North Carolina vacations
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 centers on Riverwalk, with numerous shops and restaurants. Nearby, tour the Battleship North Carolina, a highly decorated World War II U.S. battleship.
The Piedmont area is the flat central section of the state. The area around Raleigh is known as the Research Triangle, with the great universities of Wake Forest, UNC at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State. Stroll the beautiful campuses and watch exciting college sports.
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.
Take a family raft adventure at Charlotte’s manmade U.S. National Whitewater Center. If you’re an expert, run the rapids in your own whitewater kayak, or rent one for the day.
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.