North Carolina

North Carolina Overview

North Carolina has the highest mountain peaks in the eastern U.S. and 300 miles of shoreline—something for every taste. Drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway, which winds through two national forests, and stop at Biltmore, America’s largest privately owned home, near Asheville. You’ll find restaurants (try the state’s famous barbecue) and cultural activities in Raleigh, Charlotte and the college town of Chapel Hill. And on the barrier islands of the Outer Banks, you can visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial, site of man’s first powered flight—or stay on the ground with your toes in the sand.

Here naturally beautiful landscapes stretch from the coast to the Great Smoky Mountains. Explore the breath-taking views the range offers while hiking, camping, rafting or zip lining. Along the coast, make time to relax or find adventure. Dive into water sports, including kiteboarding, surfing, stand-up paddle boarding or kayaking. Climb historic lighthouses or board a historic battleship. Savour Calabash seafood, fresh from the sea and fried to golden perfection in a style all its own. And get your camera ready: wild horses roam over the sands of two separate banks here.

With all there is to do on land and by sea, save time for all that’s happening within North Carolina’s vibrant cities and eclectic college towns. Here the dynamic natural landscape gives way to vineyards and valleys, as well as premiere golf and stock car courses, historic sites, plentiful shopping and restaurants that carry on the state’s distinct culinary tradition. Foodies can indulge in delights from James Beard nominees and barbecue pit masters alike. And those looking for nightlife will find the cities filled with a booming music scene, bustling breweries and enough entertainment to last for several lifetimes. Whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation, mountains or beaches, the rhythm of city life or the tranquillity of nature, your stay in North Carolina will definitely stay with you.

 

Must See Places in North Carolina

Great Smoky Mountain National Park

These mountains, so named for the thin blue mist that floats around them, cover 111,693 hectares of the state, encompassing charming small towns that preserve the area’s unique cultural history and offering a variety of outdoor diversions, from climbing to rafting.

Outer Banks

This 200-mile stretch of barrier islands offers natural beauty, rich history, and lovely towns. Learn about the region at the Outer Banks History Centre and the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum and enjoy a drive on the Outer Banks Scenic Byway

Blue Ridge Parkway

Nicknamed “America’s favourite drive,” the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway was designed by landscape architect Stanley Abbott whose vision was to create a road that was far more than just a way to get from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina to the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, with its scenic hiking trails. The drive itself has incredible views of the Blue Ridge mountains and the surrounding landscape.

Biltmore Estate

The USA’s largest private home sprawls across impressive grounds, has 250 rooms and an ornate façade that barely fits in your camera frame. Nearby Antler Hill Village features the award-winning Biltmore Winery as well as dining, shopping and historical exhibits.

Linville Gorge and Falls

Known as the “Grand Canyon of the East,” Linville Gorge is the deepest and one of the most scenic gorges in the eastern United States. Located in the Pisgah National Forest, the Linville River enters the gorge at Linville Falls and drops 90 feet, continuing for 12 miles within the steep rock walls.

Grandfather Mountain

One of the cliffs on this imposing 1,828-metre high mountain looks just like an old man, hence the name. Within its scope, you’ll find the region’s most ecologically diverse nature preserve and possibly encounter bears, cougars, otter, bald eagle and deer. Take in a view from Mile High Swinging Bridge, stroll nature paths or hike the alpine trails.

 

 

Video Credit: Visit North Carolina

Suggested Itineraries, Escorted Tours and Accommodation in North Carolina

View our suggestions for what is possible when you travel in North Carolina, and see itinerary routes and escorted tours we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.

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Stretching from the Atlantic Ocean’s beaches to the Appalachian Mountains, this state also has exciting cities and charming small towns.

North Carolina has several distinct regions from the ocean to the mountains. The easternmost territory includes the Outer Banks, barrier islands that protect the mainland. Travel up and down these narrow strips of peninsulas and islands to enjoy sandy beaches, iconic lighthouses, giant sand dunes and beautiful sunrises. Visit Kitty Hawk, where the Wright Brothers made some of man’s earliest airplane flights.

Just inland, the town of Wilmington on the Cape Fear River centres on Riverwalk, with numerous shops and restaurants. Nearby, tour the Battleship North Carolina, a highly decorated World War II U.S. battleship.

Charlotte, one of the nation’s largest banking cities, has an exciting uptown. Visit the area to enjoy professional football, basketball, baseball and NASCAR racing. See performances of the philharmonic orchestra, opera, touring Broadway shows and numerous other artist groups throughout the year at the seven sites of the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center.

West of Charlotte, visit the Appalachian Mountains for outdoor activities. Hike trails to waterfalls. In spring, the hills light up with pink rhododendrons. Although the state is part of the typically warm southern U.S., you’ll find enough cold weather in the mountains for downhill skiing. Try Sugar Mountain Resort or Appalachian Ski Mountain near the college town of Boone.

Asheville is home to the Biltmore Estate, originally owned by George Vanderbilt, now a resort with public access. Explore gardens designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who created New York’s Central Park. Go horseback riding, hike on wooded trails or take the Christmas tour through the Biltmore home, decorated with more than 50 Christmas trees.