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Home > Family Travel > Family Travel Guides > North Carolina Travel Guide


North Carolina Vacations Travel Guide


General Information

Baby Equipment Rentals - companies in North Carolina that rent baby gear and equipment including car seats, strollers, cribs and more

Family Resorts in North Carolina - resorts, hotels and other family friendly lodging

North Carolina Travel & Tourism - visitors information with maps, places to eat, accommodations, activities, what to see, calendar of events and more.



North Carolina Zoological Park
4401 Zoo Pkwy
Asheboro, North Carolina 27203
Phone: (336) 879-7000
The North Carolina Zoological Park, with more than 500 acres in its African and North American continental regions, is a place of wonder and discovery. It is the country's largest and finest walk-through natural habitat zoo. It was the first zoo designed from its inception as a natural-habitat zoo, which means that the animals and plants in its exhibits are seen in settings that closely resemble the habitats in which they would live in the wild. Its 37-acre African Plains exhibit alone is as large as many entire zoos.  Sited on hilly, wooded terrain in the ancient Uwharrie Mountains of central North Carolina, the Zoo has approximately five miles of trails in its two continental regions. Among the Zoo's more popular animal attractions are its polar bears, seals, sea lions, seabirds, river otters, bison, elk, alligators, elephants, rhinoceros, chimpanzees, baboons, gorillas, giraffes, zebras, ostriches and tropical birds. There are dozens of other species as well.

Western North Carolina Nature Center
75 Gashes Creek Rd
Asheville, North Carolina 28805
Phone: (828) 298-5600
The WNC Nature Center, located in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina, is an educational center exhibiting plants and animals native to the Southern Appalachian Region. From wild animals like the Cougars, Bobcats, Red and Grey Wolves, Black Bear, Otters and more to Pygmy Goats, Red Devon Steer, Chickens and Sheep, they promise an interactive, educational, fun-filled visit the whole family will enjoy.

North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores
Atlantic Beach, North Carolina 28512
Phone: (252) 247-4003
The Aquarium takes visitors on a tour of North Carolina’s amazing aquatic life “from the mountains to the sea.” The journey is arranged in five galleries: Mountain, Piedmont, Coastal Plain, Tidal Waters and Ocean. Among the 40 innovative exhibits are re-created shipwrecks that showcase the diverse marine life attracted to these sunken vessels. The 306,000-gallon Living Shipwreck display in the Ocean Gallery features a three-quarter-size replica of a German U-boat that was sunk off Cape Lookout in World War II. The Queen Anne’s Revenge duplicates the 18th century artifacts in Beaufort Inlet thought to be the wreckage of the pirate Blackbeard’s flagship. Also popular: Playful river otters, a roaring mountain waterfall, a trout pool, a jellyfish gallery, a sportfishing display and a cypress swamp display. Touch pools allow personal contact with stingrays, whelks and other creatures.

North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher
900 Loggerhead Rd
Kure Beach (Fort Fisher), North Carolina 28449
Phone: (910) 458-8257
The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher is situated on 23 acres of property within the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area. The 93,000-square-foot building features salt and freshwater aquariums up to 235,000 gallons, a touch tank, interactive exhibits, classrooms, meeting rooms, a large auditorium, concession stand, souvenir photography and a gift shop. Facility rental available. Outside is a natural swamp area, lush gardens and a nature trail.

North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island
Manteo (Roanoke Island), North Carolina 27954
Phone: (252) 473-3494
Explore the “Waters of the Outer Banks” through exhibits that express this theme. Visit the 285,000-gallon Graveyard of the Atlantic Exhibit, Wetlands on the Edge, Saltwater Gallery and touch rays and invertebrates at the Close encounters exhibits. See dive shows and a new exhibit Oceans Revealed: Power of the Planet, a new interactive way of viewing the Earth and its oceans, with a spring 2009 opening.


National Parks

Moores Creek National Battlefield
Currie, North Carolina
Phone: (910) 283-5591
The 88 acre park commemorates the decisive February 27, 1776 victory by 1,000 Patriots over 1,600 Loyalists at the Battle of Moores Creek Bridge. During the summer months various afternoon programs, talks, walks and demonstrations are held on the weekends. Other activities include biking, nature walks and wildlife viewing.

