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Visiting North Carolina? Here’s What You Should Know about the Tar Heel State

North Carolina

For instance – its population grew by 139,526 people between 2022 and 2023. It is also the sixth fastest-growing US state. As the leading producer of naval stores during Colonial times, North Carolina is lovingly called the ‘Tar Heel State.’ Its citizens (also known as Tar Heels) consider this nickname a state of pride.

Tourists flock to North Carolina in gargantuan numbers every year. The state hosted over 43 million visitors in 2022 alone. If you’re also planning to tick North Carolina off of your 2024 itinerary, there are some important things you must know. The information in this article will make your trip more pleasant and fulfilling.

Dive in to understand key tourist spots, travel times, and other must-know facts about the US’ Tar Heel State.

The Infamous Camp Lejeune Incident

North Carolina’s history is pretty rich in the sense that the Wright Brothers conducted their first sustained and controlled airplane flights here. Another reason why this state is famous leans more on the darker side.

Its 156,000+ acres large military Base, Camp Lejeune, became the setting for the worst-ever water contamination crisis in the US. This incident took place between 1953 and 1987 when three water tanks across the Camp (Tarawa Terrace, Holcomb Boulevard, and Hadnot Point) became severely contaminated.

The volatile organic compounds discovered in these tanks’ water were toxic enough to cause life-threatening conditions. According to TorHoerman Law, veterans and their families developed diseases like cancer, Parkinson’s disease, neural defects, infertility issues, and more. 

Many suffered from multiple such conditions, with the tragedy affecting a total of one million people. In 2012, the victims were eligible for free healthcare under VA medical care provided by the Obama administration. However, it was only in August 2022 that legal justice was made available through the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA), signed by President Joe Biden.

The Bill removed the government’s sovereign immunity in court, permitting victims to file administrative claims followed by lawsuits (in case of no resolution within six months). The litigation is still active in court, with six settlements made to date. 

The average Camp Lejeune water contamination settlement amounts could range anywhere between $10,000 and $1 million on a case-to-case basis. Is the water contamination issue under control now? Yes, and the Camp continues to function as a combat-ready unit to train military servicemen. 

However, civilians are not allowed to visit the Base. Only those who are sponsored and escorted are granted access after they show their DBIDS credential.

Things That Make NC Stand Out

There are so many great things about North Carolina that make it an ideal vacation destination. No matter which city you visit, there are some amazing things you are bound to find in this state. These include –

  • The great outdoors – Be it any season, NC has plenty of natural wonders to explore throughout the year. These include theme parks, mountains, beaches, ski resorts, and more.
  • Southern charm and hospitality – the first thing you’re bound to observe is the warmth exuding from the North Carolinians. The locals have a unique accent and are friendly enough to strike up conversations with tourists.
  • Craft beer culture – recently, the craft beer brewing scene in NC (especially the western parts) has boomed.
  • BBQ controversy – you will often find that there is no standard BBQ sauce throughout the state. This is because the Eastern side serves a vinegar-based BBQ sauce whilst the Westerners are fond of ketchup-based sauce.
  • Sudden weather changes – NC’s daily weather can be a bit unpredictable, so it’s best to stay prepared with layers of clothing. 

Best Time to Visit

One amazing fact about North Carolina is that this state is a great place to visit all year round. Does it have four distinct seasons? Yes, and that is exactly why your ideal time to visit would largely depend upon the activities that you’re interested in. Let’s put things into perspective for each season –

  • Summer – this season extends from June through August. Summertime in NC is perfect for enjoying outdoor activities like camping under the stars, swimming, and hiking.
  • Spring – the pleasant spring falls between March and May in NC. Notwithstanding the risk of allergies, springtime is ideal for exploring the various parks and forests around the state. You will find exotic flora in bloom.
  • Fall – you can enjoy the autumnal season between September and November. This is one of the busiest times for the state tourism industry because visitors love to watch the spectacular fall foliage.
  • Winter – this season usually starts in early December and lasts till the end of February. Though the winter is cold (with occasional snowfall), it is more temperate than New York. This season is perfect for enjoying sports like ice skating and skiing.

What to Pack

Your luggage should include items that correspond to the time of your visit. For instance – warm jackets and coats for the winter, hiking boots for the summer, and so on. This section is dedicated to some generic items that every visitor to North Carolina (regardless of the city) should carry with them.

  • Comfortable walking shoes – NC’s cities are not rated the highest in the US in terms of walkability. However, most of the state’s fun activities involve a lot of walking – think camping, park exploration, hiking, bird watching, etc. This is what makes a pair of comfortable walking shoes a must-have.
  • Water bottle – Hydration is of utmost importance (be it summer or winter), given the scope for outdoor activities. This is why you should carry an insulated bottle that keeps your beverages hot or cold.
  • Bug spray – Did you know that NC has more bugs than any other US state? This includes flies, ants, and gnats. It’s best to stay on the safe side with bug spray.
  • Rain jacket – Despite four distinct seasons, the weather can sometimes become a little erratic. Sudden showers are not uncommon throughout NC, which makes it crucial to have a rain jacket handy.
  • Day packs – Most tourists carry compact backpacks or cross-body bags with all their essentials (some of which are mentioned on this list) to explore NC’s great outdoors. 

Let’s close by discussing the different means to get around the state’s cities. Since most of NC is not walkable still, your best option is to rent a car through rideshare facilities. 

The state ranks low in terms of public transport, except for Charlotte’s light rail. Small towns like Ashton are highly walkable. Bike rentals are another great option to enjoy the outdoors around the state. 

With such rich information on your hands, what are you waiting for? Plan your trip to the famous Tar Heel State today!

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