“N” is for North Carolina

This is the fourteenth post in the Blogging A-to Z Challenge

So I’m originally from North Carolina. I was born there and lived there until moving to Northern California 3 years ago. I’m just going to write about a few places in North Carolina that I remember from growing up. (Bear with me, I’m really scraping for topics here :)).

North Carolina Museum of Life and Science – I think many kids who grow up in NC go on at least one field trip here. It seems like I went here every year on a field trip in elementary school. And then my family went a few times. When my mother was teaching, she took her classes here on field trips. I tagged along. The coolest exhibits that I remember from this museum? 1. The giant rocket outside the entrance; 2) The working “heart” and “lungs” that you operated by pushing on a pump, it moved simulated blood through a series of “vein” pipes; 2) The butterfly house (where butterflies can land on you); 3) The playground and water play pumps; 4) The picnic tables where we always ate; 5) The maze; 6) The gift shop. I have no idea which exhibits are still there. These days I go to the Academy of Sciences in San Francisco for a similar experience, but nothing can beat NC Life & Science in my mind. 🙂

Morehead Planetarium – Loved all the shows here as a kid. I once wrote a story based on one of the shows I saw, but unfortunately I don’t remember the story or the show that inspired it!

Haw River State Park – This was another classic field trip spot. The Haw River State Park has nature trails and tons of wildlife.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – Plugging my alma mater! Growing up in Chapel Hill, UNC was always a presence. The funny thing is, I didn’t spend much time on campus growing up. So when I started there my freshman year, it was as though I was from out of town. Seriously, I consider UNC one of my home away from homes.

Clyde Jones – This guy makes critters out of wood. So fascinating! One year we took a field trip to his house where he demonstrated his art. Now there is a festival named after him (Clydefest).

The Carolina Inn – This is located on the UNC Chapel Hill Campus. I was obsessed with the Carolina Inn as a child. Every time we drove by it, I was fascinated by all the windows and fancy doors. When I finally got to go inside, I remember being slightly underwhelmed. I guess I’d built it up to be a super fancy palace in my mind. Don’t get me wrong, the place is lovely. It’s been decades since I stepped foot inside. When I was in fourth grade my family went here for Thanksgiving Dinner.

University Mall – This was the mall of my childhood. It’s changed a lot since then (and not necessarily for the better), but when it was thriving, we were able to buy everything here — school supplies, books, drugstore items…but now most of the shops are “specialty” and outrageously expensive.

New Hope Commons – An outdoor mall that became our regular excursion when it opened the summer of my 7th grade year. Wal-Mart was the big draw. Chapel Hill doesn’t have a lot of big box stores, so this is the closest big box location.  It’s what killed the University Mall, I feel. Pretty sad, really. These days I prefer local mom and pop shops.

Carr Mill Mall – This is another mall in Carrboro, NC, but much smaller and it exists inside a converted mill. It has a distinctive wood smell. Lots of mom and pop shops here. I blogged about it when I visited last December.

Carolina Beach – This is where my family went on beach vacations when I was a kid. I loved those days — we’d pile up into one or two cars and drive for 3 hours (stopping for lunch along the way). There was always at least one thunderstorm during the drive. When we got closer to the beach, I’d look for landmarks, such as the big white water tower with the words “Carolina Beach” painted on it, and the grass that grows along the road (hiding the ocean). Seeing the ocean for the first time on each trip was incredible. We always stayed in one of the many hotels along the beach.

The Streets at Southpoint – Yep, yet another mall. This is your typical large mall, with brand-name retail shops and a movie complex. Southpoint was a big sensation when it opened. I think I was in high school.

Sarah P. Duke Gardens – I’m a Tar Heel born and bred, and technically I’m not supposed to like anything associated with Duke. BUT their botanical gardens are wonderful. Tons to see. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon.

The Biltmore House – This is one famous NC house in the mountains that I haven’t been to. One day. It’s going on my bucket list. 🙂

Locopops – Seriously, I’m sad that you can’t get these anywhere else. They are little bits of heaven, frozen on a stick. If you’re ever in the Raleigh-Durham area, please check out Locopops. You HAVE to. You won’t regret it! They’d bring Locopops to campus and if you didn’t get in line within the first ten minutes, you could just forget it. 🙂


  1. Sounds like there’s a lot of great stuff to do in North Carolina 🙂 I’ve only been to the U.S. once and that was to Florida in 1990. I’d love to come back some day and see many of the other states.

    Thanks for sharing and good luck with the rest of the challenge 🙂

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