If you’re wondering what the Tarheel State means it refers to the refusal of North Carolina soldiers to yield an inch of their territory during the Civil War. As one of America’s earliest colonies, North Carolina is a treasure chest of historical towns, battlefields, and folksy mountain hamlets. But it’s also one of the American south’s most forward-thinking states, with modern cities like Charlotte and plenty of brain power in the Research Triangle towns of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill.
The great thing about North Carolina is that it offers a taste of everything for travelers. Its east coast is lined with quiet beautiful beaches along the Outer Banks, while the western side of the state is nothing but rolling Appalachian mountains and old-timey towns. In between, the relatively flat Piedmont region is a golfer’s mecca and home to the state’s main cities of note. Within a single trip you can easily enjoy the sea, the cities, and the mountains without much wasted travel time.
No matter where you go in North Carolina you’re likely to be greeted with warmth and welcome. These are friendly people, who know they live in a very pretty part of America. Drop the diet to feast on Carolina barbecue and fresh seafood, washed down with a few pints from its impressive craft brewing scene. You can find luxury accommodation and dining in all the main cities, but overall you won’t pay much for the tasty food and comfortable hotels in this state.
While towns like Asheville in the western mountains and Wilmington along the coast provide incredible urban attractions, North Carolina really shines in its outdoor recreation and natural scenery. With the Great Smoky Mountains, Blue Ridge Mountains, and Appalachians to choose from you can enjoy hiking, biking, and boating in hundreds of different spots. This is one state where the outdoors and the cities blend seamlessly.
But to really experience any of the state’s beauty you’ll need your own car. Even within the cities themselves a car will prove essential to going out at night for dinner and drinks or heading into the countryside for a morning hike. The driving in North Carolina is one of the highlights, whether along its coastal Route 12 or through the winding Blue Ridge Parkway. Having your own wheels is a travel attraction in itself, and will easily pay for itself in fun and memories.
- Sip the state’s tastiest beers at one of dozen or so craft breweries in Asheville, the hub of North Carolina’s craft brewing scene
- Keep an eye out for deer and black bears along the 800 miles of hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains
- Explore the historic downtown district of Wilmington, the coolest town of North Carolina’s coast, and feast on its seafood
- Play a few rounds in the Pinehurst Sandhills, one of the world’s premier golfing destinations with 35 courses to choose from
- Wander the empty beaches of the Outer Banks, where pirates once anchored and shell hunters now roam
- Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway in fall and experience the colorful beauty of the Appalachian mountains and its charming towns like Boone and Brevard
- Eat some Carolina barbecue in small towns like Tryon and discover your favorite version of the Carolina sauce