No matter where you go in North Carolina, you’re bound to find good friends and good food. There are many things that North Carolina is known for, from their tasty barbecue to their sports teams. Whether you’re interested in taking a trip to the Tar Heel State or you just want to learn more about North Carolina history, we’ve created a list of many unique aspects of North Carolina.
To create this list of things North Carolina is known for, 24/7 Tempo consulted various publications including the U.S. News & World Report and U.S. News Travel. Here are 20 things North Carolina is known for.
The Great Smoky Mountains
- Fact: The Great Smoky Mountains are located along the Tennessee–North Carolina border
One of the things North Carolina is famous for is the myriad of outdoor sights. One of the most beautiful things to see in North Carolina is the Great Smoky Mountains. This mountain range, located on the Tennessee–North Carolina border, has over 800 miles of hiking trails and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited in the country.
- Fact: The first Krispy Kreme opened in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in 1937
If you’ve never had a hot original glazed doughnut from Krispy Kreme, you’re missing out. This popular doughnut shop first opened in 1937 when Vernon Rudolph started selling glazed doughnuts in local grocery stores. The demand for this tasty treat became so high that he cut a hole in the wall and started selling the doughnuts on the street.
First In Flight
- Fact: North Carolina was the home of the first manned flight that took place in Kitty Hawk
You can’t visit North Carolina without seeing the phrase “first in flight,” whether you notice it on license plates or elsewhere. This phrase is tied to North Carolina because the first successful manned flight took place in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. This moment was an important one in North Carolina history and the site of this flight is now the Wright Brothers National Memorial. Even though the flight itself only lasted 12 seconds, it was still a monumental accomplishment in the world of aviation.
Blue Ridge Parkway
- Fact: There are numerous sights on the Blue Ridge Parkway, including Mount Mitchell and Whitewater Falls
The Blue Ridge Parkway is another one of the most beautiful sights in North Carolina. This parkway that runs from North Carolina to Virginia is nearly 500 miles long. The experience of driving through the Blue Ridge Parkway isn’t an experience you want to miss. There are numerous hiking trails and incredible sights like Mount Mitchell and Whitewater Falls. Mount Mitchell is definitely worth seeing as the highest mountain peak in the eastern U.S.
- Fact: Cheerwine was first created in Salisbury, North Carolina in 1917
A popular drink that originated in North Carolina is Cheerwine. In 1917, L.D. Peeler developed the first recipe for this drink in the middle of a sugar shortage. After he perfected the recipe with the addition of cherry syrup, he gave the drink its official name–Cheerwine. Cheerwine is still an important part of the culture in North Carolina and there’s a Cheerwine Festival in Salisbury every year.
Bank of America Stadium
- Fact: The Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina has 75,525 seats and is the largest stadium in the state
Sports are another thing North Carolina is famous for, including teams like the Carolina Panthers. But you can’t talk about sports like football without discussing the local football stadium, the Bank of America Stadium. This enormous football stadium is the largest in the state and has a total of 75,525 seats. The Bank of America Stadium first opened in 1996 but it has been renovated over the years to accommodate the growing fan base in North Carolina.
- Fact: The Outer Banks islands in North Carolina have beaches, parks, and diving sites
You can visit the Outer Banks for a more relaxed getaway in North Carolina. This stretch of barrier islands has over 100 miles of beaches, parks, and diving sites. There’s also a rich history attached to the Outer Banks. Roanoke Island was the location of the first English child born in America. These early European settlements have now become an important part of United States and North Carolina history.
- Fact: The NASCAR Hall of Fame is in Charlotte, North Carolina and the roots of NASCAR can be traced back to this state
Not only can you see a NASCAR race in North Carolina and visit the NASCAR Hall of Fame, but NASCAR also has a history connected to the Tar Heel State. The first racing leading up to the creation of NASCAR started during prohibition and moonshiners in North Carolina were some of the first to race each other after fixing up their cars. The NASCAR Hall of Fame is worth a visit and you can also visit the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
- Fact: Charlotte, North Carolina is known for many attractions such as the NASCAR Hall of Fame and the Bank of America Stadium
There’s never a shortage of things to do in Charlotte, North Carolina. Charlotte is home to famous attractions such as the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the Bank of America Stadium, and the Carowinds amusement park. Whether you plan on spending time outdoors or cooling off inside, there are plenty of things to see and do in Charlotte.
