Downtown Manteo, North Carolina, USA. Editorial credit: Wileydoc /

10 Coziest Towns to Visit in North Carolina

Imagine picturesque streets lined with centuries-old buildings, history recounting museums, waterfront eateries, and outdoor getaways, all these are the highlights of North Carolina. In the western part of the state, among the Blue Ridge Mountains, you will find towns like Boone and Blowing Rock with crisp mountain air. Heading towards the coast, towns like Manteo and Bath have tranquil waterfronts. Further inland, towns such as Hillsborough and Edenton showcase the state’s rich heritage through their historic homes.

These towns are not just a pretty sight but also brimming with cultural events, local festivals, and farm-to-table dining experiences that highlight the region’s unique flavors. Whether you are drawn to the mountains, coast, or the heart of North Carolina, these 10 towns promise cozy moments.

Blowing Rock

Tourists passing by The Sunset Tee's & Hattery shop on Main Street in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, USA.
Main Street in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, USA. Editorial credit: Nolichuckyjake /

Blowing Rock is famously known for The Blowing Rock, a cliffside outcropping with breathtaking views and a fascinating legend of a Native American maiden and her lover. Moving on, the sprawling estate of Moses H. Cone Memorial Park is a beauty. Boasting over 3,500 acres of forests, meadows, and 25 miles of carriage trails, it is ideal for hiking, horseback riding, or simply enjoying a stroll. The Cone Manor, located within the park, provides insight into the life of the Cone family with its preserved 20-room mansion.

Another highlight is Tweetsie Railroad, a Wild West-themed amusement park featuring a historic steam locomotive, live shows, and rides that appeal to both children and adults. Downtown Blowing Rock itself is a picturesque collection of boutique shops, antique stores, and cozy cafes. For example, Kilwins, a town favorite on Main Street, serves up handmade chocolates, original ice creams, and fudge that are perfect for a sweet treat.


Wide-angle view down Main Street in Brevard, North Carolina, USA.
Main Street in Brevard, North Carolina, USA. Editorial credit: Nolichuckyjake /

Brevard makes justice to being dubbed the “Land of Waterfalls,” with over 250 waterfalls, including the majestic Looking Glass Falls and Sliding Rock, where visitors can slide down a natural rock formation into a refreshing pool below. These natural wonders make Brevard an excellent destination for hiking, swimming, and photography. The town is also famous for its white squirrels, which can often be seen scurrying around Brevard College's picturesque campus and the town’s tree-lined streets. The annual White Squirrel Weekend celebrates these unique creatures with live music, arts and crafts, and fun activities for all ages.

Meanwhile, downtown Brevard is where you will find O.P. Taylor’s, one of the coolest independent toy stores in the country, which is a must-visit for families. The town’s culinary scene is diverse, with stops like The Square Root offering delicious fare.


Scene on King Street in Hillsborough, North Carolina, USA.
Scene on King Street in Hillsborough, North Carolina, USA. Editorial credit: Nolichuckyjake /

The small town of Hillsborough takes pride in its well-preserved historic district, where visitors can walk along tree-lined streets and admire colonial and antebellum architecture on the banks of the Eno River. The Ayr Mount Historic Site, an elegant 1815 Federal-style plantation house, is the most relevant example surrounded by 265 acres of rolling hills.

Hillsborough’s vibrant arts scene is another aspect of its cozy appeal. The Hillsborough Arts Council Gallery & Gift Shop showcases local artists' work and hosts regular events, including the famous Last Fridays Art Walk, which combines art exhibits, live music, and food vendors for a festive community atmosphere. Hillsborough’s cozy atmosphere is further enhanced by its welcoming community and delightful downtown area, highlighted by the Weaver Street Market. It is a local cooperative grocery store that provides a delightful selection of local produce and gourmet treats, perfect for a casual afternoon snack.


Twilight skyline of Boone, North Carolina, USA, showcasing the campus and town.

Twilight skyline of Boone, North Carolina, USA, showcasing the campus and town.

Boone is a quintessential cozy town where every visit feels like a homecoming. Nature lovers will find ample opportunities to explore the great outdoors as the town is a gateway to the Blue Ridge Parkway. The about 4-mile Boone Greenway Trail is a scenic, multi-use path winding along the South Fork of the New River, offering walking routes and bike rides. In winter, Boone transforms into a hub for snow sports, with nearby ski resorts like Appalachian Ski Mountain providing skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating.