Guilford Courthouse National Military Park
Greensboro, North Carolina
Phone: (336) 288-1776
The battle fought here on March 15, 1781, was the largest, most hotly-contested action of the Revolutionary War's climatic Southern Campaign.  The serious loss of British manpower suffered at Guilford Courthouse foreshadowed final American victory at Yorktown, seven months later.  Activities include walking foot trails and historic New Garden Road park and biking automobile tour road. Although in a suburban setting the park offers a variety of wild flowers and small wildlife.  A self-guiding tour follows the auto/bicycle tour road.

Cape Lookout National Seashore
Harkers Island, North Carolina
Phone: (252) 728-2250
The seashore is a 56 mile long section of the Outer Banks of North Carolina running from Ocracoke Inlet on the northeast to Beaufort Inlet on the southeast. The three undeveloped barrier islands which make up the seashore - North Core Banks, South Core Banks and Shackleford Banks - may seem barren and isolated but they offer many natural and historical features that can make a visit very rewarding.  Activities include Sightseeing at Portsmouth Village, Lighthouse Complex; observing plants and wildlife on all three islands; picnicking, shelling, fishing and sunbathing.

Wright Brothers National Memorial
Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina
Phone: (252) 441-7430
The first successful sustained powered flights in a heavier-than-air machine were made here by Wilbur and Orville Wright on December 17, 1903. A 60-foot granite monument dedicated in 1932, is perched atop 90-foot tall Kill Devil Hill commemorating the achievement of these two visionaries from Dayton, Ohio.  A visit should include touring the museum exhibits, participating in a ranger conducted program, touring the reconstructed camp buildings and first flight trail area, and a climb up Kill Devil Hill to view the memorial pylon.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Manteo, North Carolina
Phone: (252) 441-5711
Stretched over 70 miles of barrier islands, Cape Hatteras National Seashore is a fascinating combination of natural and cultural resources, and provides a wide variety of recreational opportunities. Once dubbed the "Graveyard of the Atlantic" for its treacherous currents, shoals, and storms, Cape Hatteras has a wealth of history relating to shipwrecks, lighthouses, and the U.S. Lifesaving Service. These dynamic islands provide a variety of habitats and are a valuable wintering area for migrating waterfowl. The park's fishing and surfing are considered the best on the east coast.



Morehead Planetarium
Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599
Phone: (919) 962-1236
The Morehead Planetarium, one of the largest planetariums in the United States, is located on the north end of the campus of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Morehead Planetarium Building and grounds, complete with a 68-foot, domed Star Theater and Zeiss Model VI Star Projector, scientific exhibits and classrooms, 24-inch Cassegrain reflecting telescope and observation decks, Visitor's Center, art galleries, rose gardens and the massive sundial were built for students of all ages with all interests. The Planetarium is located near several other attractions in Chapel Hill.

Carolina Aviation Museum
4108 Airport Drive
Charlotte, North Carolina 28208
Phone: (704) 359-8442
Historical aircraft of all types for up close viewing.

Discovery Place
301 North Tryon Street
Charlotte, North Carolina
Phone: (704) 372-6261
One of the top hands-on science museums in the nation, Discovery Place provides ever-changing, entertaining facilities that foster experiences in areas that range from life science to space exploration. More than a half-million people from all over the United States visit Discovery Place, its IMAX Dome Theatre and its planetarium each year.

The Museum of Life & Science (Magic Wings Butterfly House)
433 Murray Avenue (one mile north of I-85)
Durham, North Carolina
Phone: (919) 220-5429
More than 1000 exotic butterflies from all over the world.

Airborne and Special Operations Museum
100 Bragg Boulevard
Fayetteville, North Carolina
Mission Statement: The Airborne & Special Operations Museum will provide a unique educational experience on United States history and basic core values through the preservation interpretation and recognition of U.S. Army airborne and special operations history, equipment, technology, legend, art and weaponry.

Natural Science Center of Greensboro
4301 Lawndale Drive
Greensboro, North Carolina 27455
Phone: (336) 288-3769
A hands-on museum, petting zoo and planetarium offering fun for the whole family.

Adventures in Health Children's Museum
1000 Mumford Road
Greenville's River Park North, North Carolina
Phone: (252)-392-4562
The museum offers educational programs and "hands on" exhibits in the following areas: stress; human growth and development; fitness; the skeletal system; anatomy and physiology; dental health; emergency preparedness; substance abuse; seat belt safety; and water safety.

The National Railroad Museum and Hall of Fame
2 Main Street
Hamlet, North Carolina 28345
The Museum's purpose is to preserve railroad history and promote that history in modern-day railroading. Our exhibits include photographs and maps, displays, a model railroad layout, four pieces of rolling stock and a gift shop for your convenience.

