One of the original 13 British colonies which first formed the United States, North Carolina is home to plenty of historic and cultural sites but also some breathtaking natural beauty, including national and state parks, and dozens of beaches along some 300 miles of coastline. Gorgeous barrier islands; gospel music; Piedmont blues music; two types of tasty barbecue; Cherokee Indian culture; roadside attractions (like the world's largest working frying pan) - there's plenty of cool stuff to explore in the Tar Heel State. And a well designed network of roads will allow you to reach most of it with a rental car. Get a good rate on a rental car at Raleigh-Durham Airport (RDU) or at Charlotte Airport (CLT), and off you go! And here are five especially great places to roam:


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