North Carolina offers many ways to enjoy the journey as well as the destination, especially when the two are one and the same. There are many opportunities to sight-see from your car, whether you’re on your way somewhere else, or the drive-thru attraction is your destination.
Visit North Carolina has put together a number of scenic Drive-Thru Vacations in every region of the state, including quirky roadside attractions, folk art, and natural wonders. Here are a few of them!
A 30-mile stretch of road around the town of Seagrove is called the Pottery Capital of America, because it’s home to about 100 pottery studios. Many of the studios feature outdoor displays, tucked among barns, gas stations, cattle fields and more.
This map shows the locations of the pottery studios. Seagrove is about an hour and a half West of Raleigh, and it’s just a few miles from the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro. You could create a great day trip by combining Seagrove with the zoo.
Lazy 5 Ranch
Lazy 5 Ranch is one of a kind. Get up close to giraffes, antelopes, camels and more, and even feed them through your car window.
Lazy 5 Ranch is at 15100 Mooresville Road, Mooresville. Tickets for the drive-thru safari are $11 for adults and $8 for kids age 2-11 and seniors age 60+. Wagon rides are currently suspended, but when they resume, they’re $16 for adults and $11 for children age 2-11 and seniors age 60+, with a bucket of feed included for every two people.
World’s Largest Furniture
The Triad is the furniture capital of the world, so it’s fitting that you can see some of the world’s largest pieces of furniture from your car. Within just 15 miles of on another you can see these roadside attractions:
- World’s Largest Highboy Dresser, 5635 Riverdale Drive, Jamestown, NC
- World’s Largest Chest of Drawers, 508 N Hamilton Street, High Point, NC
- World’s Largest Duncan Phyfe Chair, 44 W Main Street, Thomasville, NC
Save the Highboy Dresser for last, and walk into the Count On Me NC-certified Furnitureland South, the world’s largest furniture store, with 1.3 million square feet of space.
Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park
The 2-acre Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park is filled with whimsical, wind-driven creations of the late Vollis Simpson. Whirligigs are North Carolina’s official folk art. Admire the whirligigs from your car, or get out and walk around for a closer look.
The Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park is at 301 S. Goldsboro Street, Wilson, 50 miles east of Raleigh.
Shanri-La Stone Village
This tiny village sits on the side of N.C. Highway 86. Farmer Henry Warren started the Shangri-Law Stone Village as a hobby, eventually building 27 buildings, each roughly 5 feet high, with stone, concrete and quartz from a nearby quarry. Included in the village are a library, theater, church, schoolhouse and more, along with trinkets sprinkled throughout.
You’ll find this magical village at 115353 NC-86, Prospect Hill, NC, about 31 miles north of Chapel Hill.
Talking Walls Murals
Talking Walls Murals was created during the 2020 Talking Walls Mural Festival in Charlotte, and endures as a walk-thru or drive-thru art experience.
The murals are at The Exchange, a corporate park at 5600 77 Center Drive, Charlotte.
The Barn Quilt Trail
Brightly colored barn quilts, which are actually painted blocks, adorn various buildings and barns in North Carolina mountains. In fact, this area is the home of the most concentrated collection of barn quilts in the country. Quilt Trails of Western North Carolina has put together multiple driving trails, through nine mountain counties, which will bring you past more than 300 barn quilts.
Along the way you’ll travel through farmland and mountain towns, and will experience the majestic beauty of the North Carolina mountains.
Western North Carolina is known for its waterfalls, so why not go on a drive with the goal of spotting as many as possible? The Waterfall Byway will bring you to about 200 waterfalls within 100 miles between Murphy and Rosman. It starts at Transylvania County, which is known, appropriately, as the “Land of Waterfalls.”
Just a few that you’ll discover are Bridal Veil Valls, with a 120-foot drop into the Cullasaja River, and Dry Falls, which, obviously, isn’t dry. It gets its name from the fact that you can walk behind the fall without getting wet. Use this map of the Waterfall Byway to help you find your way.
Greenville, North Carolina sculpture Jonathan Bowling creates intricate zoo animals from salvaged scrap metal. The sculpture park, located down the street from his studio, features a horse galloping through a field, pigs sharing a meal, and more, all made from old car parts, cooking pans and other items which were saved from the junk heap and turned into art.
Dickinson Street, between Atlantic Avenue and S. Clark Street, in Greenville, North Carolina.
Croatan National Forest
Drive the 2-hour loop around Croatan National Forest, which is the East’s only true coastal forest, and you might see alligators, otters, black bear and deer, as well as plenty of waterfowl. The Coastal pine forest features saltwater estuaries and bogs, as well as campsites and trails.
Croatan National Forest is close to Morehead City, New Bern and Cedar Island.
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