Inside North Carolina’s Latest Entertainment Trends

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When most Americans think of North Carolina, their minds likely jump to scenic and pristine forests, historical landmarks, or even the up-and-coming NFL franchise, the Carolina Panthers. Not many people will immediately think about huge entertainment trends. After all, the state is known for its arts and culture, along with its natural parks.

Still, that doesn’t mean locals aren’t pushing the envelope when it comes to entertainment—local and otherwise. In fact, residents are incredibly active, seeking out the latest adventures in cities like Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, and Fayetteville. In these places, locals have similar options to other city-dwellers nationwide.

These venues run the gambit, from imaginative putt-putt courses to the very first VR arcades. Still, those who prefer to stay home don’t have to miss out on the fun. Locals can find dozens of online slots straight from their browser or mobile device—and plenty offer the same level of excitement as heading out to The Golfin Dolphin (see: putt-putt) or a similar venue.

From Assassin Moon to Cat Clans, there’s a huge variation that will suit just about any taste. Some, like Rocky’s Gold, even call back to the state’s long history of mining. But if you’re interested in hitting the road for an afternoon or evening of fun, consider one of the activities listed below.

Axe Throwing

This new trend is sweeping North America, as well as countries like Australia, New Zealand, and Poland. For centuries, axe throwing has been associated with lumberjacks. However, it’s now being touted as a modernized version of darts… with a bit more danger involved.

In the past, axe throwing has been offered at folk festivals and certain theme parks. However, some businesspeople are now setting up venues that focus solely on axe throwing. Have no fear—most locations include introductory lessons for newcomers. No experience needed. 

Escape Rooms

If you enjoy puzzles and small rooms, consider reserving a slot at your local escape room. This trend began in the early 2010s and has since become a favorite throughout North America, East Asia, and Europe. The goal is for a small group to find their way out of a room within a certain amount of time. They’ve become so popular that some companies use them to promote team-building.

Escape rooms offer variation in terms of theme and difficulty. Some are horror-themed, requiring groups to find their way out of a hellish setting. Others are designed with mathematics in mind, requiring players to solve incredibly difficult logic puzzles.

Ghost Tours

For tourists and locals alike, ghost tours are becoming a major attraction worldwide. Many incorporate elements of local history and folklore, which make them a quasi-cultural tour. Similar to escape rooms, ghost tours are created with different audiences in mind. Some emphasize horror stories and might include moments spent in a blacked-out room to heighten the sense of unease. Others will stick to historical facts, weaving in spooky tales or ghost sightings.

Arcades

There’s always a new frontier when it comes to nightlife. In the last decade, a growing sense of nostalgia from those who grew up in the 1980s and 90s has pushed arcade gaming back onto the scene. Today, many arcades are created with adults in mind, offering old-school throwbacks like Space Invaders and pinballs with newer releases like Street Fighter.

Keep in mind that many arcades double as nightlife venues. Only a select few are designed to cater to gamers specifically.

Heritage Festivals

Statewide, North Carolina has kept in touch with its folk roots. From Charlotte to Greensboro to Asheville, locals are more likely to engage with their roots than in larger states like California or Florida. This has led to a growing number of heritage festivals that touch on a variety of lifestyles and traditions.

There’s the Grandfather Mountain Scottish Highland Games, which runs every July and recreates the traditional Highland games. Meanwhile, Rogallo Kite Festival offers a family-friendly romp on the beach. For a truly unforgettable afternoon, consider the Carolina Renaissance Festival, which runs each December.

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