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Public Encounters 'Dueling Dinosaurs' in Raleigh

Two stars of the dinosaur world have taken center stage in Raleigh with the April opening of “Dueling Dinosaurs,” a permanent exhibit at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences. The fossil includes a pair of exquisitely preserved, 67-million-year-old dinosaurs — a Tyrannosaur and a Triceratops — found buried together in the Hell Creek Formation of Montana. With the world’s only paleontology preparation lab that’s regularly open to the public, the museum immerses visitors in the Age of Dinosaurs and invites them to engage with paleontologists as they study these specimens and others. Housed in a new state-of-the-art research center, called SECU Dinolab, the exhibit offers free admission (reservations are required).

New Cruises Venture to Inner Banks Harbor Towns

Harbor Towns Cruises has begun service with tours and ferry trips from six towns connected to historic Albemarle Sound. The excursions, created by a private nonprofit with the help of state funds, takes to the water in a pair of Hysucats (hydrofoil-supported catamarans) custom-designed for the Albemarle. Travelers can opt for scenic or sunset cruises from Elizabeth City, Hertford, Edenton, Plymouth, Columbia or Manteo; longer tours from the Albemarle Plantation residential community; or to-and-from trips between pairs of towns. The catamarans take their names from historic figures — Penelope Barker, the first American woman to lead a political demonstration, and Moses Grandy, a waterman who shared his story in an influential slave narrative. Harbor Towns Cruises has also purchased a 100-passenger paddle-wheeler, the Anna Maria Princess, from its Florida owner. To be rechristened the Albemarle Queen, the 80-foot will be docked in Edenton and available to rent for dinner parties and other events.

Museum With ‘Miracle on the Hudson’ Plane Returns With New Campus

The Carolinas Aviation Museum will reopen June 1 as the Sullenberger Aviation Museum in a new space at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. Named in honor of “Miracle on the Hudson” pilot C.B. “Sully” Sullenberger, the reimagined museum will occupy multiple buildings on a 10-acre tract and offer flight simulators and other interactive elements. The collection at the Smithsonian-affiliate museum, which vacated its temporary CLT quarters in 2019, includes helicopters and commercial, military and civil aircraft, but its star is the Airbus A320 from US Airways Flight 1549. On Jan. 15, 2009, Sullenberger miraculously landed the plane after its engines were destroyed in a run-in with Canada geese.

Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum Reopens in Time for Memorial Day

After an extensive renovation, the Outer Banks branch of the N.C. Maritime Museums reopens to the public May 24 with state-of-the-art features, interactive elements and redesigned displays that bring coastal history to life. With the $5.1 million remodeling, visitors can immerse themselves in compelling stories of the first U-boat sunk off the North American coast; Blackbeard and other pirates; and the recovery of the first-order Fresnel lens from the 1854 Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, so named for the 2,000-plus shipwrecks along the windswept stretch of barrier islands, closed in late 2022 for the transformation of the building, which is designed to withstand gusts of more than 250 mph.

Grand Chihuly Glass Art Graces Biltmore Estate

After a spectacular 2018 garden display of works by glass arts master Dale Chihuly, “Chihuly at Biltmore” has unfolded at the site of America’s largest home for a showcase that runs through Jan. 5. The main setting is the Amherst at Deerpark exhibit center with specially curated pedestal works, drawings and large-scale installations. In addition to the gallery showcase, the event features a large-scale installation outside Biltmore House. Chihuly’s “Iris Gold and Garnet Chandelier,” which is part of the estate’s permanent collection, is on view at Biltmore Winery. Lodging specials tied to the exhibition are available at the Inn on Biltmore Estate and the Antler Village Hotel.

Cherokee Welcomes Travelers with New Exhibit, Landmark Anniversary

The Museum of the Cherokee People will illuminate the complexities of tribal sovereignty and a continuing legacy of resilience in “sov·er·eign·ty: Expressions in Sovereignty of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians,” opening March 15. Featuring objects from the museum’s collections, “sov·er·eign·ty” is designed to educate visitors about the tribe’s autonomy, its relationship with the federal government, and how the tribe has defined its own relationship with its land, people and culture. Located in the heart of the ancestral Cherokee homelands, the museum recently changed its name from the Museum of the Cherokee Indian to reflect an extended mission to represent all three federally recognized Cherokee tribes: the Oklahoma-based Cherokee Nation and United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians as well as the North Carolina-based Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. “The word 'Indian' is very dated and it's also very incorrect,” Executive Director Shana Bushyhead Condill said in discussing the change. “Adding the word 'people' literally personifies who we are ... and it makes it harder to relegate us to the past." 2024 also marks the 75th anniversary of the Cherokee Historical Association, which connects with a living history through “Unto These Hills,” a summertime outdoor drama that traces the past from before the Trail of Tears to the present day, and the Oconaluftee Indian Village, which re-creates Cherokee life from the 18th century.

