In the South lay the two Carolinas - but which should one visit? Both of the Carolinas offer a plethora of things to see and do as well as some of the United States' oldest history. North Carolina is rich in natural attractions with everything from pristine beaches to swamps to the Appalachian mountains. South Carolina has stunning beaches and plenty of history.

Next time in the South, be sure to check out these stunning states. See some of the best of the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina while South Carolina has plenty of secrets waiting to be discovered.


North Carolina

Of the two Carolinas, North Carolina is by far the largest and the most populated. North Carolina ranks in the top ten most populated states in the USA and

North Carolina was established as a royal colony in 1729 and was named in honor of King Charles I of England - Carolus is Latin for "Charles".

  • Named: In Honor Of King Charles I of England

Most of the state has a humid subtropical climate while some of the western mountainous parts have a subtropical highland climate.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

As a surprise to many, North Carolina boasts the most popular national park in the United States - the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The national park straddles the ridgeline of the Great Smoke Mountains and part of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the larger Appalachians. The park is partly shared with Tennessee.

The park boasts some of the highest mountains in the eastern half of the country (including Clingmans Dome, Mount Le Conte, and Mount Guyot).

  • Most Visited: The Park Received 12.5 Million Visitors In 2019
  • Size: 816 Square Miles or 2,114 Square Kilometers (One Of The Largest Protected Areas In The Eastern USA)
  • Established: In 1934
  • Listed: UNESCO World Heritage Since 1983

Related: Everything You Didn't Know About The Smoky Mountains (That's Worth Knowing)

Great Dismal Swamp

Another shared attraction is the Great Dismal Swamp. While a shadow of what it once was, it is very much worth a visit and to see the amazing ecosystem of what once was a massive swamp. The Dismal Swamp State Park protects North Carolina's part of the swamp and encompasses around 22 square miles of forested wetland.

  • Location: Southern Virginia and Northern Carolina

Tip: Go Kayaking On the Intracoastal Waterway

The park was declared in 1974 and opened to the public in 2008 (the first time that public access to the swamp was possible in North Carolina. Besides hiking and biking on its trails, one of the most popular activities is to kayak down the Intracoastal Waterway.

The Wright Brothers And Kitty Hawk

North Carolina was also the site of the first controlled, sustained flight of a powered heavier than aircraft in Kitty Hawk in the Outer Banks by the Wright Brothers. It wasn't the first human flight - the French had been flying in hot air balloons for around 100 years.

Related: The Great Dismal Swamp, Explained: Why You Should Visit This Unique Natural Landmark

South Carolina

Heading further into the Deep South is the state of South Carolina. It is a much smaller state than North Carolina in both size and population. Like North Carolina, it is named in honor of King Charles I of England.

  • Fun Fact: Six States Are Named After English Monarchs

The States: North Carolina and South Carolina (After Charles I), Georgia (King Georgia II), New York (James II - Duke of York), And Virginia and West Virginia ("Virgin" Queen Elizabeth I)

While South Carolina doesn't have as much territory in the Appalachians as North Carolina, it does run up to the Blue Ridge Mountains in its northwestern corner.

South Carolina also has a humid subtropical climate with hot humid summers and mild winters.

Myrtle Beach

Perhaps the single most famous attraction in South Carolina is Myrtle Beach. It draws crowds from all around the nation and due to its subtropical climate, it has temperate weather year-round. The Myrtle Beach Travel Park has direct access to the beach, is surrounded by old oak trees, and has 17 acres of a freshwater lake.

There are plenty of attractions here to keep the whole family entertained. There is the Myrtle Beach SkyWheel, the musical shows by the Carolina Opry, Broadway at the Beach, mini-golf, Ripley's Aquarium, and much more.

Other Notable South Carolina Attractions

Other notable attractions include the historic center of Charleston - home to over 1400 historic homes, churches, and other structures. When here be sure to take a free walking tour into the history of the city.

The state boasts stunning plantations and many of the 2,000 plus plantations are open to visitors. They are noted especially for their outstanding gardens and Magnolia Plantations is the oldest publicly accessible garden in America.

Tip: Visit South Carolina Plantation Gardens

For a different kind of attraction, visit the USS Yorktown - not the one that sank in the Battle of Midway. The USS Yorktown is an Essex class aircraft carrier built in 1943 and one of the aircraft carriers that helped turn the tide of the war in the Pacific as America's industrial might began to tell. Today she is a museum and is open to the public.