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North Carolina – Sea and Summits

North Carolina is topographically as diverse as any state can get. From the coastline towns and cities the altitude rises up to almost 6,700 feet within the state borders. As a result, North Carolina’s climate varies greatly, depending on what height you are on. This, of course, also means that visitors of North Carolina can find all possible recreation and vacation opportunities in the “Rip Van Winkle State”, from water sports like surfing, swimming, and fishing to mountain skiing and snowboarding.

Of all the mid-Atlantic states, North Carolina has the most diverse climate. Along the coast, and further inland in the Piedmont, the climatic conditions are similar to states like South Carolina or Georgia. In the more mountainous regions in the western part of the state, the temperatures are almost like those in New England or the Midwest. The reason for this difference lies in closeness to the ocean, which is not existent in the western part of the state.


The coastal plain has a subtropical climate, influenced by the Atlantic Ocean. The temperatures are mild in winter and warm and humid in summer, with daily highs usually not above 90 degrees. In winter, frost is rare and snow or ice is not an every-year occurrence. The Piedmont gets colder winters and hotter summers due to the lacking moderating influence of the ocean. Especially in the lower Piedmont areas, e.g. in Fayetteville, summer highs of 100 and above are not uncommon. The western part of North Carolina, dominated by the Appalachian mountains, has a significantly higher altitude and has the coldest temperatures. This, of course, provides good to excellent winter sport conditions. Even in the lower regions, the annual snowfall amounts to 14 to 20 inches. In the higher regions, more snow is common.

History / Demography

Historically, North Carolina was populated by various Native American tribes, most notably the Cherokee. It became one of the first British colonies in North America. During the revolution, North Carolina was the forerunner voting for independence from Britain. The newly independent state became especially notorious for the extensive and effective guerilla warfare of local militias and minutemen during the war. During the Civil War, North Carolinians were more reluctant to join the Confederacy than most Southern states. During the 20th century, North Carolina’s population grew from 1.8 million to 8 million people. Today, the total population is estimated to be around 8.8 million. The largest ancestry group is the African-American (more than 20 %), giving testimony to North Carolina’s slavery past.

The Mountains

The Appalachian mountains in western North Carolina consisting of the Great Smoky Mountains, Blue Ridge Mountains, Great Balsam Mountains, Pisgah Mountains, and the Black Mountains offer vast wilderness refuges, beautiful lakes and forests, as well as the state’s highest peak, Mount Mitchell (6,684 feet). Visitors coming to the Appalachian region in September or October, can witness a specter of thousands of shades of red, yellow, and brown. The mountain woods, covering about 2/3 of the region, dress up in the most beautiful colors each fall, which makes hiking and mountainbiking an even more spectacular experience.

One of the most famous trails is the Appalachian Trail (AT), reaching from Maine down to Georgia, also crosses North Carolina. The trail passes through the town of Hot Springs, one of the main tourist destinations in the area. Completely surrounded by the magnificent woodlands, Hot Springs has been a popular resort area since the early 1800s. The name stems from the natural mineral springs, which are more than 100 degrees hot. Besides being a famous wellness resort and hiker’s paradise, the area is also great for rafting and canoeing on the nearby French Broad River. Hikers can spend their nights in one of the many accomodation along the trails, cabins, pensions and hotels alike.

In winter, skiing and snowboarding is great in the Carolinian mountains. Many excellent ski resorts, like the “Appalachian Ski Mountain”, the “Hawksnest Ski Resort”, the Sapphire Valley area or the “Wolf Ridge Ski Resort” invite visitors to explore their slopes. The resorts offer all necessary services like ski and snowboard rentals and waxing, and have modern lifts which guarantee the best efficiency. Every ski resort has a great variety of accommodation possibilities.

Whether in winter, summer, fall or spring: The Appalachian mountains are an excellent destination for a great vacation time!

The Piedmont

The Piedmont covers almost half of the state. The landscape of the heartland is dominated by green pastures and gentle foothills, with occasionally interspersed rocks and boulders. The temperatures are mild all year round. The Piedmont is economically the most dynamic part of North Carolina and hosts the largest and most vibrant cities. Charlotte, Raleigh or Fayetteville offer rich culture combined with vibrant neighborhoods, great restaurants and bars. In Charlotte, the largest city of the state, visitors can learn about the history of the African-American population in one of the great museums or even on a living-history cotton plantation. Professional sports teams like the Charlotte Hornets as well as excellent cultural venues like the Blumenthal Center round up the experience. Throughout the Piedmont, countless golf courses invite professionals and amateurs alike.

The Coast

Wonderful sandy beaches and some of the largest sand dunes on the East Coast make for the picturesque nature of North Carolina’s shoreline. The Outer Banks, a chain of barrier islands off the North Carolinian coast, extending over 300 miles, are characteristic and make the swimming conditions even more relaxing and the sight all the more beautiful. Currituck, Corolla, Duck, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head, Avon and Whalebone are some of the nicest bank islands to visit. Historical lighthouses and old forts, wildlife refuges like the one on Pea Island, and romantic villages await tourists. And on top of all that, there are of course many quiet and relaxing sandy beaches. Roanoke Island is the place to go for everyone who is historically interested. Here, the first attempt to colonize the New World, Walter Raleigh’s “lost colony”, failed in the late 16th century. The North Carolina coast offers also a great variety of seafood, right off the boats of the Atlantic fishermen, and prepared by the best chefs.

All in all, thanks to its great cultural, geographical, and climatic diversity, North Carolina offers the best for every taste and meets all imaginable expectations.

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