Reed Gold Mine
9621 Reed Mine Rd.
Stanfield, North Carolina 28163
Phone: (704) 721-GOLD (4653)
Portions of the underground tunnels at the Reed mine have been restored for guided tours. A visitor center contains exhibits of gold and historical mining equipment. An orientation film highlights the first gold discovery, and tours of a restored ore-crushing stamp mill are offered. A picnic area is available, and trails wind through the historic mining area.

USS Battleship North Carolina
Wilmington, North Carolina 28402
Phone: (910) 251-5797
Take a tour of this WWII battleship and view all the historic exhibits.

400 West Hanes Mill Road
Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27105
Phone: (336) 767-6730
At SciWorks, it's fun to learn about science. Travel through the solar system under the dome of our state-of-the-art planetarium. Come face-to-face with river otters and other animals indigenous to North Carolina in our 15-acre Environmental Park. Enjoy interactive, hands-on special exhibits and programs in spacious exhibit halls.


Theme Parks, Amusement Parks & Water Parks

Paramount's Carowinds
Charlotte, North Carolina 28273
Phone: (800) 888-4386
Paramount's Carowinds is one of the most popular family entertainment attractions in the Carolinas. The 100-acre water and theme park straddles the North Carolina-South Carolina state line and is located just 15 minutes from uptown Charlotte and 12 miles north of Rock Hill, S.C. The park features more than 100 state-of-the-art rides, shows and movie-themed experiences for all ages.

Wet and Wild Emerald Pointe Water Park
3910 South Holden Road
Greensboro, North Carolina 27406
Phone: (336) 852-9721 / (800) 555-5900
The largest waterpark in the Carolinas featuring over 34 rides and attractions.  Emerald Pointe is the perfect summer getaway for the entire family.  Water slides, rides, wave pools and more for the whole family.

Ghost Town in the Sky
US Hwy 19
Maggie Valley, North Carolina 28751
Phone: (828) 926-1140 / 1-800-GHOSTOWN
Along with a roller coaster, bumper cars, kiddieland rides, chair lift and other rides, Ghost Town replicates the western towns of the late 1800’s through its authentic "replica" buildings and forms of entertainment. Hourly Gun Fights on Main Street and shows in the Silver Dollar Saloon and Red Dog Saloon will expose you to cowboys in action and cancan shows. In addition to the live entertainment, the Town has several food establishments.


Family Activities

The Children's Playhouse
400 Tracy Circle
Boone, North Carolina 28607
Phone: 828-263-0011
A warm, friendly children’s museum, The Children’s Playhouse offers an indoor/outdoor environment for families with children from birth to eight to pretend, build, paint, create, romp, stomp, and sing together!


If you know of a family activity in North Carolina, let us know and we will add it here.


Summer - Family Vacation Hot Spots (Beaches, Lakes, etc.)

Carolina & Kure Beaches (Carolina Beach State Park) - From the northern most tip of Carolina Beach to the Southern extension of Fort Fisher you will find seven and a half miles of Vacation Pleasure. Swim, jet ski, surf, sun, fish, or just stroll along the edge of the water. These beaches pride themselves on uncrowded clean beaches and reasonably priced accommodations in a friendly atmosphere.  Accessible from the North by a fixed span bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway on Highway US 421, or from the South by the Southport-Fort Fisher toll ferry; fun and entertainment for all ages!

North Carolina's Outer Banks - This beautiful stretch of land, from Corolla through Nags Head to Hatteras and Ocracoke islands, is one of the most popular vacation areas on the East Coast. Part of the Outer Banks' charm is the remoteness of the area. Since it's only accessible by ferry or by driving over one of the bridges that connects to the mainland, once you're here, you have the feeling of being far removed from the rest of the world.  All types of activities are available for the whole family.

South Brunswick Islands - Located in the southernmost region of North Carolina, the South Brunswick Islands are a picturesque vision of a dream come true. With an average annual temperature of 74 degrees, the great weather welcomes year round visits. Cool ocean breezes temper the summer heat while you play on the sandy beaches or explore the intracoastal waterway.

Wrightsville Beach -  5 miles of white sand beaches and a string of historic shops and restaurants line the waterfront.

Bald Head Island - Bald Head Island offers many activities such as Golf on its 18 hole championship course, some of the best Fishing on the east coast, a full service Marina, miles of Kayaking through its 10,000 acre nature reserve and 14 miles of sandy white Beaches. Nature is admired and respected on Bald Head Island. Alligators, Sea Turtles and other rare animals live on this lush island paradise. Bird watching is a favorite pastime among many of the local residents. Retreat to an island with hundreds of years of History, Shopping, Restaurants and other local Attractions. The island is accessible only by private yacht or passenger ferry. Once on the island, golf carts and bicycles are the only means of transportation.

