North Carolina can be divided into three general regions: the mountains; the Piedmont; and the coast. The Great Smoky Mountains are covered in deciduous hardwood forests that burst into glorious color every autumn, while the Piedmont, which covers almost half the state, consists of gently rolling hills and verdant farmland. The coastal plains are warmed by the Gulf Stream and comprise vast sand dunes, wetlands and the Outer Banks, a loose chain of small barrier islands. The area is also home to several colonial-era sites, Civil War battlegrounds, historic lighthouses and Kitty Hawk, the birthplace of modern flight. My recommended properties in North Carolina stand outside the state's most charming small cities and are as steeped in history and lore as the state itself.