North Carolina Attractions

The following locations are listed as a resource only and are not necessarily associated with, or endorsed by, CIRCLE Homeschool.


Eno River State Park

Eno River State Park—like its namesake—flows near urban areas of Durham and Orange counties with five scattered access areas, each just minutes from town amenities. The Eno River’s waters roll past mature forests, historic mill and home sites and river bluffs covered with flowering shrubs and across fords used by early settlers. The park offers nearly 30 miles of trails along a swift, shallow stream that’s popular with anglers, photographers and sightseers. Backcountry camping at individual sites and group campsites is available but all equipment must be carried in. Canoeing and kayaking are permitted but sometimes difficult due to shallow water.

Museum of Life and Science

The 84 acres that encompass the Museum of Life + Science are packed full of attractions designed to spark wonder and curiosity in guests. Popular exhibits include one of the largest butterfly houses on the East Coast, a dinosaur trail where guests can admire over a dozen life-size dinosaurs, and Hideaway Woods, a two-acre nature discovery environment featuring eight tree houses, a flowing stream, and fanciful nature sculptures.

With indoor and outdoor exhibits designed to accommodate a range of interests and abilities, a day at the museum means hands-on learning fun for science lovers of all ages!

The Museum of Life and Science is frequently ranked as one of the top family-friendly museums in the Southeast. Elements Museum Store and Coffee Bar offers unique solutions for holiday gift giving with a wide array of one-of-a-kind products for science lovers of all ages.

Field trips are available with discounted rates.

Piedmont Wildlife Center

Piedmont Wildlife Center strives to inspire people to develop a positive lifelong connection with nature and encourage active engagement in conservation. They use a community oriented approach to nature education, leadership development, and conservation science. A homeschool program and field trips are available.

Fort Fisher

nc-aquariumsNC Aquarium – Fort Fisher

Explore the aquatic ecosystems of coastal North Carolina at the NC Aquarium. “Journey down the waters of the Cape Fear River from freshwater streams to the open ocean. Meet thousands of aquatic animals from across the state and around the world.” Four locations provide a variety of opportunities for hands on learning, with affordable family memberships giving admittance to all locations. Homeschool families may visit the aquarium once per year on a weekday at no charge, with proof of homeschooling. Tours and special programs can be set up for groups.


Jeanette’s Pier

nc-aquariumsNorth Carolina Aquarium – Jeanette’s Pier

“Hook into world-class fishing, personalized angling instruction, youth adventure camps, an exceptional banquet facility as well as clean, wide, public beaches, bathhouse and free parking all at Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head. Inside the pier house, come face to face with fish while peering into one of our large aquariums.” Four locations provide a variety of opportunities for hands on learning, with affordable family memberships giving admittance to all locations. Special group programs can beset up with the education department.



mansboro-islandMasonboro Island Reserve

Masonboro Island is an 8.4-mile long barrier island situated five miles southeast of Wilmington with a rich estuarine system and diverse range of natural habitats.

The island is the largest undisturbed barrier island along the southern part of the North Carolina coast and is home to an array of different ecosystems, from salt marshes and maritime forests to tidal flats, ocean beaches, and rolling grasslands, which in turn attract a plethora of birds and wildlife.

New Bern

Tryon Palace

Tryon Palace is known for being North Carolina’s first state capital. Take a visit of the North Carolina History Center, 16 acres of gardens, the Tryon Palace itself, and more. Eductional tours are available at discounted prices.


