15 Best Vacation Spots in North Carolina

There’s something fascinating and satisfying for everyone in the Tar Heel State. With its Old South charm, jaw-dropping mountains and pristine beaches, North Carolina bursts with unforgettable activities. From tranquil coastal getaways to lively cities, the state has infinite vacation possibilities. And, to help you decide which NC destination is right for your next trip, we’ve rounded up the best places to visit in North Carolina.

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Chimney Rock State Park

chimney rock state park north carolina

Encompassing 8,014 acres, this state-owned park is a paradise for outdoor adventurers and nature lovers.

Why You Should Visit Chimney Rock

Up for some exhilarating outdoor activities, but don’t know what to do in North Carolina?

Then, don’t forget to put this state park at the top of your list of places to travel in North Carolina.

With miles of scenic trails and an iconic 300-foot monolith, this park will surely quench your thirst for outdoor adventure.

Plus, it offers ample opportunities for wildlife viewing.

Chimney Rock Expert Tips

If you’re visiting the park in summer, we recommend arriving early to beat the crowds and heat.

Also, bring some snacks and a lot of drinking water since convenient amenities are limited.


Bald Head Island

bald head island north carolina

Nestled in Cape Fear, this 5.86-square-mile village is one of the most laid-back and idyllic destinations in North Carolina.

Why You Should Visit Bald Head Island

If you’re on the hunt for relaxing and serene vacation spots, look no further than Bald Head Island.

Not only does it have a relaxed atmosphere, but it also features over 10 miles of pristine beaches.

Not to mention, it has a first-rate golf course, maritime forests and marshes.

Bald Head Island Expert Tips

Pack a pair of comfortable walking shoes or bring your own bike on your visit to his island.

Cars are not allowed on the island, meaning you need to walk or bike to see its popular sites.


Hanging Rock State Park

hanging rock state park north carolina

Established in 1935, this 9,011-acre state park is listed on the US National Register of Historic Places.

Why You Should Visit Hanging Rock State Park

Known for its bare rock peaks, sheer cliffs and serene forests, this state park entices travelers with its spectacular scenery.

What’s more, the park has gorgeous trails, and interpretive programs that give you insights about the park and its surrounding areas.

Hanging Rock State Park Expert Tips

Hike the 2.2-mile-long Cook’s Wall Trail. Once you reach the peak of this trail, you’ll see the famous Pilot Mountain and enjoy vistas of soaring eagles. In autumn, this trail will entice you with its alluring fall foliage.


The Biltmore Estate in Asheville

biltmore estate north carolina

In 1966, this must-visit Chateauesque mansion earned a spot on the US National Register of Historic Places.

Why You Should Visit The Biltmore Estate in Asheville

The Biltmore Estate is truly one of the most exquisite places to see in North Carolina.

With its striking architecture and expansive gardens, this estate is filled with Instagrammable sights at every turn.

Moreover, it has 250 rooms housing antiques, vintage clothes and artwork.

The Biltmore Estate Expert Tips

Get your tickets to the mansion in advance online to secure a spot.

Keep in mind that Biltmore is incredibly popular, meaning tickets often sell out.

Also, visit the Biltmore Winery to enjoy the complimentary wine tasting (included in your ticket).



wilmington north carolina

Founded in the early 18th century, this port city teems with historical attractions.

Why You Should Visit Wilmington

Searching for more cool and unique places to visit in North Carolina?

Trust me, you’re going to love Wilmington.

With its old-world homes and historical attractions, this riverfront city gives you a glimpse of its beautiful past.

As a bonus, this town offers easy and instant access to several outstanding beaches.

Wilmington Expert Tips

Planning on visiting the city’s historic homes?

You might want to grab a discounted 3-hour passport.

It’s cheaper than buying individual tickets to historic homes, like the Latimer House, Burgin-Wright House and Bellamy.


Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville

blue ridge parkway north carolina

Stretching for 469 miles, this All-American Road is the longest linear park in the country.

Why You Should Visit The Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a can’t-miss, bucket-list-worthy experience. In fact, this parkway boasts some of the most breathtaking sights and beautiful places to visit near you.

With scenic overlooks and a max speed of 45 MPH, this highway provides plenty of opportunities to soak up the scenery.

The Blue Ridge Parkway Expert Tips

You don’t have to drive the whole parkway to experience a memorable trip along this stretch.

There are, after all, a number of noteworthy attractions within 19 miles of Asheville.

Milepost 355.4, for one, is home to the tallest point in the area: Mount Mitchell.


North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

north carolina museum of natural science

Open to the public for free, this educational museum in downtown Raleigh is educational and awe-inspiring.

Why You Should Visit The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

There’s nothing quite like this museum.

Although this museum is free for everyone, it has outstanding, world-class exhibits that are worth a million bucks.

Through its educational presentations and interactive exhibits, this museum is also an educational experience.

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences Expert Tips

Don’t hesitate to ask the staff anything related to their exhibits.

They are highly trained, and more than willing to share interesting tidbits about their displays.

