Blue Ridge Mountains © Jan van der Crabben
North Carolina isn't a state known for high-paced cities or cultural attractions, and is ideal for those seeking unspoiled beaches and peaceful mountain scenery. The coast and gorgeous mountains sit on opposite sides of the state, with miles of sparse wilderness separating them.
The west of North Carolina is home to beautiful rugged mountains, valleys, and flower-filled meadows, where waters, streams, and rivers brim with trout. Additionally, there are some brilliant scenic drives and miles of hiking trails.
Sharing the border with Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most visited parks in the country, home to acres of virgin forests and some of the oldest mountains on earth. Snaking its way along the backbone of the Blue Ridge Mountain Range is the dramatic Blue Ridge Parkway road, providing magnificent scenery and elevated views on its way towards Virginia.
The east of North Carolina boasts the Atlantic coastline, complete with good beaches, fascinating historical sites, and natural refuges that stretch from the thin band of barrier islands, known as the Outer Banks, to the Cape Fear Coast and seaport of Wilmington in the south.
The Cape Hatteras National Seashore contains seaside holiday resorts, as well as protected beaches, dunes, and marsh areas. There are plenty of recreational activities, such as surfing, fishing, swimming, and bird watching.
The central Piedmont, or Heartland, lies between the coastal plains and the mountains, dominated by academic institutions of the Research Triangle. There is also a trio of university towns, including Durham, the state capital of Raleigh, and Chapel Hill.
Despite the growth and swift economic progress, a typically southern pace of life still exists among the rolling farmland and picturesque golf courses. Its landscapes are reminiscent of the writings of Southern authors such as Thomas Wolfe.