Linn Cove Viaduct along the Blueridge Parkway Waterfalls route

30+ Amazing North Carolina Vacation Spots

Looking for North Carolina Vacation Spots?

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If you’re seeking a travel experience that offers both the warmth of southern hospitality and an array of unique attractions, North Carolina stands ready to surprise and delight you. As you embark on this journey, you’ll find that North Carolina is a tapestry of diverse landscapes and cultures, each with its own story.

You might be drawn to the misty peaks of the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains, offering breathtaking views and outdoor adventures that resonate with the spirit of explorers and nature lovers. Or perhaps the allure of North Carolina’s beaches will captivate you, with the Outer Banks standing as a testament to both natural beauty and historical intrigue.

In the heart of the state, the vibrant cityscapes of Charlotte and Raleigh buzz with a fusion of artistic creativity, culinary innovations, and rich history. Meanwhile, the charming towns across the state, like Asheville and Wilmington, provide a quaint yet equally enriching experience.

So, pack your bags and set your sights on North Carolina, where an unforgettable experience awaits. Whether you’re a history buff, a beach lover, an avid hiker, or simply in search of a new adventure, North Carolina’s diverse landscapes and cities are ready to offer you a wealth of experiences.

North Carolina Vacation Spots

Let’s dive in; these are in no particular order.

1. Outer Banks

This slender, windswept string of barrier islands stretches along the North Carolina coast, with each town along the way offering its own distinct personality.

The Outer Banks isn’t just about sun-soaked beaches and rolling waves, though these are certainly some of its biggest draws. Here, you’ll encounter the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, a tribute to the birthplace of aviation. Picture the first flight taking off and imagine the sheer determination that changed the world right here in North Carolina.

Wright Brothers Visitors Center plane replica

Your journey might then take you to the historic Roanoke Island, the site of the first attempted English settlement in the New World. Manteo, the island’s charming small town, offers a glimpse into the past with its quaint streets and waterfront charm.

Downtown Manteo

For nature enthusiasts, the Outer Banks is a haven. The Cape Hatteras National Seashore stretches over 70 miles, offering unspoiled beaches, impressive dunes, and a sense of tranquility that’s hard to find elsewhere. It’s a prime spot for bird watching, fishing, and simply soaking in the natural beauty.

Those in search of unique or fascinating wildlife experiences may be drawn to the Outer Banks to observe the hatching of sea turtles or to encounter the wild horses in Corolla.

Wild Horse near Carova
2-hour Outer Banks Wild Horse Tour by 4WD Truck
Embark on a 2-hour wild horse tour in the Outer Banks, navigating sand dunes and ocean landscapes in a 4WD vehicle, with access to the Wild Horse Conservation Area and insights into the region’s history and ecology.

And let’s not forget the iconic lighthouses, like the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, one of 5 found throughout the Outer Banks that stand tall as beacons of the area’s rich maritime history.

Cape Hatteras Seashore

In the evenings, the Outer Banks transforms into a serene retreat. You can enjoy fresh seafood at a local eatery, stroll along moonlit beaches, and feel the ocean breeze as you reflect on the day’s adventures.

The Outer Banks is a place where you can leave the hustle of everyday life behind and immerse yourself in the unique rhythm of island life.

Where to Stay
📍Holiday Inn Express Nags Head Oceanfront Holiday Inn Express Nags Head Oceanfront offers complimentary breakfast, an indoor pool, free WiFi, and private beach access. Rooms include modern amenities and are close to local attractions.

Nags Head Beach NC

2. Asheville 

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, prepare to be enchanted by a city where the arts, culture, and natural beauty converge in a colorful mosaic. 

Walking through the streets of downtown Asheville, you’ll be greeted by a lively arts scene. Art galleries, street murals, and live music emanating from cozy venues and outdoor stages create a backdrop that’s constantly vibrant.

This is a city where creativity thrives, visible in every corner, from the River Arts District, brimming with artists’ studios, to impromptu street performances that capture the city’s spirited soul.

Asheville Historic Downtown Guided Electric Bike Tour with Scenic Views
Experience Asheville’s architectural wonders and key landmarks on a 3-hour electric bike tour. Effortlessly navigate the city’s hilly landscape, from bustling streets to serene greenways and charming neighborhoods. Learn about Asheville’s history at scenic stops and gain insider tips to enrich your visit.

Beyond its artistic allure, Asheville is a paradise for food enthusiasts. Your taste buds are in for a treat with an array of culinary delights, from farm-to-table restaurants to quirky cafes and bustling food markets. Asheville offers countless opportunities for foodies to indulge in delectable eats.

Sunny Point Cafe Shrimp and Grits
Sunny Point Cafe Shrimp and Grits

Asheville is also well known as a craft beer mecca, with several dozen breweries located within the city itself and many more found in the immediate area. Referred to as “Beer City USA,” Asheville is amongst the cities with the most breweries per capita in the entire country. 

Mural outside Burial Brewing

The city’s connection to nature is equally profound. The nearby Blue Ridge Parkway offers breathtaking scenic drives, while countless hiking trails lead you to stunning vistas and hidden waterfalls. Whether you’re seeking a leisurely stroll or a challenging hike, Asheville is your gateway to outdoor adventures.

Asheville’s rich history is also a highlight, with the iconic Biltmore Estate standing as a testament to America’s Gilded Age. Exploring this sprawling mansion and its lush gardens offers a glimpse into a bygone era of opulence and charm.

Biltmore Estate is a must stop from Charlotte to Asheville NC

As the day turns to night, Asheville’s vibrant nightlife comes alive. From craft breweries – each with its unique character – to intimate music venues hosting everything from rock to bluegrass to jazz, the city offers an eclectic mix that caters to all tastes.

Where to Stay 
📍Cambria Hotel Downtown Asheville – Cambria Hotel Downtown Asheville, located at the Blue Ridge Mountains base, offers a fitness center, terrace, lounge, and on-site dining. It features air-conditioned rooms with modern amenities and free WiFi and is close to local attractions and Asheville Regional Airport.

3. Lake Lure & Chimney Rock

Nestled in the heart of the Hickory Nut Gorge, this area is a sanctuary for those seeking both relaxation and adventure in the midst of stunning natural beauty.

Lake Lure invites you to a world of peaceful exploration. Whether you’re cruising on a boat, paddling in a kayak, or simply enjoying a leisurely swim, the lake is a haven for water enthusiasts. The surrounding scenery, with the Blue Ridge Mountains reflecting in the tranquil waters, creates a picture-perfect backdrop that calms the soul.

Lake Lure Beach

Just a stone’s throw away, Chimney Rock State Park awaits with its awe-inspiring views and rich natural diversity. The park’s centerpiece, the Chimney Rock, stands as a towering monolith, offering panoramic vistas that are simply breathtaking.

Climbing to the top, you’re rewarded with sweeping views of the gorge and Lake Lure, a sight that captures the essence of North Carolina’s majestic landscape.

Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park

For the adventurous, the park’s hiking trails provide a gateway to discovering the area’s diverse flora and fauna. Trails like the Hickory Nut Falls Trail lead to one of the tallest waterfalls east of the Mississippi, a spectacle of nature’s power and beauty.

Hickory Nut Falls

In the quaint village of Chimney Rock, the charm of small-town life is palpable. Here, you can stroll through unique shops and local eateries, each offering a taste of the area’s friendly atmosphere and hospitality.

As the day winds down, the sunset over Lake Lure presents a moment of pure magic. The sky, painted in hues of orange and pink, reflects on the water, creating a serene ambiance that invites reflection and appreciation of nature’s splendor.

Lake Lure and Chimney Rock offer a blend of peaceful relaxation and outdoor excitement. It’s a place where you can escape the everyday rush and immerse yourself in the tranquility of mountain and lake life.

Where to Stay
📍Wild Valley Lodge – Log Cabin in Lake Lure, NC, offers a spacious 5-bedroom vacation home with stunning views, hot tub, balcony, free parking, and WiFi, close to Chimney Rock. Features include a fully equipped kitchen, washing machine, and outdoor dining area.

4. Wilmington

Nestled on the banks of the Cape Fear River and a stone’s throw from the Atlantic Ocean, you’ll discover a city where history, culture, and coastal beauty blend seamlessly. Wilmington, with its historic downtown, stunning riverfront, and nearby beaches, is a destination that offers an enriching and diverse experience.

Your journey begins in Historic Downtown Wilmington, a district that feels like a step back in time. Stroll along the Riverwalk, a scenic boardwalk lined with shops, cafes, and vibrant art galleries. The charm of the historic buildings, some dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries, is palpable as you wander through the streets, each corner revealing stories of the city’s past.

Wilmington Riverwalk

The city’s rich history extends to sites like the Battleship North Carolina, a World War II relic moored across the river. Here, you can explore the decks and inner workings of the ship, gaining insights into the life of sailors and the area’s military significance.

For beach lovers, Wilmington serves as a gateway to some of North Carolina’s most beautiful beaches. Wrightsville Beach, just a short drive from downtown, offers pristine sands and clear waters, perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and surfing. The laid-back beach town atmosphere here is a delightful contrast to the historic city center.

Sunset Sail Tour
Sail the scenic waters of Wrightsville Beach on a 42-foot yacht, enjoying views of the coastline and potential marine life sightings. This small-group cruise offers soft drinks and light refreshments, with options for morning, afternoon, or sunset departures, making it ideal for any schedule.

Culturally, Wilmington is a hub of artistic and theatrical activity. The city boasts a thriving film and television industry, earning it the nickname “Hollywood East.” You might recognize various locations from famous films and TV shows, adding an element of excitement to your exploration.

The local dining scene in Wilmington is another highlight, with a focus on fresh seafood and Southern cuisine. Waterfront dining options provide the perfect setting to enjoy a meal while overlooking the river or ocean, adding to the city’s coastal charm.

