North Carolina Tourist Attractions

By | January 3, 2023

Special churches, temples and synagogues

Basilica of St. Lawrence in Asheville
The Basilica of St. Lawrence in the city of Asheville is a Roman Catholic basilica from 1905. It was designed by the Spaniard Rafael Guastavino and is in the style of the Spanish Baroque. What makes the basilica special is its red appearance due to the building material used. The dome of the basilica is also special. The dome has a span of 18 by 25 m and is considered the largest cantilevered elliptical dome in all of North America.

Contact 97 Haywood Street
Asheville, North Carolina 28801

Raleigh North Carolina Temple in Charlotte
The Raleigh North Carolina Temple is the 68th temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) and is located in Apex, a suburb of Raleigh. The temple was inaugurated in 1999. The temple was built from white marble and is dominated by a golden statue of the angel Moroni, with which the building reaches a height of approx. 22 m.

Contact 574 Bryan Drive
Apex, North Carolina

Temple of Israel in Wilmington
The Temple of Israel is a synagogue in the city of Wilmington, dating from 1876, making it the oldest synagogue in North Carolina and one of the oldest in the southern United States. The synagogue is built in a mix of styles from Greek Revival and Moorish architecture. Special features are Moorish arches and the golden onion domes.

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Contact 1 S 4th Street
Wilmington, North Carolina 28401

Cathedral of Saint Patrick in Charlotte
The Roman Catholic Cathedral of Saint Patrick in the city of Charlotte is the seat of the bishopric of Charlotte. The cathedral was built from 1938 to 1939 and the neo-Gothic style was built from limestone. The architect of the cathedral was the Austrian Frank Frimmer.

Contact 1621 Dilworth Road East
Charlotte, North Carolina 28203

Sacred Heart Cathedral in Raleigh
The Roman Catholic Sacred Heart Cathedral in the city of Raleigh is the seat of the Raleigh diocese. The construction of the neo-Gothic style cathedral began in 1922 and continued until 1924. The stone cathedral does not necessarily impress with its size, because it is the smallest Roman Catholic cathedral in the USA.

Contact 200 Hillsborough Street
Raleigh, North Carolina 27603

Duke Chapel in Durham
The Duke Chapel is the landmark of Duke University in the city of Durham. The church dates from 1932 and is located on the university campus. The church is designed in the neo-Gothic style and impresses with its dimensions as well as its capacity of 1,800 seats. The three large organs should also be mentioned.

Contact 401 Chapel Drive
Durham, North Carolina 27708


Greensboro Science Center in Greensboro
The Greensboro Science Center, formerly known as the Natural Science Center of Greensboro, is a museum and zoological garden opened in the city of Greensboro in 1957. This somewhat unusual mix attracts over 320,000 visitors every year. Despite the name, the focus is more on the exhibition of the animals, although the museum with its fossils and replicas of dinosaurs is also very worth seeing.

Contact 4301 Lawndale Drive
Greensboro, North Carolina 27455

Western North Carolina Nature Center in Asheville
The Western North Carolina Nature Center in the city of Asheville in eastern North Carolina is a zoo opened in 1973. However, it is a rather small zoo, because only a little more than 100 animals live here. For this, the zoo attaches great importance to the transfer of knowledge. The zoo attracts up to 100,000 visitors a year, many of them school children.

Contact 75 Gashes Creek Road
Asheville, North Carolina 28803

North Carolina Zoological Park in Asheboro
The North Carolina Zoological Park in the city of Asheboro, near the geographic center of North Carolina, was opened in 1976 and is now home to over 1,600 animals from 225 species. The zoo covers an area of ​​approximately 5.5 km² and is visited by approximately 700,000 guests annually. The zoo has the most chimpanzees for a US zoo. Other highlights of the zoo are polar bears, alligators, pumas, sea lions, arctic foxes, grizzlies, zebras and elephants.

Contact 4401 Zoo Parkway
Asheboro, North Carolina 27205

JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh
The JC Raulston Arboretum in the city of Raleigh is an approx. 40,000 m² botanical garden and arboretum, which was opened in 1976. The JC Raulston Arboretum is located on the campus of North Carolina State University, which also manages and uses the botanical garden for education. Here visitors will find over 5,000 taxa. And best of all, entry is free.

Contact 4415 Beryl Road
Raleigh, North Carolina 27606

National parks

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is located in the Appalachian Mountains in the states of North Carolina and Tennessee and is the most visited national park in the USA.

