Warmed by the nearby Gulf Stream, the North Carolina Coast is a sunny place filled with pristine beaches and the powerful grandeur of the ocean, giant sand dunes (highest along the East Coast) and wetlands filled with an abundance of wildlife and plants.
The defining characteristic of the area is the Outer Banks, a chain of fragile barrier islands with 130 miles of unspoiled coastline surrounded by 900 square miles of water.
The area is also full of history, dating back to the 16th century, when the first English settlement was built—and then vanished. There are also sites from pre-Revolutionary Days and historic lighthouses (including the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, at 208 feet, the tallest on the East Coast), and it was here, at Kitty Hawk, that the Wright Brothers ushered in the era of flight in 1903.
The city of Wilmington is a major U.S. seaport. The average annual temperature is 63 degrees; the growing season lasts 295 days.