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Gaining statehood in 1789, North Carolina was one of America’s original 13 colonies, and was a site for the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and more. This all means one thing – North Carolina is bursting with historic sites and interactive ways to connect with the past. The North Carolina State Capitol is located appropriately enough in the capital city of Raleigh.
A U.S. National Historic Landmark, and listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, the capitol was constructed in 1833, and houses the Governor of North Carolina’s offices. Free, self-guided tours are available Monday through Friday – with guided tours on Saturdays. Another important historic site is set near Charlotte, North Carolina’s largest city, in the town of Pineville. The President James K. Polk State Historic Site was the childhood home of the 11th U.S. president.
Open Tuesday through Saturday, the Polk State Historic Site features a Polk film and exhibits in the visitor center, plus annual events like the President James K. Polk Birthday Celebration in November. Situated on the coast, the Bald Head Island Lighthouse – better known as Old Baldy – is North Carolina’s oldest lighthouse. Found near Wilmington and on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, Old Baldy was built in 1817 along Cape Fear River, and is now open daily to visitors.
Old Baldy features a children’s area, island tours, the nearby Smith Island Museum, and annual events at the lighthouse grounds. And for the military history fan in the family, the 82nd Airborne Division Museum is set in Fort Bragg near Southern Pines, while the historic Battleship North Carolina is set in Wilmington.
onstructed in 1925, the John C. Campbell Folk School is set near Murphy in the southwestern North Carolina Mountains. Found specifically in Brasstown in the Great Smoky Mountains, Folk School is an adult, non-profit education center.
Folk School classes include basketry, weaving, soap-making, cooking, dance, writing, and much more, while the campus features a museum, nature trails, and plenty of crafts for sale. Folk School is both a U.S. Historic district and listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
A welcoming landmark for all downtown Asheville guests, the Basilica of St. Lawrence is one of the staple cultural centers of the North Carolina Mountains. Attend the weekly Sunday mass or take a tour of this historic church, which was originally erected in 1905.
Don't miss the basilica's elaborate stained glass windows and the two chapels that adorn each side of the altar. You can also explore the church grounds, which contain a Catholic library, a Mary garden, and a gift shop for tourists.
See a piece of American history up close. The Battleship North Carolina was the first American battleship to join the fleet, during World War II, in 1941. She was "considered the world’s greatest sea weapon" and earned 15 battle stars during her participation in each naval offense in the Pacific area operations. The Battleship was decommissioned in 1947. She was brought back to her current berth on the Cape Fear River in Wilmington in 1961.
Enjoy a self-guided tour on 9 levels of the Battleship. Guests of the Best Western Plus Coastline Inn enjoy views of the Cape Fear River, along with exceptional service and amenities. Travelers along the North Carolina coast make the most of their trek with a stay in Wilmington.
Built in 1876, the Cabarrus County Courthouse is located in Concord, just west of Albemaire in the Piedmont region. The building features dazzling Classical Revival, Second Empire, and Italianate architecture and was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
Featured attractions include the likes of the Civil War Monument – built in front of the courthouse in 1892. The 16-foot tall monument is constructed of marble, and plays an integral role in the annual Confederate Memorial Day held at the courthouse.
Set in the Yadkin–Pee Dee River Basin, Fort Dobbs is located near Statesville in western North Carolina. Completed in 1756 and used during the French & Indian War, the site is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Covering 9.5 acres, the Fort Dobbs State Historic Site now operates as a living museum – also featuring a 1940 visitor center put there by the Daughters of the American Revolution and containing the Petit Sutler gift shop.
Established in 1861, Fort Fisher Historic Museum is located in Kure Beach on the North Carolina coast near Wilmington. Found on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, Ft. Fisher was a Confederate, Civil War military post.
Covering 200 acres on Pleasure Island, historic Fort Fisher was in use from 1861 to the end of the war in 1865. Open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., FF offers 15 wayside exhibits along the fort trails, and indoor exhibits like Fiber-Optic Battle Map and the Ladies of Fort Fisher.
Revisit the past during your travels in the North Carolina Piedmont Triangle region. The city of Fayetteville is not only home to Fort Bragg, the United States Army installation, but also to the historical Market House. This beautiful building was built in 1832 as a town hall market, similar to town hall buildings in England.
The Market House is located on the site of the former State House building in downtown Fayetteville, that was destroyed by a fire in 1831. The open floor on the Market House's first level was where the fresh produce and meats were sold. The second floor was the location of town hall meetings. During your visit to Fayetteville, stop by the Market House, one of few in the country, to hear the cupola bell ring. Take your time touring this National Historic Landmark.
While traveling in the North Carolina mountain region of Western North Carolina, be sure to visit Pineville, just south of Charlotte. Many wonderful historical sites are waiting to be explored. The President James K. Polk State Historic Site, is the preserved land once owned by the parents of James K. Polk, the eleventh United States President. Visit the site to see the reconstructed homestead, including a log house, barn and kitchen. Be sure to schedule plenty of time at this historic site.
Stroll through the Visitor Center to learn more about President Polk and his role in the Mexican-American War and the annexation of California. While at this historic site, attend a Frontier Cooking Class in the Polk Kitchen or one of the weaving and blacksmith demonstrations. Bring your camera to capture an image of the stone monument dedicated to President Polk. Before leaving the site, browse the selection of gift items in the Gift Shop.
Located in the town of Midland, the Reed Gold Mine is a former gold mine in the Piedmont region. The site was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966 after being built in 1799. The site now serves as a great historic, tourist attraction.
Reed Gold Mine features plenty of family-friendly amenities as well. The Visitor Center houses gold exhibits, mining artifacts, and orientation videos. The mine offers further adventure with a one-of-a-kind guided tour of the underground tunnels.