10 Best Retirement Activities in North Carolina

Retirement is the time to get out and do the things you’ve always wanted to. Gone are the days of the nine to five. Now, you get to utilize your time as you wish. It’s all about art museum trips, cooking classes, winery visits—you name it. Here are just a few of the best retirement activities to enjoy in North Carolina. 

Shackleford Wild Horse & Shelling Safari, Beaufort, NC

Take a short ferry ride to the island of Shackleford Banks, and then scout out the wild horses residing there. A guide will lead the way to one of the last isolated roaming herds of wild horses—descendants of those brought to North Carolina more than 400 years ago. Following the horse tour, you’ll be led to one of the region’s best beaches for seashells. Collecting here is a favorite pastime and often results in several species including Conchs, Whelks, Olives, Sand Dollars and more. This leisurely adventure takes several hours. 

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North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC

Exhibits abound at the North Carolina Museum of Art. Guests create their own experiences each time they visit. Peruse paintings. Take part in a tour. Join a workshop or art class. Attend the Lunch and Lecture series. There’s something for everyone, no matter if you know art or not, at this amazing museum.

Woodmill Winery, Vale, NC

Visit the gorgeous grounds of Woodmill Winery. Strolls between the rows of sweet Muscadine grapes, ripening in the sun—soon to be turned into delicious wine. Sample the various wines made on-site, and be sure to take a bottle home for later.

Airborne & Special Operations Museum, Fayetteville, NC

Take a tour of the Airborne & Special Operations Museum and see countless artifacts related to airborne and special ops. It’s the most advanced of all the Army museums. Those who have ever served in the military or know someone who has will truly appreciate everything on exhibit here. All the exhibits and grounds are easily accessible.

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Latta Plantation, Huntersville, NC

North Carolina is home to several historical plantations and visiting Latta Plantation is a wonderful retirement activity. Guests learn about the back-country of the Tar Heel State and enjoy tours of the cook’s kitchen, the smoke and well house and a reconstructed slave home—in addition to the plantation home. The last tour starts at 4 p.m. every afternoon.

Pilot Mountain State Park, Pinnacle, NC

Hike Jomeokee Trail at Pilot Mountain State Park. The one-mile long hike allows for a leisurely pace with beautiful scenic views. There are plenty of stops along the hike to sit and enjoy a picnic or simply take a break. This is the perfect hike to master before taking on other trails at Pilot Mountain.

The Biltmore Estate, Asheville, NC

Visit the Biltmore and pretend you live like the Vanderbilts. Stroll the grounds of the winery. Take part in a wine tasting. Check out the list of seasonal events that are scheduled throughout the year. Splurge on dinner. The options are endless and there’s something for every budget.

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Hammocks Beach State Park, Swansboro, NC

Go beach camping at Hammocks Beach State Park. Bear Island is a three-mile long barrier island accessible by the state park ferry or via canoe or kayak. Primitive campsites for tenting are available, and programs on the ecosystem, sea turtles and the island’s bird species are available throughout the summer months.

North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, Pine Knoll Shores, NC

Visit or become a volunteer at North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. The area surrounding the aquarium is home to countless ocean creatures. Kayak along the shores during spring, summer and fall. Take a behind-the-scenes tour and learn how marine wildlife are cared for. Contact the aquarium if becoming a volunteer is a consideration. Classes for volunteers are scheduled several times yearly.

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Chapel Hill Cooking Classes, Chapel Hill, NC

Take a cooking class at Chapel Hill Cooking Classes. Check out the menus that are scheduled and get ready for a lesson in world cuisine. Enjoy this privately or as part of a group.

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