Editor’s Note: During this period of social distancing, Group Tour magazine will continue to provide group travel inspiration. Many attractions and destinations are closed at this time; please contact them directly for updated information.

From bluegrass to R&B, the music of North Carolina artists echoes from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Outer Banks. Whether a lover of country or a die-hard disco fan, visitors won’t just discover a newfound passion for their favorite sounds, but the historical and cultural significance behind the music.

Visit hallowed halls and historic trails that highlight the Tar Heel State’s involvement in the evolution of America’s most-loved genres.

North Carolina Music Hall of Fame

In 2009, the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in Kannapolis officially opened its doors for visitors. The hall of fame serves as a museum as well as commemorative center for the promotion of North Carolina’s musical heritage.

Some of the inductees include artists like James Taylor, the Avett Brothers, Ben E. King, Alicia Bridges and other music legends who have called North Carolina home.

A number of the hall of fame’s exhibits are interactive. With the museum’s Quick Response bar codes, groups can listen to music, watch videos and get access to more information on the inductees. Multiple exhibits include memorable wardrobe pieces worn by the artists.

Earl Scruggs Center

Earl Scruggs Center, Cleveland County
Credit: Marc Stowe

Born in Cleveland County, Earl Scruggs popularized a three-finger banjo picking style now known as “Scruggs style.” Today, the Earl Scruggs Center in Shelby highlights the life and music of the bluegrass legend while engaging groups in the history and culture of the region.

“The center provides opportunities for all to engage with and learn about legendary five-string banjo master Earl Scruggs,” said Mary Beth Martin, executive director at the Earl Scruggs Center. “The Scruggs Style of banjo playing changed the perception of the banjo as a comical instrument to a serious, musical instrument.”

Groups will enjoy the permanent and rotating exhibits, but also live bluegrass music and local barbeque lunches in the Great Hall of the center.

Moog Factory

While North Carolina is famous for bluegrass and country, few know of its influence in the electronic music community. Moog Factory — located in downtown Asheville — produced the world’s first commercial synthesizer, an electronic instrument allowing users to create nearly any sound imaginable.

Analog synthesizers are known for having a complex and warm sound, with a lot of movement and character.

Each instrument is hand built, tuned and calibrated. Groups can see craftspeople build these instruments and learn more about the engineering and manufacturing of Moog’s many synthesizers on a factory tour. After, groups can visit the showroom to try instruments available to play.

Mountain music

Winding through the mountains and foothills of Western North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Music Trails pay homage to the rich musical heritage along the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains.

Smoky Mountain Folk Festival
Credit: Courtesy of Blue Ridge Music Trails

Whether by foot or by bus, groups can find centers featuring music traditions that have heavily influenced the region. Experience authentic bluegrass, blues, early country, ballad singing, square dancing, and Cherokee music and dance in 29 counties across Western North Carolina.

Visit the Blue Ridge Music Trails website to view an interactive map and calendar, providing upcoming events and various trail options. Trips can be easily crafted to a group’s own liking.