Our Winter Bucket List

Stone Mountain State Park
Michele Walker

Winter in North Carolina can be balmy and bright or cold and icy – sometimes both in the same week, as any native will tell you. Whether you’re looking to get outside and explore nature, or if you’d rather find some indoor diversions, we have some suggestions designed to help you find some winter fun.

Stamp your N.C. State Parks Passport - Need a resolution for the new year? How about traveling to all of North Carolina’s state parks to experience nature, get some exercise and stamp your North Carolina State Park Passport! After you’ve visited 10 parks, have a park ranger validate your passport and sign up for the Rewards Redemption program. The more parks you visit and stamps you collect, the more prizes you can earn.

Discover pirate history with our Blackbeard 300 celebration – 2018 marks 300 years since the notorious pirate Blackbeard roamed the Carolina coast and lost his life – and his head – in a fight with British soldiers. Learn more about Blackbeard and the history of pirates in N.C. with our celebration of all things Blackbeard.

Celebrate Black History Month – Join the statewide kickoff to Black History Month Saturday, Jan. 27 at the North Carolina Museum of History. Named a Top 20 Event by the Southeast Tourism Society, the 17th annual African American Cultural Celebration will feature more than 75 musicians, storytellers, dancers, chefs, historians, playwrights, authors, artists, reenactors, and more.

Spend a thrilling evening with John Grisham and John Hart – Explore the creative genius behind the riveting novels of these authors with N.C. connections as the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and WRAL-TV present “Thrillers! An Evening with Authors John Grisham and John Hart.” This special event takes place at Meymandi Concert Hall Friday, Feb. 23, 7:30 p.m., and will be moderated by D.G. Martin, host of UNC-TV’s North Carolina Bookwatch. Tickets are available online.

Explore North Carolina’s Music Trails – Experience traditional music along the state’s Blue Ridge Music Trails in Western North Carolina, or explore the deep ties between music and community along the African American Music Trails of Eastern North Carolina. Visit the trails’ websites or purchase a guidebook (including CD) to get an idea of where to start your musical journey.

Watch a movie filmed in North Carolina – The state has long been a favorite location for film makers, thanks to its natural beauty and varied landscape. Start with one of these ten Oscar-nominated films with Tar Heel connections. Have a Hunger Games movie marathon and see if you can spot the Western North Carolina locations. Or visit your local theater to take in a favorite in the 2018 Oscar race, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, filmed on location in Sylva, N.C.

Visit the polar bears at the N.C. Zoo – Polar bears Nikita and Anana love winter more than most of us – it’s their natural habitat after all. Pay them a visit, and explore lots of other fun activities, at the N.C. Zoo.

Spend the day at a museum (or two) – North Carolina is home to several state-supported museums, including seven history museums, two art museums and two science museums – enough to fill all your winter weekends.

Read a book by the fire – Too cold to go outside? Cozy up with a good book by a North Carolina writer. The picks on our Summer Reading List are still good options for a wintry day. If you haven’t yet read the best-selling Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, give it a try. Book five of the series, The Fiery Cross, takes place in 1770s North Carolina, with some prominent scenes set at Alamance Battleground, now a state historic site. Or visit UNC Press to find some great books about North Carolina published by the N.C. Office of Archives and History.

Explore your family history – The State Library and the State Archives have long traditions of helping North Carolinians research their past. Whether you're just getting started putting together your family tree or are a family history research pro with years of experience, the State Library and Archives have resource guides, databases, digital collections, county records and other materials that can help you explore your past.

Pretend its summer with a visit to the aquarium – Winter can be a great time to visit the North Carolina coast. It may be cold outside, but you can still explore the coastal environment at one of our outstanding N.C. aquariums.