Also, drop by the cafe, and indulge in any of their delectable and reasonably priced food.


Cape Hatteras National Seashore

cape hatteras north carolina

Operated by the National Park Service, this 70-mile stretch is packed with recreational activities. You can find it in Nags Head.

Why You Should Visit Cape Hatteras National Seashore

There’s more to this national seashore than its untouched and splendid beaches.

Rich in wildlife and history, this park also appeals to other kinds of travelers.

There are also outdoor pursuits available here, including kayaking.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore Expert Tips

For a unique and memorable experience, climb to the top of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.

Also, if you want to enjoy a relaxing stroll along the beach, visit the seashore at low tide.


Great Smoky Mountains National Park

great smoky mountains north carolina

Straddling the Tennessee-North Carolina border, this 522,419-acre park provides an outdoor escape like no other.

Why You Should Visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky is one of the top places to go in North Carolina for an amazing vacation.

A mecca for intrepid outdoor lovers, this free national park is a prime destination for hiking and hiking.

Additionally, it has a bevy of majestic waterfalls, wildlife, and educational exhibits.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Expert Tips

Batteries, camping supplies and groceries are a bit more expensive at the camp stores within the park.

So, bring your own suppliers from home or make a pit stop at a grocery store in any of the nearby towns.


Grandfather Mountain

grandfather mountain bridge north carolina

Standing at 5,946 feet, this towering landmark is the tallest mountain on Blue Ridge’s eastern escarpment.

Why You Should Visit Grandfather Mountain

Grandfather Mountain is a breathtaking natural wonder with challenging hikes and refreshing mountain breeze.

With its rare wildflowers and stellar views, this mountain is ideal for photographers and Instagrammers too.

Grandfather Mountain Expert Tips

You can feel more connected to the area you’re about to explore by viewing the exhibits at the Nature Museum.

From its large amethyst to its innovative theater, the museum has a variety of beguiling and informative exhibits about the mountain.



winston salem north carolina

Founded in the 1700s by Moraivians, this twin city enthralls travelers in a variety of ways.

Why You Should Visit Winston-Salem

Winston-Salem is truly one of the top places to visit in North Carolina.

With its blooming arts scene and historical charm, this destination will keep you occupied for weeks.

And, guess what?

Winston-Salem also has delightful wines and vibrant nightlife spots.

Winston-Salem Expert Tips

Start your trip on the right foot with a visit to the New Winston Museum.

Through a range of artifacts and exhibits, this museum will give you an insight into some of the town’s most beloved historical landmarks.



raleigh north carolina

While well-known as a center for higher education and research, the state capital is an excellent choice for an inexpensive vacation.

Why You Should Visit Raleigh

Wondering where to go in North Carolina for a cheap getaway?

Do yourself a favor, and indulge in an enriching and affordable vacation in Raleigh.

With a bundle of admission-free museums and attractions, you can spend days exploring the city’s top spots without breaking the bank.

Raleigh Expert Tips

Save money on transportation by taking the city’s hybrid circulator public bus, R-LINE.

It’s free for everyone, and makes over 12 stops throughout the city’s downtown area.



charlotte north carolina

Nicknamed the Queen City, this bustling metropolis in the Piedmont region is a feast for the senses.

Why You Should Visit Charlotte

Charlotte is, no doubt, one of the best cities to visit in North Carolina.

Whether you’re an art aficionado, culture hound or dedicated foodie, you’ll find a ton of fantastic places of interest in Charlotte.

And, did we mention that it’s a dream destination for sports fans?

Charlotte Expert Tips

Charlotte’s public transit system isn’t as convenient and well-connected as in some major cities.

So, we recommend driving your own car to navigate Charlotte.

You may also take ride-hailing services, like Lyft and Uber to get around the city.



asheville north carolina

Founded in 1787, the state’s 12th most populous city is home to some of the top North Carolina tourist attractions.

Why You Should Visit Asheville

Asheville epitomizes the best of North Carolina.

Famous for its historic architecture and lively arts scene, this city is also filled with outdoor attractions and cultural marvels.

Even better, this hipster haven has a burgeoning beer scene and scores of fantastic restaurants.

Asheville Expert Tips

Stop by the city’s visitor center in the downtown area.

Besides providing a wealth of information about the city, it also has year-round coupons for the most popular attractions.


The Outer Banks

outer banks north carolina

Lining the North Carolina coastline, this 200-mile collection of barrier islands will fascinate you in a variety of ways.

Why You Should Visit The Outer Banks

No list of the best places to visit in North Carolina is complete without the Outer Banks.

Perfect for relaxation, this destination will rejuvenate your weary spirit with its serene beaches.

Furthermore, it offers a plethora of outdoor pursuits, including hang gliding and horseback riding.

The Outer Banks Expert Tips

Try to avoid visiting the Outer Banks in summer.

Prices for lodging usually skyrocket when the summer crowds arrive on these islands.

So, visit them during the offseason instead.

And, don’t worry, as most of the attractions are still open during the colder months.


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