Jockey’s Ridge State Park – Nagshead, North Carolina

In the middle of the Outer Banks in North Carolina, you would never expect to find the tallest active sand dune on the east coast. At Jockey’s Ridge State Park, you can explore these sand dunes and more. The park covers an area of 427 acres and is the most visited park in the North Carolina park system.

The temperatures can apparently be truly desert-like in the hot summer months. Reaching 110 degrees F and the sand can be up to 30 degrees hotter. Our visit was in late September so there was virtually no one when we arrived. For our son, this was the largest sandbox he’d ever seen and he was thrilled.

* Make sure to bring plenty of water on those hot days. Sunglasses help too even if it’s not sunny, especially on windy days

Dan River – Eden, North Carolina

In May of 2014, we stumbled upon the beautiful Dan River of North Carolina. We landed on the river by pure happenstance….sort of. We originally planned to return to Lake Moomaw however on the morning of our departure, we learned that they did not provide overnight canoe rentals. We then scrambled to find outfitters in the Richmond area. That’s when we came across Three River Outfitters in Eden, North Carolina. Apparently traffic on the river had been very slow due to a recent coal spill in the month earlier. The Eden community was working to restore the area and attract paddlers once again. We were the only ones on the river and it was fantastic. One of the most unique parts about the Dan River was a lone island of clean, beachy sand where we set up camp. As we cooked dinner with our toes in the sand the stars shining above us, we couldn’t help but think that our poor trip preparation once again paid off.

See a video of our trip here