Good Sam RV Travel Guide & Campground Directory

North Carolina Entices RVers With Multitude of Attractions



The Carolinas are full of exciting things to do year round. With the Smoky Mountains rising along the northwestern horizon and the waves of the Atlantic Ocean breaking against the eastern shore, the Carolinas are a great destination any time of the year.

In North Carolina, the "Tar Heel" State, historic cities like Charlotte, Raleigh, Winston-Salem and Fayetteville beckon for exploration. Meanwhile, out-of-the-way areas also entice visitors with their many charms, and the famous Blue Ridge Parkway is nothing short of an incredibly scenic drive. Here is a review of some hot spots to stop and see in North Carolina:

Charlotte

A trip to Charlotte will take you into the southern foothills of North Carolina. The area has an abundance of attractions. Tours a the Charlotte Motor Speedway, in Concord, include a ride around the track and a visual presentation about the speedway.

Once in Charlotte, the largest city in North Carolina, you can go to the Discovery Place Museum, full of interesting displays related to science and industry. Highlights of the museum are its 50-foot high aviary, aquariums and indoor rain forest. And don't forget the Charlotte Observer Omnimax Theater and the Kelly Space Voyager Planetarium. Those tuned into nature won't want to miss Charlotte's Nature Museum with hands-on displays, exhibits, animals and a puppet theater.

Additionally, be sure to stop at the Mint Museum of Art if you've got paint in your blood. The museum's treasures range from American and European paintings and regional crafts to pre-Columbian art and coin and currencies reflecting the history of the Carolinas. The museum is housed in what used to be the federal building from 1837 to 1913. For more information on Charlotte area, contact the Charlotte Convention & Visitors Bureau at 330 South Tryon St., Charlotte, NC 28202; 800/231-4636. Website: www.charlottesgotalot.com

Raleigh

Capitalize on your zest for historical adventure in the Tar Heel capital. Raleigh, which has been the state capital since 1788, offers visitors a chance to marvel at many fine examples of Victorian architecture, such as those homes present in neighboring Historic Oakwood; as well as several Gothic structures, such as Christ Episcopal Church, constructed in 1848.

Additionally, the capital and its surrounding countryside is dotted with Greek Revival style buildings. The Mordecai House, north of Oakwood, near the site of U.S. President Andrew Johnson's birthplace, and the North Carolina State Capitol, built in 1840, both display this 19th century construction.

For more information on Raleigh, contact the Greater Raleigh Convention & Visitors Bureau at 220 Fayetteville St., Raleigh, NC 27601; 919/834-5900 or 800/849-8499. Website: www.visitraleigh.com.

Winston-Salem

Synonymous with cigarettes, this southeastern city contains the mansion that formerly was the home of Winston-Salem tobacco magnate, R.J. Reynolds. Inside is a permanent collection of 18th, 19th, and 20th century American art. Tours are also available year round at the factory in Whitaker Park where R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company makes cigarettes. Also in Winston-Salem is the former home of James G. Hanes, founder of the Hanes Hosiery Corporation. The home is now a gallery for modern art and sculpture. In addition to cigarettes and panty hose, visitors can learn about beer production at the Stroh Brewery Company facility. Tours are available.

If this strange mixture of attractions is a bit too much for you, maybe you'll enjoy Winston-Salem's ScienceWorks - The Science Center and Environmental Park of Forsyth County. The center holds a planetarium, a farm demonstration area, environmental park and exhibits on animals, the human body and space. Or try the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, full of arts and antiques of the early South.

For more information on Winston-Salem, contact the Winston-Salem Convention & Visitors Bureau at 200 Brookstone Ave., Winston-Salem, NC 27101; 336/728-4200 or 866/728-4200. Website: www.visitwinstonsalem.com

Fayetteville

Conveniently located off I-95, Fayetteville rolls out the historical carpet for its visitors with such attractions as the Museum of the Cape Fear, Bow Street Commons and the Fayetteville Market House, which now houses the Olde Fayetteville Historical Association. For more information on Fayetteville, contact the Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau at 245 Person St., Fayetteville, NC 28301; 910/483-5311 or 800/255-8217. Website: www.visitfayettevillenc.com

Golfer Out-Of-The-Way Places

Some out-of-the-way places worth seeing in North Carolina include Pinehurst, Wilmington and Hillsborough.

Golfers will delight in Pinehurst's many courses which, due to the area's mild winters, run year round. The PGA World Golf Hall of Fame, which contains a museum, is also located here. Visitors and Gulf fanatics will see throughout the area how the past and present history of American golf tee up side by side.

Newcomers to Cape Fear Coast should stop by the visitors center in Wilmington. This coastal town was founded more than 250 years ago and was the last southern port open during the Civil War. The town is replete with shops, museums and, of course, historic buildings. Wilmington's opera house and performing arts complex, Thalian Hall, offers productions throughout the year and the nearby Burgwin-Wright house, built circa 1770, portrays a colonial gentleman's town residence.

Hillsborough isn't really too far out of the way - just a northward hop, skip and a jump from the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area. This historic town features more than 100 late 18th and early 19th century structures, 75 percent of which can easily be viewed on a walking tour. Highlights of your foot-drawn jaunt include the Colonial Inn, renowned for its outstanding food and beautiful oak paneling; the old Orange County Courthouse, with its remarkable town clock, built in 1884-45 by the town's renown architect, Captain John Berry; and the olde town cemetery, where one of North Carolina's three signers of the Declaration of Independence was buried. A tour map may be obtained from the Hillsborough Town Hall.

Blue Ridge Parkway

The scenic Blue Ridge Parkway winds its way for more than 250 miles through North Carolina's mountainous region in the north and through the state's central mountains, past such attractions as Linville Falls, which ushers its cascading waters hundreds of feet into the gorge below, as well as the Linville Caverns. Other memorable sites along the way include Chimney Rock Park, Tweetside Railroad and the Blowing Rock, Biltmore Estate and the Oconaluftee Indian Village.

Many scenic overlooks, exhibits, trails and interpretive markers dot the route. All sections of the parkway are open from mid-April through November. For information on the Blue Ridge Parkway, contact the Superintendent at 200 BB&T Building, One Pack Square, Asheville, NC 27954; 704/259-0701. Website: www.blueridgeparkway.org

These North Carolina destination descriptions just scratch the surface of what this southern state has in store for you. For more information, contact the North Carolina Division of Tourism Division at 800/VISIT-NC. Website: www.visitnc.com