#OutaboutNC: Explore 14 National Parks in N.C.

It's no secret that North Carolina is a diverse state in terms of travel. We have the coast and the mountains plus beautiful terrain in between.  We also have 14 National Parks to explore.  My husband has hiked the Appalachian Trail, and I've driven on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but we are very behind on this list. As you plan your family travels, keep this National Park list in mind for N.C.

Explore 14 National Parks In N.C. Blue Ridge Parkway by Leigh Powell Hines @Hinessightblog
Beautiful blue ridge parkway near Blowing Rock, N.C. 

National Parks in North Carolina

Appalachian Scenic Trail 

I'm proud to say my husband has hiked this trail through several states, and my son would love to do the same thing one day. I hope that the two can do that together one day while my daughter and I follow along, and find luxury hotels in nearby towns so they can shower on occasion. This trail is a great place for kids and teens to get outside, exercise and experience nature.  

A good place to enter the trail is in Hot Springs, N.C. in Madison County. Check out these cute accommodations at the historic Iron Horse Station

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a great scenic drive. My favorite place to get on the parkway is in Blowing Rock, N.C.  I love the tranquility of The Chetola Resort.They have a fire pit there that can't be beat. It was my absolute favorite spot to spend time while staying there. 

Chetola Resort by Leigh Powell Hines @Hinessightblog
Blowing Rock's Chetola Resort 

Blue Ridge National Heritage Area

This encompasses a huge area in the North Carolina mountains. There are tons of beautiful towns to explore. Valle Crucis, North Carolina is on the list. The historic Mast Farm General Store is a must-visit, and of course, I love the beautiful Mast Farm Inn in Valle Crucis. Pictured below are some of the original cabins. Inside they've been upgraded to the best in luxury. 

Mast Farm Inn by Leigh Powell Hines @Hinessightblog
Historic Mast Farm Inn 

The Blue Ridge National Heritage area is a great website to plan your adventures in North Carolina's mountains. Highlands, North Carolina is also in the area. You must check into the Old Edwards Inn and Spa or their new casual chic property, 200 Main.  Asheville, N.C. is on the list if you are looking for a larger city as a base to explore. 

North Carolina's Outer Banks is a must-visit in our state. My kids haven't been yet so we must change that soon. There are some great restaurants in this area, plenty of camping spots, and of course, hotels. I have the luxury resort, The Sanderling, on my list. 

The Atlantic Ocean by Leigh Powell Hines @Hinessightblog
Atlantic Ocean at sunset 

Camping on this island is in primitive style, if that is your thing. You must reach the area by boat, and plan to take everything you need with you including water. The islands are undeveloped and wild. The highlight will be the Cape Lookout Light House. The base for this area is Harker's Island, and a boat will take you to the remote areas. Harker's Island Visitor Center is where you need to start your trip. There are several museums in the area like the Keeper's Museum and Portsmouth Village. 

Carl Sandburg is celebrated as an American poet, although his works are found all over the world and have been published in many different languages. Carl Sandburg and his family lived in a home in Flat Rock, N.C. from 1945 until his death in 1967. The park offers tours of the Sandburg Home, over five miles of hiking trails and cares for the descendents of Mrs. Sandburg's prize-winning goats.

If traveling to the Flat Rock area, you may want to check out The Highland Lake Inn and Resort.  Steeped in local history, Highland Lake Inn rests in a country setting of 26 gently wooded acres on a serene lake in Historic Flat Rock. Resort accommodations range from cabins and cottages, to a lodge and an upscale inn.

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site protects and preserves known portions of England's first New World settlements from 1584 to 1590. This park is home to the outdoor summer drama, The Lost Colony", and it also boasts the The Elizabethan Gardens, which offers  year-round opportunity to enjoy 10 acres of flora as a living memorial to England's first New World colonists. There is a visitor's center, and hiking opportunities. 

This North Carolina National Park extends into Tennessee. In North Carolina, you can enter the park in Cherokee, N.C. This is a nature lover's paradise. For hard core nature lovers, you can hike to a hotel that is only accessible by foot. At 6,593 feet elevation, Mount LeConte is the third highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and LeConte Lodge® is located near the summit at 6,360 feet elevation. There is a lottery to stay there, and there is a wait list. 

There are several communities around Cherokee such as Maggie Valley, Waynesville, and Bryson City which also offer lodging. These are great towns to explore, and most of the Inns are very economical. Harrahs Casino Cherokee Resort is family-friendly despite the gambling. It has tons of restaurants on-site, an indoor and outdoor pool, and a spa. It's like a mini Las Vegas in one spot. My vote for cuteness goes to The Chalet Suites Boutique Hotel and Chalet Inn Bed and Breakfast.  It has an alpine, European look with a touch of luxury. For those who like to prepare meals, tthe Smoky Mountain Country Club Lodging in Whittier may appeal to you.  These condos offer the chance for families to spread out.  A property that certainly caught my eye is  McKinley Edwards Inn in Bryson City. The main house is currently going through a renovation, and based on photos, it will be a very nice place to stay in the area. 

This historic trail goes through nine states. Remember and commemorate the survival of the Cherokee people, forcefully removed from their homelands in Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee to live in Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. They traveled by foot, horse, wagon, or steamboat in 1838-1839. In North Carolina, there are three museums in the mountains to honor this trail. Cherokee, N.C. is also a federal Indian reservation. 

This is a national military park in Greensboro that memorializes North Carolina's significance in the Revolutionary War. There are hiking trails, wildlife, and twenty-eight monuments within the park that honor Revolutionary soldiers, statesmen, heroes, and heroines. William Hooper and John Penn, two of North Carolina's three signers of the Declaration of Independence, are buried under the Signers' Monument. A large equestrian statue of General Nathanael Greene dominates the monument honoring the soldiers of the Southern Army and its leader.

Greensboro has great lodging and lots to see. I've stayed at the O'Henry Hotel and loved it. 

Located in Currie, North Carolina, this battlefield marks the site of the first Patriot victory in the American Revolution and the site of the last Scottish Highland broadsword charge. The victory ended British authority in the colony and stalled a full-scale British invasion of the South for nearly four years. Currie is located in Pender County and is very near Wilmington, N.C. which I highlighted this month for its civil war landmarks

Stretching 330 miles through four states (Virginia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina) the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail traces the route used by patriot militia during the pivotal Kings Mountain campaign of 1780. You can access the trail via these points in North Carolina

North Carolina is first in flight.This is an extremely kid-friendly destination in Kill Devil Hills, N.C. Paying honor to Wilbur and Orville Wright, this memorial is a great place to learn about the history of aviation. The Wright Brothers Visitors Center is hands-on fun.  Plan your trip by visiting the Outer Banks Tourism website. 

Atlantic Ocean by Leigh Powell HInes @Hinessightblog (NC Coast)
North Carolina Coast

Designated by Congress in 2006, the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor extends from Wilmington, North Carolina in the north to Jacksonville, Florida in the south. It is home to one of America's most unique cultures, a tradition first shaped by captive Africans brought to the southern United States from West Africa and continued in later generations by their descendents. Festivals for awareness are held several times a year. 

Happy exploring in North Carolina. 

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