Central Coast Tours
Discover History and Traditions Along North Carolina’s Central Coast
Central Coast Itinerary Discover History and Traditions Along North Carolina’s Central Coast The song of the South is easy to hear en route to North Carolina’s central coast. From southern food and drink that was born and bred here to the coastal ways of life that shaped the region, you’ll see evidence of history and traditions at every turn.
Immerse yourself in what is sure to be an exciting (not to mention delicious) exploration of all that this region has to offer. Develop a taste for Eastern North Carolina barbecue before venturing to the birthplace of one of America’s favorite soft drinks. Then delve into the past with visits to historic sites.
ITINERARY 1: Central Coast – Discover History and Tradition along North Carolina’s Central Coast
Hit the trail, the BBQ Trail, that is
A drive to the coast wouldn’t be complete without stopping at one of North Carolina’s famous barbecue joints. Luckily, you’ll pass right through the head of the North Carolina BBQ Trail, so sweet, tangy barbecue won’t be hard to find. Dine in for lunch or dinner. Or take this legendary southern delicacy with you for a meal at the beach.
Wilber’s has been a Goldsboro favorite since 1962. When the restaurant opened, 11 employees were all that was needed to serve customers seeking traditional North Carolina barbecue. Today, however, the demand has grown and so has the staff, which totals more than 100 members. The restaurant also boasts a number of notable visitors, including a state senator, two North Carolina governors and even two U.S. presidents.
In Dudley, stop by to sample Grady’s barbecue. The restaurant is one of the few barbecue places that still employs traditional methods to cook their pigs—over an open wood pit for 12-15 hours. Steve Grady runs the pits, and his wife Gerri manages the kitchen. This husband and wife team has been serving barbecue to locals and visitors since 1986.
Continue the North Carolina BBQ Trail into Greenville. Stretching from Greenville area to the western part of the state, the trail includes 23 of the state’s most prized barbecue restaurants. Jack Cobb & Son Barbecue Place began as nothing more than a hobby. Jack Cobb spent his evenings perfecting his barbeque recipe and selling his finished product to coworkers for lunch the next day. But once word got out, his barbecue quickly became a Farmville community favorite. Cobb’s son recalls helping his father load barbeque into the family truck. Now he carries on the family legacy more than 70 years later.
Not much has changed since B’s Barbecue opened in Greenville in the late 1970s. Each week, the restaurant cooks 40 whole pigs. That may seem like a lot, but B’s is so popular, the restaurant regularly sells of out food. Get there early to make sure you don’t miss out on a delicious southern meal.
Skylight Inn is a more than just a local favorite in Ayden. National Geographic noted the restaurant as having one of the best barbecue recipes in the world. Stop in and decide for yourself whether the barbecue still lives up to those bragging rights.
Step back in time
Some visitors to New Bern are surprised to learn that in addition to being the home to Tryon Palace, the original governor’s mansion and seat of colonial and early state government for the state of North Carolina, it is also the home to one of America’s favorite soft drinks, Pepsi Cola. Invented here.in 1998, the on100th anniversary of Pepsi, the Pepsi birthplace store was constructed. Visitors are welcome to step back in time and enjoy a fountain drink just like patron who visited the famed pharmacy where Pepsi’s story began.
You’ll also have the chance learn more about the history of the drink. From its humble beginnings when Caleb Bradham invented the recipe in the back of his pharmacy in 1898 to the early days of mass production, there is plenty of lesser-known history to uncover here.
Then browse the store for branded items and vintage memorabilia from the early days of one of America’s favorite drinks. You’re sure to find the perfect souvenir to remember your trip.
Explore historic landmarks
Spend an afternoon exploring Fort Macon State Park, the most visited state park in North Carolina. The park, which is surrounded by bodies of water, including Bogue Sound, Beaufort Inlet and the Atlantic Ocean, on three sides, offers visitors the perfect place to relax. You’ll often find people enjoying the sunshine and lazy afternoons here.
Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy on the beach on under a nearby shade tree. Fisherman may find an open stretch of beach from which to fish. Or simply lounge on the beach and take a dip in the ocean.
