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25 Fun Facts About North Carolina (Updated for 2023)

25 Fun Facts About North Carolina (Updated for 2023)

North Carolina is one of several beautiful states that line the United State’s East Coast. It is packed with beauty and wonder and is brimming with so much history!

25 Interesting Facts to Know About North Carolina

As one of the states people tend to overlook in favor of bigger destinations like New York, Florida, or California, North Carolina is a diamond in the rough for tourists.

There are plenty of interesting facts to learn and to engage with as you explore this amazing state. North Carolina has a long, rich history that has helped shape the United States into what it is today and is well worth checking out for yourself.

Whether you want to learn the history of the state, fun, and interesting facts or are looking for trivia notes to impress your friends, this list is sure to be a great starting point!

1. North Carolina is the 28th largest state

The are of North Carolina pinned on the map.

Dmitrijs Kaminskis/Shutterstock

Clocking in at a whopping 52,669 sq miles, the state earns the title of the 28th largest state in the United States. As an additional fun fact to go with this, registering at 54,554.98 sq miles, New York barely beats North Carolina for 27th place.

2. It’s the 9th most populous state

Many people are surprised to learn that North Carolina ranks within the top ten most populous states in the USA. With approximately 10.5 million residents it is a popular place for visitors as well as those looking to settle down and start their own families.

3. North Carolina has been called the moonshine state

Long ago, the state was quite famous for the thriving yet illegal moonshine trade and production market. Today there are opportunities to try moonshine legally, particularly in Wilkes County and other more remote and urban areas of the state.

4. The tallest sand dune on the East Coast of the country

Did you know sand dunes are a big thing in the state and that you can find some of the tallest anywhere on the eastern coast? Known as Jockeys Ridge it is located in the Outer Banks area and the impressive sand dunes can top out at a stunning 60-foot height.

5. First in Flight for the history books

Statue of a man manoeuvring an object that looks like a plain.

Kitty Hawk, North Carolina: December 11, 2021: Wright Brothers National Memorial in the town of Kitty Hawk. The Wright Brothers are the first Americans invented the first motor operated aircraft./Michael Gordon/Shutterstock

If there is one thing most people know about North Carolina is it the famous location known as Kitty Hawk.

Located in the Outer Banks, this famous location is where the Wrights Brothers successfully flew the first manned aircraft. The historical moment has been memorialized with the well-known “First in Flight” North Carolina license plates!

6. Highest Mountain Peak on the East Coast

East of the Mississippi, the tallest mountain peak can be found in North Carolina. You can drive up the 6,684 feet to the top of Mt. Mitchell and enjoy panoramic views that make it a popular stopping point along the famous Blue Ridge Parkway.

7. Nature thrives in the state

North Carolina has a rich and diverse range of habitats that are home to many plants and animals. You can see black bears, deer, coyotes, foxes, and raccoons as well as sea turtles, salamanders, snakes and countless types of birds.

The state is home to more than 300 species of trees and as many as 3,000 types of flowering plants that keep the state painted with brilliant colors all year long.

8. The largest Private Estate in the US

Located in the town of Asheville, the Biltmore Estate is a private estate and massive gardens that are open to the public to visit and explore.

It was built by the Vanderbilt family and is open for viewing most of the year. The grounds are dog-friendly, but your furry friends will have to wait outside while you tour the house itself.

9. Their ice hockey team are “The Hurricanes”

A hockey player on the rink playing a game.

Carolina Hurricanes Hockey Player/Jeremy R. Smith Sr./Shutterstock

Because North Carolina gets a lot of hurricane impacts each year, the state ice hockey team took on the name The Carolina Hurricanes in 1997. The Hurricanes are part of the National Hockey League Central Division and hold their at-home games in the PNC Arena.

10. You’ll find the furniture capital of the world here

The North Carolina town of High Point has more furniture stores and shops and designers than anywhere else.

This has earned it the nickname of the furniture capital of the world unofficially. High Point holds bi-annual furniture markets that draw in as many as 160,000 visitors annually.

11. It is home to one of the smallest US towns

With just 13 residents registered in 2012 and with fewer than 20 thought to be there since 2020, Dellview in North Carolina is considered one of the United State’s smallest towns.

At one point, Dellview was believed to have had a population of just ten residents, most of whom were all in the same family.

12. Home to classic tasty treats

Krispy Kreme Donuts got its start in the great state of North Carolina so naturally they can be found dotted across most cities and towns. The same is true for one of the most famous soft drinks seeing as Pepsi cola was also invented here and is a popular drink among residents.

13. North Carolina grows a lot of sweet potatoes

A pile of sweet potatoes in reddish color.

Paul Pellegrino/Shutterstock

Because of the weather and temperatures in the state, North Carolina is perfect for growing sweet potatoes. In fact, they grow more than any other state, supplying an estimated 60% of the nation’s sweet potatoes.

