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The pleasant main street is lined with shops and restaurants, many with leafy outdoor patios ideal for a leisurely lunch. A large park in the center of downtown makes a nice spot for relaxing and taking in a bit of people watching. A delightful stroll down some of the small roads leading off Main Street will take you past wonderfully restored old homes with large trees and impressive gardens.

Blowing Rock is a year-round destination. In winter, it’s a convenient base if you are downhill skiing at nearby Appalachian Ski Mountain, one of the best places to ski in North Carolina. Accommodation: Where to Stay in Blowing Rock. Edenton waterfront Photo Copyright: Lana Law.

Once the state capital, Edenton is an undiscovered gem in the Inner Banks. The streets are lined with historical buildings and homes from the 18 th and 19 th centuries. This is an easy place to spend time relaxing and the perfect place for a romantic getaway. Edenton is easily explored on foot. Sidewalks below massive old trees lead by beautiful churches and stately homes. The waterfront area is extensive, and great views out to Albemarle Sound can be had by simply strolling along the pathways.

Keep an eye out for the bald cypress trees in the water, which can live to be 2, years old. Accommodation: Where to Stay in Edenton. Chapel Hill is home to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill , and many people associate the town with the basketball team. However, this city has much more to offer than just a destination to see a game. The lively downtown has a variety of retail shops and close to restaurants serving local and international cuisines.

Chapel Hill has a youthful feel owing to the sheer number of university students, and there is always something going on here. You can easily spend an afternoon or evening strolling around or enjoying a meal on a patio. A trip here would be remiss without a visit to the Carolina Basketball Museum. Admission is free, and the detailed and interactive displays are interesting even if you aren’t a big fan of the sport.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Chapel Hill. The Outer Banks are a magnet for beach lovers and families looking for beach vacations during the summer months. The small town of Nags Head is a great option for people looking for an assortment of entertainment, on or off the beach. This town has one of the best beaches in North Carolina and also has plenty of amusements for kids. Jennette’s Pier is always a popular place along the beach, with its top-notch aquarium.

Even if you don’t visit the aquarium, be sure to pay the small fee to walk out onto the pier. It’s an ideal place to soak up amazing views up and down the coastline or to try your luck fishing. On days when the waves are large, surfers are often found riding the breaks beside the pier. Nags Head also has a good selection of hotels, both on and off the beach. In some small towns in the Outer Banks, finding a hotel can be a problem, and sometimes the only options are vacation rentals.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Nags Head. This delightful town set in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains is perhaps best known for being the inspiration for the fictional town of Mayberry in The Andy Griffith Show. Mount Airy was the hometown of Andy Griffith. If you spend a bit of time here exploring the attractions , you’ll find the largest granite quarry in the world, several museums, a host of antique shops, and nearby Pilot Mountain and Hanging Rock State Parks.

But if it’s nostalgia for Mayberry and The Andy Griffith Show that you’re looking for, you won’t be disappointed. Squad car tours, the Andy Griffith Museum, Mayberry-themed restaurants and even hotels are ready and willing to take you right back to the s. Accommodation: Where to Stay in Mount Airy. Restaurants and shops line the two main streets, and there is plenty to see and do in the surrounding mountains.

The town is an ideal spot to base yourself for year-round adventures. In winter, visitors come here to enjoy two of North Carolina’s best ski resorts. Both Sugar Mountain and Beech Mountain are just a short drive away and offer impressive vertical. In the fall, Banner Elk is stunning as the leaves change to vibrant colors. Many people also come here at this time of year to experience some of the best trout fishing in North Carolina.

One of the main attractions in the area is Grandfather Mountain , where you’ll find the Mile High Swing Bridge , the highest suspension bridge in America.

Stunning views look out over the Blue Ridge Mountains. This park is a great place for a picnic, hike, or just soaking up the scenery. You can visit it at any time of year, but summer is particularly beautiful. Accommodation: Where to Stay in Banner Elk.

Lexington Photo Copyright: Lana Law. Lexington is North Carolina’s undisputed barbecue hot spot. In fact, BBQ is so big here that the town claims to be the barbecue capital of the world. You can decide for yourself at one of the many establishments serving up this tasty fare.

Or, time your visit to coincide with the annual Barbecue Festival that takes place in late October every year. October is officially known as BBQ month, with all kinds of events taking place on a regular basis. Lexington has a restored main street area with interesting stores. Those with a sweet tooth should head over to the appropriately named Candy Factory — just look for the red-and-white striped awning on North Main Street.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Lexington. Boone is a youthful and fun college town and a great spot for a weekend getaway. You’ll find a historical main street lined with good restaurants and shops. While strolling along, be sure to check out the Mast General Store for a unique retail experience. One of the best attractions near the town is Grandfather Mountain.

A scenic drive takes the visitors to the wheelchair-accessible Mile High Swinging Bridge, thousands of feet above the Carolina Piedmont region. A world-class nature museum, interpretive programs, and awesome trails lead to amazing adventures in Grandfather Mountain State Park.

A trip to this historic maritime town gives you a chance to get back in time when pirates and privateers, antebellum Southern belles, and blockade runners ruled the seas. Southport has been a popular destination for seafarers since the early s, and it still is one of the most famous small towns in North Carolina today.

Aside from being a great place for movie buffs several movies have been filmed there , Southport has a lot of historical activities available for visitors, suitable for all age groups and types of travelers. Here, you can learn about the natural and cultural history of the Lower Cape Fear area. It is a not too touristy town of 1, people and has more stop signs than stoplights! Around the Tuckasegee River, visitors usually enjoy some music and sweet treats, drop a fishing line, or explore by kayak or paddleboard.

