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Bryson City in North Carolina

9 Must-Visit Small Towns in North Carolina For An Excellent Vacation (2024)

The State of North Carolina is a charming blend of the country’s most beautiful beaches and multiple quaint towns. Small towns in the state are ideal for a weekend escape, day-tripping, and winter/ summer getaways. From college towns to coastal towns and small villages somewhere inside deep forests, the options are truly many. Nature, along with native American and European roots, fill North Carolina’s small towns with a blissful vibe. One single visit here and you are definitely going to stay longer and come back time and again.

The Small towns in North Carolina are ideal for discovering history, exploring the coastal spread, and engaging in multiple adventurous activities. Between those small streets within these towns lies cozy cafes, delicious restaurants, and many wonderful outlets. Visit any one of these small towns, and you will find hospitable locals who will win your heart within no time. Eastern, western, or somewhere in between.

9 Must-Visit Small Towns in North Carolina For An Excellent Vacation

Here are some of the Most Popular Small Towns to Visit in North Carolina. Have a look:

1. Blowing Rock

A village on scenic Blue Ridge Parkway in the western part of the state, Blowing Rock is one fine place to visit in North Carolina. The town got its name after the immense namesake cliff overhanging Johns River Gorge. Blowing Rock has the dynamics of a small town, and one can find year-round cooler temperatures here. Right at the center of its downtown is a large park which is ideal for relaxing under the afternoon sun. The entire downtown is connected with small roads leading off Main Street while blending into restored old homes and other aesthetic stops. Streets here are lined with leafy outdoor patios, local shops, and some quaint eateries. Visitors can find a lot of things to buy, including home furnishing, antiques, and kid’s toys. Blowing Rock also acts as a base ground for enthusiasts who head towards Appalachian Ski Mountain for snow skiing.

Blowing Rock, North Carolina

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2. Bryson City

Bryson City is a rich vacation paradise and a pretty little small town in North Carolina. The town is located in the majestic Smoky Mountains and is popularly known for its outdoor adventure and rich mountain scenery. The Tuckasegee River flowing through Bryson City allows for some excellent Fly Fishing and White-water rafting opportunities. Though that isn’t your thing, the town also offers hiking opportunities, waterfall touring, standup paddle boarding, and more. Bryson City is quite walkable and has so much to explore, including a historical museum, a fly fishing museum, an excursion train, two breweries and craft galleries, and an endless stretch of restaurants. Its downtown area hosts a variety of local shopping and eating destinations, with both usual and unique things to try. TIP: To reach Bryson City, take off highway 74 on highway 19.

3. Chapel Hill

Home to the campus of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill is a beautiful small town in North Carolina. Chapel Hill features a vibrant downtown, interesting green lands, and so much in its small outdoor stretch. Also popular as a college town, it associates people with its popular basketball team. The town has so much to offer in terms of the game; however, that’s not the only thing to try. Since Chapel Hill serves a high number of students, you can find an array of restaurants here serving local, national, and international cuisine. Everything here has a lively and youthful feel, given the crowd here is majorly young and energetic. Some of the popular places to visit here include Ackland Art Museum, North Carolina Botanical Garden, Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, and Coker Arboretum.

4. Edenton

Edenton is an unrecognized gem and North Carolina’s first colonial capital. The town is lined with stately Victorian homes, grand porches, character, warmth, and charm. Since Edenton is located within safe driving distance from many Carolina cities, it is ideal for a road trip and a weekend getaway both. The town is explorable on foot and has beautiful sidewalks lined with massive trees. Walking across, you will find an extensive waterfront, beautiful churches, and stately homes. One can also capture great views of Albemarle Sound on a clear weather day. Some of the popular places to visit in the town include Penelope Barker House, Edenton Harbor and Colonial Park, and Roanoke River Lighthouse. Visitors can also involve in Trolley tours, Liber-Tea tours, Visitor Center Guided tours, and more. Options like these expand to water-based recreation and museum trail exploration.

5. Lexington

Lexington is another North Carolina small town for an excellent vacation. Famously known as the ‘Barbeque Capital of the World’, the town is an undisputed Barbeque hot spot. October is the official Barbeque month in Lexington, and the second half of the month brings the ‘Annual BBQ festival’. It is when different kinds of events keep taking place, engaging visitors of all tastes and ages. Besides that, Lexington has a range of other things to do as well. For example, visit Boone’s Cave Park and explore its 140-foot-long cave. The town is also home to Childress Vineyards, High Rock Lake, North Carolina Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Junius Lindsay Vineyard, and more attractive places. When in Lexington, do visit the Candy Factory to satisfy your sweet tooth.

6. Morganton

Morganton is a lively large town located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The town offers a unique mix of wonderful attractions, outdoor enjoyment, and relaxation. For a scenic, quaint small-town experience, Morganton is the aptest vacation spot for you. Morganton has a historical and rejuvenated downtown area with old brick buildings that are now operating as funky restaurants and shops. Visitors can begin by exploring the Old Burke County Courthouse and take a journey to the past. Visit the History Museum of Burke County for rare and valuable historical items. If you are an adult, plan for a mug of beer at Catawba Brewing Company and taste some of the finest brews. Visitors can also indulge in Zipline adventure at the Beanstalk Ziplines.

7. Saluda

Saluda is a tiny town in North Carolina with one of the most picturesque settings. It is considered a historic Victorian mountain village and has a very little population.

However, Saluda has been popular as a tourist destination since the 1800s. History is a crucial part of the town, and the early settlers here came during the 1790s in the name of Scotch-Irish descents. One popular part of history here is the 1926-style farmhouse, the Orchard Inn. The facility, though, grew into a modern space, but it still maintains the touch and charm of history. When in the town, browse its downtown area and learn about its lively arts and crafts culture. Individuals can also step out for hiking at areas including Green River Game Lands, Dupont State Recreational Forest, and Pisgah National Forest. If you are an art and entertainment enthusiast, be sure not to miss the local Art festival. Dog lovers can also attend the exciting Coon Dog festival.

8. Southern Pines

Also known as the Home of American Golf, Southern Pines is one of the places to visit and explore in North Carolina. America’s top-ranked golf courses surround the town, and it is where individuals can test their golfing skills. Southern Pines has a very outdoorsy feel and has multiple pine trees lining the streets. There are multiple easy-to-explore trails in Weymouth Woods and on nearby Reservoir Lake. The first-hand hiking experience here is something exciting and unique to indulge in. Stop at the Sandhills Horticultural Gardens in Southern Pines and combine it with Reservoir Park. Or consider catching a show at the Sunrise Theater.

9. Franklin

Franklin is nestled in the foothills of the Great Smokies and the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, one of the best towns to live in North Carolina. The town of Franklin is also known as “the Gem Capital of the World”. The area is rich in gems, and individuals from afar gather here for searching their sparkly sapphire, ruby, and other precious stones. Franklin currently operates at least 4 gem mining operating sites that offer visitors a chance to find their precious gems. Cherokee Ruby and Sapphire Mine and Mason’s Ruby and Sapphire Mine are some fine places to check out. Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum is also one fine place to check out for similar options. Outdoor enthusiasts can also head towards Bartram Trail and follow the footsteps of the 18th century naturalist William Bartram.

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