Central North Carolina is home to variety of historic sites that encompass the first hints of revolution in 1771 to the final days of the Confederate Army during the Carolinas Campaign in 1865, and many historic moments in between. Enjoy all Central North Carolina has to offer and learn more about many underrated yet incredibly important moments in our country’s history.
The Duke Homestead State Historic Site and Tobacco Museum are the historic home, outbuildings and tobacco factory of the Duke family who lived there from 1852 until 1874. The site interprets the antebellum farming life of the Duke family and the postbellum tobacco manufacturing.
What to do:
View the 17-minute introduction film “Legacy of the Golden Leaf,” which highlights the Duke family, tobacco farming in North Carolina and the history of the town of Durham
Take the 45-minute guided tour to see the four main structures on the site and learn all about the Duke family and tobacco production.
Explore the Tobacco Museum to view exhibits on the history of tobacco farming, manufacturing and advertising.
Located in the heart of Raleigh, the North Carolina Museum of History has a variety of exhibits that cover all aspects of North Carolina’s vibrant past.
What to do:
Visit the museum’s many exhibits
Grab a bite at the Pharaoh’s at the Museum. Located inside the museum, this independently operated restaurant serves a variety of home-made treats and a percentage of the revenue is donated to the museum, so can do good while you eat good.
Attend one of the many special events they host (special events not offered daily, check the special events page before your visit)
Partake in one of the museums many scavenger hunts are you explore the different exhibits.
This 45 minute air conditioned trolley tour stops at Mordecai Historic Park, Bicentennial Plaza, the Joel Lane House, Fayetteville Street and City Market to give visitors a good look at Raleigh History
Built in 1769, this restored plantation house was home to the “Father of Raleigh” Joel Lane. The site interprets the life of Colonel Joel Lane and his enslaved workers while also highlighting the lives of those living in the Piedmont region in the 18th century.
The Battle of Bentonville was the largest engagement to take place on North Carolina soil and was fought from March 19th to the 21st between Sherman’s 60,000 strong Army of the Tennessee and Johnston’s 20,000 strong Army of Tennessee. The Battle of Bentonville represents Johnston’s last stand against Sherman’s Army and the final battle in the Western Theatre before Johnston’s surrender. Located about an hour outside of Raleigh, this historic land is now preserved, protected and interpreted by the State of North Carolina for all visitors to learn about the final moments of the Confederate Army.
What to do:
Explore the visitor center’s exhibits covering the battle, which includes a brand new fiberoptic display that illustrates the bloody fighting on May 19th. Also, view the 10-minute audio-visual program that discusses the lead up to the battle.
Visit the Harper House. Located on the site grounds the Harper House served as a field hospital during the battle and still stands today. The lower level is furnished to represent a Civil War era field hospital, while the upstairs have periodic domestic furnishings. Guided tours of the Harper House are available by prior reservation only.
Visit the Union XX Corps earthworks, the Confederate mass grave and the Harper family cemetery, all accessible to the public through a ¼ mile walking trail.
Download and print the Bentonville Driving Tour Map prior to your visit and use it to explore the battlefield and learn more about the battle. There is a free cell phone audio tour available for the driving tour; however, note that standard phone minute rates apply.
Make sure to ask the interpreter at the visitor center how to see the original Army of Tennessee earthworks.
Located about 30 minutes from Bentonville, Averasboro Battlefield is the site of the mid-March 1865 inconclusive Battle of Averasboro, where General Hardee’s troops fought against General Slocum’s troops in an attempt to slow down Sherman’s March to Goldsboro. This site has a variety of indoor and outdoor exhibits dedicated to interpreting the battle.
What to do:
Visit the on-site museum to see a map program about the battle and the variety of artifacts.
Take a tour of the privately owned Oak Grove plantation house. Ask the visitor center for more information about tours.
Located about an hour outside of Raleigh, Alamance Battleground was the site of the May 16, 1771 Battle of Alamance in which armed backcountry rebels (called the Regulators) fought against the royal governor William Tryon’s militia over repressive British policies.
What to do:
Stop by the visitor center and view the 25-minute film “the War of the Regulation” which delves into the Battle of Alamance and the North Carolina backcountry in the eighteenth century. Explore the variety of exhibits in the visitor center
Walk the ¾ mile loop trail which takes visitors to the James Hunter monument, the 1880 granite column commemorating the battle.
Take a guided tour of the Allen house, which is available upon request. The Allen house was built in 1780 and includes period furnishings and a smoke house.
Just over 30 minutes from the Alamance Battleground and right outside Greensboro, the Guilford Court House National Military Park preserves and interprets the site of the 1781 Battle where General Cornwallis defeated General Green in a pyrrhic victory that resulted in Cornwallis retreating to the coast to resupply and refit.
What to do:
Stop by the visitor center to view the two films: “Fighting the Battle of Guilford Courthouse,” a ten minute long film that discusses the tactics of the battle, and “Another Such Victory,” a 30-minute live action representation of the fighting. Also check out the exhibits in the visitor center which discuss the Southern Campaign.
Tour the grounds of the Hoskins Farm Site with a cell phone audio tour
Attend a cannon talk to learn about the battlefields 3 pound British cannon.
Take either a self guided or ranger guided tour of the battlefield.