Pine Knoll Shores

nc-aquariumsNorth Carolina Aquarium – Pine Knoll Shores

“From the mountains to the sea… Feel the spray of a mountain waterfall. Watch river otters play. Touch a stingray. Look a shark in the eye. Explore shipwrecks — without getting wet. See a rare white sea turtle. Thousands of aquatic animals take you on a journey from the state’s grand peaks to the open Atlantic, much as a raindrop makes its way to the ocean.” Four locations provide a variety of opportunities for hands on learning, with affordable family memberships giving admittance to all locations. Homeschool families may visit the aquarium once per year on a weekday at no charge, with proof of homeschooling. Tours and special programs can be set up for groups.


nc-museum-of-natural-sciencesNorth Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

“The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is the largest museum of its kind in the Southeast. Through our exhibits, programs, and field experiences, we provide visitors with opportunities to get up close and personal with science and nature.” Admission is free to the public. Donations are appreciated. The museum has classes spciefically for homeschooling families.

ncmaNorth Carolina Museum of Art

Experience art close up at the North Carolina Museum of Art. Permanent and changing exhibits give visitors a chance to immerse themselves among artistic endeavors. Admission is free to the public.


marbles-kids-museumMarbles Kids Museum

“Marbles Kids Museum opened in 2007 as a vibrant destination for hands-on, minds-on learning for children and families. Located in the heart of downtown Raleigh, Marbles serves a diverse population of families, school groups and community organizations with dozens of themed exhibits, daily programs, summer camps, IMAX educational and feature films and special events year-round. Museum programs and exhibits are designed for children 10-and-under. Today, Marbles ranks among the top family destinations in North Carolina and is recognized nationally for a bold approach to play-based learning.” Group pricing is available.


nc-museum-of-historyNorth Carolina Museum of History

Learn about history related to the state of North Carolina. Admission to the permanent exhibits of the museum is free. Donations are accepted. Some special exhibits or programs may have a fee. Guided group tours are free, and fee based special tours for school groups are available for a reasonable fee.

cam-raleighContemporary Art Museum

“CAM Raleigh seeks to curate the most contemporary works of art and design possible—those still emerging, growing, and living. We hope to spark new thinking by creating ever-changing experiences that explore what’s now and nearing.” Children 10 and under are free. Admission is free for everyone on First Fridays.


“Artspace is a non-profit visual art center inspiring innovation through opportunities to experience the creative process and engage with artists. Artspace encourages community participation in the visual arts through its exhibitions, open studios, artist residencies and art education classes for all ages. Artspace is a locus of opportunity for the curious of all ages where innovation and creativity are explored, experienced, shared and celebrated.” Admission is free. Small groups may schedule a free tour.

Roanoke Island

nc-aquariumsNorth Carolina Aquarium – Roanoke Island

“The “Waters of the Outer Banks” are waiting to be discovered. Marvel at the largest collection of sharks in the state. Interact with SCUBA divers. See an alligator. Touch the stingrays. Wonder at the playful river otters. Witness our conservation efforts in the Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation (STAR) Center.” Four locations provide a variety of opportunities for hands on learning, with affordable family memberships giving admittance to all locations. Homeschool families may visit the aquarium once per year on a weekday at no charge, with proof of homeschooling. Tours and special programs can be set up for groups.

Surf City

sea-turtle-rescueSea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center

The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle and Rescue Rehabilitation Center is dedicated to the conservation and protection of all species of marine turtles both in the water and on the beach. The center rescues, rehabilitates, and releases sick and injured sea turtles. You can visit the center on your own or set up a group tour.


battleship-ncBattleship North Carolina

“Moored in quiet dignity and majesty the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA, across the river from downtown Wilmington, beckons visitors to walk her decks. Envision the daily life and fierce combat her crew faced in the Pacific Theatre during World War II.” Group tours can be arranged for a discounted price. Also, homeschooling families visiting when school is in session receive the group rate with proof of homeschooling. See the site for more details.

cape-fear-museumCape Fear Museum

Founded in 1898, the Cape Fear Museum is the oldest history museum in the state and is dedicated to collecting, preserving, and interpreting the history, science, and cultures of the Lower Cape Fear.