Half-Day E-Bike Tour of Wilmington’s History, Haunts & Breweries
Explore Wilmington’s rich history and vibrant craft beer scene on a half-day e-bike tour. Glide effortlessly to key sites like Thalian Hall and Bellamy Mansion, with stops at three breweries. This small-group experience, ideal for locals and visitors alike, combines sightseeing with the city’s brewing culture.

As night falls, Wilmington’s riverfront comes alive with music and laughter, inviting you to join in the lively atmosphere. Whether you’re enjoying a live performance at a local theater, sipping a craft cocktail at a riverside bar, or simply taking in the starlit river views, the city’s evening ambiance is enchanting.

Where to Stay
📍The Hive – The Hive in Wilmington offers a fitness center, free WiFi, a terrace, and private parking. This 5-star hotel, built in 2019, is close to USS North Carolina and Thalian Hall. Rooms feature modern amenities and private bathrooms, and some have balconies with city views. Near Bellamy Mansion Museum and Arlie Gardens.

5. Great Smoky Mountains 

A sublime natural wonder that straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. Renowned for its diverse flora and fauna, mist-covered peaks, and rich Appalachian history, the Smokies offer an unparalleled escape into the heart of nature.

As you enter the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you’re stepping into a world where nature reigns supreme. The park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Its vast expanse encompasses lush forests, flowing rivers, and an array of wildlife, including black bears, elk, and over 200 species of birds.

Bridge in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The mountains get their name from the natural fog that often hangs over the range, creating a mystical atmosphere that’s both enchanting and serene. This mist is actually vapor released by the dense vegetation, adding to the park’s unique ecology and ethereal beauty.

Hiking in the GSMNP is an adventure in itself, with over 800 miles of trails that range from easy walks to challenging treks. The Appalachian Trail, which traverses the park, offers some of the most breathtaking vistas.

For a less strenuous experience, the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail and Cades Cove Loop Road provide scenic drives with plenty of opportunities to stop and admire the views or spot wildlife.

Roaring Fork Motor Trail

The park’s historical sites offer a glimpse into the past, with preserved log cabins, churches, and grist mills telling the story of early Appalachian settlers. Visiting these sites, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the region’s cultural heritage and the resilience of its people.

Autumn in the Smokies is a spectacle not to be missed. The fall foliage transforms the landscape into a vibrant tapestry of reds, oranges, and yellows, creating a painterly scene that attracts visitors from all over the world.

As the sun sets over the mountains, the stars take center stage. The park’s minimal light pollution makes it an excellent spot for stargazing, allowing you to gaze at the Milky Way in its full glory on clear nights.

Where to Stay on the North Carolina Side

📍Stonebrook Lodge – Stonebrook Lodge in Cherokee, opposite Harrah’s Casino and 3.5 miles from Great Smoky Mountains National Park, offers continental breakfast and free WiFi. Rooms include a refrigerator, cable TV, and ensuite bath, plus a desk and hairdryer. 

Where to Stay on the Tennessee Side

📍Greystone Lodge on the River – Greystone Lodge on the River in Gatlinburg, TN, a short walk from Ripley’s Aquarium, offers accommodations with a seasonal outdoor pool, free parking, fitness center, and 24-hour front desk. Features include free WiFi, a business center, and rooms with a patio, desk, private bathroom, flat-screen TV, air conditioning, and some with a balcony. Bed linen and towels are provided. 

6. Emerald Isle

A jewel on the Crystal Coast of North Carolina beckons with its unspoiled beaches and serene ocean vistas. This picturesque barrier island, known for its vibrant emerald-green waters and family-friendly atmosphere, is the perfect escape for those seeking a peaceful beach experience.

As you step onto the soft, sandy beaches of Emerald Isle, you’ll be greeted by miles of pristine coastline. The sound of gentle waves and the refreshing ocean breeze provide a soothing backdrop, ideal for relaxation and contemplation. Whether you’re basking in the sun, building sandcastles, or taking a leisurely stroll along the water’s edge, the beach offers a tranquil retreat from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Beach at Emerald Isle

For water sports enthusiasts, Emerald Isle presents a playground of possibilities. The clear, calm waters are perfect for swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding, and surfing. The island’s unique position also makes it a prime spot for fishing, whether from the shore, a pier, or a charter boat venturing into deeper waters.

The natural beauty of Emerald Isle extends beyond the beach. The Bogue Inlet Pier offers stunning ocean views and a chance to mingle with locals and fellow travelers. Nearby, the Croatan National Forest and the Emerald Isle Woods Park provide trails for hiking and biking, inviting you to explore the diverse habitats and wildlife of the area.

Bogue Inlet Fishing Pier in Emerald Isle

The town’s charming shops, local eateries, and family-friendly attractions add to its appeal. Here, you can savor fresh seafood, browse through unique boutiques, or enjoy an evening of mini-golf with the family.

Where to Stay
📍Islander Hotel & Resort – located on the beachfront, it offers a pool, complimentary WiFi, and rooms with flat-screen TVs, refrigerators, coffee makers, microwaves, and some with a seating area and sofa bed. Pool bar with ocean view and free bicycle use.

7. Charlotte 

Known as the Queen City, where Southern hospitality meets a thriving urban landscape. This rapidly growing city, the largest in North Carolina, seamlessly blends its rich history with a forward-thinking spirit, offering an array of experiences for every type of traveler.

As you immerse yourself in Charlotte‘s energy, you’ll discover a city with a vibrant arts and culture scene. The Uptown area, the heart of the city, is home to impressive museums like the Mint Museum and the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, each showcasing a diverse array of artworks and exhibits. The Levine Center for the Arts, an urban cultural campus, further enriches the city’s artistic offerings.

Mint Museum display
90 Minute Historic Uptown Neighborhood Segway Tour of Charlotte
Enjoy a fun and informative Segway tour through Charlotte’s bustling Uptown neighborhood. Glide past key attractions like the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, the Mint Museum, and the Gantt Center, with options for a 1.5 or 2-hour ride. The extended tour includes historic cemeteries and the Carolina Panthers’ stadium, offering insights into Charlotte’s rich history and vibrant arts district.

Charlotte‘s history is woven into its modern fabric, with historic neighborhoods like Fourth Ward offering charming glimpses into the city’s past through beautifully preserved Victorian homes. The Historic Rosedale Plantation and the Charlotte Museum of History provide deeper insights into the region’s heritage.

For sports enthusiasts, Charlotte is a paradise. Home to the Carolina Panthers (NFL) and Charlotte Hornets (NBA), the city pulses with sports fever on game days. The NASCAR Hall of Fame celebrates the city’s deep connection to motor racing, offering interactive exhibits that are a thrill for racing fans.

Romare Bearden Park

The culinary scene in Charlotte is as diverse as the city itself. From upscale dining in SouthPark to eclectic eateries in neighborhoods like NoDa and Plaza Midwood, the city caters to all palates. Southern cuisine, international flavors, and innovative fusion dishes are all part of the culinary adventure in Charlotte.

Nature finds its place in this urban setting, with green spaces like Freedom Park and Romare Bearden Park offering serene escapes within the city. The U.S. National Whitewater Center provides outdoor activities like rafting, kayaking, and hiking trails, perfect for adventurers.

30+ Amazing North Carolina Vacation Spots

As night falls, Charlotte’s nightlife comes alive with a buzz. Rooftop bars and live music venues offer vibrant settings for evening entertainment.

Where to Stay
📍The Ivey’s Hotel – This luxury boutique hotel in Downtown Charlotte offers a continental breakfast in the Library Lounge, free WiFi, and is near the Mint Museum of Craft Design. It features Sophia Cocktail Lounge, rooms with a 55-inch 4K TV, minibar, marble ensuite, Frette Italian linen, Nespresso machine, and some rooms with a floating bathtub. 

8. Carolina Beach

Known for its laid-back atmosphere, stunning natural beauty, and a plethora of fun activities, Carolina Beach is an ideal destination for anyone looking to enjoy the simple pleasures of beach life.

As you arrive in Carolina Beach, the first thing that captures your attention is the beautiful expanse of sandy beaches and the soothing sound of the Atlantic waves. The beach is perfect for sunbathing, building sandcastles, or simply taking a leisurely stroll along the shore. For those who love the water, the ocean offers endless opportunities for swimming, surfing, and paddleboarding.

One of the town’s most iconic attractions is the Carolina Beach Boardwalk, a bustling hub of activity. Here, you can indulge in classic beachside treats like homemade donuts and ice cream or browse through the charming shops for souvenirs and beach gear. The boardwalk also hosts regular events, including live music and fireworks, adding to the lively atmosphere.

Carolina Beach Boardwalk

For outdoor enthusiasts, Carolina Beach State Park is a treasure trove of natural beauty. The park offers a unique mix of coastal and forest ecosystems, with hiking trails that lead you through scenic landscapes and to viewpoints overlooking the Cape Fear River and Intracoastal Waterway. The park is also home to the rare Venus flytrap, native only to this region.

The town’s culinary scene is a delightful surprise, with an array of dining options ranging from casual seaside shacks to upscale restaurants. Seafood is a specialty here, with local catches featured prominently on many menus. The oceanfront dining experiences provide a perfect backdrop for enjoying a meal while watching the sunset.

Carolina Beach also offers a variety of fishing experiences, whether you prefer casting a line from the shore, the pier or taking a deep-sea fishing charter into the Atlantic. The area is known for its rich marine life, making it a popular spot for anglers.

As the day ends, the night comes alive in Carolina Beach. The nightlife offers a variety of entertainment options, from cozy beach bars to lively nightclubs, ensuring that there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Whether you’re seeking relaxation, adventure, or a bit of both, Carolina Beach promises a delightful and unforgettable seaside getaway.

