The Smoky Mountains offer hiking, rafting, wildlife viewing and wonderful scenery. Central North Carolina has one-of-a-kind shopping, dynamic cities and is the heart of the thrilling NASCAR. The stunning Outer Banks offer lighthouses, pretty hamlets, 300 miles of unspoiled beach, fascinating Pirate history and the lore of The Lost Colony.
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During your two night stay in this lively city be sure to experience the Richard Petty Driving Experience, or for the you ladies, relish in retail therapy at Concord Mills or Southpark Mall. Petrol head? You'll find the new Mustang Owner's Museum in nearby Concord, just a mile from the Charlotte Motor Speedway fascinating.
If you like museums you'll adore the Levine Museum of the New South or the Mint Museum of Art.
Head off to neighbouring Gaston County and spend time at the beautiful Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens, named one of the nation's 20 Great Gardens. For something a bit more energetic, visit the US Whitewater Centre and raft the world's largest man-made whitewater river.
Charlotte has big city style with home-town appeal, you'll easily find something of interest here.
Distance: 131 miles
Set in Western North Carolina in the foothills of the picturesque Great Smoky Mountains, the Asheville area is named a must-see destination by Frommer's. It boasts a thriving arts community, diverse outdoor adventures, a vibrant and inviting downtown, numerous historic and architectural attractions, and unique shopping options.
Nearby you can visit the Cherokee Heritage Centre and learn about the life of the Cherokee Indian during the time of the Cherokee nation and their removal along the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma. Or explore part of the scenic 469 mile Blue Ridge Parkway, where you'll have access to picnic sites, hiking trails and incredible overlooks.
Be sure to visit America's largest home, the mighty Biltmore Estate, complete with 8,000 acres of magnificent gardens and vineyards. You'll love the Historic Biltmore Village where you'll experience shopping at a new level with unique stores and quaint galleries located within historic 19th century era homes and buildings.
Distance: 145 miles
Your journey will take you along the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, stop at Blowing Rock for stunning views and continue on down this famous highway for views of Grandfather Mountain, the highest peak on the Blue Ridge. If you are in this region in Autumn, the colours will be spectacular.
For a spot of lunch somewhere special en route, stop in Yadkin Valley and sample some of North Carolina's diverse and unique wineries, complete with quaint little eateries.
Arrive into Winston-Salem and head for Old Salem Museums & Gardens, America's most comprehensive history attraction. The three museums - the Historic Town of Salem, the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA) and the Old Salem Toy Museum - will engage you in an educational and memorable historical experience about those who lived and worked in the early South.
Distance: 102 miles
In Durham, travel back in history while visiting the place where the Civil War ended, Bennett Historic Site.
You'll enjoy Brightleaf Square where brick tobacco warehouses are a quaint backdrop as you dine on delicious North Carolina cuisine and experience interesting shopping opportunities.
In nearby Smithfield, pop into the Ava Gardner Museum and view the large collection of memorabilia that this Academy Award Winning Actress collected over her years on the silver screen.
Distance: 225 miles
The Outer Banks is a playground for adventure in the outdoors. Try hang gliding for the first time on the giant sand dunes at Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head, or kayak along the shallow flats and backwaters of Hatteras Island, in the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge where hundreds of species of birds nest and feed throughout the year on their annual migrations along the American Flyway.
Step aboard a replica 16th century sailing vessel, Elizabeth II, and learn about life on the high seas in the age of discovery and colonialism.
Visit the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum and learn about the 1,000’s of shipwrecks offshore including the U.S.S. Monitor and World War II submarines. America’s Beach is home to some of the largest remaining tracts of undeveloped seashore in the United States along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, where you will find the tallest lighthouse in North America at Cape Hatteras, one of five lighthouses on the Outer Banks.
Distance: 85 miles
If you love mystery and folk lore, take time to stop at Roanoke Island and learn about the mysterious Lost Colony.
Before Jamestown and Plymouth settlements a group of 120 men and women bravely sailed over from England and established a colony on Roanoke Island in 1587. Life on the Island was difficult and they became low on much needed supplies so the Governor sent John White back to England in the summer of 1587. However, due to war he was unable to return until 1590, when he did arrive, the entire colony had vanished leaving one clue carved into a post, the word, CROATIAN. The fate of these people was never discovered, although there are some interesting theories. It remains today one of America's most intriguing mysteries. The story of the Lost Colony is performed under the stars at the Waterside Theatre on Roanoke Island.
Arrive in quaint Oracoke Island (which was named the top beach in America by Dr Beach in 2007).
Distance: 139 miles
En route to Wilmington, stop at Beaufort and stroll along the pretty tree-lined streets and historic waterfront.
Learn about North Carolina's rich maritime heritage in the North Carolina Maritime Museum. View the Blackbeard exhibit highlighting artifacts recovered from the shipwreck believed to be from the infamous Pirate's former flagship, the Queen Anne's Revenge.
Arrive in Wilmington, relaxed and refreshed. This charming port city is located between the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean. Wilmington, the county seat of New Hanover County, was incorporated in 1739 and was originally situated on seven hills located on the east side of the Cape Fear River. It was named in honour of Spencer Compton, Earl of Wilmington, who was a patron of North Carolina's Governor at the time. To this day, visitors are reminded of its rich history by the grand old homes and tree-lined boulevards making Wilmington one of the most beautiful small cities in the south.
Distance: 175 miles
Call the travel specialists at Bon Voyage to discuss your ideal North Carolina exploration.