North Carolina’s Most Historic Field Trips

Jerry Blackwelder

North Carolina’s Most Historic Field Trips

On a cold, windy December day in 1903 two brothers  from Ohio flew the world’s first heavier than air machine from the sandy shores of Kill Devil Hills and into history. The flight only lasted 12 seconds and traveled a mere 120 feet, but it was enough to change the course of human history. 

North Carolina is rich with history in every city and community. But Kill Devil Hills on the once-isolated Outer Banks stands as the State’s most historic place.

Today at Kill Devil Hills your students can walk the flight path that the first flyer passed over and see a replica of the Wright Brothers camp to experience how they lived, serviced their flying machines and eventually flew. Students can also climb to the top of Kill Devil Hill to study the 60-foot-tall granite monument erected to commemorate the historic achievement. Among the crowd of celebrities and aviation enthusiasts present for the laying of the monument cornerstone were Orville Wright and Amelia Earhart. 

Here are some of the Tar Heel State’s other must-see historic field trips. 


State Capitol

North Carolina’s Capitol building was completed in 1840. During the Civil War it was the scene of both the vote to secede from the Union and later occupation by Federal troops. Until 1888 the domed Greek-inspired Capitol was home to all the offices of the state government. Now the building’s offices are occupied by the Governor.

Bennett Place

 On April 26, 1865, nearly 90,000 Confederate soldiers laid down their arms and returned to their homes. The Civil War was over in North Carolina. The largest troop surrender of the War was signed by Generals William T. Sherman and Joseph E. Johnston in a farmhouse halfway between the opposing forces.

Bentonville Battlefield 
Four Oaks

The largest military battle ever to take place in North Carolina occurred in early April of 1865. Now your students can walk the battlefield and relive the Civil War experience with a tour of the restored farmhouse that was used as a Union hospital and the restored kitchen and slave quarters. 

Historic Bath

Close proximity to the Pamlico River brought early European settlers to establish North Carolina’s first town in 1705. Blackbeard lived in Bath and today it is home to the oldest church in the State. Your students  will see three historic homes dating back to 1751, stroll through the town and visit St. Thomas’s Church.

Roanoke Island

Roanoke Island on the Outer Banks welcomed the first English-speaking settlers to the New World In 1585. Today’s visitors can explore the Roanoke Island Festival Park, a 25-acre historic site featuring costumed interpreters, the replica ship Elizabeth II, the Adventure Museum and American Indian Town.

Fort Fisher
Kure Beach

The largest sea battle of the Civil War took place at Fort Fisher in January of 1865. Fort Fisher was the last supply line still open to General Robert E. Lee’s troops, and its loss signaled the coming end of the Confederacy. Visitors see restored gun emplacements featuring operational cannons and other weaponry. A walking trail leads to outdoor exhibits and overlooks. 

International Civil Rights Center and Museum

On the first day of February in 1960 four NC A&T University students marched into downtown Greensboro and took seats at the traditionally all-white Woolworth’s lunch counter. A national movement of nonviolent sit-in demonstrations soon followed. The building now houses the International Civil Rights Center and Museum where your students can see original stools from the lunch counter and learn the history of the civil rights movement.

Tryon Palace
New Bern

New Bern was North Carolina’s first permanent State Capital, and Tryon Palace was built in 1770 to house Governor William Tryon and his family along with state government offices. The Palace was home to four governors and meetings of the state legislature until destroyed by fire in 1798. The reconstructed Tryon Palace celebrates its 60thanniversary in 2019.

Chowan County Courthouse

Edenton is North Carolina’s second oldest town, founded in 1722. Historic Edenton’s Courthouse was built in 1767 and has been called the most intact Colonial Courthouse in America. Joseph Hewes, signer of the Declaration of Independence, raised money for its construction. 

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