North Carolina climate
A coastline in the east and mountains in the west present a variety of weather conditions. The mountains average minus one degrees (Celsius) in January and 18 in August. The southern coast can be in the mid-teens in January, with summer temperatures cooled to the low 20s by ocean breezes. The Piedmont gets very hot and humid with temperatures in the 30s. August through October is the peak hurricane season.Spring is brilliant with blooms everywhere and autumn with the changing colours is also a great time to visit.
When to fly to North Carolina
Summer is the high season along the coast, and Charlotte is busy with festivals and sporting events. Most state and local fairs are held in August and September.
March to November is prime golf season. Approaches to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are packed in summer and autumn. Peak season in the mountains is October, and the monarch butterfly annual migration draws crowds around Wagon Road Gap. Autumn is also the best time for fishing at Cape Lookout.
Prices are lower in the Triangle when the schools in summer session.
Spring, autumn, and early winter are quiet along the coast with temperatures between ten and 15 degrees Celsius. January and February can be quite cold and many businesses are closed.
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Getting around North Carolina
With several North Carolina airports offering in-state flights, catching a cheap flight is a quick way to get around the state. There is train service to the major inland cities, and frequent bus service in the Piedmont (the central part of the state). Along the coast there are ferries that connect some of the coastal towns and auto ferries along the coastal sounds and rivers.
The shoreline and mountains in the west are best explored by car, especially the Blue Ridge Parkway through the mountains. The highways tend to be well maintained and some have rest areas with picnic and cooking facilities.
Charlotte’s Uptown area is walkable and has the free Gold Rush shuttle. The city also has trolley service, and the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) provides public transportation throughout the city. The downtown areas of the Triangle (Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill) are good to explore on foot, especially Chapel Hill. The towns also have convenient and inexpensive public transportation.
North Carolina insider information
- North Carolina, named for King Charles I, is a haven for the history lover. The first English settlement was built on the coast in the 16th century and disappeared, in very mysterious circumstances. Fort Raleigh National Historic Site preserves the site of the settlement and the Elizabethan Gardens, with a statue of Virginia Dare, the first English child born in the New World, is a living memorial to the settlers.
- The state has three main regions: the coast, the Piedmont region and the Appalachian Mountains in the west. The Great Smoky Mountains, a subrange of the Appalachians, have 400km (250 miles) of Blue Ridge Parkway for hiking and, in the winter, skiing .
- Off-beat tourist attractions include a shell-shaped gas station in Winston-Salem. The world’s largest Ten Commandments, built by the Church of God of Prophecy at Fields of the Wood in 1945 is said to be visible from space. Each letter is 1.5 metres (five feet) tall.
- High Point, the "The Home Furnishings Capital of the World," boasts the world’s largest chests of drawers. The original chest of drawers was built in the 1920s by the High Point Chamber of Commerce and was 6 metres (20 feet) high. In 1996, a 11-metre (38-foot) tall chest of drawers was constructed.
- Biltmore House, near Asheville, is the largest privately owned home in the US. Home of the Vanderbilts and built between 1885 and 1895, it is one of the finest examples of Gilded Age architecture. The interior is breathtaking with paintings by Whistler, Renoir and Sargent. The grounds are extensive (8,000 acres) and include an English walled garden, an All-America rose garden, winter garden and Italian garden.
- At the end of Highway 421, the tiny Zeke's Island (42 acres) is accessible at low tide by a one-mile hike along The Rocks.