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.
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