North Carolina on tap: Farms to festivals By Felicity Long / September 22, 2000 Share 1 -- RALEIGH, N.C. -- Mikie Wall, director of marketing for the North Carolina Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development, shared her favorite activities in the state. Outer Banks. "This is one of the last unspoiled beach areas in the country," Wall said, adding that the area is popular among seniors in the spring and fall.The ferries. "We have the largest ferry system in the country except for Washington state," Wall said, adding that the ferries can accommodate motorcoaches.Tryon Palace. Located in New Bern, this was North Carolina's first capitol building. Visitors can take a trolley tour of the district and visit the palace, which serves as a venue for special events.Known for its 18th century gardens, the palace grounds also host a garden tour every second weekend in April.Golf. Known primarily for big-name golf courses such as Pinehurst and Sandhills, the state has more than 500 courses, both public and private."Some tour operators have products that let the agent create his or her own package," Wall said.Water sports. "We are one of the few states that have every kind of water sport, including canoeing, whitewater rafting, sea kayaking, wind surfing, sailing and boat racing," Wall said.Gems. North Carolina is known for its semiprecious gems."Tour operators can plan for groups to mine at a number of locations in the mountains," Wall said. Stones include sapphires, emeralds and rubies.Music. The American Music Jubilee in Selma, held year-round Thursdays through Saturdays, is one of many venues and attractions for music buffs.Shopping. Lumberton and Smithfield offer outlet shopping along with local specialties, such as a country ham shop.Farms. Visitors can pick cotton and other produce and see the workings of local farms in Smithfield, Wall said.Gardens. There are so many gardens in North Carolina that the tourism department created a brochure dedicated to the subject. Of particular note is the recent completion of the first phase of the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden near Charlotte, Wall said.Groups, including garden clubs, can have lunch, attend lectures by a botanist and even work in the gardens, she said.Festivals. There are many, but a popular one is the Andy Griffith festival in Mount Airy. Saluting the actor famous for his role in the "The Andy Griffith Show," the festival draws about 250,000 people annually.