Capital City: Raleigh
North Carolina is a quintessentially Southern state in the United States of America offering visitors endless variety with three distinct regions. Visitors can enjoy outdoor activities from hiking, mountain climbing, and skiing, along with a taste of Appalachian music and culture in the Blue Ridge and Smokey mountains. Increasingly diverse and fast-growing cities dot the Piedmont- from Charlotte's skyscrapers, Raleigh's museums and historic neighborhoods, and Chapel Hill's college nightlife. Kite-surfing, fishing, sun, and sand await visitors to the state's coastal region- with secluded barrier islands in the Outer Banks and the bustling beach-side city of Wilmington.
The state's temperate climate has four distinct seasons and is highly acclaimed for its year-round living comforts. Rainfall is adequate and dispersed over the entire year. More than 56 million visitors traveled to North Carolina in 2008, ranking the state sixth behind California, Florida, Texas, New York, and Pennsylvania. Eighty-nine percent of all travelers traveled to North Carolina by auto, truck or camper/RV.
As North Carolina lies in the center of the eastern seaboard of United States, nearly half of the country lives within a 500-mile radius of the state. Murphy is the westernmost town of significance and Manteo is the easternmost town of significance; "From Murphy to Manteo" is a popular saying.
"The Carolinas" are comprised of both North Carolina and South Carolina immediately to the south.
Summers can be warm, especially during July and August, but in general the climate of North Carolina is mild compared to its neighbors in the southeast. For example, the average July high in Charlotte, and most central NC cities, is 90°F (32°C). In the mountains of Asheville, the average July high is only 84°F (29°C), and highs below 90°F are also found on the coast. For travelers coming from warmer climates, summers in North Carolina are quite nice, especially in the mountains.
During the summer, high humidity combined with summer temperatures above 90°F may be hazardous for senior citizens and those of ill health. Between the months of June and August, heat advisories are not uncommon. The good news about the heat is the air and ocean water temperatures, particularly for the Southeast NC beaches, remain comfortable for swimming and beach-going well into September, if not October.
In general, for travelers coming from cooler climates, the heat and humidity of southern summers can be a shock, making spring and fall much more attractive. During the Fall season, the Blue Ridge Mountains are a popular destination due to the beauty of the foliage.
In the winter, the mountains of northwestern North Carolina offer skiing and other winter sports. It should be noted that northwestern North Carolina has a distinct climate even for North Carolina. The area termed "The High Country" due to its elevation, has a climate more related to areas of New England and parts of the Upper Midwest, as compared to other areas of the South. This is particularly true in the winter, where the area gets considerably more snow and wintry precipitation than the rest of the state. The area, also, stays, on average, much cooler year round than other parts of the state.