14. Virginia Dare is well known here

This young girl was the first English child born in the Roanoke colony which is located in modern-day North Carolina. She was the first English child born in the English colony, and it still remains a mystery as to where she and the rest of the colony disappeared to without warning.

15. North Carolina is well known for Christmas Trees

The state is among the top growers of Christmas Trees, with most of the tree farms being located in Ashe County. There are many places where you can go and walk among the trees and choose your very own living Christmas tree!

16. North Carolina has wild horses

Wild horses roam free along the Outer Banks in the Corolla area of the state. The herds of Colonial Spanish Mustangs are self-sufficient and have lived wild in the area for more than 500 years!

17. The Smithsonian of the South

A large globe sculpture placed in front of a building.

Raleigh,North Carolina / USA – Nov 24 2019 : View of North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in sunset time./Chansak Joe/Shutterstock

Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina has earned the nickname of the Smithsonian of the South. This is because there are many museums including art, history, science, and more located in the city.

No matter what you are looking for, chances are you can find a museum in Raleigh that will deliver.

18. Lovingly called the “Tar Heel State”

North Carolina is commonly referred to as the “Tar Heel State” by both locals and outsiders alike. While nobody knows the exact reason for the nickname, it’s thought to be tied to the fact that North Carolina was once a well-known place for the production of tar, pitch, and turpentine.

19. Home to “The Graveyard of the Atlantic”

The Outer Banks area of North Carolina has some of the most breathtaking coastlines in the state. However, it is also home to a fair number of shipwrecks as well.

It has earned the name “The Graveyard of the Atlantic” thanks to the treacherous waters where many ships went down and where sailors lost their lives.

20. Babe Ruth got his first professional home run here

Born in Baltimore, the iconic baseball player known as Babe Ruth made history in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He landed his first professional home run during a baseball game on March 7, 1914.

21. Native Peoples still call the place home

A Native American with a vibrant feathered headdress and a few face paint.

Tanison Pachtanom/Shutterstock

North Carolina is home to the Native American population in the United States east of the Mississippi. It is estimated that more than 100,000 Native Americans call the state home today. There are eight recognized tribes including Cherokee, Sappony, Meherien, and Coharie.

22. The Northern Cardinal is the state bird

North Carolina chose their state bird officially in 1943. Another fun fact is that the Cardinal is very popular, with seven other states also having the Cardinal as their state bird.

23. North Carolina’s Museum of Art was the first state art museum

Rising in1924 with the development of the North Carolina State Art Society, the actual museum was not constructed until 1947. Today, the museum displays a range of impressive art pieces mostly featuring American and European artists.

24. Residents here love their barbeque

North Carolina is famous for its barbeque and its unique takes on flavorful BBQ sauces. There are two basic styles you will find in the state: Eastern and Lexington.

Eastern barbecue typically involves smoking the entire animal and using peppery, lemon-based sauces. Lexington style typically focuses on the use of shoulder meat and opts for a tomato-based sauce most of the time.

25. Fort Bragg has the largest military base in the US

A landmark on the side of the road that says Fort Bragg.

Fort Bragg, North Carolina, USA – June 13, 2020: Sign on Hwy24 identifying Fort Bragg Army Base. Named for Confederate General Braxton Bragg the base has recently been listed for possible renaming./RedCom Productions/Shutterstock

Fort Bragg is located in North Carolina and is considered the largest military base in all of the United States. It is not only the largest in area, but it also has the highest population of people living there.

FAQs About North Carolina

What is the best time of year to travel to North Carolina?

It is usually best to plan your trip to North Carolina when the weather is nice. Typically this is anytime between early April to mid-June or from early September to early November. The spring season runs from March to May and generally sees temperature highs reaching 82F.

What month is hurricane season in North Carolina?

The Atlantic hurricane season officially starts June 1 and officially ends November 30. The state as a whole however is most likely to see a hurricane impact later in the season. So, if you visit in August, September, or October plan accordingly for possible storms.

Does it snow in North Carolina?

Snow happens often in late fall and winter months up in the mountains. North Carolina averages 5 inches of snowfall annually. It is important to note that snowfall levels vary across the state depending on the geographic area.

Are North Carolina beaches safe to swim in?

With miles of beautiful and inviting sand and water, you will be happy to know that most beaches in the state are very safe. Routine checks are done to ensure the water is safe for swimming and residents often engage in beach clean-up events to help keep the beaches clean and safe for people and wildlife alike.

Book Your Trip to North Carolina Today!

Explore North Carolina’s outdoor opportunities and make the most of your next family getaway or solo vacation opportunity. Research your destination, follow regulations, and prioritize safety while having fun immersing yourself in the sights and sounds and wonders of North Carolina.

With so much to see and do, what are you waiting for? Book your trip today and experience for yourself all that North Carolina has to offer. Happy travels!