Biltmore Leads NC's Top Museums and Historic Attractions Survey for 2008

Jan 26, 2009, 16:25 ET from Carolina Publishing Associates

MATTHEWS, N.C., Jan. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- America's largest home nestled on a mountainside in the Great Smoky Mountains is once again North Carolina's most visited historic attraction, according to an annual survey released today by Carolina Publishing Associates.

Even though high summertime gas prices and a growing recession kept many travelers home in 2008, the country estate founded by George and Edith Vanderbilt in Asheville attracted more than a million visitors for the third consecutive year and topped North Carolina's most popular museums and historic attractions ranking for the fifth year in a row.

"Our response has been to position Biltmore as an oasis and escape from everyday life," said Julie Hanser, Vice President of Attraction Marketing at Biltmore. She added that the popular attraction "is aggressively pursuing growth" through the opening in April of a suite of four newly restored rooms.

Two North Carolina attractions made appearances on the top 25 list for the first time - Morehead Planetarium on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill and the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville. Greensboro's Natural Science Center showed the most dramatic growth, jumping from a number 22 ranking with 175,745 visitors in 2007 to number 14 with 267,086 guests last year thanks to their new animal park addition.

The Top 25 North Carolina museums and historic attractions survey is conducted annually by Carolina Publishing Associates of Matthews, publishers of the annual Carolina Heritage Guide, Carolina Field Trips Magazine and The African American Heritage and Visitor's Guide. The top 25 most visited museum and historic attractions, along with their 2008 attendance numbers, were:

1. Biltmore, Asheville (1,070,900) 2. North Carolina Zoo, Asheboro (764,637) 3. NC Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh (760,188) 4. Fort Macon State Park, Atlantic Beach, (703,120) 5. Discovery Place, Charlotte (665,609) 6. Wright Brothers National Memorial, Kill Devil Hills (529,909) 7. NC Aquarium, Fort Fisher (408,671) 8. NC Museum of Life and Science, Durham (378,000) 9. NC Aquarium, Pine Knoll Shores, (376,321) 10. NC Museum of History, Raleigh (327,425)

11. Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, Manteo (313,096) 12. NC Aquarium, Roanoke Island (292,116) 13. NC Arboretum, Asheville (276,257) 14. Natural Science Center, Greensboro (267,086) 15. Grandfather Mountain, Linville (255,000). 16. NC Maritime Museum, Beaufort (251,180) 17. Battleship North Carolina, Wilmington (217,102) 18. Chimney Rock State Park, Chimney Rock (212,115) 19. Cherokee Historical Association, Cherokee (202,564) 20. Roanoke Island Festival Park, Manteo (202,018). 21. NC Auto Racing Hall of Fame, Mooresville (195,000) 22. NC Museum of Art, Raleigh (190,623) 23. Morehead Planetarium, Chapel Hill (172,030) 24. Linville Caverns, Marion (163,966) 25. Smoky Mountain Railroad, Bryson City (150,000).

SOURCE Carolina Publishing Associates