North Carolina is known for a multitude of things. They are home to both the ocean and mountains, giving plenty of opportunities for a souvenir or two during your travels.
You can’t go home without some of the famous foods, either. Popular for pimento cheese, bbq sauce, and Cheerwine Soda, you’ll definitely want to pack your cooler bag.
1. Pimento Cheese
If there’s one thing to know about North Carolina, it’s that North Carolinians love their pimento cheese. Known as the Pimento Cheese Capital of the world, you won’t have to go far to find it.
Ruth’s Salads, in Charlotte, makes 45,000 pounds of the spread every single week! That’s just one company! The cheesy spread, made with pimentos, cream cheese, and mayonnaise is used in sandwiches, on crackers, on top of fries, or enjoyed by the spoonful.
When visiting North Carolina, be sure to try several varieties, as each one has its own special twist. When you find one you love, it’s the perfect souvenir to take home with you to enjoy upon your return home. Just be sure to pack it in a cooler so it doesn’t spoil before you get to enjoy it.
If kept airtight, pimento cheese can be frozen for up to three months. Great news for stocking up on this yummy treat, right?
If you’re visiting North Carolina, there’s a decent chance that a trip to the ocean is in store. With over 20 beaches to choose from, there’s everything from the super touristy to the more secluded.
One of my favorite things to collect any time I visit a new beach is a few seashells. You’re bound to pick some up as you walk along the sandy coast.
If you want to find larger shells or ones that are more unique, they can be found in nearby gift shops. Seashells are a fun souvenir to remember your trip and they look great as part of any home décor.
3. BBQ Sauce
What’s a trip to the Tar Heel State without barbeque sauce? Known for its barbeque, you’ll find different styles depending on where you are in the state.
North Carolina is serious about its BBQ. Many restaurants have their own special recipes and sell their sauce by the bottle. Many other locally made sauces can be found in stores and markets around the state.
One of the most popular sauces is Western Carolina BBQ Sauce, which can be found at Mac’s Speed Shop in Charlotte. Some other notable mentions are Off the Hook, Carolina Smokehouse, and Jabbas Creations.
My personal favorite is the House BBQ from Midwood Smokehouse. It is perfectly sweet, spiced, and all around yummy!
Any of the above, plus more, would make for great souvenirs to take home with you. Grab a few different types and make your own sampler pack to enjoy beyond your stay in NC.
4. Gem Stones
Located within the mountains of North Carolina are beautiful gems of various types. In fact, did you know that the state gem is the emerald?
When visiting the mountain regions, it’ll be hard to stumble upon a gift shop that doesn’t sell them in some capacity.
One such place is the Pisgah Forest Gem Mine and Gifts. You’ll be given the opportunity to ‘mine’ for gems. You get to keep whatever you find, and word has it that the treasures found make the experience worth it. They also have a gift shop where you can purchase clothing and jewelry amongst other things.
Whether mining for them yourself or going into a local shop, gems are fun and pretty souvenir to take home with you from North Carolina. You never know just what you’ll find!
One thing North Carolina is known for is their grits. If you’re searching for a souvenir to take home with you with the potential of endless variety, grits are a great option.
Grits are made from rougher pieces of grail and husk. They are nutritious, tasty, and a staple in southern states, especially North Carolina.
Many grit recipes served are family recipes that are handed down over many generations. If you’re getting a bag of grain to take home, though, finding recipes to suit your tastes may be the fun part.
Grits can be sweetened with syrup, or be flavored with cream cheese to make them savory. Another classic favorite is shrimp and grits. Then, there is every variety in between. They can be eaten for every meal, making them a super universal food.
One place to get a bag of grits to take as a souvenir is the Carolina Grits Company, in Nash County, North Carolina. They produce their grits in small batches and are gluten-free. Another plus is that there are no added preservatives. They can be found to purchase at several small business locations across the state.
So, grab a few bags and try out different types to find your grit calling. You’re sure to see why North Carolinians love them!
6. Bottle of Sand
Sand is another fun and beachy souvenir to take home with you. However, collecting sand from the beach itself is frowned upon and even illegal in most areas. This is due to how the depleting resource can and is significantly changing our ecosystems and landscapes. Sand is the third most widely used natural resource, and the world is quickly running out.
But, that doesn’t mean all hope is lost for having sand as a souvenir. Many beach gift shops sell little bottles of sand with the location stamped on them. Some are even decorated with little shells.
So, if you happen to enjoy collecting sand as a souvenir from all of your beach adventures, opt for getting it the legal way. You still have something fun to take home without the potential consequences.
7. Cheerwine Soda
Soda lovers unite! Cheerwine is a cherry-flavored soft drink that has a strong fan base. Founded in North Carolina, it was the first bottled cherry soda. It is sweet…possibly the sweetest soda ever…and made to pair perfectly with barbeque. It is flavored with cherry syrup, using less sugar than traditional sodas.