Where to Stay
Hampton Inn & Suites Carolina Beach Oceanfront – offers a fitness center, private parking, lounge, terrace, and bar. Amenities include a 24-hour front desk, business center, free WiFi, air-conditioned rooms with flat-screen TVs, fridges, coffee machines, and private bathrooms. Select rooms feature balconies and sea views. American breakfast is available.

9. Raleigh 

Known as the “City of Oaks” for its beautiful oak tree-lined streets, is not only the capital of North Carolina but also a hub of culture, education, and innovation. Combining the charm of a historic Southern city with the vibrancy of a growing metropolis, Raleigh offers an array of experiences for visitors and residents alike.

As you explore Raleigh, the city’s rich history becomes evident. Historic sites like the North Carolina State Capitol, a magnificent example of Greek Revival architecture, and Historic Oakwood, a neighborhood boasting a collection of Victorian and early 20th-century houses, offer glimpses into the past. The city’s history is further celebrated in museums such as the North Carolina Museum of History, where the state’s diverse heritage comes to life.

Museum of Natural Science extremely large world global outside of the building
Museum of Natural Science

Education and innovation are at the heart of Raleigh, home to prestigious institutions like North Carolina State University. This academic influence adds a youthful and dynamic energy to the city, evident in its bustling arts and cultural scene. The North Carolina Museum of Art, the Contemporary Art Museum of Raleigh, and the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts are just a few places where you can experience this artistic vibrancy.

Art at NC Art Museum

Raleigh’s culinary scene is as diverse as its culture. From down-home Southern cooking to international cuisine, the city’s restaurants offer a rich array of flavors. Food lovers can explore the historic City Market for local produce and artisanal goods or dine at one of the many farm-to-table restaurants that showcase North Carolina’s agricultural bounty.

Trolley Pub Public Tour of Raleigh
Experience Raleigh’s lively atmosphere on a two-hour pedal-powered pub crawl. Tour Downtown Raleigh’s top spots on a unique mobile bar, where you bring your own beverages and play your music. With a trained guide leading the way, this tour offers a fun and interactive way to explore the city’s highlights.

For those who enjoy the outdoors, Raleigh does not disappoint. The city’s numerous parks, like the expansive William B. Umstead State Park and the picturesque Pullen Park, provide ample space for hiking, picnicking, and leisure activities. The city’s commitment to green spaces is evident in its extensive network of trails and greenways, perfect for cycling or a leisurely walk.

Pullen Park lake

Raleigh’s event calendar is filled with festivals and events that celebrate everything from music and film to food and beer. Events like the First Friday Gallery Walk, which showcases local art and music, and the North Carolina State Fair, a yearly celebration of the state’s agricultural heritage, highlight the city’s community spirit.

The city’s vibrant nightlife, with its array of bars, live music venues, and breweries, reflects Raleigh’s youthful and innovative spirit. Each district, from the trendy Warehouse District to the historic Fayetteville Street, offers unique nightlife experiences.

Where to Stay
Marriott Raleigh City Center – opposite the Raleigh Convention Center, features a pool, hot tub, free WiFi, and on-site dining. Rooms boast 55″ TVs with Netflix and Hulu, private bathrooms, coffee facilities, and desks. Amenities include a fitness center with Peloton bikes, parking, and 24-hour reception. Rye Bar and Southern Kitchen serves Southern cuisine and signature cocktails. 

10. Beech Mountain 

Perched at an elevation of 5,506 feet, Beech Mountain holds the title of the highest town in the Eastern United States. This charming mountain destination in North Carolina beckons with its cool climate, stunning natural beauty, and a wide array of outdoor activities, making it an ideal retreat for both adventure seekers and those looking for a tranquil escape.

In the winter, Beech Mountain transforms into a snowy wonderland, drawing skiers and snowboarders to its well-groomed slopes at the Beech Mountain Resort. The resort offers a variety of runs to accommodate all skill levels, from gentle beginner slopes to more challenging terrain for the experienced. Beyond skiing and snowboarding, the mountain also offers opportunities for ice skating and snow tubing, ensuring fun-filled experiences for the entire family.

Beech Mountain Resort

As the snow melts and spring emerges, Beech Mountain reveals a different kind of charm. The landscape becomes a lush green, inviting hikers and mountain bikers to explore its scenic trails. The Emerald Outback, a trail park at the town’s summit, features miles of trails that wind through beautiful forests and offer breathtaking views. The cooler mountain temperatures provide a refreshing respite from the summer heat found at lower elevations.

The town’s small but vibrant community comes alive with various events and festivals throughout the year. From summer concerts to autumn craft fairs, there’s always something happening that showcases the warm and welcoming spirit of the locals.

Beech Mountain’s accommodations, including cozy cabins, comfortable lodges, and charming bed and breakfasts, provide the perfect setting to unwind after a day of exploration. Whether you’re curled up by a fireplace or relaxing on a deck overlooking the mountains, you’ll find peace and relaxation at every turn.

Where to Stay
📍Cozy Mtn Getaway – Steps to Beech Mountain Resort – also 8.6 miles from Sugar Mountain and 16 miles from Grandfather Mountain. This air-conditioned apartment features a patio, free WiFi, cable TV, a fully-equipped kitchen with an oven and microwave, fireplace, towels, bed linen, and a queen bed.

11. Blue Ridge Parkway 

The Blue Ridge Parkway, often referred to as “America’s Favorite Drive,” is a spectacular route that meanders through the Appalachian Highlands of Virginia and North Carolina. This 469-mile roadway is more than just a means of travel; it’s an immersive experience that offers breathtaking views, rich cultural history, and unspoiled natural beauty.

As you embark on your journey along the Parkway, you are greeted with ever-changing vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Each turn and overlook presents a new panorama of rolling hills, lush forests, and rugged mountain landscapes. The Parkway is designed for leisurely travel, encouraging you to take your time and savor the views.

Linn Cove Viaduct along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Spring on the Parkway is a time of renewal, with wildflowers blooming in abundance and the forests coming to life with vibrant greens. Summer offers lush foliage and cooler temperatures at higher elevations, perfect for hiking and exploring. Autumn is perhaps the most magical time, as the mountains are set ablaze with the brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows of fall foliage. Even in winter, the Parkway has its own stark beauty, with snow-capped peaks and crisp, clear skies.

Along the route, numerous trails invite you to stretch your legs and explore more deeply. From easy walks to challenging hikes, these trails lead to stunning overlooks, cascading waterfalls, and serene forests. The famous Appalachian Trail also crosses the Parkway at several points, offering a taste of this legendary path.

Blue Ridge Parkway Waterfalls Hiking Tour from Asheville
Join a guided day trip from Asheville to hike the best of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Discover three stunning waterfalls, immerse in the beauty of blooming laurels and rhododendrons, and wander through oak and hickory forests on easy-to-moderate trails. With a small group size for a personalized experience, enjoy light refreshments and relax by the falls. Hotel pickup and drop-off are included for convenience.

The Parkway is not just about natural beauty; it’s steeped in the cultural heritage of the Appalachian region. You’ll encounter historic sites, like the Mabry Mill, a beautifully preserved gristmill and sawmill, and the Blue Ridge Music Center, which celebrates the traditional music of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Local craft centers showcase the work of Appalachian artisans, offering unique souvenirs and an insight into the region’s artistic traditions.

The journey is dotted with visitor centers and museums, providing fascinating insights into the area’s ecology, wildlife, and history. These stops offer a chance to learn about the Parkway’s construction, which started during the Great Depression, and its importance as a public works project.

Where to Stay
📍Scenic Asheville Escape Near Blue Ridge Parkway – vacation home in Asheville, conveniently located 4.8 miles from Botanical Gardens, 5.8 miles from Harrah’s Cherokee Center, and 11 miles from Biltmore Estate. This air-conditioned home features three bedrooms, a living room, a fully equipped kitchen with dishwasher and coffee machine, two bathrooms, a fireplace. Free WiFi is available, and it’s close to the North Carolina Arboretum and Basilica of Saint Lawrence.

12. Topsail Island 

A barrier island located off the coast of North Carolina is a hidden gem that offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, serene beaches, and a fascinating history. Stretching 26 miles, this narrow island is an idyllic retreat for those seeking a peaceful beach experience away from the crowds.

As you arrive on Topsail Island, you’re greeted by miles of pristine beaches. The soft, golden sands and the gentle waves of the Atlantic Ocean create an inviting atmosphere for relaxation and leisure. It’s an ideal place for sunbathing, beachcombing, and enjoying leisurely walks along the shore. The clear, calm waters also provide excellent conditions for swimming, fishing, and boating.

Topsail Island is not just known for its beautiful beaches; it also has a rich history. During World War II, the island was a site for Operation Bumblebee, the U.S. Navy’s secret missile testing program. The Missiles and More Museum in the town of Topsail Beach tells this intriguing story, along with other aspects of the island’s history, including pirate lore and natural history.

Topsail Tower along the beach

Nature lovers will find plenty to explore on Topsail Island. The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center is a must-visit, where you can learn about sea turtle conservation and see the efforts to rehabilitate and release injured sea turtles back into the ocean. The island’s marshes and waterways also provide excellent opportunities for kayaking and birdwatching, where you might spot herons, ospreys, and other coastal birds.

For those who enjoy fishing, the Surf City Ocean Pier and the Jolly Roger Pier offer great spots to cast a line. Whether you’re an experienced angler or trying it for the first time, the piers are enjoyable places to spend a few hours, with the chance to catch a variety of fish.

Surf City Pier Things to Do in Surf City NC

Topsail Island also offers a charming small-town experience. The communities of Surf City, Topsail Beach, and North Topsail Beach have a selection of local shops, restaurants, and cafes where you can enjoy fresh seafood and local cuisine. The island’s laid-back, friendly atmosphere makes it easy to unwind and enjoy the slower pace of beach life.