Appalachian National Scenic Trail

The Appalachian Trail (officially: Appalachian National Scenic Trail) has a total length of approx.3,500 km, making it one of the longest long-distance hiking trails in the world.
The Appalachian Trail runs north to south through the 14 U.S. states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia. The Appalachian Trail begins in the state of Georgia on the summit of Springer Mountain (1,152 m) and ends on the summit of Mount Katahdin (1,606 m), the highest mountain in the state of Maine.
The Appalachian Trail is managed by the National Park Service of the USA.
The Appalachian Trail, as its name suggests, leads through the Appalachian Mountains, a low mountain range in the east of North America. The trail is classified as a historical hiking trail and leads through many nature reserves, including 6 national parks and 8 national forests. The trail originated in the 1920s. It was founded around people
To offer a change to the working life of the industrialization period The Appalachian Trail was officially opened on August 14, 1937, but at the time it was not very well received by the media. Much media attention was paid to the Appalachian Trail in 1948 when Earl Shaffer ran the entire trail in one season, becoming the first Thru-Hiker. The course of the Appalchian Trail is partly based on other historical routes.
There are over 250 huts and campsites along the trail. Since the trail runs through several cities, it is quite possible to refresh your provisions on the way. Who also plans to run the entire trail in one go (thru-hike) should plan around 5 to 6 months and start in March or April.
If you tackle the Appalachian Trail, you may get to know black bears, white-tailed deer, wapitis or elk on the hike. You should also watch out for snakes, as there are species such as the copper head or the northern rattlesnake on the trail. There are also ticks, mosquitoes (mosquitoes) and black mosquitoes, which can also be a nuisance.
The Appalachian Trail was mentioned in literature in Bill Bryson’s work “A walk in the woods”. Every year 3 to 4 million people run at least a small part of the Appalachian Trail.

In North Carolina there are 114 km of the Appalachian Trail, apart from the 320 km on which the trail on the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. The highest section of the Appalachian Trail is in Tennessee. The trail runs through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park over Clingmans Dome. Here the highest point of the trail is reached at 2,025 m.


Nature reserves

Cherokee National Forest
The Cherokee National Forest is located in the eastern part of Tennessee, near the border with the state of North Carolina and is located one section north of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and its second section south of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Cherokee National Forest covers an area of ​​2,653 km² and was established in 1920. A small part of the Cherokee National Forest is also in North Carolina. The Cherokee National Forest is home to numerous natural attractions such as the Ocoee River. Found on this river in 1996 during the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia) the canoe slalom competitions take place. This was the first nature course to be used at the Summer Olympics to run canoe slalom competitions. The former stadium, the Ocoee Whitewater Center, can still be found here today. The Cherokee National Forest also runs 150 km of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. But there are many more hiking trails in the Cherokee National Forest, such as the John Muir National Recreation Trail. Furthermore the Big Frog Mountain with the surrounding Big Frog Wilderness and the extremely beautiful Watauga Lake. Due to the numerous fast-flowing rivers in the Cherokee National Forest, the area is considered an excellent trout fishing area.


Ellicott Rock Wilderness
The Ellicott Rock Wilderness Conservation Area was established in 1975 and covers an area of ​​approximately 33 km². The Ellicott Rock Wilderness encompasses the area around the point where the states of Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina meet. The Ellicott Rock Wilderness Reserve is the only one of its kind that spans 3 U.S. states. The Chattooga River flows through the area.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore
The Cape Hatteras National Seashore is a protected area that protects an approximately 110 km long stretch of coastline of the Outer Banks chain between the islands of Bodie and Ocracoke. The reserve was established in 1953 and now covers an area of ​​approximately 122 km². The Cape Hatteras National Seashore attracts almost 2 million visitors annually. The mixed character of nature reserve and recreational use should be emphasized. The reserve also includes other smaller reserves, such as the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge and the towns of Rodanthe, Buxton and Ocracoke. Due to the numerous shoals, sandbars and storms, Cape Hatteras was often referred to in the past as “Graveyard of the Atlantic”. Therefore, there are also numerous interesting historical lighthouses and sadly also many shipwrecks. Fishing and surfing opportunities are considered to be some of the best on the east coast of the United States.


Cape Lookout National Seashore
The Cape Lookout National Seashore is an approx. 90 km protected area, which protects the coastal section between Ocracoke Inlet in the northeast and Beaufort Inlet in the southeast. In addition to protecting nature, two historic villages on Core Banks Island, the wild horses on Shackleford Island and Cape Lookout Lighthouse also fall to the reserve. The Cape Lookout National Seashore covers an area of ​​approximately 114.3 km². The reserve was established in 1966 and today it attracts over 500,000 visitors annually.


