No, we can't carry wherever we want to. There are a lot of rather restrictive prohibitions, like not being able to carry into any place that serves alcohol or charges admission. We can't carry into the vast majority of restaurants in the state, or bars, clubs,or even movie theaters. The BIG reason we're not a gold star state is because our preemption contains exceptions that permit rather substantial restrictions at a municipal level. Cities, towns, etc. are allowed to ban firearms from any public park grounds and buildings.
We have more freedom in NC than a lot of other states do, but the current laws create a mine field of prohibited areas. This makes it very difficult to carry freely and consistently. The problem is that we're at a point where we have more freedomthan most, making some people content. Evenyou posed the question as though you feel the state has more freedom than this site gives it credit for. I've asked that same question in the past, but I now realize that we're no where near "gold star" rating, and things still need a lot of work.