As the day ends, Topsail Island’s sunsets are a breathtaking sight. Watching the sun dip below the horizon over the water of the inlet, you’ll be treated to a spectacular display of colors, providing a perfect end to a relaxing day.

Topsail Island is a destination that promises a peaceful escape, where the beauty of nature, a rich historical tapestry, and the charm of coastal living come together to create a memorable beach vacation experience.

Where to Stay
Beachfront Oasis about 2 Large Decks, BBQ and Views – 2 Large Decks, BBQ, and Views, located steps from Topsail Beach, provides a spacious vacation home featuring five bedrooms, a living room, cable flat-screen TV, equipped kitchen, and five bathrooms with showers. This beachfront property offers free WiFi, sea views, a patio, and an outdoor dining area, and includes towels and bed linen.

13. Bryson City 

Nestled near the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains, Bryson City is a charming small town that serves as a gateway to outdoor adventures. This peaceful mountain town in North Carolina, with its friendly community and scenic beauty, offers a tranquil escape and an authentic mountain experience.

Bryson City’s prime location near the southern border of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park makes it a perfect base for exploring the natural wonders of the Smokies. The park’s deep forests, rushing streams, and diverse wildlife are easily accessible, offering endless opportunities for hiking, fishing, and wildlife viewing. Popular trails like the Deep Creek Trail and the Appalachian Trail provide scenic routes for all levels of hikers.

The town is also renowned for the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. This historic train offers scenic journeys through the beautiful landscapes of Western North Carolina. As you ride the rails, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the countryside, rivers, and mountains, making for an unforgettable experience.

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

For water sports enthusiasts, the nearby Nantahala River is a haven for whitewater rafting, kayaking, and tubing. The river’s class II and III rapids provide thrilling adventures for both beginners and experienced paddlers. The Nantahala Outdoor Center, located just outside Bryson City, is a hub for organizing these water activities.

Bryson City isn’t just about outdoor adventures; it’s a town steeped in Appalachian culture and history. The Swain County Heritage Museum and the Smoky Mountain Trains Museum offer insights into the region’s rich history and the role of the railroad in its development. Local craft shops and galleries showcase the work of Appalachian artists, offering unique handmade crafts and artwork.

View of Fontana Lake from overlook

The town’s dining scene reflects its mountain heritage, with a variety of restaurants serving Southern comfort food, barbecue, and fresh trout from local streams. The laid-back atmosphere of the town is perfect for enjoying a leisurely meal or a locally brewed beer.

As the day winds down, the peacefulness of Bryson City comes to the forefront. You can take a leisurely stroll along the Tuckasegee River, enjoy live music at a local venue, or simply relax and soak in the mountain air.

Bryson City offers a blend of natural beauty, outdoor adventure, and small-town charm. It’s a place where you can escape the hustle and bustle of daily life and immerse yourself in the tranquility and beauty of the Smoky Mountains.

Where to Stay
Waterfront Cabin with Hot Tub on Tuckasegee River – features a garden and river-view patio. This vacation home includes a cable flat-screen TV, a well-equipped kitchen with an oven, microwave, and fridge, and a bathroom with a hot tub and hairdryer. Free WiFi is available throughout, and Harrah’s Casino is 6.4 miles away. The property also offers an outdoor dining area

14. Mount Mitchell State Park 

Mount Mitchell State Park, located in the heart of the Black Mountains of Western North Carolina, is a destination of awe-inspiring beauty and natural wonders. Mount Mitchell is the highest peak east of the Mississippi River. The park offers visitors a unique opportunity to experience the splendor of the Appalachian Mountains at their grandest.

Standing at an elevation of 6,684 feet, the summit provides panoramic views that are simply breathtaking. On a clear day, the vista stretches across rolling mountains and lush valleys, a sweeping display of nature’s grandeur.

The park’s landscape is a haven for diverse flora and fauna. The high-altitude spruce-fir forest is a rare ecosystem, offering a glimpse into ancient landscapes and unique plant life, including several endangered species. The forested trails of Mount Mitchell invite you to explore this serene and mystical environment, with hikes ranging from leisurely walks to more challenging treks.

One of the most popular trails is the Summit Trail, which leads you from the park office to the summit. Along the way, interpretive signs provide insights into the natural and cultural history of the area. The Balsam Nature Trail, another favorite, offers a shorter but equally enchanting walk through a fragrant spruce-fir forest.

View from the top of Mount Mitchell

Mount Mitchell State Park is not only a place of natural beauty but also of significant historical interest. The park was established in 1915 to preserve the peak, making it one of the first state parks in the Southeast. The park’s museum and observation deck at the summit offer a deeper understanding of the mountain’s ecological importance and the history of its preservation.

The park’s picnic areas provide the perfect setting to enjoy a meal surrounded by nature’s majesty. For those looking to extend their stay, the park’s campground offers a rustic and peaceful retreat under the stars.

Throughout the seasons, Mount Mitchell State Park reveals different facets of its beauty. Spring brings wildflowers and budding trees, summer offers cool respite from the heat, autumn cloaks the mountains in vibrant colors, and winter presents a stark, frozen landscape.

15. Pisgah National Forest & Brevard

Pisgah National Forest, sprawling over half a million acres in the Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina, is a breathtaking expanse of wilderness that beckons nature lovers and adventurers alike. Adjacent to this natural wonder is the town of Brevard, a delightful gateway that offers a perfect blend of outdoor adventure, cultural charm, and small-town hospitality.

As you step into the vastness of Pisgah National Forest, you are greeted by a diverse landscape of rolling mountains, dense forests, rushing waterfalls, and meandering rivers. This forest is a treasure trove of natural beauty, with over 500,000 acres of hardwood forest, mile-high peaks, and hundreds of miles of trails that cater to hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders of all skill levels.

Waterfalls near Brevard NC Triple Falls
Triple Falls

The forest’s most famous landmark, Looking Glass Rock, is an impressive granite dome that offers challenging climbs and stunning views. For those who prefer a less strenuous experience, Sliding Rock is a natural water slide that ends in a refreshing plunge pool, a favorite among families during the warmer months.

Pisgah’s waterfalls are a highlight of any visit. The majestic Triple Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Looking Glass Falls are just a few of the breathtaking cascades you can explore, each offering its own unique beauty and serene setting.

Waterfalls near Brevard NC Looking Glass Falls
Looking Glass Falls
Guided Hike to 3 Amazing Waterfalls
Embark on an enriching tour from Asheville into the heart of Pisgah National Forest, a part of the biodiverse Blue Ridge Mountains. Join a small group and enjoy a hassle-free transfer to explore the “Land of Waterfalls.” Hike to three stunning waterfalls, with hiking poles, rain gear, water, and snacks provided. Your knowledgeable guide will enhance your experience with insights into the area’s unique flora and fauna, making for an unforgettable adventure in nature.

Adjacent to Pisgah National Forest lies the charming town of Brevard, known as the “Land of Waterfalls” due to its proximity to over 250 cascading waterfalls. Brevard’s vibrant downtown is filled with art galleries, local shops, and delightful restaurants, making it a perfect spot to unwind after a day of exploration.

Brevard is also renowned for its music scene, with the Brevard Music Center hosting an acclaimed summer music festival that attracts musicians and enthusiasts from around the world. The town’s cultural offerings extend to its lively arts community, with festivals and events celebrating the rich heritage and artistic spirit of the region.

The surrounding area of Brevard and Pisgah National Forest is a haven for wildlife. The forest is home to a diverse array of animals, including white-tailed deer, black bears, and a variety of bird species. The nearby Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI) offers a unique experience for stargazers with its observatories and science exhibits.

Where to Stay
📍Brevard Home with Panoramic Lake and Mountain Views – Enjoy stunning views from this air-conditioned vacation home that features three separate bedrooms, a living room, and a fully equipped kitchen with a dishwasher and oven. It includes three bathrooms, towels, and bed linen. The property boasts an outdoor dining area. 

16. Ocracoke Island 

Ocracoke Island, a remote gem on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, offers a tranquil escape with its unspoiled beaches, rich maritime history, and a distinct, laid-back atmosphere. Accessible only by ferry, private boat, or small plane, the journey to Ocracoke is a prelude to its serene and secluded nature.

Upon arriving, you’ll find yourself in a world where time seems to slow down. The village of Ocracoke, with its narrow, tree-lined streets and historic homes, exudes a charm that harkens back to its old-world roots. The island’s history is deeply entwined with tales of seafarers and infamous pirates, including the legendary Blackbeard.

Ocracoke Island Beach

Ocracoke’s beaches are among the most pristine on the East Coast. Stretching over 16 miles, the unspoiled shoreline offers ample space for relaxation and solitude. The soft, white sands and the rhythmic sound of waves create a perfect setting for sunbathing, beachcombing, and introspection. With no high rises in sight, the beachscape remains as nature intended.

The island is not just a beach lover’s paradise; it’s also a haven for nature enthusiasts. The Ocracoke Island Lighthouse, one of the oldest operating lighthouses in the United States, stands as a beacon over the island’s marshy inlets and saltwater creeks, which are ideal for kayaking and birdwatching. The island’s diverse habitats are home to a variety of wildlife, including the unique Ocracoke ponies, whose ancestry traces back to Spanish Mustangs.

Ocracoke Island Lighthouse

Walking or biking through the village, you’ll encounter a community that takes pride in its heritage. The Ocracoke Preservation Society Museum showcases the island’s history and culture, offering a glimpse into the lives of its inhabitants over the centuries. The village’s small but vibrant collection of shops, galleries, and eateries highlight local crafts and cuisine, with fresh seafood being a staple on many menus.

