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The cool thing about visiting North Carolina is that there is such a wide range of things you can do. If you’re into nature, you can check out giant mountains like Grandfather Mountain and its seven environmental habitats or head to the beaches and lakes. Some of the best museums in the US are found in North Carolina (like the NC Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh) and there are some great Civil War sites.
Things to do when visiting North Carolina
1. Visit the Battleship North Carolina in Wilmington. The most decorated American Battleship in history with 15 battle stars dating all the way back to World War 2.
It now serves as a National Historic Landmark and museum of sorts. You can get visit many parts of the boat including the gun turrets and main deck. You can expect to take about two hours on a self guided tour and pay a small admission fee.
2. See where the Wright Brothers first took flight in the Wright Brothers National Museum in Kill Devil Hills on the Outer Banks. You can see where the brothers, who famously piloted the first air planes, took off and landed.
Free to Children under 15, there is a museum with exact replicas of the first turn of the century airplanes and reconstructed buildings so you can see what things looked like back in 1902 when they were designing and testing.
3. The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is a must see for Science lovers. It was actually the first museum in the state and is the largest natural science museum in the southeast United States.
While donations are happily accepted, the museum is free for all guests to explore the seven floors of interactive exhibits. The Nature Research Center and Nature Exploration Center are the most popular of the four components. But that doesn’t mean the Museum of Forestry and Prairie Ridge Eco station are well worth checking out!
4. Visit the Sarah P Duke Gardens in Durham. Open from dawn to dusk 356 days a year, the 55 acre gardens named after one of Duke University’s benefactors is a must visit in Durham.
Five miles of paths and walkways, over 100 flower beds and more than 900 species of regional plants make this a great place to visit with the family for both the education and outdoor exploring.
5. Mine Gold and gems in the Elijah Mountain Gem Mine in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Yes, if you have a lucky find, you can bring it home. Aside from mining the indoor and outdoor flumes free of charge visitors can also enjoy a picnic on their picnic tables, see the world’s largest gem mining bucket or let the kids pet baby goats in the petting zoo.
6. Have a glass of wine or wander the Biltmore Estates and Biltmore gardens in Ashville. The 8000 acre property dates back to the 1890s and a tour include a wine tasting in the properties winery.
You can take a self-guided tour of the 250 room Chateau which is full of priceless objects or you can walk the perfectly maintained garden estates.
7. Swim in the natural pool at Sliding Rock in Pisgah Forest. Between the end of May and Labor Day, life guards are on duty and you can check out the 60 foot tall natural rock water slide. The pool at the bottom is usually about 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit and 6-7 feet deep.
8. Learn something at Discovery place in Charlotte. The science center focuses on having fun and playing while learning and is a great place to take children. There is an IMAX movie theatre, you can check out all kinds of science experiments and exhibits and live animal displays, a butterfly pavilion and nature museum are all great.
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