The park also attracts visitors who are interested in the history behind this Civil War landmark. Take a guided tour of the fort to learn about its role in the Civil War. You’ll see original and replica cannons as well as the remains of buildings on the grounds. If you’re lucky, you might even catch an historic reenactment on the fort’s inner court or parade ground.
Get to know the region’s wildlife and fishing villages
Head to the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center to learn more about the way of life as it was in the “Down East” fishing villages as well as the birds that call this region of North Carolina home. Exhibits at the museum are constantly changing, so there is something new to see and do each time you visit.
Learn about the carved wooden duck decoys used to attract birds to the sound. Watch as an expert displays the tools used to carve wooden duck decoys and demonstrates the proper way to carve them. The center is particularly proud of one of its newest exhibits—an historic wooden boat. This boat and others of a similar design once sailed from Harkers Island in the early 1900s.
For panoramic views of Core Sound, climb to the top of the lookout tower and peer out at the area’s beautiful coastal landscapes. You’ll only catch expansive views such as these from this high vantage point or on the water. Or get a close up look at the natural habitat for waterfowl and shorebirds as you hike around the Willow Pond sanctuary.
Request more information about these and other activities available along North Carolina’s northern coast, or for specific questions, contact the local visitor’s bureaus: Greenville-Pitt County CVB, Crystal Coast Tourism Authority, Craven County CVC, Goldsboro – Wayne County Travel and Tourism.
ITINERARY 2: Central Coast – Explore the Simple Life Along North Carolina’s Central Coast
Discover virtually untouched beaches
Escape to a remote beach at the Cape Lookout National Seashore. With no paved road the islands are the perfect place to get back to the basics. All but one island are accessible only by boat, so you’ll have to take a ferry ride or your own boat to get there.
The Cape Lookout Lighthouse is a popular destination in the area. The lighthouse is open during the summer months, from May to September. Those willing to climb the 207 steps to the top are rewarded handsomely with sweeping views of the islands and the surrounding area. You may even catch a glimpse of theShackleford Banks wild horses.
If you have time for an overnight excursion, visit Portsmouth village, located south of Ocracoke Inlet. Rent a cabin, or bring your own tent to camp on the beach.
Take a sunset dinner cruise
On your list of things to do on the Crystal Coast, viewing a sunset on the water is an experience to remember! Check out The Crystal Coast Lady for one of their all-you-care-to-eat sunset dinner buffet cruises and enjoy a great meal with an even better view. They offer sunset dinner cruises Monday thru Saturday from 7-9pm. Reservations are required.
Come face-to-face with marine life
Get acquainted with local marine animals and other wildlife at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. A wide variety of exhibits showcase the ecosystems of North Carolina. You’ll learn how each ecosystem is different but still plays a role in the big picture of North Carolina’s wildlife. For example, trace a raindrop on its journey from the mountains to the sea.
Listen to the waterfalls of the mountain region as you learn about the plants and animals who call North Carolina’s mountains their home. Explore the features that make the piedmont ecosystem unique. Touch pools and other exhibits, including a 306,000-gallon Living Shipwreck exhibit, bring the tidal waters and the coastal plains to life right before your eyes.
Meet a variety of interesting creatures including playful river otters, graceful stingrays, local birds and even sharks. And you’ll certainly want to introduce yourself to Nimbus, the aquariums rare, white sea turtle.
Experience the flavors
Johnson County’s Beer, Wine, and Shine Trail includes two wineries, two breweries, and one distillery. Learn more about the owners and winemakers, the history of the farms and the families that have been here for centuries, and what makes each winery in Johnston County unique. Then, the brew masters will give you a tour of their facilities and share the unique blends, and creative names behind their craft beers.
Head over to Kinston to Mother Earth Brewing Company. The company was founded by two guys with roots in a family town set out to make great beer brewed close to nature. And this is their mission: To help you savor the goodness of Mother Earth.
Request more information about these and other activities available along North Carolina’s northern coast, or for specific questions, contact the local visitor’s bureaus: Visit Kinston , Johnston County Visitors Bureau.