Despite its small size, Ocracoke has a lively arts scene, with local musicians and artists often performing at venues around the village. The island’s community events, from the annual Blackbeard’s Pirate Jamboree to the Fourth of July celebration, bring together locals and visitors in a festive atmosphere.

As night falls, the absence of bright city lights reveals a star-filled sky that is breathtaking in its clarity. Stargazing on Ocracoke is a magical experience, offering a profound connection with the cosmos.

Where to Stay
📍The Ocracoke Harbor Inn – offers comfortable accommodations with amenities such as free WiFi and convenient access to local attractions. This inviting inn provides guests with a relaxing and enjoyable stay in a serene harbor setting.

17. Bald Head Island

Bald Head Island, a secluded island accessible only by ferry from Southport, NC, offers a unique escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Known for its picturesque landscapes, car-free streets, and tranquil atmosphere, Bald Head Island is a haven for those seeking peace, natural beauty, and a slower pace of life.

As you step off the ferry and onto the island, you’ll notice the absence of cars. Transportation here is limited to golf carts, bicycles, and walking, which immediately sets a relaxed and eco-friendly tone. This quiet mode of travel is perfect for exploring the island’s diverse landscapes, from lush maritime forests to expansive salt marshes and pristine beaches.

Bald Head Island’s beaches are a major draw, offering 14 miles of unspoiled shoreline. The island’s unique positioning at the east end of the Cape Fear River basin provides a variety of beach experiences, from the calm waters of the Cape Fear River Beach to the more dynamic surf of the Atlantic Ocean beaches. The beaches are ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and long, reflective walks by the sea.

Bald Head Island

A prominent feature of the island is the Bald Head Island Lighthouse, affectionately known as “Old Baldy.” As North Carolina’s oldest standing lighthouse, it offers a glimpse into the island’s rich maritime history and spectacular views from its top. The adjacent Smith Island Museum of History provides deeper insights into the island’s past and its importance as a coastal beacon.

For nature enthusiasts, the Bald Head Island Conservancy plays a vital role in the preservation of the island’s natural habitats and wildlife. The Conservancy offers guided nature walks, turtle walks, and educational programs, providing opportunities to learn about and engage with the island’s diverse ecosystem, including the protection of sea turtles.

The island’s golf course is another highlight, offering a challenging and scenic game amidst the backdrop of the island’s natural beauty. For a more leisurely activity, kayaking and paddleboarding in the island’s creeks and inlets offer a peaceful way to explore the area’s aquatic environment.

Bald Head Island also features charming accommodations, ranging from cozy cottages to luxurious beachfront homes. Dining options on the island, though limited, focus on fresh, locally sourced ingredients, offering a delightful culinary experience.

As night falls, the lack of urban light pollution unveils a spectacular starry sky, adding to the island’s magical ambiance. The peaceful evenings on Bald Head Island are perfect for stargazing, listening to the ocean waves, and enjoying the tranquility of this secluded paradise.

Bald Head Island is more than just a destination; it’s an experience of reconnecting with nature, embracing a slower pace, and indulging in the simple luxuries of island life.

Where to Stay
📍Panoramic Ocean Views & Stunning Sunsets –  3 Bedroom/3 Bath and sleeps 6. It features a King Main Suite, a second bedroom (King or two Twins), and a loft-style third bedroom (King or two Twins) with deck access, all with full baths. The loft deck offers stunning views and stargazing opportunities. Optional Bald Head Island Country Club membership provides access to golf, tennis, a workout facility, and more. Amenities include two golf carts, bikes, Internet TV, WiFi, a Weber gas grill, beach gear, and a fully equipped kitchen with coffee makers. 

18. Pinehurst

Pinehurst, situated in the heart of North Carolina’s Sandhills, is a golfer’s paradise renowned for its extensive range of top-tier golf courses. While the iconic Pinehurst Resort, with its famed Pinehurst No. 2 course, stands as a testament to the village’s rich golfing heritage and has hosted prestigious tournaments like the U.S. Open, the area offers much more. Numerous other courses in and around Pinehurst provide a variety of golfing experiences, from challenging layouts to scenic fairways catering to golfers of all skill levels.

The Pinehurst Resort itself is a centerpiece of golfing excellence, boasting several championship courses designed by legendary architects. Each course offers unique challenges and distinct character, set against the backdrop of the picturesque Sandhills landscape. The resort’s golfing amenities are complemented by world-class training facilities and professional instruction, making it an all-encompassing golf destination.

Outside the Carolina Pinehurst Hotel

Complementing the golfing experience, Pinehurst’s historic village center exudes charm with its New England-style architecture, elegant shops, and cozy cafes. The resort enhances the stay with luxurious amenities like tennis courts, spa facilities, and exquisite dining options. The Pinehurst Harness Track adds an equestrian dimension to the area’s recreational offerings.

For those interested in exploring beyond the greens, the surrounding Sandhills region offers outdoor activities such as horseback riding, hiking, and bird watching, with Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve providing tranquil hiking trails through diverse ecosystems. Pinehurst’s blend of world-class golf, rich history, and natural beauty make it a comprehensive and enchanting destination for golfers and non-golfers alike.

Where to Stay:
📍Homewood Suites by Hilton Olmsted Village – located just 1 mile from Pinehurst Golf Club, offers spacious suites with kitchenettes and amenities like an outdoor pool, gym, and lounge. Guests enjoy one-bedroom suites with sofa beds, iPod docks, and free Wi-Fi. The hotel features a breakfast buffet, evening receptions, and a snack shop and is close to Pinehurst Village and Harness Track.

19. Grandfather Mountain 

Grandfather Mountain, a towering presence in the North Carolina High Country, is a place of awe-inspiring natural beauty and rugged wilderness. Known for its distinctive profile and ecological diversity, Grandfather Mountain is not just a mountain; it’s an adventure destination and a conservation area that offers an unforgettable experience for nature lovers and thrill-seekers alike.

As you approach Grandfather Mountain, its iconic Mile High Swinging Bridge immediately captures your attention. This 228-foot suspension bridge, hanging over an 80-foot chasm, offers exhilarating views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

Crossing the bridge is an adventure in itself, providing a sense of both thrill and awe as you stand a mile above sea level, surrounded by the breathtaking expanse of the Appalachian landscape.

Grandfather Mountain Mile-High Swinging Brige near Little Switzerland NC

The mountain’s network of hiking trails ranges from gentle nature walks to challenging backcountry treks. These trails lead through a variety of habitats, from windswept ridges and rocky cliffs to dense forests and alpine meadows. Each path offers its own unique views and experiences, with opportunities to witness the rich biodiversity of the area, including rare flora and fauna.

One of the most remarkable aspects of Grandfather Mountain is its commitment to conservation and education. The Grandfather Mountain Nature Museum houses exhibits on the region’s natural history, including an extensive collection of North Carolina minerals and gems. The mountain’s environmental habitats provide a sanctuary for native wildlife, including bears, cougars, otters, and eagles, allowing visitors to observe these animals in natural settings.

For those seeking a deeper understanding of the mountain’s ecosystem, the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation offers guided tours and educational programs. These programs highlight the mountain’s unique geology, weather patterns, and ecological significance, offering insights into the importance of preserving this natural wonder.

The scenic beauty of Grandfather Mountain is further highlighted by the annual events held on its grounds. The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, one of the largest gatherings of Scottish clans in the United States, is a celebration of Scottish culture and heritage, featuring traditional music, dancing, and athletic competitions.

Beyond the adventure and educational opportunities, Grandfather Mountain also offers serene spots for relaxation and contemplation. The numerous overlooks and picnic areas provide tranquil settings to enjoy the mountain’s peaceful ambiance and to reflect on the majesty of the natural world.

Grandfather Mountain is a destination where adventure, education, and conservation converge. It’s a place that inspires both awe and respect for the natural world, offering a unique and enriching experience in the heart of the North Carolina mountains.

Where to Stay
📍Charming Mountain Townhome with Deck & Fireplace – in Banner Elk, located 1.3 miles from Sugar Mountain and 8.9 miles from Grandfather Mountain, offers a cozy 1-bedroom vacation home with free WiFi. This home features a flat-screen TV, a kitchen equipped with an oven and microwave, towels, bed linen, and a comforting fireplace.

20. Yadkin Valley 

Nestled in the rolling foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina, the Yadkin Valley is renowned for its picturesque landscapes, rich agricultural heritage, and burgeoning wine industry. As the state’s first federally recognized American Viticultural Area (AVA), Yadkin Valley has firmly established itself as a premier destination for wine enthusiasts and those seeking a tranquil countryside retreat.

As you enter the Yadkin Valley, you are greeted by lush vineyards sprawling across the gentle hills, a testament to the region’s ideal grape-growing conditions. The valley is home to numerous wineries and vineyards, each offering a unique experience. From family-run boutique wineries to larger, more established estates, the variety of styles and settings makes exploring the Yadkin Valley wine trail an adventure in itself.

Entrance to Raffaldini Vineyards

Wine tasting in Yadkin Valley is not just about savoring the flavors of the locally produced wines; it’s an immersive experience that often includes tours of the vineyards, insights into the winemaking process, and interactions with the passionate vintners. The region is known for its excellent varieties of European-style wines, including Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Viognier, as well as native Muscadine wines.

Beyond the vineyards, Yadkin Valley’s charm is amplified by its surrounding natural beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities. The nearby Blue Ridge Parkway offers breathtaking scenic drives and access to hiking trails, waterfalls, and panoramic mountain vistas. The Yadkin River, meandering through the valley, provides a peaceful backdrop for fishing, kayaking, and riverside picnicking.

The valley’s small towns, such as Elkin, Dobson, and Mount Airy, add to its allure with their historic charm, local arts and crafts, and friendly communities. These towns host a variety of events and festivals throughout the year, celebrating everything from the region’s wine and food to its musical and cultural heritage.

