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North Carolina information
Since 1584, when the first English settlers arrived, North Carolina has been entertaining travelers. With mountains, plains, and coastal areas, the state's geography accommodates all types of wanderlusts. There is skiing in the winter, gorgeous foliage tours in the fall, and boating, swimming, and fishing in the spring and summer.
And that's not to mention the wealth of activities. Virtually any sporting event from race cars to football can be found here; museums devoted to anthropology, art, and natural sciences abound, and both the cities and small towns are meccas for all kinds of shopping.
The majority of North Carolina remains rural, though its cities are of world-class quality. The state's history is also rich. It was an original member of the thirteen colonies, a confederate pacesetter in the Civil War, and a focal point for the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s. In the early 1900s, Wilbur and Orville Wright took off on the first successful airplane flight ever from North Carolina soil. Today, sentiment is divided between the progressive urban developments and the more conservative rural areas.
North Carolina was named in honor of King Charles; Carolinus means "of Charles." Later, the state became known as the Tar Heel State, either because of the state's tar production, or because of the fact that during the Civil War, North Carolina soldiers who couldn't stick their ground and hold off Union troops were said to have forgotten to "tar their heels." Today, the University of North Carolina is known as the Tar Heels.
The Carolina Coast is perhaps the most popular among tourist destinations. Besides the spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean, there are three aquariums to visit, historic sites like Somerset Place near Creswell and six operating lighthouses (one about every 40 miles along its 300 miles of coast), and one of the earliest wineries in the United States, the Duplin Winery in Duplin County, which specializes in muscadine wine.
In the heartland, North Carolina's cities also keep visitors entertained. Old Salem is a restored 18th-century Moravian town--the first with public water, fire departments, and schools for girls in America. Discovery Place in Charlotte is the largest museum of science and technology in North Carolina, and is adjacent to the Kelly Space Voyage Planetarium, the largest planetarium in the country. In Raleigh, the North Carolina Museum of Art contains one of the most distinguished collections of Old masters in the south.
In the summer, the mountains are a welcome respite from the humidity and heat of the Carolina coast. Sliding Rock in Transylvania County offers a 150-foot natural water slide. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, America's most popular, is a hot spot for hiking and camping, and the Blue Ridge Parkway, the nation's most scenic, affords travelers sweeping vistas of the mountains and forests.