HomeTravelGuide to North Carolina for Sports Fans

Guide to North Carolina for Sports Fans

Plus resorts, free museums and outdoor activities for after the game.

The state of North Carolina is home to three “big four” professional sports franchises: The NFL’s Carolina Panthers, the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets and the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes.

Steve Wilks’ Panthers just wrapped up their 2022 regular season, but the Hornets and Hurricanes will continue playing their regular season games into April. If they reach the postseason (the Hurricanes are a virtual lock), their season could go all the way into June—depending on how far they advance in the playoffs.

The Hurricanes have emerged as a powerhouse in the Eastern Conference under head coach Rod Brind’Amour, and PNC Arena is home to one of the NHL’s most electrifying and energetic hockey crowds.

There is hope that mobile/online North Carolina sports betting will go live in the state at some point in 2023. Currently, in-person betting is allowed at two tribal casinos in the state, including Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River in Murphy and Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee.

The Panthers play their games at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. The venue is within walking distance of the Hornets’ home arena, the Spectrum Center. The Hurricanes’ home of PNC Arena is located in Raleigh, approximately a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Charlotte.

Fans of college sporting events will also have plenty of options when they visit North Carolina. The state is home to many marquee programs, namely the North Carolina Tar Heels’ basketball teams. The men’s team has won six national championships, with the most recent coming back in 2017. Their home games are held at the Dean Smith Center, one of America’s most iconic and historic sports venues.

The women’s basketball team is also among the best in the nation. A longtime fixture in the NCAA tournament, the women’s team last won the national championship in 1994 (the lone title in their history). There have been some relatively close calls, however, as they reached the Elite Eight” in 2014 and the Sweet Sixteen in 2015 and 2022.

Stay At A Beautiful Resort

View from Grove Park Inn

If you want a view of North Carolina’s inviting waters and nature, you should definitely look into the many beautiful resorts offered in the state.

The Grandover Resort & Spa in Greensboro, the Omni Grove Park Inn (Asheville), the Blockade Runner Beach Resort in Wrightsville Beach and the Sonesta Charlotte Executive Park are among the more highly-regarded resorts/hotels in North Carolina.

Free Museums

If you’re a massive history buff visiting North Carolina, and if you’re traveling on a budget, you can largely plan your trip around the many free museums in the state.

Some of the most-visited and popular museums that offer free admission include the North Carolina Museum of History (in Raleigh), the City of Raleigh Museum, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (also located in Raleigh), the Museum of Durham History (in Durham) and the Wake Forest Historical Museum (Wake Forest).

Get Outdoors

Hiking in Pisgah National Forest

There is no shortage of popular and breathtaking outdoor places to visit while you’re in North Carolina. This includes the Pisgah National Forest located in the Appalachian Mountains with several beautiful hiking trails.

Those who love outdoor sports can also enjoy things like mountain biking, fishing, swimming and kayaking. And if you wish to spend several days here, there are several camping spots available at and around Pisgah Forest.

Lake Mattamuskeet in Hyde County is another gorgeous location for visitors to check out here. It’s the state’s biggest lake and is home to the Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge. Nature lovers can also see a wide variety of animals at the refuge, including black bears, bobcats, falcons, dears, catfish, bass and much more.

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