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North Carolina, located between South Carolina and Georgia on the south, Virginia to the north, Tennessee to the west and the beautiful Atlantic Ocean to the east, is one of the original thirteen colonies that comprised the then-new and unexplored continent upon which the Europeans set foot.
It is understandable why they landed here as it has around three hundred miles of coastline on the Atlantic Ocean. The coast line isn’t the only amazing thing about North Carolina, from sea level the elevation rises to around six and a half thousand feet at Mount Mitchell, the highest point of the Appalachian Mountains, the highest in North Carolina and on this side of the continent as well.
The state of North Carolina is also packed with history, tradition and great stories to tell. When visiting, you can see the remains of ancient cities Native Americans erected before the first settlers arrived. Then you can take a walk through the memorials from the Revolutionary war as North Carolina was the first to vote for independence and take up arms against Great Britain. You can find many buildings from that period and later, from the Civil war, still standing as a homage to the times past.
1. Blue Ridge Parkway
When coming to North Carolina from Virginia in the north, make sure you take the scenic route as you will be left in awe and your journey through to North Carolina will have a beautiful start. The Parkway runs mostly along the Appalachian Mountains, mainly the Blue Ridge (ergo, the name) and offers a fantastic sight for almost five hundred miles connecting Great Smoky Mountains National Park with Shenandoah National Park. The view, especially on higher parts of the parkway, is just breathtaking, as you see the peaks, the forests, and rivers, small and lulled towns. It offers a unique and picturesque horizon regardless of the season.
2. Linville Gorge and Linville Falls
If you wish to explore the beautiful nature North Carolina has to offer, a great place to go to is Linville Gorge. Located in the Pisgah National Forest, the gorge provides a unique place to enjoy nature and listen to the waterfall humming as the water drops almost 90 feet. There is a short trail from the point on the Parkway to the gorge, but the sight is definitely worth the walk.
Location: Milepost 316 on Blue Ridge Parkway
3. Battleship North Carolina
A remnant of the World War II era located in Wilmington, this battleship offers its visitors a unique opportunity to see what the life on a battle cruiser was like. You can see the officer quarters, the deck and the many halls and ammo rooms, and mostly you can awe at the sight of massive guns and imagine what it was like to fire them.
Address: 1 Battleship Rd NE, Wilmington, NC 28401
Open hours: 8 AM – 5 PM
Price: Adults: 12 and over – $14; Children: 6 through 11 – $6, 5 and under – free; Seniors: 65 and over – $10; Military personnel, active or retired, with families – $10.
4. The Biltmore Estate
If you wish to see a chateau resembling those which can be found all around France and Germany, dating from the Renaissance and later, to wander the beautiful and spacious rooms and be a prince or a princess for a day, then the Biltmore Estate is the one stop you must visit as you can book a room and stay the night! Located in Asheville, apart from amazing architecture, you can also take a horse carriage and explore the estate.
Address: 1 Lodge Street, Asheville, NC 28803-2662
Open hours: 9 AM – 5 PM
Price: Adults – $75; Children under 16 – free
5. North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
This museum consists of two separate buildings for you to explore, is located in Raleigh, and is one of the oldest museums in the state, boasting with the biggest exhibition this side of the United States. So, if you wish to find out what the east side of the continent looked like millenniums ago, and to see an exhibition of a dinosaur on full display, make sure you visit it!
Address: 11 West Jones Street, Raleigh, NC 27601; 121 West Jones Street, Raleigh, NC 27603
Open hours: Monday through Saturday: 9 AM – 5 PM; Sunday: noon – 5 PM
6. Outer Banks
The Outer Banks represent a 200-mile long barrier of islands off North Carolina which you can visit by car and take a swim on either side of them. If you feel like swimming in the Atlantic Ocean, eating the delicious local seafood or just enjoying the view of the ocean and wanting to go for a walk on the sandy beaches, then this group of connected islands is just for you!
7. Wheels Through Time Museum
Located in Maggie Valley, this museum boasts a great collection of rare motorcycles, having an array of around three hundred of these fantastic machines. If you wish to learn a bit more about this side of the American heritage, come and visit it.
Address: 62 Vintage Lane, Maggie Valley, NC 28751
Open hours: 9 AM – 5 PM (closed Tuesday and Wednesday)
Price: Adults (15 and up) – $15; Seniors (65+) – $12; Children (6-14) – $7; Children (5 and under) – free
8. Airborne and Special Operations Museum
Erected to represent the amazing achievements of the airborne and spec ops troops, this museum is a great way to get to know this part of the American history and learn about the amazing feats of the US Army’s brave soldiers from WWII onward.
Address: 100 Bragg Blvd. Fayetteville, NC 28301
Open hours: Tuesday to Saturday: 10 AM – 5 PM; Sunday: 12 PM – 5 PM; closed on Mondays
9. Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
One of the tallest brick lighthouses in the US is located on Outer Banks, the series of islands just outside of North Carolina facing the Atlantic Ocean. You can climb it and from the balcony, you will see a fantastic view of the Atlantic Ocean stretching before you. It is a great sight to see and to visit the adjacent museum to learn a bit more about the dangerous waters surrounding North Carolina.
Address: 46379 Lighthouse Rd, Buxton, NC 27920
Open hours: 9 AM – 4:30 PM
Price: Adults – $8; Seniors (62 or older) – $4; Children – $4
10. New Belgium Brewing Company
If you wish to find out more about the amazing beverage called beer, then the New Belgium Brewing Company tour is just for you. Located in Asheville, it is a unique opportunity to learn how it is made, try out some new types of beer and have great fun along the way!
Address: 21 Craven St. Asheville, NC
Open hours: Monday through Saturday: 11 AM – 8 PM; Sunday: 11:30 AM – 8 PM
Price: Free for daily tours; private tour – $250 for up to 25 people; private behind-the-scenes tour – $200 for up to 10 guests
From the Atlantic Ocean to Murphy, and between Raleigh, the capital of the state, and Charlotte, the most populous city, you can see and experience many stories, go on fun activities, learn something along the way and most definitely enjoy your stay in North Carolina!