First Time Visitors’ Guide to North Carolina

North Carolina continues to impress first-time visitors with its variety of attractions. You shouldn’t have any hesitations at all if you’ve made up your mind to visit North Carolina. Exploring a new vacation destination can be a bit intimidating since you’re not entirely sure if it’ll meet your expectations, but when it comes to North Carolina, you’ll be spoilt for choice!

It’s not even possible to list all the amazing things you can see and do in North Carolina, but here are just a few to get you started.

North Carolina Zoo

Among the top family attractions in North Carolina is the North Carolina Zoo. With around five miles of shaded pathways and more than 1800 animals and 52,000 plants, you’ll have your days full! There are elephants, giraffes, lions, rhinos, ostriches, zebras, chimps, black bears, elk, and red wolves.

It is divided into two main sections with regard to the native regions of the animals – Africa and North America that are both designed to showcase the natural habitat of the animals. It’s both educational and fun for people of all ages open 363 days a year, closed only on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

This is the oldest museum in the state and it’s dedicated to its natural history. The museum houses two buildings: the Nature Research Center and the Nature Exploration Center both full of educational presentations, exhibits and interactive learning opportunities.

At the Natural Exploration Center, you can explore are topics from the coastal regions of North Carolina, the history of gemstones in the state, habitats of the tropics and rainforest, and the superstar of the Prehistoric North Carolina exhibit – the “Terror of the South,” a.k.a. Acro, the only genuine Acrocanthosaurus skeleton on display in the world.

Next door at the Nature Research Center, the content is more scientific-oriented in its display of the natural world. Exhibits here range from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean to the deep space, as well as the study of tiny structures of DNA and the massive weather patterns.

Cape Lookout National Seashore

The Atlantic Coast of North Carolina is an impressive alternative view of the state, offering you the opportunity to see the remote barrier islands, charming lighthouses and moody skies. The best way to go is to find an agency that offers unforgettable adventure tours and activities and let them lead the way.

Among the must-see attractions is certainly the Cape Lookout National Seashore which is only accessible by boat from Beaufort and Harker’s Island. This is 56 miles of undeveloped beachfront with its own distinct lighthouse nicknamed the “Diamond Lady”. Cape Lookout is also famous for the herds of wild horses that roam the banks as well as being the home for over 250 species of birds.  

This area is also a prime destination for kayaking and canoeing on the mid-Atlantic coast with its 112 miles of uninhabited shoreline. Water sports equipment can be rented on the mainland and even though there’re no established campgrounds at Cape Lookout, camping is allowed year-round.


Asheville is a town of many diverse attractions. They include the Western North Carolina Nature Center, the Thomas Wolfe Memorial and the gorgeous 434-acre North Carolina Arboretum. For those with an outdoor adventurous spirit, the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains offer many opportunities for an active vacation and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the country’s most popular national park that you shouldn’t miss.  


Bakersville is a lovely small mountain town in Mitchell County in the Appalachian region of North Carolina, approximately one hour from the cities of Asheville. Originally incorporated in 1870, this little town is a popular gateway to the nearby Appalachian Trail and the Blue Ridge Parkway. It offers excellent fishing and watersport opportunities. Other attractions include the fascinating Rhododendron Gardens and the striking heights of Roan Mountain.

Battleship North Carolina

If war history is your thing, the must-see attraction to visit is Battleship North Carolina – the first of 10 battleships commissioned for the American fleet in World War II. This well-armed vessel will lead you through to the deck, mess hall and the officer’s quarters. You will also be able to examine the guns on the ship close up.

Your first vacation in North Carolina promises a unique combination of exciting mountain adventures, fun tours and educational visits to many interesting museums.  To enjoy them all, you’ll have to be very strategic in your planning so hopefully, this guide offers the help and direction you need.

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