Where to Stay
📍Fairfield Inn Suites Elkin Jonesville – just 1.4 miles from Grassy Creek Vineyard, offers spacious rooms with flat-screen TVs and cable channels. The hotel features an indoor pool and serves a hot breakfast with options like cookies and fresh fruit. Located 4 miles from Raffaldini Vineyards and 14.4 miles from Shadow Springs Vineyard, it also provides free on-site public parking.

21. Linville Gorge

Linville Gorge, often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the East,” is a spectacular natural wonder located in the Pisgah National Forest of North Carolina. Known for its deep and rugged terrain, this stunning gorge carved by the Linville River is a haven for adventurers and nature enthusiasts seeking a wilderness experience.

As you enter Linville Gorge, you are immediately struck by its sheer size and raw beauty. The gorge stretches for 12 miles, with the Linville River running its course over 2,000 feet below the ridge tops. The dramatic cliffs and rock formations provide a stunning backdrop for the lush forests and the rushing waters of the river.

Hiking in Linville Gorge is a truly adventurous endeavor. The trails range from moderate walks to strenuous treks, leading to some of the most breathtaking views in the Appalachian Mountains.

The Linville Gorge Trail, which runs along the west side of the gorge, offers a challenging yet rewarding hike with spectacular vistas. Shorter trails, like the Erwins View Trail, provide more accessible viewpoints of the gorge and the majestic Linville Falls, a three-tiered waterfall plunging into the gorge.

Linville Falls NC

For rock climbers, Linville Gorge offers some of the best climbing in the East. The gorge’s cliffs and rock faces, such as the famous Table Rock and Hawksbill Mountain, present challenging ascents with rewarding views. Climbers must be prepared for the area’s rugged conditions and adhere to Leave No Trace principles to preserve the pristine nature of the gorge.

Camping in Linville Gorge is an experience in itself, allowing you to immerse yourself in the wilderness under the stars. There are designated campsites along the gorge, providing a rustic and remote setting for an overnight stay. The lack of light pollution in the area also makes it an excellent spot for stargazing.

The gorge’s diverse ecosystem is home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, black bears, and a wide range of bird species. The flora in the area is equally diverse, with a mix of hardwood forests, rhododendrons, and mountain laurels, especially beautiful when they bloom in the spring and early summer.

Read More: Linville Falls Winery

Linville Gorge’s rugged terrain requires visitors to be well-prepared and aware of the challenges. The trails can be steep and difficult to navigate, making it important for hikers and climbers to have proper gear and experience.

Where to Stay
📍Sitting Bear Cottage with Spa At Linville Gorge – Located in Linville Falls, 14 miles from Grandfather Mountain and 17 miles from Sugar Mountain, this property offers a 4-bedroom vacation home that sleeps 8. It features a balcony, terrace, free private parking, and free WiFi. Amenities include a TV, washing machine, fully equipped kitchen with dishwasher and oven, towels, bed linen, and a cozy fireplace.

22. Boone 

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Boone is a lively town that blends the beauty of its natural surroundings with a rich cultural scene and a deep connection to Appalachian heritage. Named after the famous explorer Daniel Boone, the town is known for its vibrant community, outdoor adventures, and its role as a hub for higher education.

As you explore Boone, you’ll feel the youthful energy that emanates from Appalachian State University, the town’s centerpiece. The university not only contributes to Boone’s lively arts and cultural scene but also brings a diversity of ideas and activities to the community. From music and theater performances to academic events and sports, the university’s presence adds a dynamic element to the town.

Turchin Center for the Visual Arts in Downtown Boone NC

Outdoor recreation is a cornerstone of life in Boone. The town’s location offers easy access to a plethora of activities in the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. Hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing are popular in the summer, while the winter months bring the excitement of skiing and snowboarding at nearby resorts like Appalachian Ski Mountain.

Top of Appalachian Ski Mountain during summer

The Blue Ridge Parkway, one of the country’s most scenic roadways, runs close to Boone, providing breathtaking views and access to numerous hiking trails and natural attractions. Grandfather Mountain, with its famous Mile High Swinging Bridge and stunning vistas, is a short drive away, as is the picturesque Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, offering miles of trails and a historic mansion.

Moses H Cone Memorial Park View

Boone’s connection to Appalachian culture is celebrated in its music, crafts, and festivals. The town hosts events like the Appalachian Summer Festival, showcasing a range of artistic talents, and the Boone Heritage Festival, highlighting traditional Appalachian crafts and music. The local music scene is vibrant, with venues hosting everything from bluegrass and folk to indie and rock.

The culinary scene in Boone is diverse and thriving, with a focus on farm-to-table dining and locally sourced ingredients. The town’s restaurants range from cozy cafes, breweries, and bistros to upscale dining establishments, offering a variety of flavors that reflect the region’s culinary heritage.

Downtown Boone is the heart of the community, with a charming main street lined with shops, galleries, and eateries. The town’s friendly atmosphere is palpable as you stroll through its streets, with local businesses and street art adding to its character.

Where to Stay
📍Graystone Lodge – offers an indoor heated pool and rooms with complimentary WiFi. The lodge invites guests to enjoy its updated pool and guest bathrooms. Each room features a microwave, refrigerator, cable TV, ironing facilities, and a work desk. Private bathrooms are equipped with towels, a hairdryer, and free toiletries. 

23. Little Switzerland

Little Switzerland, a charming hamlet nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, offers a serene escape with its stunning mountain vistas, European-inspired ambiance, and peaceful, natural setting. This small community, with its unique name and distinct character, is a hidden gem for travelers seeking tranquility and beauty.

As you arrive in Little Switzerland, you’re immediately captivated by the panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. The town, situated along the Blue Ridge Parkway, is known for its spectacular overlooks, including the famous Little Switzerland Tunnel view. These vantage points offer breathtaking scenery that changes with the seasons, from lush green summers to vibrant autumn colors and serene winter snowscapes.

The architecture and atmosphere of Little Switzerland evoke the feeling of a European mountain village. This charm is most evident in the quaint chalets and inns that dot the landscape, offering cozy accommodations with rustic elegance. The town’s small size and quiet nature make it an ideal place for relaxation and rejuvenation.

Beautiful view of Crabtree Falls near Little Switzerland NC

Outdoor activities are abundant in and around Little Switzerland. Hiking trails of varying difficulty lead adventurers through pristine forests to cascading waterfalls and along scenic ridges. The nearby Crabtree Falls and Grassy Creek Falls are popular destinations for hikers and nature photographers. For those seeking more adventure, the area offers opportunities for rock climbing and mountain biking.

Little Switzerland is not just about natural beauty; it’s also a place of culture and community. The town’s charming bookstores, local craft shops, and art galleries reflect the creative spirit of its residents and visitors. Small cafes and restaurants provide delightful dining experiences, with many emphasizing local produce and traditional Southern cuisine.

Views of Mountains at Little Switzerland

A key attraction near Little Switzerland is the Emerald Village, a group of gem mines where visitors can learn about the area’s mining history and even try their hand at gem mining. The Blue Ridge Parkway, often called “America’s Favorite Drive,” provides easy access to other attractions and natural wonders in the region.

Where to Stay
📍 Ginny’s Cabin – offers a 2-bedroom vacation home that sleeps 5, featuring a terrace, free private parking, and free WiFi. The air-conditioned home includes a fully equipped kitchen, seating area, dining area, and a satellite flat-screen TV. Towels and bed linen are provided. An outdoor dining area enhances the property’s appeal.

24. Lake Norman

Lake Norman, the largest man-made lake in North Carolina, is a bustling center for water activities, relaxation, and community life. Situated just north of Charlotte, this expansive lake offers a perfect blend of scenic beauty and recreational opportunities, making it a popular destination for both locals and visitors.

As you approach Lake Norman, the sheer size and beauty of the lake immediately captivate you. With over 520 miles of shoreline, the lake’s vast waters and picturesque inlets create a perfect setting for a variety of water-based activities. Boating enthusiasts will find ample opportunities for sailing, motorboating, and pontoon cruising, while its expansive waters are also ideal for stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, and canoeing.

Lake Norman Aerial Shot

Fishing is a beloved pastime on Lake Norman, with the lake teeming with a variety of fish species, including largemouth bass, catfish, and crappie. Whether you’re an experienced angler or a beginner, the fishing experience on Lake Norman is both enjoyable and rewarding.

For those who love the thrill of water sports, Lake Norman does not disappoint. The lake’s open waters are perfect for water skiing, wakeboarding, and jet skiing. Numerous marinas and rental facilities around the lake provide equipment and guidance for these activities, making them accessible to all skill levels.

Beyond water sports, Lake Norman’s shoreline is dotted with parks, walking trails, and recreational areas. These green spaces offer a serene escape for picnics, nature walks, and bird watching. Jetton Park and Lake Norman State Park are popular spots for families and nature lovers, providing beautiful settings for outdoor activities and relaxation.

Lake Norman State Park view of Lake Norman from Lake Shore Trail

The communities surrounding Lake Norman, including Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville, and Mooresville, contribute to the lake’s vibrant atmosphere. These towns offer charming shopping districts, diverse dining options, and a calendar filled with community events and festivals. The area’s restaurants, especially those with waterfront views, provide a delightful culinary experience, with fresh seafood and Southern cuisine as staples.

Lake Norman’s proximity to Charlotte adds to its appeal, with the city’s cultural attractions, sports events, and entertainment options just a short drive away. This proximity allows for a perfect combination of lakeside serenity and urban convenience.

The lake also boasts luxurious waterfront homes and cozy cottages, making it a sought-after location for both permanent residents and vacationers. The real estate around the lake ranges from private estates to family-friendly communities, catering to a variety of lifestyles and preferences.

