AmeriCan & Worldwide Travel

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North Carolina Discovery

The regions of North Carolina could not be more different. The lofty heights and blue haze of the Blue Ridge Mountains soften their terrain into rolling hills only to emerge in the North Carolina Piedmont. The Piedmont soon flows into the coastal region where the white sands of the Outer Banks meet the crashing waves of the Atlantic. In between, the culture ranges from Appalachian to island as it moves from the mountains to the sea. Now you have the opportunity to explore North Carolina from end to end at your leisure, with enough time to explore the heritage, hike the trails, delight in the gardens and savor the cuisine. This trip takes you from city to country and back again, to see North Carolina the way it was intended to be explored.

Itinerary

1

Charlotte

When one envisions the South, thoughts of flowers and gardens immediately come to mind. Satisfying that sensibility is what North Carolina had in mind when the state developed the Heritage Garden program. Featuring gardens of all types, the program takes visitors through large, small, formal, wild and spectacular gardens throughout North Carolina.

Charlotte's heritage gardens and botanical assets are rich and varied. From the world-class Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden and the research and natural environment of the botanical Forest of the University of North Carolina, to smaller elegant, rose and sculpture gardens; exploring the region's serene gardens will further deepen respect for natural beauty. Each location is unique and distinctive.

If your only interest is a stroll along a woodland trail, there are plenty of options to choose from there too. Throw in a bird sanctuary and a historical farm setting and you have what amounts to a horticulturist's paradise filled with secluded spots that soothe the soul and nature's handiwork to tickle your senses.

You'll be touching down in Charlotte, the largest city in North Carolina. The vibrancy of the city, which epitomizes the New South, masks its age-old roots. Named after the wife of King George in 1768, Charlotte is still referred to as the "Queen City." Discovery of a 17-pound gold nugget in 1799 for ever changed the settlement and putting the city on its path to a major financial center. When the prospectors and miners moved on, textiles, railroads and bankers took their place, civilizing the city into the merchant community that it is today.

In Charlotte, you'll discover the amenities of a large, cosmopolitan city, combined with the "southern touch." You can dine in world class restaurants, outdoor cafes or in gourmet locations, shop in antique stores, signature stores, interesting boutiques and upscale malls. History ranges all the way from Revolutionary War battlefields to antique car museums. And the gardens, the gardens, thrive in the lush southern climate. None beat the Daniel Stowe.

You can explore the heart of the downtown banking centre, tony South Park, and the quiet Carolina countryside. In many locations walking tours introduce you to the area up close and personal.

 

3

Asheville

125 miles

This morning you can head straight for the largest home in America, the Biltmore Estate. The 250-room French Renaissance chateau, built by the Vanderbilt's as a summer residence, is filled with fine art and antiques collected by successive generations of the family. Nearly 75 acres of lush formal gardens and walking trails, situated within the 8000 acres, are available to visitors. In addition to touring the house itself, you will have the opportunity to savor award-winning vintage wines at the Biltmore winery.

Right outside the gates of Biltmore, Historic Biltmore Village is a restored turn-of-the-century community. The new area features over thirty shops, galleries and restaurants.

We recommend lunch at the Biltmore Winery, serving European-inspired fare including wood-fired pizza, estate-raised beef, lamb, trout, handmade pastas, mouth-watering desserts and Biltmore Estate wines.

5

Blue Ridge Parkway, Boone, Winston-Salem & Blowing Rock

171 miles

As you head north from Asheville today, plan to meander along the high ridges of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Here, up at the top of the world, traveling at the leisurely speed limit, you can soak up some of nature's most beautiful mountain scenery. Whether driving along the Parkway, taking a side trip to learn about the area's cultural heritage, or coming upon a doe and her fawn while walking on a trail through a meadow full of wildflowers, the tranquil surroundings on this ramble are bound to provide quiet enjoyment and a renewal of the spirit.

All too soon, you'll reach Boone, where you can explore the Daniel Boone Native Gardens before a short drive to Grandfather Mountain, the highest peak in the Blue Ridge. At what is considered the most biologically diverse mountain in eastern North America, you will be able to enjoy spectacular scenery as you drive to the crest. Along the way you might get to see a variety of wildlife species in their natural habitats. Then, if you feel daring, you can take the adventurous walk across the Mile High Swinging Bridge.

Nearby, Blowing Rock is another observation point that delivers breathtaking views overlooking the beautiful John's River Gorge. The view isn't all that there is to see here, there are gardens, an observation tower and a unique gift shop. The legend of the Indian lovers and how this rock area developed its name should be very interesting. From here, it's only a short drive to Winston-Salem and your accommodations for the evening.

7

Raleigh

107 miles

It took almost 200 years after Sir Walter Raleigh explored the Raleigh area in 1587 for the city to become the capital of North Carolina. Since then they have made up for lost time in developing a world class city.

Often referred to as the "Smithsonian of the South," Raleigh has over 20 free premier attractions with the breadth and depth of the Smithsonian collection in Washington. Start at the Capital Area Visitors Center located in the North Carolina Museum of History, for an overview of the city.

Right next door, the North Carolina State Capitol comes complete with a sculpture of George Washington, wearing a Roman toga, and resident ghosts in secret rooms hidden in the structure.

