The Latest From Carolina Traveler

While western North Carolina may be a beloved powder paradise for many, we find ourselves more and more drawn to the area in the dog days of summer. While the summer solstice was only a few days ago, we can already feel the temperature turning up outside! Even more reason to follow along as we highlight the top 10 lakes in the Carolinas.

Last week, we highlighted Lake Jocassee in Salem, SC. Today, we're plunging head-first into the brisk waters of Lake Nantahala in Macon County, NC — in our opinion, one of the best lakes in western North Carolina!

Additional highlights in this issue of the Carolina Traveler weekly newsletter include:

🏖️ Go hunting for a coquina outcrop on Kure Beach that only appears at low tide!

🎸 Attend funk, rock, country, and R&B concerts inside a historic fort in Atlantic Beach!

🎖️ Commemorate the 74th anniversary of the Korean War at the Veterans History Museum of the Carolinas

🛣️ Take a western North Carolina driving tour along the National Cherokee Forest Scenic Byway

🧑‍🌾 Submit your nomination for the “MyTown Ambassador” of your small town!

Sign up now to become a Carolina Traveler VIP subscriber and get first dibs on summer break fun, western North Carolina activities, and family-friendly itineraries in NC and SC.

Winter, spring, summer, or fall, we're always giving away tickets and prizes to Carolina VIP subscribers and members of our Carolina Traveler Facebook group.

Lake Nantahala collage

Lake Nantahala is the highest reservoir in North Carolina!

#9 Summer Break Lakes: Lake Nantahala

A summer weekend at Lake Nantahala, NC, offers a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure in western North Carolina. Start your trip with a scenic drive to the lake, arriving in time to settle into a cozy lakeside cabin or rental. Kick off your weekend with a leisurely dinner at Lakes End Cafe & Grill, where you can enjoy delicious local cuisine with stunning views of the lake.

On Saturday morning, rent a boat from the marina for a day of water activities. Enjoy water skiing, tubing, or simply cruising the lake's clear waters through Nantahala Outdoor Center's outfitting and rentals. Fishing enthusiasts can try catching bass, trout, and walleye.

For lunch, pack a picnic and head to one of the many picturesque spots around the lake, followed by a refreshing swim in the crystal-clear waters. In the afternoon, explore the nearby Bartram Trail or a section of the Appalachian Trail for breathtaking views and the chance to spot local wildlife.

In the evening, take a sunset cruise at Lakes End to marvel at the colorful sky reflected on the lake, then unwind with a campfire and stargazing session back at your rental.

On Sunday morning, enjoy kayaking or paddleboarding to explore the lake's quiet coves and inlets. Early risers can indulge in birdwatching and possibly spot deer along the lake's edge.

Before heading home, take a short drive to Wayah Bald for panoramic mountain views and rhododendron blooms, and visit Franklin for a charming lunch at a local café. This itinerary promises a perfect blend of relaxation, adventure, and natural beauty.

Coquina outcrop

Visit the Coquina Outcrop at low tide on your way to Fort Fisher | Photo: Jordan D (Tripadvisor)

Spot the Coquina Outcrop On Kure Beach

The coquina outcrop at Kure Beach, North Carolina, is a fascinating geological feature with significant historical and natural value. Coquina is a type of limestone composed predominantly of shell fragments and quartz grains, cemented together over thousands of years.

This unique outcrop at Kure Beach dates back to the Pleistocene epoch, approximately 2.5 million to 11,700 years ago, making it a valuable site for understanding the region's geological history.

Historically, coquina has been used as a building material due to its durability and abundance along coastal areas. The coquina outcrop at Kure Beach is one of the few such formations visible above sea level along the North Carolina coast, offering a rare glimpse into the past and a tangible connection to the ancient marine environments that once dominated the area.

To see the coquina outcrop up close, visit the beach access at the end of Dow Road. The best time to view the outcrop is during low tide when the receding waters reveal the formation. Tide schedules can be checked online to plan your visit accordingly.

