Visitors to The Piedmont, Coast and Mountain regions of North Carolina will find plenty of accommodations, driving routes and things to see and do on vacation.
North Carolina hotels
Carolina Hotel at Pinehurst was built more than a century ago. The resort updated its restaurant, guest rooms and Presidential Suite with an $8 million makeover.
Fearrington House Country Inn, the only AAA Five Diamond and Mobil Five Star accommodations winner in North Carolina, has three Grand Suites. The luxury suites boast king beds, fireplaces, flat-screen televisions, large living rooms and big bathrooms with walk-in tiled showers and hydrotherapy tubs.
In Greensboro, North Carolina, the 147-room Proximity Hotel is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified. It was the first hotel in North America to use an Otis Gen2 elevator, which decreases energy use by feeding the unit's energy back into the electrical grid of the hotel.
First Flight Retreat, an oceanfront condo, offers weekly and nightly accommodations in the Outer Banks. The condominiums have top-quality finishes and furniture.
The 400-room Marriott City Center is located next to the Raleigh Convention Center. The four-star North Carolina hotel has 20,000 square feet of meeting space.
A Ritz-Carlton hotel, an Aloft (the boutique W Hotel brand) and an all-suite Hotel Sierra are located in Charlotte Center City.
North Carolina driving tours
The best time to view colored leaves in North Carolina is in late October and early November. The VisitNC website features scenic driving routes for fall colors in the Piedmont, mountains and coast regions. Visitors can also see fall foliage in the Blue Ridge Mountains, near Asheville, while riding hot air balloons, motorcycles and whitewater rafts.
Cultural Corridors driving tours visit Winston-Salem and nearby counties. On the Dare to Dream themed drive, visitors discover the African American heritage of Winston-Salem, from 1766 to current times. Fingerprint Friendly tours visit attractions for families and children. The Reynolda Mile driving tour focuses on the Reynolds, Hanes and Gray families that founded Winston-Salem. The Great Wagon Road to Wachovia is an historical driving tour. Visitors can sample local wines and scenery on The Wine Trails of the Yadkin Valley driving tour.
Ten driving tours in Fayetteville feature Civil War, African-American Heritage, American Independence and Religious Freedom themes. Travelers can download audio files and view maps with descriptions of attractions and driving directions from the Cultural Heritage Trails section of the VisitFayettevilleNC web site.
The North Carolina Literary Trails Guide describes 18 half-day and one-day driving tours through 25 counties in the mountain region of North Carolina. The website provides driving directions to destinations featured in Cold Mountain, by Charles Frazier, the Nu-Wray Inn in Burnsville, where Mark Twain and Elvis slept, and settings used by 170 North Carolina authors, including Sequoyah and Thomas Wolfe.
North Carolina golf
North Carolina has 400 golf courses. Ballantyne Resort Golf Club has several greens and 18 tee boxes.
Seven Pinehurst golf courses use U.S. Kids Golf standard tees and U.S. Kids Golf rental clubs. The Pit golf course hosts the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf Club for girls, ages seven to 17. Pine Needles resort offers golf day camps for children. Kids, less than 17 years old, play for free with paying adults and receive free lessons from PGA staff at Longleaf Country Club.
Ghost Town in the Sky is a family theme park on Buck Mountain, North Carolina. Attractions include thrill rides, like the Cliff Hanger and Geronimo Drop Tower, rides for little kids and the Silver Dollar Saloon for music and can-can dancers.
Great Wolf Lodge is a 402-suite resort with a four-story, forest-themed indoor water park. Located in Concord, near Charlotte, the resort has spas for adults and children and a huge game arcade.
Families also enjoy North Carolina Outer Banks beaches, like Buxton Beach at Cape Hatteras. The 30,000-acre Cape Hatteras National Seashore extends for 112 kilometers from south Nags Head to Ocracoke.
The North Carolina Zoo, in Asheboro, features the Watani Grasslands Reserve. The $8.5 million-expansion of the elephant and rhinoceros habitat enhances the biggest walk-through zoo in the USA.
The second section of the North Carolina Birding Trail has 103 parks and wildlife areas. Located in the Piedmont area of North Carolina, it stretches from Interstate 95 to Interstate 77 near Statesville. The Coastal section of the North Carolina Birding Trail features 120 birding sites across the coast. The Mountains section of the trail opened in 2009. North Carolina has 460 species of birds.
At Scotland Neck, in northeastern North Carolina, Sylvan Heights Waterfowl Center includes a Flamingo Exhibit. The breeding center, the largest collection of waterfowl in the world, protects 170 species of birds, including rare and endangered species.
A $12.5-million Orchid Conservatory is housed in the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in Belmont, North Carolina. The five-story public conservatory displays orchids and tropical plants in an 8,000 square-foot crystalline building.
In Camden County, a 80-foot swing bridge across Dismal Swamp Canal gives hikers and cyclists access to the 14,344-acre Dismal Swamp State Park. Twenty miles of walking and mountain bike trails offer interactive exhibits about the history of Dismal Swamp as a runaway slave sanctuary and logging center.
North Carolina museums
The UNC Basketball Museum is located in the Chapel Hill campus. Admission to the Carolina Basketball Museum is free. Visitors see memorabilia, videos and photographs that document the history of the University of North Carolina basketball program.
North Carolina Museum of Art, in Raleigh, has a Rodin gallery with 23 works by sculptor Auguste Rodin, including casts of The Thinker and The Kiss.
The NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina, has exhibit space with entertainment, restaurants and stores that pay tribute to drivers, crew members and team owners.
Scream Time Zip Line is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, north of Boone, North Carolina. Attached to harnesses, riders zip 18 to 40 meters above the ground on lines that vary from 122 to 244 meters long. On Super Zip, riders travel 610 meters down the mountain over one hour.
Guided night hikes in Swain and Graham counties include Fontana Village guided Ghost Tours and American Hikes Ghost & Legends Hike. Visitors walk through old growth forest and tunnels, while listening to legends and local myths.
At Chimney Rock Park, Fox Mountain Guides help visitors learn rock climbing with ropes and harnesses. Climbers receive equipment for 15-minute, two-hour, half- and whole-day mountain climbs.
In Graham County, North Carolina attractions include Class IV+ rapids for whitewater rafting on the Cheoah River. The dry river receives high flow releases 18 times a year.