Pisgah National Forest
The Pisgah National Forest is located in the northwestern part of North Carolina, near the border with the state of Tennessee. The Pisgah National Forest covers an area of ​​2,075 km² and was established in 1916. A smaller part of the Pisgah National Forest is also in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the entire area of ​​the National Forest is in the Appalachian Mountains. The Pisgah National Forest is home to numerous natural attractions such as the well-known Rainbow Falls and Turtleback Falls. Part of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail runs through the Pisgah National Forest. But there are many more hiking trails in the Pisgah National Forest.

Nantahala National Forest
The Nantahala National Forest is located in the extreme northwest of North Carolina and borders on the states of Tennessee and Georgia. The Nantahala National Forest covers an area of ​​2,150 km² and was established in 1920. The name Nantahala comes from the Cherokee language and means “land of the midday sun”. The Nantahala River flows through the Nantahala National Forest. In the Nantahala National Forest there are 3 wilderness areas, an even higher protection level, Ellicott Rock Wilderness, Southern Nantahala Wilderness and Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness and therefore there are numerous natural beauties and animals in the Nantahala National Forest.

Croatan National Forest
The Croatan National Forest is located in eastern North Carolina on the state’s Atlantic coast. The Croatan National Forest covers an area of ​​647 km² and was established in 1936. The name of the forest comes from the Algonquin language and means “city of advice or city of council”. The forest is bordered by the rivers New Zealand River, the Bogue Sound and the White Oak River. The Croatan National Forest is characterized by pine forests, salt marshes, swamps and marshland. In the Croatan National Forest there are numerous animal species on land and water. Deer, black bears, turkeys, falcons and natural alligators are particularly worth seeing. A special feature of the flora are the carnivorous plants in the region such as the famous Venus fly trap. The best way to explore the forest is from the cities of New Bern or Morehead City.

Uwharrie National Forest
The Uwharrie National Forest is in central South Carolina. The Uwharrie National Forest covers an area of ​​204 km² and was established in 1961. The name of the forest comes from the Uwharrie Mountains, on which the forest area extends. The forest to the west is bordered by the Yadkin River and the Pee Dee River. In the past gold was found in the area which led to a real gold rush. Even today you can still panning for gold in the rivers. Badin Lake offers good opportunities for boating and fishing. Of the numerous hiking trails, only the Uwharrie National Recreation Trail is recommended.

Other natural beauties

Outer banks
The Outer Banks is an approximately 280 km long and very narrow island chain off the coast of North Carolina in the Atlantic. The coastal area between the mainland and the island chain is the Inner Banks. The island chain runs from Back Bay (Virginia) to Cape Lookout. The narrowest islands are only 200 m wide and the furthest point from the mainland is Cape Hatteras with approx. 50 km. This also means that the more distant islands are always severely affected by the effects of the hurricanes. The last hurricane was Irene, which hit the islands on August 27, 2011. Nevertheless, the islands are very popular destinations. Partly because of the miles of sandy beaches and the warm climate, partly because of the excellent water sports. The numerous historic lighthouses are also impressive. But history lovers will also get their money’s worth. The town of Kitty Hawk is on the island of Bodie. The Wright brothers started their first powered flight here in 1903. To recognize this achievement, the Wright Brothers National Memorial is located here today. The island of Ocracoke served as a retreat for the pirate Blackbeard. He was finally killed off the island in 1718. Despite the tourist use of the islands, there is a distinctive fauna with many bird species, diamond turtles and even wild horses. Perhaps this is also due to the fact that there are no large hotel buildings on the islands, but rather numerous, mostly family-run, smaller pensions.
The northernmost islands are connected to the mainland by a bridge on Highway 12. Ferries to the other islands run from the island of Hatteras (but not in strong winds).

Whitewater Falls near Cashiers
Whitewater Falls is a series of waterfalls that cover a height difference of approximately 330 m on a section of river about 4 km long. The Upper Whitewater Falls with a drop of 127 m and the Lower Whitewater Falls with a drop of approx. 119 m are particularly worth mentioning. The waterfalls are particularly impressive after heavy rainfall.

Chimney Rock State Park near Asheville
The Chimney Rock State Park near the city of Asheville is a state park opened in 2005 with an area of ​​approximately 24 km² around Chimney Rock. The Chimney Rock is a 96 m granite monolith from the top, on which there is a large flag of the USA, you can enjoy beautiful views. Also worth mentioning are the Devil’s, a balancing rock, and the 123 m high waterfalls Hickory Nut Falls.

Chimney Rock State Park near Asheville