Since 1891, North Carolina's Governors and their families have been housed right around the corner in the Governor's Mansion, now open for touring. The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, also downtown, is the southeast's largest natural history museum. They house the world's only Acrocanthosaurus and "Willo", the first dinosaur discovered with a fossilized heart and "Mountains to the Sea" which recreates five North Carolina habitats, complete with live animals and a 20-foot high waterfall.

There's also the North Carolina Museum of History, with Richard Petty's stock car, Meadowlark Lemon's uniform (remember the Harlem Globetrotters?) and more, the North Carolina Legislative Building, the Raleigh City Museum, located in the historic 1874 Briggs Hardware Building, Artspace and more. When it's time to stretch your legs take a walk through Historic Oakwood, a 20-block area with restored homes built between 1870 and 1912.

9

Outer Banks

189 miles

Leaving Raleigh this morning, you can begin a leisurely journey through northeeast North Carolina to explore this fascinating yet little visited part of the state. The Historic Albemarle Tour and its resident scenic byways take you through the land where Charles II granted a royal charter to eight powerful businessmen, naming them the Lords Proprietors of Carolina in 1663. Throughout its history, the region's geography has dictated much of its development. While a multitude of rivers and sounds facilitated inland trade, the treacherous barrier islands (known as the Outer Banks) discouraged large-scale commercial shipping. The result was no large urban centers and today, the rural serenity is one of the areas greatest assets.

A series of sleepy incredibly historic towns, with beautiful historic buildings form a route through the timeless region. In some places, beautiful Victorian and Georgian homes line winding narrow roads that follow a riverbank. Cypress trees draped in Spanish moss stand tall in the brown waters.

In others, like Edenton, considered by some to be the most beautiful historic town in the South, the historic district is second to none, yet life here has a decidedly relaxed pace.

Today will be time to explore the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, better known as the Outer Banks of North Carolina. There are three premier lighthouses, including Bodie, where keeping a a working lighthouse has required three rounds of construction. Today the lighthouse houses the Visitor Center for the National Seashore. The famous Cape Hatteras Light, built in 1870 was put on rollers and moved 2900 feet in order to preserve the structure. At 193 feet, it is the tallest light house in the United States and one of the tallest brick lighthouses in the world.

Also plan to visit the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, the location of Sir Walter Raleigh's colony that did not survive. It was at "Newe Fort Virginia" in 1586 (the entire area was Virginia at that time) where 116 men, women and children who settled on Roanoke Island disappeared forever. An authentic reconstruction of the small earthen fort is located on the very spot it stood 420 years ago. An evening performance of The Lost Colony depicts the colony.

11

Wilmington

227 miles

Settled in 1739, Wilmington is now the fifth largest metropolitan area in North Carolina. A well-preserved historic core is surrounded by a bustling town, complete with shops, restaurants, hotels, and other contemporary amenities. The Cape Fear Museum tells the story of the area, while the 1859 Bellamy Mansion still stands proudly at 5th and Market Streets.

It is considered one of the finest examples of Antebellum architecture in the south. Moving into the structure on the eve of the Civil War, the Bellamy family was soon displaced by yellow fever and troops who commandeered the residence. The family remained until 1946.

After strolling the gardens surrounding the Bellamy Mansion, plan to take a 90 minute narrated cruise on the Capefear Riverboat takes you up and down the scenic Cape Fear River. Nearby, Airlie Gardens, established in 1901, is now celebrating more than a century as "gardens by the sea." The 67 acres are enhanced by the 400-year old Airlie Oak and a collection of over 100,000 azaleas and camellias. There are great Ghost Walks in Wilmington in the evening.

13

Bald Head Island

37 miles

Is it possible to have an adrenaline rush at 18 miles per hour? On the serenely beautiful Bald Head Island where no automobiles are allowed this is likely, as you leave the ferry and approach the island, knowing that absolute quiet and relaxation are in store. The pristine environment off the last island in the chain, reached only by a 20 minute ferry ride is guarded by Old Baldy, as it has been since 1817.

The world has known the island is a special place since Spanish explorer Giovanni da Verrazano stood in awe and remarked in 1524: "The open country rising in height above the sandy shore with many fair fields and plains, full of mighty great woods, some very thick and some thin, replenished with diverse sorts of trees, as pleasant and delectable to behold, as it is possible to imagine." Today, visitors can experience the same environment that he saw, most of the island has been untouched by development. You can intersperse your island experience with natural adventures, or just plain, kick back and relax.

15

Charlotte

219 miles

Today, as you depart Charlotte, rest assured that you have experienced the best of North Carolina. We wish you a safe and pleasant journey home.

What's included?

  • Direct return flights from London (please ask about other departure airports)
  • 14 nights hotel accommodation and room tax
  • Fully insured compact car hire
  • A detailed travel pack with a day by day itinerary, driving instructions, maps and excursion suggestions.

How to book

Daily Departures 01 April to 30 November.

Our low season standard hotel price starts from £1439.00 per person based on 2 sharing a room (Supplements or reductions for other room types available on request).

We can offer this itinerary in a wide range of other accommodation types including superior hotels and small inns.

Please call us on (01892) 779900 or email info@awwt.co.uk stating your travel dates and preferred standard of accommodation for a detailed and competitively priced quotation.