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Get Back to a Better Place | The "Good Life" in North Carolina
Video screenshot showing wild horses and a lighthouse in coastal North Carolina
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A World of Scenic Discovery

North Carolina’s naturally beautiful landscapes stretch from the Atlantic Ocean coast to the Great Smoky Mountains, providing nearly 140,000 square kilometers of scenic bliss. Explore breathtaking mountaintop views while hiking, camping, rafting or zip lining, then nestle into a cozy mountain cottage. Along the coast, dive into water sports such as kiteboarding, surfing, kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding. Climb historic lighthouses, including the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the country’s tallest; board the impressive Battleship North Carolina; or take in both a sunrise and sunset from Cape Lookout National Seashore.

No matter how you choose to explore, you’ll find it easy to dive into adventures that are just as environmentally friendly as they are exciting. The state is committed to preserving its incredible vistas for generations to come: Kick back in eco-friendly lodging and dine in farm-to-table eateries, then head out to green attractions like the reptile sanctuary at Swamp Park. Maintain a safe distance as you marvel at diverse native wildlife, from wild horses on the banks of the Crystal Coast to over 475 species of birds in parks, forests and nature preserves statewide.


Urban Delights and Local Charm

With all there is to do on land and by sea, save time for North Carolina’s spirited cities and eclectic college towns. The dynamic natural landscape gives way to hundreds of vineyards and valleys, premier golf courses, stock car tracks, historic sites, plentiful shopping and enticing restaurants that carry on the state’s distinctive culinary tradition. Foodies can indulge in delights from barbecue pit masters, award-winning chefs, brew masters, vintners and even Moravian cookie makers. North Carolina’s oyster farmers employ sustainable techniques to preserve the area’s natural biodiversity while fostering an exciting ocean-to-table dining scene. You can get an up-close look at the action and even sample shellfish straight from the water on boat tours all along the North Carolina Oyster Trail. Those looking for nightlife will find cosmopolitan neighborhoods booming with the rhythm of city life. Exciting music scenes, bustling breweries and enough entertainment to last a lifetime await in colorful hub cities like Raleigh and Charlotte.

Get Back to a Better Place | The "Good Life" in North Carolina
Video screenshot showing wild horses and a lighthouse in coastal North Carolina
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Fun Fact

Cherokee artisan weaving a basket at the Qualla Arts & Crafts Mutual in Cherokee, North Carolina
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The Qualla Boundary, which stretches across Swain and Haywood counties, is the ancestral home of the Cherokee. It encompasses the Cherokee's mother town, the Museum of the Cherokee Indian and other attractions that highlight this ancient culture.

The Wright Brothers Memorial reaches into the sky
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This state gets bragging rights to First in Flight. The Wright brothers' historic flight took off at Kill Devil Hills in 1903 and successfully ended, 12 seconds later.

Ready for the fire at Skylight Inn BBQ
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Eat your way down the North Carolina Barbecue Society Historic Barbecue Trail, which highlights 24 stops that roast pig the old-fashioned way, slowly over pits of wood or charcoal.

Must see places

Fall colors at Newfound Gap in the Great Smoky Mountains

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

These mountains, so named for the thin blue mist that floats around them, cover 111,693 hectares of the state, encompassing charming small towns that preserve the area’s unique cultural history and offering a variety of outdoor adventures, from climbing to rafting to camping.

The massive European-style gardens at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville

Biltmore Estate

The USA’s largest private residence sprawls across impressive grounds (a 3,237-hectare backyard where you can horseback ride, for instance), has 250 rooms and an ornate façade that barely fits in your camera frame. Nearby Antler Hill Village features the award-winning Biltmore Winery as well as dining, shopping historical exhibits and two hotel properties perfect for longer visits.

The Mile High Swinging Bridge at Grandfather Mountain in Linville

Grandfather Mountain

One of the cliffs on this imposing 1,828-meter high mountain looks just like an old man, hence the name. Within its scope, you’ll find rock formations more than a billion years old and the region’s most ecologically diverse nature preserve, where you might encounter bears, cougars, otters and bald eagles in their natural habitat. Take in stunning, 360-degree views from the Mile High Swinging Bridge, stroll nature paths or hike the alpine trails.

A busy evening at the Raleigh Beer Garden in Raleigh

Raleigh Beer Garden

As the Guinness World Record holder for most varieties of beer on tap (more than 350, and most of those are local to North Carolina), Raleigh Beer Garden is an experience of the state’s brew culture like none other. Head to the rooftop garden with its views of downtown.

Inside the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte

NASCAR Hall of Fame

All things NASCAR are celebrated in this grand Uptown Charlotte megaplex, which is just as educational as it is entertaining. Interactive exhibits and ever-changing experiences, a 278-seat theater, a Hall of Honor, restaurants and shopping keep the rich history of racing alive.

Cape Lookout Lighthouse in the Outer Banks

Cape Lookout National Seashore

Three unspoiled barrier islands on North Carolina’s Outer Banks make up Cape Lookout, offering visitors unfettered access to fishing, swimming, birding, boating, windsurfing, kayaking and shelling. Climb the Cape Lookout Lighthouse from mid-May through mid-September to take in the gorgeous Crystal Coast views or to spot the wild horses that roam here.

Hang gliding over the dunes at Jockeys Ridge State Park in Nags Head

Jockey’s Ridge State Park

Home to the tallest sand dune on the East Coast, Jockey's Ridge is a hot spot for hiking, hang gliding, kite flying and sunset watching over Roanoke Sound. The wind constantly reshapes the 200 hectares of dunes here, so every day offers a new view of this state park.

Aerial view of Chimney Rock State Park in North Carolina

Chimney Rock State Park

You might recognize this state park’s stunning scenery from the final scenes of the film, "Last of the Mohicans." While it’s home to six hiking trails and the gorgeous Hickory Nut Falls, the star attraction is the Chimney Rock lookout. From atop this 96-meter mountaintop rock formation, you’ll be able to see not only the surrounding Hickory Nut Gorge and Lake Lure, but also 120 kilometers in all directions.

A classic Ford Mustang on display at the Mustang Owners Museum in Concord, North Carolina

Mustang Owners Museum

Located in Concord, a short drive away from Charlotte Motor Speedway, the sprawling museum space houses more than 50 Ford Mustangs, all of which are owned by Mustang enthusiasts or automotive companies. For this reason, the cars on display rotate regularly, meaning that each visit to the museum will be a unique look at the legendary muscle car.

Wild horses grazing at Shackleford Banks, North Carolina

Shackleford Banks

Admire, from a respectful distance, the more than 100 wild horses running free on the Shackleford Banks, the southernmost barrier island of Cape Lookout National Seashore. Or to the north, catch a glimpse of Corolla’s Spanish Mustangs, North Carolina’s oldest residents, who have roamed the Outer Banks for hundreds of years.

Explore North Carolina destinations

A view from Mount Pisgah overlooking the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina
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Explore North Carolina destinations

Ask a Local

Cheetie Kumar, owner of Garland restaurant and music venues Kings and Neptunes in Raleigh, North Carolina
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Cheetie Kumar, owner of Garland restaurant and music venues Kings and Neptunes in Raleigh, North Carolina
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