NC Attractions

NC Attractions Mountains to the Coast

The state of North Carolina has a lot to offer and NC attractions are numerous, from the mountains to the coasts. Some of the attractions are known world-wide like the Outer Banks, the Great Smoky Mountains, Linn Cove Viaduct on the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Many are what make North Carolina such a great state to visit or come to for vacation. Here are just a few of them listed by region.

Coastal Region NC  Attractions

CH Lighthouse Marsh

CH Lighthouse Marsh

Cape Hatteras National Seashore-located at the Outer Banks of NC. Preserves the beaches from Bodie Island to Ocracoke Island. Includes Pea Island a refuge for migratory birds in the winter. Cape Hatteras National Seashore offers a wide variety of recreational activities along the NC coast such as surfing, boating, kiteboarding, windsurfing, fishing, shelling, plus more.

Wright Brothers National Memorial-the location where flight began by Orville and Wilbur Wright in the early 1900’s. See reproductions of the 1902 glider, the 1903 flying machine, and the location where the flights took place. Climb Big Kill Devil Hill. Stand where the brothers experimented with flight. Visitors Center.

North Carolina Aquariums -3 public aquariums are located in coastal North Carolina: Kure Beach, Roanoke Island and Pine Knoll Shores. Over a million people visit annually. Includes indoor and outdoor exhibits, educational programs, classrooms, meeting spaces and gift shop.

Jockey’s Ridge– the largest natural sand dune on the east coast. On the North Carolina Outer Banks in Nags Head. Overs 426 acres of natural wind-swept sand dunes. Watch hangliders soar from the dunes or take lessons.

Roanoke Island Festival Park- an attraction that celebrates the first English settlement in America. Tour the Elizabeth II with costumed 16th-century sailors. In the park try traditional woodworking, play Elizabethan games, and stroll through the Settlement Site. Discover 400 years of local Outer Banks history in the Roanoke Adventure Museum.

Cape Lookout National Seashore-preserves a 56-mile long stretch of beaches at the Southern Outer Banks (The Crystal Coast) from Ocracoke Inlet to Beaufort Inlet. Site of Cape Lookout Lighthouse.

Ocracoke Island-a small and remote island and part of the NC Outer Banks. Named the #1 beach in America in 2007 for its clean and white sandy beaches. Only accessible by ferry, boat or small plane.

The Lost Colony-an outdoor drama that takes place at the waterfront theater on Roanoke Island on the Outer Banks. The tragic and mysterious story of the first English colonists who attempted to settle in the New World.

Battleship North Carolina-USS North Carolina (BB-55). Moored across the river from downtown Wilmington. Walk her decks and learn about her crew that was stationed in the Pacific during World War II. Learn about the ghost that haunt the battleship.

Elizabethan Gardens- a 10.5 acre public garden located at Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. Over 500 different types of plants including colorful hydrangea, camellias, historic herbs and native coastal species. Flower displays are changed seasonally to insure year round beautiful displays. Available for weddings.

Fort Fisher State Historic Site- a confederate fort during the Civil War. Kept North Carolina’s port of Wilmington open to blockade-runners supplying necessary goods to Confederate armies inland.About ten percent of Fort Fisher still stands along with a restored palisade fence. Tours and a Visitors Center.

Shackleford Banks Wild Horses- a barrier island on the southern coast of NC. Home to a herd of feral horses “Banker Horses”. Legend is these horses are descendants of Spanish Mustangs that survived a long ago shipwreck, swam ashore and established residence on Shackleford Banks.

Piedmont Region NC Attractions

Museum of Natural Science

Museum of Natural Science

North Carolina Zoo-family fun with animals and exhibits. 500 acre zoo with wildlife from two different continents:from Africa’s grasslands to North America’s Arctic coast. Just outside of Asheboro, NC. Special exhibits, educational and entertaining.


Charlotte Motor Speedway- a motorsports complex located in Concord, NC and 13 miles from Charlotte. The complex features a 1.5 miles oval track. The Charlotte Motor Speedway is the site of the NASCAR race the Coco-Cola 500.

Sylvan Heights Waterfowl Park-has over 2,000 swans, ducks, geese and other exotic birds from around the world. A 18-acre facility displaying birds from South America, North America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. Also has natural areas and gardens that add to the beauty of the birds on exhibit. Located at 500 Sylvan Heights Park Way, Scotland Neck, NC.

