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Carnivorous plants such as the Venus fly trap, pitcher plant, bladderwort, sundew, and butterwort take center stage at this park on the North Carolina coast. In fact, the Wilmington area is reputed to be one of the few places in the world where the Venus fly trap grows. (Please leave the beauties in their natural habitat and purchase one at a local retail nursery if you want to take one home.)

To get a close look at these rare exotic plants, take a stroll around the half-mile Flytrap Trail, also a habitat for beautiful native orchids. Want to know more about those weird plants that eat insects? Check out the carnivorous plant ...

Carnivorous plants such as the Venus fly trap, pitcher plant, bladderwort, sundew, and butterwort take center stage at this park on the North Carolina coast. In fact, the Wilmington area is reputed to be one of the few places in the world where the Venus fly trap grows. (Please leave the beauties in their natural habitat and purchase one at a local retail nursery if you want to take one home.)

To get a close look at these rare exotic plants, take a stroll around the half-mile Flytrap Trail, also a habitat for beautiful native orchids. Want to know more about those weird plants that eat insects? Check out the carnivorous plant exhibit in the Visitor Center and take time to play like an insect and see if you get eaten by a plant in the maze game. Or test your plant knowledge in the interactive quiz game in the Biodiversity Theater.

Located on a major migration corridor, the park is a great place for spotting brown pelicans, warblers, finches, woodpeckers, painted buntings, yellowthroats, prairie warblers, and ospreys. Look for water birds on the three-mile Sugarloaf Trail. Many other creatures live in harmony here, too, such as Carolina anoles, five-lined skinks, six-lined race-runs, snakes, white-tailed deer, raccoons, gray squirrels, opossums, cottontails, fox squirrels, gray foxes, and river otters. The 420-acre park is home to several coastal ecosystems, including limesink ponds, one of which supports a dwarf cypress swamp forest.

After studying the flora and fauna, you may want to try your luck at fishing. Purchase an NC fishing license and then throw your hook into the Cape Fear River or the ocean. The marina and fuel dock are currently closed for renovations, so boating is not an option at the park at this time. However, camping under a canopy of big trees near Snow's Cut is extremely popular (with drinking water and hot showers nearby). The setting of this state park is quite naturally spectacular, plus it is only a mile to retro Carolina Beach, known for its classic boardwalk and arcades. The charming seaport of Wilmington lies 10 miles north.

Carol Timblin
About the Expert

Carol Timblin has contributed to numerous guidebooks and authored four editions of Houghton Mifflin's Best Places to Stay in the South.

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Carol Timblin for Triporati

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