North Carolina has something for everyone. It’s a deceptively large state, stretching over 500 miles from the Atlantic Ocean to the Appalachian Mountains, with a temperate, four-season climate.
Since North Carolina has more than 300 miles of coastline, beach vacationers have a variety of choices. The Outer Banks barrier islands are home to wild ponies, shifting dunes, lighthouses… and an increasing number of foodies. It’s also the home of powered flight with the Wright Brothers Memorial iconic attraction. It also boasts one of the best off-shore fishing fleets in the world.
Oceanfront options range from roughing it on isolated shores to classic beach resorts with old-fashioned boardwalks and fishing piers. For a rivertown urban experience, Wilmington, home of North Carolina’s movie industry, fits the bill.
The state’s western edge is bordered by the East Coast’s highest mountains. Hiking, rock climbing, skiing, whitewater rafting and kayaking are popular activities. Scenic drives take you to waterfalls, rushing rivers and incomparable views in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains.
The best mountain road trips cut through the region’s national parks. Travel down the Blue Ridge Parkway or over the Great Smoky Mountains, with a visit for Native American culture in Cherokee. Americana music lovers enjoy bluegrass and old-time string music seemingly heard in every town square and general store. For mountain culture with urban amenities, don’t miss Asheville.
Between the ocean beaches and the western mountains lies the Piedmont. This is where you will find North Carolina’s great cities and many of its famous universities and sports teams. Charlotte, home of the NFL Carolina Panthers, NBA Hornets and the Charlotte Motor Speedway, is the largest city in the Carolinas. It displays big art and food scenes to match. The city’s Uptown is where museums celebrate everything from art and history to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. It is eminently walkable and perfect for a getaway weekend.
North of Charlotte up Interstate 85 lies the Triad – Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point, steeped in history. One of the earliest colonies in the region, Old Salem, which still retains distinct Germanic elements, is located in Winston-Salem. The Battle of Guilford Courthouse, fought within the city limits of Greensboro, proved a major turning point in the Revolutionary War. The battlefield is well worth a visit. High Point, long the center of the international furniture trade, opens its showrooms to visitors looking for a bargain.
The Triad is the gateway to the North Carolina Wine Region. Stretching across the Piedmont, over 100 wineries offer vintages made from both European and Native American grapes. The Yadkin Valley lies in the heart of the wine country, with some of the oldest established vineyards.
Head eastbound on I-85/I-40 to the Capital region, known as the Triangle, and ground zero for the Carolina foodie movement. This includes Durham, home of Duke University with its famous medical center and basketball team, as well as the cutting-edge Research Triangle Park. Just south lies Chapel Hill, site of the main campus of the University of North Carolina and its Tarheel sports teams. Raleigh is North Carolina’s family-friendly state capital, with many free museums and historic sites.
Looking for beaches? North Carolina has some of the best. Mountains? North Carolina has the highest on the East Coast. Urban charms and foodie delights? Museums, authentic American music or NASCAR racing? North Carolina has them all.
Big thanks go to Renee Wright for this introduction to get us started while we look for the perfect destination specialist. (If that’s you, please contact us.)