Carowinds Amusement Park- a 398-acre amusement park. On the North Carolina and South Carolina border, about 15 miles from Charlotte. Open from March till October. Has rides, entertainment and food fo the entire family to enjoy.

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences Located in the capital city Raleigh, NC. The largest museum of its kind in the Southeast. Exhibits, programs and field experiences, providing visitors the opportunity to get up close and personal with science and nature. Offers permanent and special exhibits, live programs and educational films for all ages.

NC State Fair-The North Carolina State Fair is held every year in October at the NC state fair grounds. Rides, animals, concerts, entertainment, food, crafts and exhibits. A tradition each year for many North Carolinians.

Mount Airy, NC-Actor Andy Griffith was born in Mount Airy. The town is reportedly the basis for the fictitious city of Mayberry on the 1960’s TV show The Andy Griffith Show. A popular tourist attraction.

Hickory Furniture Mart- a unique mix of factory outlets, custom showrooms and private galleries. A four level complex with home furnishings, accessories, indoor and outdoor lighting, artwork, fine oriental rugs, fabrics, and personal design services.

Seagrove Potteries-home to the Museum of NC Traditional Pottery and the yearly Seagrove Pottery Festival. A 200-year-old working community of potters. Located in downtown Seagrove. Museum, pottery shops and galleries.

Tryon Palace a modern reconstruction of the historical colonial royal governors’ palace of the Province of North Carolina. Built in the 1950s across from the original mansion site. Located in New Bern, North Carolina.

Mountain Region NC Attractions
Linn Cove Viaduct near near Boone a great NC fall foliage trip.

Linn Cove Viaduct near near Boone a great NC fall foliage trip.

Great Smoky Mountains-mountains in western NC. Also site of The Great Smoky Mountain Nation Park which is the second most visited national park in the US.

Grandfather Mountain– a North Carolina mountain state park near Linville, North Carolina. Elevation is 5,945 feet. Famous for the swinging bridge if you dare to cross, but the views are oh so pretty of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Cateloochee- historic buildings preserved in the valley, including two churches, a school, and several homes and outbuildings. Valley surrounded by 6000-foot mountain peaks. Can see wildlife such as  elk, deer, turkey, and other wildlife.

Biltmore House- a large private estate and tourist attraction in Asheville, North Carolina. Main house, gardens and grounds, Antler Village and Winery are open to the public for touring.

Blue Ridge Parkway- a National Parkway with breath-taking mountain and valley views. A 469 mile long scenic highway mostly along the Blue Ridge. Has milepost marked stops with overlooks and visitor centers. Starts in Virginia at the Shenandoah National Park and ends in Cherokee at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I must driving tour in the autumn season during the fall foliage show.

Cherokee-The ancestral homeland of the Cherokee Indians and location to the south entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Learn about the Cherokee heritage and during the summer see the outdoor drama Unto These Hills.

Chimney Rock State Park– a 1000-acre mountain N  attraction with hiking trails and great views from Chimney Rock. Several movies have been filmed here including The Last of the Mohicans.

Mount Mitchell State Park- the highest mountain peak in the eastern United States. A fantastic view from the Observation Deck. Located 35 miles northeast of Asheville, NC.

Clingmans Dome-the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at 6,643 feet. The observation tower on the summit has a 360° view of the Great Smoky Mountains with views of seven states.

Fontana Dam- a hydroelectric dam on the Little Tennessee River. Fontana Dam is the tallest concrete dam in the Eastern United States at a height of 480 feet. The size of the reservoir  is about 11,700 acres with  240 miles of shoreline of about 240 miles. Fontana Dam is located near Fontana Village, NC.

Mast General Stores-traditional mercantile goods, clothing, footwear and outdoor gear. Multiple locations in North Carolina: Valle Crucis, Boone, Asheville, Waynesville and Hendersonville. Recognized by the National Register of Historic Places. Stocked with outdoor clothing and gear, old fashion candy, toys, pottery and home decor and more.

Chruches of the Frescoes- St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in West Jefferson and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Glendale Springs. Fresco artist Ben Long created magnificent works. See his images Mary Great with Child, John the Baptist, and The Mystery of Faith and The Last Supper at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Glendale Springs.Thousands of people visit the frescoes each year.

Harrah’s Cherokee casino a casino located in Cherokee, North Carolina. Feature live table games like Blackjack, Roulette, Craps, Digital Blackjack and Baccarito. Hotel and casino.

A quick tour of the beautiful state of North Carolina, see for yourself…