Mount Mitchell State Park
Mount Mitchell’s summit at 6,684 feet (2,037 m) offers not just breathtaking views from its easily accessible observation deck, but it is also the highest peak of the Appalachian Mountains and the highest mountain east of the Mississippi River. A small museum near the top explains the mountain’s cultural and natural history and how Mount Mitchell became North Carolina’s first state park.
Western North Carolina Air Museum
Despite its smaller size, the Western North Carolina Air Museum ranks high, when it comes to reliving the “Golden Age of Aviation” with a collection of different airplanes dating back to WWII and earlier. There are no ropes preventing visitors from getting up close to these planes, peaking inside or even having the opportunity to sit in a cockpit.
Carolinas Aviation Museum
Home of the original Airbus of US Airways Flight 1549, which made a successful emergency landing in the Hudson River, the Carolinas Aviation Museum has several iconic aircrafts on display such as the legendary DC-3, which has changed air travel forever. Visitors also have the opportunity to sit in a Boeing 727 cockpit, which once was used as a procedures trainer for pilots to learn how to operate a Boeing 727. In contrast, visitors can also climb into the cockpit of an F-4 Phantom II.
Latta Plantation Nature Preserve
This 1,343-acre nature preserve just outside of Charlotte is nested along a peninsula between Mountain Island Lake and Gar Creek in Huntersville. Latta Plantation Nature Preserve has much to offer, hiking, Segway adventures, kayaking, fishing, and horseback riding. There is a Visitors Center, 2 canoe launches, a fishing pier, 2 picnic areas, several parking lots, even one designated for horse trailers. 16 miles of trails are spread throughout the park. Biking is limited to roads and paved paths.
Located within the park are also the the Historic Latta Plantation House and the Carolina Raptor Center.
Carl Sandburg Home
“A poet of the people”, writer, editor, three-times Pulitzer Prize winner, Carl Sandburg and his wife Lilian lived in this house from 1945 to 1969 along with their three daughters. During this time Carl Sandburg published more than a third of his works and won the second Poetry Pulitzer Prize. The 264-acre park offers many trails, where you can enjoy the wonderful landscape with its picturesque views.
Historic Hendersonville Railroad Depot
Model train enthusiasts of all ages can spend hours here and admire the wonderful work of the Apple Valley Model Railroad Club. Located in the beautifully restored Historic Hendersonville Railroad Depot, the club’s passionate members have built an H0-model railroad of enormous proportions. Covering an area of 22 feet wide and 100 feet long, the model railroad has been placed in a Western North Carolina setting.
Historic Henderson County Courthouse
With the arrival of the railroad in 1879, trade and tourism brought prosperity to Henderson County. Built in 1905 by architect Richard Sharp Smith, who had been the resident architect of the Biltmore Estate, the Henderson County Courthouse is also part of the National register of Historic Places. Today, the Henderson County Heritage Museum is located in the courthouse.
Linn Cove Viaduct
Preserving the fragile ecosystem of Grandfather Mountain, the Linn Cove Viaduct was the last section of the Blue Ridge Parkway that was only completed in 1987 after a 20-year delay. The viaduct has won 11 design awards and is one of the most photographed sites along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Visitor Center on the south side of the viaduct offers a lot of interesting information about the bridge’s construction.
The History Museum of Burke County
The History Museum of Burke County exhibits over 20,000 artifacts grouped by major historical events and by themes, such as military, fashion, toys or games, spanning more than three centuries. Visitors can also see recreations of a town-typical barbershop, an old-fashioned beauty parlor, a café and the offices of an optometrist and a dentist. These everyday settings offer visitors of all ages a wonderful glimpse back into our distant and not so distant past. Guided tours are available.
Historic NC School for the Deaf
The Historic North Carolina School for the Deaf is the second historic state institution in Morganton. Situated on a beautiful hill south of downtown, the school’s campus comprises 14 historical buildings constructed between 1891 and the mid 1930s, including the magnificent Main Building with its imposing five-story clock tower. A small museum, located on site, explains the history of the school through old pictures, architectural drawings, articles and memorabilia (by appointment only).
Railroad Depot and Museum
The Railroad Depot and Museum is a cute little museum located in a beautifully restored train station from the 1860s. The museum features a collection of railroad memorabilia including nostalgic dining car tableware, an old telegraph, a ticket counter, a brass bell and a headlamp from a steam locomotive.
Historic McDowell House
The Historic McDowell House, which is located in Quaker Meadows 2.5 miles (4 km) from downtwon Morganton, is a beautifully restored plantation home from 1812 and the oldest brick home in Burke County. It is said that in 1780 on these grounds Charles McDowell’s father and other Patriot soldiers made plans, which led to the victory over the British in the Battle of Kings Mountain during the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783).
The Thomas Wolfe Memorial
The Thomas Wolfe Memorial is the former boarding house, where Thomas Wolfe, the author of “Look Homeward, Angel” lived until age 16. He called it “Dixieland” in his book. If you had the chance to read his book, you can draw parallels to some of the events described there. The Thomas Wolfe Memorial is also a wonderful site to see early 1900s living. Guided tours are available.