NC Coast Marks 40 Years as a Movie Magnet

Forty years ago, Wilmington made its big-screen debut with “Firestarter,” a project that led producer Dino de Laurentiis to build a studio in the Cape Fear River town. Flash forward to the set-jetting era and find coastal North Carolina at the top of the list of set-jetting destinations with hundreds of film and TV credits. Trip planners can map points of interest for old favorites (“Blue Velvet,” “Dawson’s Creek,” “One Tree Hill”) and Nicholas Sparks titles to new sensations (“The Summer I Turned Pretty,” “Outer Banks”) in and around Wilmington, Southport and Burgaw. A newcomer to the list of places: Rx Chicken & Oysters, a freshly re-envisioned dining spot that hosted the production of “The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat” (release date TBA). For more inspiration, travel to “See Sites From Critically Acclaimed Movies Filmed in North Carolina” at

North Carolina Extends Its Great Trails State Brand

 With a historic investment of nearly $55 million for trails in the new state budget, North Carolina transitions from 2023’s Year of the Trail celebration to even higher ground as the Great Trails State. Projects to be funded include the Saluda Grade Corridor Trail on a historic rail path, additions to community-led “Trails for All” project in Pisgah National Forest, and development of the N.C. State Trails, a dozen paths that traverse land, water and history. Among them: the Mountains-to-Sea trail, a 1,175-mile land and water route that links Clingman’s Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains to Jockey’s Ridge State Park on the Outer Banks 

High Point Achieves Recognition as Certified Autism Destination

High Point, long known as the “Home Furnishings Capital of the World,” gains new distinction as the second U.S. City — and the first on the East Coast — to achieve recognition as a Certified Autism Destination. In an effort led by the High Point Convention & Visitors Bureau, the certification from the International Board of Credentialling and Continuing Education Standard recognizes dedication to making attractions, hotels, restaurants and public spaces accessible and welcoming to autistic and sensory-sensitive individuals and their families. Sites that have made the commitment include the JH Adams Inn, Nido & Mariana Qubein Children’s Museum, the High Point Rockers baseball team, the High Point MuseumSweet Old Bill’s and Giannos restaurants, and Q’s Corner, a play center that inspired the initiative. Mesa, Ariz., was the first city to receive CAD designation. Learn more at

Barbecue Lovers Can Celebrate a Milestone in 2024

People in North Carolina have feasted on wood-smoked pork since at least 1728, the year Viriginia surveyor William Byrd II disparaged this favorite fare in writing. Yet it wasn’t until 1924 that the state’s first sit-down barbecue restaurant arrived. Bob Melton’s Barbecue opened in Rocky Mount on the banks of the Tar River and went on to earn recognition for its owner as “the King of Southern Barbecue” (Life magazine, 1958) for the whole-hog delicacy favored in Eastern North Carolina. After flooding from Hurricane Floyd in 1999, Melton’s relocated to higher ground, then closed for good in 2003. Travelers today find restaurants across the state that honor the whole-hog tradition and the pork-butts-only Lexington-style variation as defined by two James Beard America’s Classics: Skylight Inn BBQ in Ayden and Lexington Barbecue in Lexington. And in Rocky Mount, they can pay homage to Melton’s achievement with a visit to Barbecue Park, where his original brick pit remains and signage details the city’s barbecue history. The park is a short walk from Rocky Mount Mills, a restored cotton mill that’s home to restaurants, breweries, shops and a tiny house hotel.

Raleigh's N.C. Freedom Park Honors an Epic Struggle

Two blocks from the state Capitol in Raleigh, work is under way on N.C. Freedom Park, which will honor the Black struggle to achieve freedom for all. With completion targeted by the end of the year, the park  was designed by Phil Freelon, the late Durham architect known for the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington as well as the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture in Charlotte. The centerpiece of the 1-acre park will be a towering sculpture called "The Beacon of Freedom," which will shine a light toward the sky to reflect the fire for freedom.  

Suzanne Brown
Media Relations Manager
Veda Gilbert
Public Relations Manager
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