At Fort Macon State Park, at the eastern tip of Bogue Bank, you can enjoy the beauty of North Carolina's coastal environment while exploring a bit of the state's history.
From Charlotte, Fort Macon State Park is slightly less than 300 miles (a six-hour drive), one-way.
To see and do
The focal point of the park is the masonry fort that gives the site its name. Its construction began in 1826; the installation was first garrisoned in 1834.
In 1861, Confederate forces seized the fort without a shot being fired. Things weren't nearly as peaceful when federal forces recaptured it in April 1862. A monthlong siege culminated with an 11-hour bombardment. Congress gave the fort and surrounding land to the state in 1924. With about 1.4 million visitors annually, it is the most visited park in the state.
Take a guided tour or roam on your own. Several enclosed areas feature interpretive displays of the enlisted men's living quarters, the commander's quarters and life during different eras. A map of the five-sided fort guides you around the casements, powder magazines, and storage rooms that surround the parade ground.
From the elevated ramparts you can see Bogue Sound, Shackleford Banks and the ocean.
Nature lovers will find Fort Macon State Park a place of rugged beauty. A comfortable 0.4-mile nature trail meanders through low sand dunes and dense thickets of shrubbery. Depending upon the season, a variety of shorebirds and migratory birds can be spotted.
The park offers fishing and swimming; beaches face both the Atlantic and Bogue Sound. A bathhouse and a refreshment stand are open June 1 through Labor Day. The new Education Center includes exhibits on the ecological role barrier islands play, displays about the fort and a film about the history of Fort Macon.