- Fact: Asheville is known for its art and music scene as well as attractions like the Biltmore Estate
Asheville, one of North Carolina’s most interesting cities, is another place with plenty of attractions to see and restaurants to visit. One of the most well-known attractions in Asheville is the Biltmore Estate, but this estate isn’t the only thing Asheville is known for. It’s also home to numerous breweries, the Basilica of Saint Lawrence, the River Arts District, and the Blue Ridge Parkway.
- Fact: Carowinds is an amusement park in Charlotte, North Carolina that sits on over 400 acres
There are plenty of attractions North Carolina is known for, including Carowinds, the largest theme park in North Carolina. This famous amusement park sits on the border of North Carolina and South Carolina. It’s also home to over 60 different rides and roller coasters, including the Fury 325. The Fury 325 is the world’s tallest and fastest giga coaster, essentially a roller coaster with a drop of 300 feet or more.
- Fact: Barbecue is an essential part of North Carolina food culture and history
A discussion of North Carolina’s famous food has to include barbecue. While there are numerous types of barbecue present in North Carolina restaurants and homes, the two main styles are Lexington style and Eastern style barbecue. While there are ongoing arguments between those native to North Carolina over which style is better, there’s no doubt that you’ll find some of the most delicious barbecue restaurants in this state.
- Fact: More than half of the tobacco in the United States is produced in North Carolina
North Carolina is known for tobacco simply because of how much tobacco is produced there. An estimated 260 million pounds of tobacco are produced in North Carolina annually, which ends up being more than half of the tobacco in the country. The tobacco plant isn’t actually native to North Carolina, but it does thrive in the North Carolina climate.
- Fact: Duke University has ranked as the top school in North Carolina and the 7th university in the country
When it comes to higher education, North Carolina is known for having several prestigious schools. But the most well-known university in the state is Duke University. This school ranked as the top university in the state as well as the 7th university in the country by U.S. News & World Report. Duke University was founded in 1838 and has an enrollment of about 6,000 students.
- Fact: The Biltmore Estate in North Carolina is the largest private residence in the United States
The Biltmore Estate is a must-see attraction if you’re visiting North Carolina. This private residence was built by George Vanderbilt in the late 1800s. With 250 rooms and a property that sits on 8,000 acres, the Biltmore Estate is the largest private residence in the United States. During a trip to North Carolina, you can go on a guided tour of the estate, visit the Biltmore Winery, or stroll through the Antler Hill Village.
- Fact: The first Cookout location opened in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1989
Cookout is another restaurant North Carolina is famous for. The first location opened in 1989 in Charlotte, North Carolina, but there are now 300 Cookout locations across the country. What may seem like a simple burger joint has now become a sensation in the South. This burger chain is known for its fresh burgers and extensive milkshake selection.
- Fact: The Carolina Panthers became a part of the NFL in 1995 and have made it to the Super Bowl twice
It’s no wonder football is a big deal in North Carolina with the enormous Bank of America Stadium. The Bank of America Stadium is the headquarters of the Carolina Panthers, based out of Charlotte. This NFL Team became a part of the NFL in 1995 and they’ve made it to the Super Bowl twice.
- Fact: The first Bojangles opened in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1977
The food from Bojangles is the epitome of Southern-style chicken. This fast-food restaurant opened its first location in 1977 after Jack Fulk and Richard Thomas saw an opportunity in the food industry. Their first location opened in Charlotte, North Carolina but there are now over 800 Bojangles locations. 348 of them are in North Carolina and there’s even a location in Honduras.
- Fact: Southern hospitality is a key part of the culture in North Carolina
Out of all the attractions, food, and sports teams in the state, nothing can compare to the Southern hospitality you’ll experience if you visit North Carolina. Although it may be a stereotype in the South, you’re indeed more likely to experience people being friendly and polite to each other in a state like North Carolina than you will in most other places. (Check out 25 slang and phrases only Southerners understand.)
- Fact: Pepsi was first created in New Bern, North Carolina
Pepsi is still one of the most popular sodas today, and it’s one of the things North Carolina is known for. A local pharmacist named Caleb Bradham created the original formula for Pepsi in New Bern, North Carolina in 1898. It became so popular after only a few years that Caleb Bradham went on to create an entire business based on this drink, leading to the creation of the Pepsi-Cola Company. (Click to read about the iconic drinks from every state.)