Once at the beach, walk south along the shore, and you will encounter the outcrop. It's a remarkable experience to explore this natural wonder, observe the intricate patterns of shell fragments, and appreciate the rich history embedded in the stone. Always remember to respect the site by not disturbing the formation or removing any pieces.

Read our itinerary for the perfect summer day trip in Kure Beach NC

Summer Concert Series inside Fort Macon State Recreation Area

We promise you won't get scolded for trespassing!

Rock Out Inside a Historic Atlantic Beach Fort

Fort Macon State Park in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, holds great historical and cultural significance. Established in 1924, the park is centered around Fort Macon, a restored Civil War-era fort that played a crucial role in coastal defense.

Far from western North Carolina, the fort has witnessed significant historical events, including the Battle of Fort Macon during the Civil War. Today, it serves as a popular destination for visitors to explore North Carolina's military history, enjoy guided tours, and partake in recreational activities like hiking, fishing, and beachcombing along the park's pristine shores.

The Summer Concert Series at Fort Macon State Park is a highly anticipated annual event that combines beautiful coastal scenery with live music. Held every Saturday evening from June through August, the 2024 series promises an exciting lineup:

  • June 28: Todd Barnes and the Wild Hares
  • July 12: Freeway
  • July 19: Southern Hellcats
  • July 26: Hoff N Finch
  • August 2: Rain date
  • August 24: Morehead Brass Consortium

Visitors are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets and enjoy the concerts under the stars, making for memorable summer evenings by the sea. Check the Friends of Fort Macon Facebook page for up-to-date information regarding the Summer Concert Series.

Details for the Korean War Remembrance in 2024

The 2024 event includes a presentation by Tom Comshaw, U.S. Air Force veteran of the Korean War, currently of Campobello, South Carolina.

Hear From Tom Comshaw, Korean War Veteran, in Western North Carolina

Join us on Tuesday, June 25th, at 2:00 p.m. for a poignant Korean War Remembrance Ceremony hosted by the Veterans History Museum of the Carolinas. This event will take place at the historic Ingram Auditorium on the picturesque campus of Brevard College in Brevard.

As we commemorate the 74th anniversary of the Korean War's commencement on June 25, 1950, we reflect on its profound impact. The Korean War, lasting from 1950 to 1953, was a devastating conflict that left a lasting imprint on the Korean peninsula and the world, with every major Korean city bearing scars of battle. Approximately 2.5 to 3 million lives were lost, including nearly 37,000 American servicemen and women and over a million South Koreans.

The Korean War was the first military confrontation of the Cold War, pitting the forces of democracy, represented by the United States and 20 other UN member countries, against the Communist powers of North Korea, China, and the Soviet Union.

Join us to honor the bravery and sacrifice of those who served and to remember the enduring legacy of the Korean War.

Cherohala Scenic Byway

Include plenty of time in your scenic drive for pausing to take pictures.

Stop and Smell the Rhododendron on the Cherokee National Forest Scenic Byway

The Cherokee National Forest Scenic Byway offers a captivating driving tour through the heart of western North Carolina, showcasing stunning vistas, rich history, and diverse wildlife. Spanning approximately 43 miles, the byway starts at the Ocoee River in southeastern Tennessee and winds through the forest to Tellico Plains.

The journey begins at the Ocoee Whitewater Center, a historic site in Tennessee from the 1996 Olympic Games. Here, you can explore the center's exhibits and enjoy a hike along the river. As you continue along the byway, take in panoramic views of the Ocoee River Gorge, known for its whitewater rafting opportunities.

Midway through the drive, stop at the Chilhowee Recreation Area. This spot offers breathtaking overlooks, picnic areas, and hiking trails leading to waterfalls and mountain streams. For a longer hike, explore the Benton Falls Trail, which leads to a picturesque waterfall.

As you approach Tellico Plains, visit the Cherohala Skyway Visitor Center to learn about the area's natural and cultural history. Nearby, Bald River Falls is a must-see, accessible via a short detour.

Get first dibs on free tickets when you sign up now to become a Carolina Traveler VIP subscriber! We're regularly giving away tickets and prize packages to Carolina VIP subscribers and members of our Carolina Traveler Facebook group.

You might also like…