North Carolina

North Carolina is a mix of old and new, cities and suburbs, beautiful beaches and mountains. Cape Hatteras in the Outer Banks contains a wealth of natural sights: water birds, marshes, woodlands, dunes, and quiet beaches. There is also the sight of the first successful airplane launch, and the Lost Colony of early British settlers who disappeared mysteriously. In the West by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, visit Cherokee's Mingus Mill and Mountain Farm Museum for a glimpse of old farm life and traditional trades. The Biltmore Estate in Asheville is a fantastic chateau which has cafes, an enormous gift shop, a fancy hotel, and a great winery on the premises. Raleigh's North Carolina Museum of Art has ancient Roman sculpture, the works of Raphael, graffiti art, and much more in an impressive, modern setting. The Lemur Center at Durham's Duke University has the most prosimian primates outside of Madagascar. For more wildlife, check out the vipers and other reptiles at Wilmington's Cape Fear Serpentarium. Fried chicken, seafood, biscuits, and sweet tea are typical menu items in North Carolina. You can find sweet items like peanut butter pie and sweet potato pancakes. Elevated versions of Southern cuisine can be very tempting. Sausage-and-avocado grits? Yes please. Conch fritters and Jamaican stew on the Outer Banks? You bet. There are plenty of local, seasonal, vegetarian, and/or organic options around the state. You can go to an Asheville cafe with free-range chicken, tofu scrambles, and a pretty view; eat delicious pies with fresh lavender in the spring or local muscadine grape in the fall in Durham; or dig seasonal dishes in Wilmington, including North Carolina soft-shell crabs with sweet pea custard and local pork cheeks with fried green tomatoes. Asheville has been claiming the title of Beer City, USA for several years, and there are lots of places to drink local brews. You can put some peanut-butter tofu in your belly in the early AM after a fun night on the town!