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North Carolina
North Carolina State Flag of North Carolina

North Carolina

Natural attractions in North Carolina range from sandy beaches in the east to high mountain ranges in the west. Charlotte, the largest city, is a thriving convention and entertainment center. The barrier islands along the coast include resorts, fishing villages and stretches of national seashore. North Carolina is full of exciting National Parks as well as home to the some of the countries premiere golfing vacations.

Travel Information

Outer Banks
Disney’s Family Fun magazine recently named North Carolina’s Outer Banks the #1 beach in the Southeast. A great family vacation place, you can experience a variety of exciting activities, including jet skiing, windsurfing, surfing, kayaking or sailing. The Outer Banks is also home to such attractions as the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Wright Brothers National Memorial, Fort Raleigh National Historic site and many other intriguing cultural, historical, and natural sites.


Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Stretched over 70 miles of barrier islands, Cape Hatteras National Seashore is a fascinating combination of natural and cultural resources, and provides a wide variety of recreational opportunities. Once dubbed the "Graveyard of the Atlantic" for its treacherous currents, shoals, and storms, Cape Hatteras has a wealth of history relating to shipwrecks, lighthouses, and the U.S. Lifesaving Service. These dynamic islands provide a variety of habitats and are a valuable wintering area for migrating waterfowl. For thousands of years this expanse of curving islands have survived the constant battering of the ocean during storm. The long narrow conglomerate of beaches, dunes and marshlands stretch out into the Atlantic Ocean and curve back around sheltering the main coast of North Carolina.

  • Visitor Center
    The Hatteras Island Visitor Center (located at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in Buxton) is the main interpretive center in the park. It is open year-round, and houses a variety of exhibits on park themes, a book store, and restrooms.
  • Hiking
    The hiker will find several trails, including the Buxton Woods Nature Trail near the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the Hammock Hills Nature Trail on Ocracoke Island and the Bodie Island Pond Trail and Dike Trail, both in close proximity to the Bodie Island Lighthouse.
  • Fishing/Boating
    Most of the beach and sound area is open to fishing, and during the spring and fall, many consider this spot to be the best fishing on the East Coast. There are several boat ramps maintained by the National Park Service and most local marinas offer charter services.
  • Camping
    Camping must be done in designated campgrounds. All campgrounds are open during the summer season and come with a modest camping fee. These campgrounds have many amenities including showers, tables, outdoor grills and restrooms, but no utility hookups are provided. Dumping stations are located near Oregon Inlet, Cape Point, and Ocracoke campgrounds.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
This national park, in the states of North Carolina and Tennessee, encompasses 800 square miles of which 95 percent are forested. World renowned for the diversity of its plant and animal resources, the beauty of its ancient mountains, the quality of its remnants of American pioneer culture, and the depth and integrity of the wilderness sanctuary within its boundaries, it is one of the largest protected areas in the east.

  • Visitor Center
    The Sugarlands Visitor Center, near Gatlinburg, TN, is open year-round and offers an orientation program and natural history exhibits. Oconaluftee Visitor Center, near Cherokee, NC, is also open year-round and its exhibits focus on mountain life of the late 1800s. Adjacent to the visitor center is the Mountain Farm Museum, a collection of historic farm buildings. Cades Cove Visitor Center, near Townsend, TN, (closed in winter), sits among preserved historic buildings representing isolated farming communities of the 1800s.
  • Hiking
    More than 800 miles of trails provide opportunities ranging from ten-minute saunters on quiet walkways to weeklong adventures deep in the forest. There are about 170 miles of paved roads and over 100 miles of gravel roads. The "backroads" offer a chance to escape traffic and enjoy the more remote areas of the park. During the summer and fall, the park provides regularly scheduled ranger-led interpretive walks and talks.
  • Camping
    LeConte Lodge, accessible only by foot or horseback, sits atop 6,593-foot Mt. LeConte, the Park's third highest peak. Reservations are required and the lodge is opened mid-March to mid-November. A variety of lodging facilities are available in the outlying communities. Frontcountry Campgrounds has ten developed campgrounds. Cades Cove in Tennessee and Smokemont in North Carolina are open year round. The other campgrounds are generally open from late March/April to early November. Camping fees range from $12 to $20 per night. Backcountry Campsites camping is free but requires a permit. Most campsites use self-registration at visitor centers or ranger stations, but shelters and rationed sites require reservations.

Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest and National Recreation Trail
This ancient hardwood forest has been preserved as a tribute to the poet of "Trees," who was killed in action during World War I. The winding two-mile recreational trail passes under enormous yellow poplars (some over 100 feet high). The 3,800-acre preserve has the most old growth trees in the eastern United States. The figure eight looping trail is a perfect family hike through a dark and enchanting primeval forest. About half a mile into the trek, the trail comes to the center of the eight, where a plaque has been placed in honor of Kilmer.

Wright Brothers National Memorial
Wind, sand, and the dream of flight brought Wilbur and Orville Wright to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, where they achieved the first successful airplane flights on December 17, 1903. With courage and perseverance, these self-taught engineers relied on teamwork and the application of scientific process.

The first stop is the visitor center, where the story of the Wright Brothers is told through exhibits and full-scale reproductions of the 1902 glider and the 1903 flying machine. A large granite boulder near the reconstructed 1903 camp buildings, marks the spot where the first airplane left the ground. Numbered markers indicated the distance of each of the four flights made on December 17, 1903. One of the 1903 camp buildings duplicates the one used by the brothers as a hangar for the 1903 Flyer. The other is similar to the one used as a workshop and living quarters; it is furnished with items much like those the Wrights used when they were there. The Wright Memorial Shaft crowns Big Kill Devil Hill, a 90-foot dune of once-shifting sand that has been stabilized with grass. The 60-foot pylon, constructed of gray granite from Mount Airy, North Carolina, honors the Wright Brothers and marks the site of the hundreds of glider flights that preceded the first powered flight.

North Carolina is a hotspot for golfing vacations. The golf courses in North Carolina are among the world's finest and most accessible. From the mountains to the coast, North Carolina is home to a variety of beautifully conditioned golf courses that are always prepared to challenge players of all levels. When you play golf in North Carolina, you can challenge the subtle dignity of world-famous Pinehurst No. 2 and the numerous other courses that dot the famous Sandhills. Or visit the North Carolina coast where you can walk along fairways that meander along the ocean and then relax on the beach. Or you can stand high on an elevated tee and revel in beautiful mountain scenery.

North Carolina Facts

Population: 7,070,000.

State Capital: Raleigh.

Entered the Union: November 21, 1789 as the 12th state.

State Motto: Esse quam videri (To be rather than to seem).

Origin of Name: In honor of Charles I of England.

State Bird: Cardinal.

State Flower: Dogwood.

State Nickname: Tar Heel State.