Chowan River - Fishing, swimming, water sports, picnicking, boating and camping.  The 65 mile area is an excellent beautiful coastal northeast North Carolina cypress-lined river emptying into the western end of the Albemarle Sound.  The lower Chowan River is most scenic during the winter months and rarely freezes over.

Falls Lake - Fishing, swimming, boating and camping.  Located25 miles east of Durham, North Carolina off North Carolina State Route 98.

John H. Kerr Reservoir / Kerr Lake - Large lake which offers fishing, swimming, boating, recreation areas and camping.  One of the largest manmade lakes in the southeast featuring numerous forks and coves.  Located along the Virginia / North Carolina State line off Virginia State Route 4 (accessible from I 85).

Tillery Lake - Fishing, boating, swimming and camping.  Home of Morrow Mountain State Park. Located off U.S. 52 just east of Norwood, North Carolina.

Pamlico Sound - Fishing, camping, swimming, boating, historic sightseeing and more.  A state park and several beaches lie near the Bayview area on the Pamlico River. An historic light house is in Ocracoke on the National Seashore which is also one of the entry points to the Atlantic Ocean. Located in eastern North Carolina.

Zoos, Museums, National Parks, Theme, Amusement and Water Parks listed above.  During summer months the Winter Vacation spots listed below also offer mountain biking, golfing and other activities.  Visit the Ski resort area links below to find out summer activities.


Winter - Family Vacation Hot Spots (Ski Resorts, etc.)

Sugar Mountain Resort
Sugar Mountain Drive off State Highway 184
Banner Elk, North Carolina
Phone: (828) 898-4521
Eighteen slopes and trails spread over 115 skiable acres and a 1,200' vertical drop provide all levels of skiing. Beginners can enjoy the Rope Tow area, Easy Street, and Lowing Flying Mile, while advanced skiers will try Tom Terrific, Boulder Dash and Whoopdedoo, our expert trails. With 40% novice, 40% intermediate, and 20% expert, there is terrain for all skiing abilities. Night skiing is also available.  During the summer you can take chair lift rides and mountain bike.

Hawksnest Golf & Ski Resort
Located just off of Highway 105 South
Banner Elk, North Carolina
Phone: (828) 963-6561
Great family skiing in the winter and one of the most scenic golf course in the world during the summer.

Appalachian Ski Mountain
2 miles off US 321 between Blowing Rock & Boone, North Carolina
Phone: (800) 322-2373
Welcome to Appalachian Ski Mtn., where the fun comes served family style! We are the premiere winter resort for families and groups in the Blue Ridge region of North Carolina. We welcome skiers of all skills and styles, including snowboarders! Nine slopes and five lifts with state-of-the-art snowmaking and grooming equipment keep you skiing all day, all night and all season long (ice skating, too)!

Cataloochee Ski Area
Located four miles off U.S. 19 above beautiful Maggie Valley, North Carolina and is easily accessed from Interstate-40
Phone: (800) 768-0285
Here families learn their skiing skills on special beginner slopes with their own chairlift. Then, they graduate to more difficult intermediate slopes like “Lower Omigosh” and the “Rock Island Run.” Finally, they advance to 5,400-foot Moody Top, with its 740’ vertical drop, while experienced snowboarders can hone their skills in the newly relocated “Cat Cage” terrain park.

Ski Wolf Laurel
Route 3
Mars Hill, North Carolina 28754
Phone: (800) 817-4111
Wolf Laurel Slopes is a family oriented ski area with fun for everyone with 54 acres of skiable terrain, slopes from beginner to expert, night skiing, a double and quad chairlift plus 100% snowmaking capabilities.

Scaly Mountain Snow tubing Area
Scaly Mountain, North Carolina 28775
Phone: (828) 526-3737
Scaly Mountain Ski Area is a warm, friendly, family-oriented ski resort currently offering tubing only.  The large parking area is located just off the highway and allows for easy access to the slopes and ski lodge facilities. The day lodge faces all slopes and is close to the lift so parents may take a break and yet observe their children from inside.

Zoos, Museums, National Parks, Theme, Amusement and Water Parks listed above.


Helpful websites and services

If you know of a website or company that is helpful to families traveling to North Carolina, let us know and we will add it here.


Travel Specials & Vacation Packages

(specials are updated weekly)

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