The museum has a collection of more than fifty-two thousand artifacts collected from regions around the city of Wilmington and displayed in a variety of educational exhibitions and programs. Group rates are available.

caemron-art-museumCameron Art Museum

Established in 1964, the Cameron Art Museum is located in historic downtown Wilmington and presents a permanent collection of works by international and local artists across a range of disciplines. It also features several rotating exhibitions of contemporary historical significance on an annual basis. Group tours are available, although with their new family admission, you may prefer to go on your own. Children ages 16 and under are now free with a paying adult.

cape-fear-serpentariumCape Fear Serpentarium

The Cape Fear Serpentarium is an indoor zoo in the downtown historic district of Wilmington. Founded in 2001, it is a 10,000 square foot facility that was built on the site of the original Wilmington Iron Works and houses 54 displays with 150 animals, including 40 species of venomous snakes such as the king cobra, black mamba, and puff adder and three species of crocodiles, the Nile, Salt Water, and Siamese crocodiles.Group rates are available.

wilmington-railroad-museumWilmington Railroad Museum

Established in 1979, the Wilmington Railroad Museum features a variety of informative and interactive exhibits for all ages, from a life-size caboose, boxcar, and a century-old steam locomotive to operating scale model trains and a Thomas the Tank Train play area for children.Their mission is to “provide an educational and enjoyable experience concerning the history, technology, and impact of the rail industry with emphasis on the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad.” Group rates are available.

polar-grove-plantationPoplar Grove Plantation

Poplar Grove Plantation is one of the oldest peanut plantations in the state of North Carolina and has been open to the public as a museum since 1980. The current Manor House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is surrounded by 835 acres of landscaped gardens, both of which can be explored on guided tours through the property. Poplar Grove now has a permanent display, From Civil War to Civil Rights: The African American Experience at Poplar Grove, located in the Manor House basement and free to the public (exploring the rest of the plantation is not free). Group tours and programs are available.

wilmington-childrens-museumWilmington Children’s Museum

Interactive exhibits include the Toothasaurus Dental Exhibit where children can familiarize themselves with a dental environment; Magnetic Minds Science Research Center, which allows children to take part in facilitated science projects; and Ports of Call, which introduces and explains the ports of North Carolina to children. Group rates with optional programs are available.

bellamy-mansionBellamy Mansion

“Welcome to the Bellamy Mansion Museum, one of North Carolina’s most spectacular examples of antebellum architecture. Located in downtown Wilmington, the mansion was built for physician and planter John Dillard Bellamy, his wife, Eliza McIlhenny Harriss, and their nine children on the eve of the Civil War.

The mansion now serves as a museum of history and the design arts, offering daily tours and many dynamic educational and cultural programs throughout the year. Tour the magnificent 10,000-square-foot home, visit the meticulously-recreated gardens, and walk through the recently restored Slave Quarters, one of very few preserved urban slave quarters in the country.”

Group tours available.

cape-fear-fencingCape Fear Fencing

“Established in 1997, the Cape Fear Fencing Association is a USFA-sanctioned club open to all individuals with an interest in the art and skill of fencing regardless of age, ability or experience level.” Cape Fear Fencing offers an affordable class specifically for homeschooling families, taught by Greg Spahr, head coach.

New Hanover County Arboretum

“North Carolina State University Extension Service gives county residents easy access to the resources and expertise of NC State University and NC A&T State University.  Through educational programs, publications, and events, Extension Service agents deliver unbiased, research-based information to the people of New Hanover County.” The Arboretum is free to the public.


green-swamp-preserveGreen Swamp Preserve

Located approximately 20 miles away from Wilmington, the Green Swamp Preserve offers a vast diversity of species. The American alligator, fox squirrel, and many rare plants, including at least 14 species of insectivorous species and several types of orchids, reside in the Green Swamp. Visitors are cautioned to stay on the trails while traversing the almost 13,000 acres of beautiful swamp land.


airlie-gardensAirlie Gardens

“Airlie continues to amaze visitors with its breathtaking combination of formal gardens, wildlife, historic structures, walking trails, sculptures, views of Bradley Creek, 10-acres of freshwater lakes, more than 100,000 azaleas and the grandeur of the 467-year-old Airlie Oak.” Discounts are available for New Hanover County residents and the gardens offer affordable memberships and educational field trips.

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