Where to Stay
📍Waterfront Home with Private Beach on Lake Norman – a beachfront property offering free WiFi. This spacious vacation home features four bedrooms, a living room, cable flat-screen TV, an equipped kitchen, and two bathrooms with both a bath and a shower. It includes towels and bed linen. An outdoor dining area adds to the charm of this lakeside retreat

25. New Bern  

Nestled at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent Rivers in Eastern North Carolina, New Bern is a city steeped in history and brimming with Southern charm. As the second-oldest European-settled colonial town in North Carolina and the former state capital, New Bern is a treasure trove of historical sites, beautiful waterfront views, and a vibrant community spirit.

As you stroll through the streets of New Bern, the city’s rich history comes to life. The historic downtown area, with its well-preserved architecture and picturesque streets, feels like a journey back in time.

The Tryon Palace, a reconstructed Georgian mansion that was the first permanent capitol of North Carolina, stands as a testament to the city’s past. Here, you can explore the beautiful gardens, historic buildings, and interactive exhibits that offer a glimpse into colonial life.

Tryon Palace entrance gates

New Bern’s significance is further highlighted by its distinction as the birthplace of Pepsi-Cola. The original pharmacy where Caleb Bradham invented the famous beverage is now a popular tourist spot featuring a nostalgic soda fountain and memorabilia.

The city’s location at the convergence of two rivers makes the waterfront a central part of New Bern’s appeal. Union Point Park, with its sweeping river views, is a perfect spot for picnics, leisurely walks, and enjoying the peaceful river atmosphere.

Boating, fishing, and various water activities are popular among locals and visitors, with the rivers providing a scenic backdrop for these pursuits.

New Bern’s cultural scene is vibrant and diverse. The city hosts numerous festivals and events throughout the year, celebrating everything from art and music to food and history. The New Bern Civic Theatre and the North Carolina Symphony provide rich cultural experiences, showcasing local and national talent.

The city’s dining scene reflects its coastal location, with an emphasis on fresh seafood and Southern cuisine. From cozy cafes to fine dining restaurants, New Bern offers a range of culinary experiences, often accompanied by charming riverfront views.

For those looking to explore beyond the city, New Bern serves as a gateway to North Carolina’s Crystal Coast, with beautiful beaches and coastal attractions just a short drive away.

Where to Stay
📍SpringHill Suites by Marriott – Located just 2.5 miles from historic Tryon Palace, offers a 24-hour fitness center and free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel. Each guest suite features an LCD TV with satellite channels, a microwave, a refrigerator, and hot drink facilities. Guests can enjoy a hot buffet breakfast each morning in the hotel’s spacious dining area.

26. Durham

Known for its pivotal role in the tobacco industry, its prestigious academic institutions, and a thriving arts and culinary scene, Durham offers a diverse and engaging experience for visitors and residents alike.

As you explore Durham, you’ll be struck by the city’s ability to honor its past while embracing progress and innovation. The American Tobacco Historic District, once the heart of Durham’s tobacco industry, has been transformed into a bustling entertainment and business complex, where historic structures now house restaurants, shops, and offices.

Durham’s academic excellence is anchored by Duke University, which is renowned for its prestigious programs and gothic architecture. The Duke University campus, with the iconic Duke Chapel at its center, is a must-visit for its stunning beauty and cultural offerings, including the Nasher Museum of Art and the Sarah P. Duke Gardens.

Sarah P Duke Gardens is a beautiful thing to do in Durham NC for couples

The city’s cultural scene is vibrant and diverse, with the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC) hosting Broadway shows, concerts, and other performances. The Carolina Theatre, a historic venue, offers a mix of films, concerts, and comedy shows, contributing to Durham’s rich entertainment landscape.

Durham’s culinary scene is as diverse as its culture, with a focus on locally sourced ingredients and innovative cuisine. The city’s food scene is recognized nationally, featuring everything from casual food trucks and cozy cafes to high-end restaurants. Durham’s food offerings reflect a fusion of Southern traditions with global influences, making it a haven for food enthusiasts.

Outdoor activities are plentiful in Durham, with numerous parks and green spaces offering opportunities for hiking, biking, and leisurely walks. The Eno River State Park, with its scenic trails and quiet riverbanks, is a popular spot for outdoor recreation and relaxation.

Durham hosts various festivals and events throughout the year, celebrating everything from music and film to food and culture.

Where to Stay
📍AC Hotel by Marriott – located a 14-minute walk from Duke University, 20 miles from Crabtree Valley Mall Shopping Center, and 22 miles from PNC Arena. Private parking is available on-site.

27. Highlands

Nestled high in the southern Appalachian Mountains, the town of Highlands, North Carolina, is a hidden gem that offers a blend of natural beauty, upscale charm, and a tranquil mountain atmosphere. At an elevation of over 4,000 feet, Highlands is known for its stunning vistas, cool climate, and sophisticated yet laid-back lifestyle.

As you wander through the streets of Highlands, you’ll be captivated by the town’s quaint and elegant character. The downtown area, with its well-manicured Main Street, is lined with upscale boutiques, art galleries, and fine dining establishments, reflecting the town’s blend of mountain spirit and refined taste.

Nature is at the heart of the Highlands experience. The area is surrounded by the lush Nantahala National Forest and is near the Great Smoky Mountains, offering an abundance of outdoor activities.

Hiking trails of varying difficulty lead to breathtaking waterfalls, such as Bridal Veil Falls and Dry Falls, and offer panoramic mountain views. For those seeking adventure, the nearby rivers and lakes provide opportunities for fishing, kayaking, and canoeing.

Dry Falls Near Highlands NC
Dry Falls

The town is also a haven for botanical enthusiasts. The Highlands Biological Station, a nature center and botanical garden, showcases the rich biodiversity of the southern Appalachians. The garden features native plants and provides educational opportunities about the region’s unique ecology.

Highlands’ cultural scene is vibrant and thriving. The town hosts numerous arts and cultural events throughout the year, including music festivals, art shows, and live theater performances. The Bascom: A Center for the Visual Arts is a hub for artistic expression and learning, offering exhibitions, workshops, and studios.

The culinary offerings in Highlands are as diverse as they are exquisite. The town’s restaurants range from cozy, family-owned eateries to world-class dining experiences, many of which feature locally sourced ingredients and innovative cuisine. The dining scene in Highlands is a testament to its status as a destination for those who appreciate the finer things in life.

Despite its upscale amenities, Highlands maintains a sense of serenity and untouched beauty. The town’s relaxed pace and friendly community make it a perfect retreat for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.

For accommodations, Highlands offers a range of options, from luxurious inns and resorts to charming bed and breakfasts, each providing a unique way to experience the town’s hospitality and charm.

Where to Stay
📍Waterfront Home with Boat Dock on Mirror Lake – offers a garden and air-conditioned accommodations with a patio. This 4-bedroom vacation home features free WiFi, a cable flat-screen TV, a washing machine, and a fully equipped kitchen with a dishwasher and oven. 

28. Maggie Valley

With its breathtaking natural beauty, rich Appalachian heritage, and a variety of outdoor activities, Maggie Valley offers a tranquil retreat and a slice of traditional Southern culture.

As you enter Maggie Valley, you are immediately embraced by the stunning vistas of the surrounding mountains. The town is cradled by lush valleys and rolling hills, providing a scenic backdrop that changes with the seasons.

From the vibrant greens of spring and summer to the brilliant hues of fall and the serene snowscapes of winter, Maggie Valley is a year-round destination for nature lovers.

Outdoor adventures abound in Maggie Valley. The town is a haven for hikers, with numerous trails offering everything from leisurely walks to challenging treks. Nearby, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway offer endless opportunities for exploring the natural beauty of the Appalachians. For winter sports enthusiasts, the Cataloochee Ski Area provides skiing and snowboarding experiences with spectacular mountain views.

Elk in Cataloochee Valley

Maggie Valley’s rich Appalachian heritage is a cornerstone of its charm. The town celebrates its cultural roots through music, crafts, and storytelling. The Stompin’ Ground, a popular venue, hosts traditional mountain music and dance, giving visitors a taste of authentic Appalachian culture. The Wheels Through Time Museum, with its vast collection of vintage motorcycles and Americana, is a unique attraction that draws visitors from far and wide.

The town’s quaint main street is lined with local shops, restaurants, and businesses that exude small-town hospitality. Dining in Maggie Valley ranges from home-style Southern cooking to contemporary cuisine, with many restaurants featuring locally sourced ingredients.

Accommodations in Maggie Valley offer a range of options, from rustic cabins and cozy bed and breakfasts to comfortable hotels and vacation rentals. The lodging choices are designed to enhance the mountain experience, providing warm hospitality and scenic views.

Where to Stay
📍Route 19 Inn – offers air-conditioned accommodations with an outdoor pool, garden, and charcoal grills. Guests enjoy free WiFi and private parking. Rooms feature a seating area, flat-screen TV with cable channels, a private bathroom with free toiletries and shower, and a microwave. The inn has a children’s playground. It’s about 9.9 miles from Cherokee and 26 miles from Bryson City. 

29. Asheboro

Known for its friendly community and proximity to the Uwharrie National Forest, Asheboro is a destination that appeals to nature enthusiasts, history buffs, and families alike.

One of the city’s most renowned attractions is the North Carolina Zoo, the world’s largest natural habitat zoo. This impressive facility is home to over 1,800 animals from different continents, offering an immersive experience into the world of wildlife.

The zoo’s focus on conservation and education makes it a must-visit for anyone interested in animal welfare and the natural world.

30+ Amazing North Carolina Vacation Spots

The surrounding Uwharrie National Forest provides a stunning backdrop for a host of outdoor activities. This ancient mountain range offers miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding, with scenic vistas and tranquil spots along the way. For water enthusiasts, the nearby lakes and rivers are perfect for fishing, boating, and kayaking.