When in the area, you can check the Visitor Center for more detailed suggestions on where to go and what to do. It displays objects that date back thousands of years, all the way back to when Native Americans lived and hunted in this region. A visit here is for sure a good way to begin your Morganton explorations. You can tour their vineyards, taste the wines in their tasting room, while also taking in some fresh mountain air.

It truly is one of the best weekend getaways in North Carolina! Southern Pines is known for its equestrian activities and large horse farms. The downtown is a shopping district, full of great restaurants, boutiques, and coffee shops run by locals. Visitors are welcome to explore the Weymouth Center and grounds, as well as other historic sites. Brevard is a stunning tourist and cultural center in western North Carolina, situated at the entrance to the Pisgah National Forest.

The mild climate, natural beauty, and cultural activities attract many visitors to this town. There is plenty of things to do in Brevard all year, but there are a few exciting events that take place downtown throughout the year, such as The White Squirrel Festival, Halloweenfest, and the Twilight Tour. Looking Glass Falls and the summer favorite, Sliding Rock, are the most visited waterfalls and are also great waterfalls to visit near Asheville.

To take in some history, head to the two-acre Beaufort Historic Site spot on Turner Street that features six authentically restored buildings. Another awesome place to visit here is the North Carolina Maritime Museum, which is one of three state Maritime Museums, the others being in Hatteras and Southport. All are dedicated to preserving, collecting, and interpreting coastal life and history.

Tourists here are welcome to explore the cute downtown along with exclusive shops and restaurants when strolling along the flower-lined sidewalks. As an alternative, enjoy the local culture by getting to a show by the Davidson Community Players, attend an amazing performance by the Charlotte Ballet, or take in all the pleasure from the beautiful sounds of the Charlotte Symphony. Bath , the oldest town in North Carolina, celebrated its anniversary in It was the first port of entry, located on the Pamlico River, where trade in naval stores, furs, and tobacco had developed since the establishment of the town.

This small but very historic country has some very stunning views of the Pamlico River and Bath Creek. The historical story of the town incorporates not only its beautiful history, like the establishment of St. Nevertheless, visitors come here during the summertime, mainly to experience its rich history.

Featuring more than homes, buildings, and churches from the 18th and 19th centuries, Hillsborough is known as another small town with a rich history.

Every May, barbecue lovers flock to town for Hog Day, and the downtown comes alive with arts and entertainment on Friday evenings during Last Fridays celebrations. Apart from the fun activities in the center of the town, Hillsborough is also home to the Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area and numerous other trails. Even though Manteo may appear as a traditional coastal town in North Carolina, the region is in fact quite rich both in fun attractions and in local history.

It is also close to some of the best beaches in NC. It is budget-friendly and is open all year round. Pinehurst is located in Moore County, North Carolina. A significant portion of the central village, including the resort complexes, was designated as a National Historic Landmark District for its landscape design and importance in American golf history. To experience the feel of the town, take the carriage rides and explore the historic homes and charming streets of the village. As a historical site, the Tufts Archives is one of the best places to visit in Pinehurst.

It exhibits rich heritage and various artifacts from the founders of the village. This one is yet another tiny town full of impressive galleries, shops, and restaurants. Over the years, Saluda gained a reputation as a relaxing mountain resort town that provided health benefits to the tourists. Prominent for its cultural diversity, New Bern is the second oldest European settlement town and the first Colonial capital located in the Inner Banks of North Carolina.

Besides priding itself on beautiful nature and history, the town is also close to the beautiful NC Crystal Coast. It is technically classified as a city these days but still exudes that small-town feel and comfort.

Visitors are warmly welcomed to the Tryon Palace, which served as the first capital of independent and post-Revolutionary War North Carolina. Here you can see many historic buildings and nearly acres of fine gardens. Also, all the Pepsi fans can learn more about Pepsi-Cola Corporation, which was originally founded there and is one of the best things to do in New Bern!

What are the best small towns in North Carolina that we missed on the list? Let us know in the comments! Blog » Beyond Virginia » North Carolina. I have never heard of Calabash actually! But I have heard of Sunset Beach — definitely need to add both to my NC bucket list, esp since fresh seafood is involved! Thanks for the recommendations! Calabash is the seafood capital of the world!!!! You must go… fresh shrimp right off the boat!!! New Bern, not Edenton was the first capital of NC.

Tryon Palace located in New Bern was the home of the first governor. I was surprised that Cashiers or Highlands did not make the list. They are both beautiful mountain communities with a lot of fun things to do.

Definitely noted! I second Washington, NC. Beautiful waterfront and downtown. Near Bath, Belhaven as someone mentioned , and New Bern. Also, you missed out on mentioning the historical outdoor Lost Colony production, when you mentioned Manteo.

A must see if you visit the area. My wife wants to visit Edenton again. Good article! West Jefferson, NC. Is heaven on earth. We practice the slower pace of life, and enjoy being with family. Never that overly hot?! You should definitely check out West Jefferson!

Great list of small towns…West Jefferson is a wonderful place to visit and only a short drive from Boone. There are so many wonderful towns in NC that it would be impossible to list them all here.


– Our Favorite Small Towns in North Carolina

Bald Head Island. Bald Head Island, NC , USA. 20 Super Charming Small Towns in North Carolina · Blowing Rock · Edenton · Mount Airy · Banner Elk · Lexington · Boone · Southport · Bryson City. Southern Pines.


14 Top-Rated Small Towns in North Carolina | PlanetWare.

Its original town limits are now a historic district where tourists can visit historical homes.


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