North Carolina is the kind of state that has something for everyone. It’s filled with natural wonders from the Blue Ridge Mountains to hundreds of miles of conserved coastline. Famous architectural sites from the Biltmore Estate to the Green River Plantation dot the whole state. If you’re looking to avoid the overdevelopment and continuous traffic of Charlotte, here are three places to make your home base on your North Carolina vacation.
1. Stay on the Beach
The beach houses in North Carolina are unmatched for tranquility, access to preserved coastline and million-dollar views. South Carolina may have invented it, but the Carolina Shag is still a popular dance for beach parties up and down the coast. Find a club or take a lesson and create your own beach party. Check out an Outer Banks crab boil or just relax and enjoy the unparalleled views. Visit the site of the mysterious Roanoke Colony or tour the many lighthouses. Staying on the beach is the perfect vacation if you don’t want to do too much planning but want something memorable and unique.
2. Visit Asheville
Follow the I-40 west from the coast and you’ll find yourself in Asheville at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and more importantly, the best part of the Blue Ridges, the Great Smoky Mountains. Take a trip along part of the 469 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway to see the low-lying fog that gives the Smokies their name. Unlike the Tennessee side of the range, much of North Carolina’s Great Smokies are undeveloped and perfect for hiking and seeing wildlife.
While you’re in town visit the historic Biltmore Estate. Finished in 1895, the estate is stilled owned by the Vanderbilt family and is the largest private home in the U.S. The estate covers over 13 square miles and you can tour the grounds and the home.
3. Explore Raleigh
Finally, about four hours to the northeast you’ll find Raleigh, one of the most popular towns in North Carolina if you’re looking for the best in new American cuisine, gastropubs and microbrews. Visit one of its many museums that appeal to kids and adults alike or visit Pullen Park, Yates Mill or other popular parks on the local and state level. PNC Arena hosts the local hockey team and international musical acts. Raleigh provides all the entertainment of a big city location without the crowding.
Whether you choose one base or travel around the state, these three spots will give you a full North Carolina experience.