Cheerwine is mostly offered in the southern states and may be hard to come by otherwise. Most restaurants serve the beverage. So, while you’re out, try a glass to see if it hits the spot and you fall in love.
Whether you’re a new fan or old, picking up a few cases as a North Carolina souvenir may be the perfect thing to tame your nostalgia for a while.
8. Local Pottery
Seagrove, North Carolina is considered to be the pottery capital of the world. If you love handmade pottery pieces, this is an ideal souvenir to take home with you.
In Seagrove, you will not fall short on pottery to see. There, you will find the largest concentration of potters in the country, each with its own specialty. Whatever you are looking for, you are sure to find.
Asheville is another fantastic place to find a pottery souvenir while visiting North Carolina. One of the more popular places is East Fork, which designs, manufactures, and sells handmade pottery products. Each piece is made with regional materials native to the Asheville region.
Whether you are looking for just a couple of items or a full dinnerware set, pottery is something that can look great in any home. What better way to remember your trip than something you can see or use every day while supporting local NC potters?
9. Local Honey
It is said that the flavor of honey changes depending on where it is from. This is due to the flowers where the nectar was collected, the region it is from, and the season. Honey that is lighter in color has a milder flavor, while darker honey is stronger.
Local, raw honey is more flavorful and keeps more nutrients than store-bought varieties. Plus, you’re helping local, small-business beekeepers! Local honey is also known to help keep allergies where you live at bay and is a natural antiseptic.
North Carolina has more beekeepers than any other U.S. State, however, most of them are hobbyists. If you’re looking to take some local NC honey home as a souvenir, though, you’ll still have plenty of options.
If you want honey with a slightly unique spin, Charlotte-based Cloister Honey is the place to go! They infuse their local honey with different flavors such as bourbon, vanilla, and chipotle pepper. They also offer whipped honey in flavors such as cinnamon, cocoa, pumpkin spice, and chai. If you aren’t feeling quite so adventurous, Cloister Honey does offer standard honey varieties as well.
No matter where in NC you get it, local NC honey is a perfect souvenir to go with your tea, toast, or baking. Plus, as long as it is properly stored, honey will never go bad. So stock up and enjoy!
Wine local to where you are visiting is always a tasty souvenir to take home with you. Wine from North Carolina is no different. North Carolina has some of the most ideal growing conditions, making the wine extra delicious.
One of the more popular destinations for wine is none other than the famous Biltmore Estate Winery. Here, you can explore the vineyards with a gorgeous mountainous backdrop, enjoy some wine flights, and purchase bottles to take with you. There are 40-plus options to choose from, so finding a wine souvenir you love shouldn’t be a problem.
Of course, Biltmore isn’t the only winery in NC worth checking out. The state has about 200 wineries and over 500 vineyards, most of which with scenic landscapes of everything from mountains to the ocean.
Whether you are an Oenophile or just enjoy a glass now and then, taking home a bottle (or case) of North Carolina wine is a souvenir that can be enjoyed for years to come.
11. Blue Ridge Mountain Art
One of the most beautiful places to visit in North Carolina is the Blue Ridge Mountains. Whether viewing them from the bottom or the top, your breath will surely catch at the stunning sights.
What better souvenir to commemorate your trip than a gorgeous print of the mountains you hiked. Or what about the view from the cabin you stayed in?
You can hang art on your wall at home, and every time you walk by, remember the fresh mountain air, the sights, and the smells. There’s something so relaxing and calming about mountain air, am I right?
12. Model Lighthouse
Spanning the North Carolina coastline are seven lighthouses, each unique in its own way. If you’re making a trip to the beach, chances are you’ll find small replicas of the nearby lighthouses within the beachy gift shops.
The Outer Banks is home to five of these lighthouses. Each of them is a historic landmark and definitely worth checking out. Once you’ve climbed to the top, a model lighthouse is just the souvenir you need to remember your trip.
One souvenir that my husband and I have a tradition of snagging wherever we go is a mug. They’re small, easy to travel with, and boast something about the location on it. Plus, they get added to our rotation whenever we enjoy a cup of coffee, hot chocolate, or milk and cookies.
Mugs can be as simple as having a stamp of the state outline. Or, they can be from a tourist destination you have visited, such as Wilmington Beach or the Blue Ridge Mountains.
A North Carolina mug is a great souvenir to take home with you if you, too, like to collect mugs wherever you go. It’s something practical, will get used frequently, and are fun to look at as you’re sipping on whatever beverage makes its way within its walls.
There you have it! A list of souvenirs from North Carolina to remember your trip. If I am forgetting anything, feel free to comment on what your favorite North Carolina souvenir was from your travels.