Asheboro’s historical significance is another key aspect of the city. The Randolph County Historic Landmark Preservation Society has preserved numerous sites, including the historic Pisgah Covered Bridge and the Randolph County Courthouse.

The city also hosts museums and cultural centers, such as the Randolph County Historical Museum, which provide insights into the area’s rich heritage and the evolution of the local community.

Pisgah Covered Bridge

The downtown area of Asheboro exudes small-town charm with its array of shops, cafes, and local businesses. Strolling through downtown, visitors can enjoy a variety of dining options, from cozy Southern eateries to international cuisine, and explore unique shops offering everything from artisan crafts to antiques.

Asheboro’s cultural scene is vibrant and growing, with events and festivals throughout the year that celebrate the arts, music, and local culture. The Sunset Theatre, a beautifully restored movie house, now serves as a venue for live performances, concerts, and film screenings, adding to the city’s cultural offerings.

Whether you’re seeking a wildlife adventure at the zoo, exploring the natural beauty of the Uwharrie Mountains, or immersing yourself in the city’s rich history, Asheboro offers a diverse and enriching experience in the heart of North Carolina.

Where to Stay
📍Holiday Inn Express & Suites – offers a seasonal outdoor swimming pool, fitness center, terrace, and free WiFi. Located 7 miles from the North Carolina Zoo and 26 miles from Wet ‘n Wild Emerald Pointe. Each room includes a desk, TV, private bathroom, bed linen, towels, and a safety deposit box.

30. Kure Beach

Kure Beach, situated on the southern tip of Pleasure Island in North Carolina, is a tranquil beach town that offers a perfect blend of pristine natural beauty and charming family-friendly attractions. Known for its uncrowded beaches, historic landmarks, and laid-back atmosphere, Kure Beach is an ideal destination for those seeking a peaceful beach experience with a touch of adventure.

As you step onto the soft sands of Kure Beach, you’re greeted by miles of unspoiled coastline. The beach’s clear waters and gentle waves make it perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and beachcombing. The Kure Beach Fishing Pier, one of the oldest on the Atlantic Coast, extends into the ocean, offering a great spot for fishing or enjoying panoramic sea views.

Kure Beach Pier

For nature lovers, the nearby Fort Fisher State Recreation Area and the Zeke’s Island Reserve provide opportunities to explore diverse coastal habitats. These areas are rich in wildlife, including various bird species, and offer serene settings for hiking, birdwatching, and kayaking. The Fort Fisher State Historic Site, known for its role in the Civil War, adds a historical dimension to the natural beauty of the area.

Fort Fisher Canon on mound

The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, located just a short drive from Kure Beach, is a fantastic attraction for families and marine life enthusiasts. The aquarium showcases a variety of aquatic environments and species, with interactive exhibits and educational programs that emphasize conservation and the wonders of the underwater world.

Where to Stay
📍Ocean Dunes Kure Beach Condo with Balcony and Pool – located steps from Kure Beach, offers beachfront accommodations with free WiFi. This spacious condo features two bedrooms, a living room, cable TV, equipped kitchen, and two bathrooms with showers. It includes towels and bed linen and boasts a balcony with sea views and an outdoor dining area. 

31. Hanging Rock State Park

Hanging Rock State Park, located in the Sauratown Mountains of North Carolina, is a treasure trove of natural beauty and outdoor activities. Known for its iconic rock formations, breathtaking vistas, and diverse ecosystems, this park offers an ideal setting for nature lovers, hikers, and anyone seeking a rejuvenating escape in the great outdoors.

As you explore Hanging Rock State Park, you’ll be captivated by the stunning scenery. The park’s namesake, Hanging Rock, is a majestic rock formation that provides panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. A hike to this point reveals a vast expanse of rolling hills, verdant forests, and the distant Blue Ridge Mountains, creating a picturesque and awe-inspiring backdrop.

The park boasts over 20 miles of hiking trails that cater to all skill levels. These trails weave through dense forests, meander along babbling streams, and lead to hidden waterfalls, offering a variety of experiences for hikers. The Five Peaks Loop, a challenging yet rewarding hike, takes adventurers across multiple peaks, each offering unique views and landscapes.

Scenic View at Hanging Rock State Park

Water activities are a highlight in Hanging Rock State Park, especially during the warmer months. The park features a 12-acre lake with a sandy beach, perfect for swimming, canoeing, and fishing. The clear mountain lake, surrounded by lush greenery, provides a peaceful and picturesque setting for water-based recreation and relaxation.

For those interested in rock climbing, the park offers several cliffs with varying levels of difficulty. These climbing areas, with their impressive rock faces and stunning views, attract both novice and experienced climbers.

The park’s rich biodiversity adds to its allure. The varying elevations and habitats support a wide range of plant and animal life, making it a fantastic destination for birdwatching and wildlife observation. The park’s visitor center provides educational exhibits and information about the area’s natural history and ecology.

Camping in Hanging Rock State Park is a delightful experience, with options ranging from tent sites to vacation cabins. The campgrounds are nestled in serene settings, offering a chance to fully immerse yourself in nature and enjoy the tranquility of the park.

Where to Stay
📍The Cabin with Hot Tub – provides a patio, darts, free private parking, free WiFi, a sun terrace, and a hot tub. The air-conditioned home includes one bedroom, a living room, a fully equipped kitchen with an oven and coffee machine, and a bathroom with a hot tub and bathrobes. It also features an outdoor dining area, mini-golf, fireplace, and picnic area for enjoyable outdoor activities. It is 13 minutes from Hanging Rock State Park.

32. Cherohala Skyway

The Cherohala Skyway, stretching across the scenic mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee, is a remarkable route that offers some of the most stunning vistas in the Appalachian region. Known for its sweeping curves, high elevations, and unparalleled natural beauty, this 43-mile roadway is a dream for motorists, motorcyclists, and cyclists alike.

As you embark on your journey along the Cherohala Skyway, prepare to be mesmerized by the ever-changing landscape. The Skyway, which takes its name from the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests it traverses, winds its way through dense forests, over mountain ridges, and past panoramic overlooks, providing a spectacular driving experience.

Starting in Tellico Plains, Tennessee, and ending in Robbinsville, North Carolina, the Skyway climbs to elevations of over 5,000 feet. Along the route, numerous pull-offs and scenic overlooks offer opportunities to stop and soak in the breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, valleys, and pristine wilderness.

Road along Cherohala Skyway during the fall

The Cherohala Skyway is not just about the stunning drive; it’s also a gateway to a range of outdoor activities. Hiking trails along the route, such as the popular Hooper Bald and Huckleberry Knob, lead to remarkable scenic spots and provide a chance to experience the region’s rich flora and fauna. The fall season is particularly spectacular when the foliage transforms the landscape into a vibrant tapestry of colors.

For motorcycle enthusiasts, the Skyway presents an exhilarating ride with its smooth tarmac, sweeping curves, and minimal traffic. The road’s design offers a relaxing yet thrilling experience, making it a favorite among the motorcycling community.

Photographers and nature lovers will find the Cherohala Skyway particularly rewarding. The varying elevations and unspoiled natural settings offer endless opportunities for photography, bird watching, and simply enjoying the tranquility of the Appalachian wilderness.

Despite its remote nature, the Skyway has several picnic areas and rest stops, allowing travelers to take a break and enjoy a meal amidst the natural splendor. The lack of commercial development along the route enhances the sense of escape and connection with nature.

Where to Stay
📍Snowbird Mountain Lodge – offers free bikes, a garden, a terrace, a bar, and a tennis court. This 4-star hotel provides a-conditioned rooms with free WiFi and private bathrooms. Amenities include concierge service, a tour desk, and luggage storage. Rooms feature a closet and coffee machine, with select rooms offering a balcony and mountain views. The on-site restaurant serves American cuisine with vegetarian, dairy-free, and vegan options. Guests can enjoy activities like hiking, fishing, and canoeing in the surrounding area.

North Carolina Vacation Spots: FAQs

📌 What is the most visited site in North Carolina?

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, straddling the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, is the most visited national park in the United States. It attracts millions with its breathtaking scenery, diverse wildlife, and extensive network of trails and historic sites.

📌 When should I visit North Carolina?

The ideal time to visit North Carolina varies with your interests. Spring (April to June) boasts moderate temperatures and blooming flora, perfect for outdoor activities. Summer (late June to August) is great for beach and water enthusiasts, though it’s warmer and more humid. 

Fall (September to November) offers cooler weather and stunning foliage, ideal for scenic drives. Winter (December to March) appeals to winter sports fans, with quieter coastal regions offering peaceful retreats. Each season in North Carolina presents a unique charm for visitors.

📌 What beach in North Carolina has the most things to do?

Atlantic Beach and Wrightsville Beach are two of North Carolina’s most activity-rich beaches. Atlantic Beach, with its family-friendly vibe, offers water sports, fishing, and historical exploration at Fort Macon State Park. 

Nearby towns provide additional dining and shopping. Wrightsville Beach, known for its picturesque scenery, is ideal for surfing, paddle boarding, and kayaking, and its close proximity to Wilmington offers a blend of beach relaxation and urban entertainment. Both beaches promise a diverse array of activities for visitors.

Final Thoughts

North Carolina offers a kaleidoscope of vacation experiences, with each destination presenting its unique allure. From the tranquil beaches and the majestic mountains to the lively urban centers, there’s a corner in this state for every kind of traveler.

Whether it’s the pursuit of adventure, a quest for relaxation, or an exploration of rich history and culture, North Carolina’s varied landscapes promise memorable experiences. As you plan your journey, remember that each spot, from the serene to the bustling, awaits to share its story and create lasting impressions.

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