best Photo Op: The best photo op in NoDa is open to interpretation. It’s all art, and art is in the eye of the beholder. Choosing the best photo op here is difficult, as everyone has unique visions of what art is to them. But if there was only one photo op to choose from, choose the art on the dumpsters and trash cans. The clash of trash versus art could very well provide you with a thought-provoking and Instagrammable moment.

#5. Craggy Gardens

About: The Blue Ridge Parkway is a 469-mile journey through some of America’s most gorgeous scenery. Mileposts for the parkway start in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, with the journey taking you through to Great Smoky National Park in North Carolina. While there are many photo ops along the route, one of the top-rated places to photograph is Craggy Gardens.

The Craggy Gardens Visitor Center lies at milepost 364.4, so you’ll know exactly where to go to experience one of the most spectacular views along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Here, you’ll find several hiking trails to explore a high mountain area surrounded by jagged, rocky crags. And within these hills lies the real beauty. The colors of the many flowers that bloom here in the summertime will take your breath away.

Rhododendrons in bloom at sunset in the high country of North Carolina

Best Photo Op: You’ll almost certainly find a photo op along the Blue Ridge Parkway, but none will be quite as brilliant as the kaleidoscope of purple and pink found in Craggy Gardens in June. Capturing your image alongside the unblemished splendor of the Catawba rhododendrons will be an Instagrammable moment not soon forgotten. The best place to get the most color is the overlook just off of Craggy Gardens Trail.

Capturing the Spirit of North Carolina’s Most Instagrammable Spots

Finding Instagrammable photo ops in North Carolina is a breeze. Narrowing them down to just a few within the time you have is the difficult part. We hope we’ve made your journey through North Carolina easier with our five most Instagrammable spots.

And whether your images will be of people, flowers, horses, murals, scenic vistas, or waterfalls, they’ll capture the spirit of you and your connections to one of the most beautiful states in the country, North Carolina. Which of these locations appeals most to you?

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