North Carolina Coast Outdoors

On Land
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Scenic Driving

With so much shoreline, it only makes sense that the North Carolina coast features a number of lighthouses. There are seven picturesque towers, as well as the ruins of an eighth on the Outer Banks alone-perfect for a scenic driving tour across the islands. One nice drive starts at Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, at 208 feet the tallest lighthouse in the United States to the 65-foot-high Ocracoke Lighthouse, the oldest operating lighthouse on the North Carolina coast. For a twist of history, drive further south and tour the Cape Fear River region with two lighthouses of particular interest. Both Bald Head Lighthouse and Price's Creek Lighthouse were built in the first half of the 19th century and later disabled by retreating Confederate soldiers during the Civil War.

On the Beach

If you want interesting plant life to go along with your sand then try Carolina Beach State Park, which is one of the few places in the world where the Venus Fly Trap grows naturally. Getting more active, you can camp, hike, and fish as well. Nearby is Fort Fisher State Recreation Area. Here you can comb the pristine beach for shells, do some birding or learn about the endangered Loggerhead sea turtle that nests along Fort Fisher's shores. On the Outer Banks, there is Jockey's Ridge State Park, which holds about six million dump trucks' worth of beach-not to mention the highest living dune on the East Coast. It's a good place to take a hike or try hang-gliding from it's 100-foot dunes. Or if you want nothing but peace and relaxation head to Hammocks Beach State Park, an undisturbed barrier island, that was rated the 2nd best beach on the east coast.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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