Throughout the year, Boone’s thriving music scene, with venues like the Jones House Cultural Center, which hosts traditional Appalachian music and modern performances. Downtown Boone is another spotlight. The Mast General Store, a historic emporium that dates back to 1883, offers everything from outdoor gear to old-fashioned candies. For a delicious treat, stop by Stick Boy Bread Company, known for its artisan breads and pastries.


View of Manteo's waterfront marina at daybreak in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

View of Manteo's waterfront marina at daybreak in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Manteo’s history goes as far as the 1600s when English explorers first landed on the shores of Roanoke Island. Roanoke Island Festival Park, a living history museum that transports visitors back to the time of the first English settlements, is one of Manteo’s most significant historical landmarks. The Elizabeth II, a replica 16th-century sailing ship, and the Settlement Site with its recreated village provide immersive experiences of colonial life and maritime exploration.

Manteo’s cultural scene adds to the appeal, with the Dare Arts Gallery showcasing works by local artists in various mediums. The Lost Colony Outdoor Drama staged at an outdoor amphitheater near the Roanoke Island Festival Park, enacts Roanoke Colony’s poignant tale with impressive staging and performances. Do not forget to step into local restaurants like the Blue Water Grill & Raw Bar for fresh seafood and coastal cuisine.

Bryson City

City scenes from the Great Smoky Mountains in Bryson City, North Carolina.
Bryson City, North Carolina. Editorial credit: digidreamgrafix /

Amidst the majestic Great Smoky Mountains, Bryson City's coziness comes in the form of nature's embrace. Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to do in Bryson City. The Deep Creek area offers hiking trails to waterfalls like Juney Whank Falls and Tom Branch Falls, perfect for a refreshing dip on hot summer days. Fishing and tubing along the Tuckasegee River are popular activities, providing a relaxing way to enjoy the natural surroundings.

One of Bryson City's hidden spots is the Road to Nowhere, a scenic drive that leads to the Lakeview Drive Tunnel. This tunnel, originally intended to connect Bryson City to Fontana Dam, remains unfinished but now serves as a unique hiking trail that gives stunning views of Fontana Lake and the surrounding mountains. Lastly, Bryson City Brewing is where you can head to and relax after a day of outdoor adventures.


Magnolia Place in the center of Pinehurst Village, North Carolina.

Magnolia Place in the center of Pinehurst Village, North Carolina. Editorial credit: KAD Photo /

Pinehurst, often referred to as the "Home of American Golf," is a cozy oasis in the heart of North Carolina’s Sandhills region. Pinehurst’s most renowned attraction is the Pinehurst Resort, a historic golf destination that has hosted numerous prestigious tournaments, including the U.S. Open. The resort's iconic Pinehurst No. 2 course, designed by legendary golf architect Donald Ross, is a must-play for golf enthusiasts seeking a challenging yet picturesque round of golf.

Beyond golf, cultural enthusiasts will appreciate Pinehurst's vibrant arts scene. The nearby Artists League of the Sandhills Gallery showcases works by local artists in various mediums, including paintings, sculptures, and pottery. The gallery's rotating exhibitions and art classes offer opportunities for visitors to engage with the local arts community. The Pinehurst Brewing Company, housed in a historic steam plant building downtown, provides craft beers and gourmet pub fare, making it a popular spot for locals and visitors alike to unwind after a day of golf or exploration.


Aerial view of Bath, North Carolina.
Aerial view of Bath, North Carolina. By Bernstein613, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Bath is North Carolina’s oldest town and a hidden stop that exudes cozy, small-town charm. Bath’s historical significance is evident in every corner of the town. One of the prominent landmarks is the North Carolina Historic Bath Site, which includes several preserved buildings from the 18th century. The Bonner House, built in the early 1800s, offers guided tours that provide fascinating insights into the life and times of Bath’s early residents. The 1744 Palmer-Marsh House, another well-preserved structure, showcases the architectural elegance of the colonial era and serves as a window into the past.

Bath’s cultural scene, though understated, is a must-experience. The Bath Fest, held annually in the spring, celebrates the town’s heritage with local crafts, music, and food, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The festival is a great opportunity to mingle with locals and experience the community spirit that defines Bath. Additionally, Local eateries like Blackbeard’s Tavern feature casual dining with a nod to the town’s pirate lore.

New Bern

Aerial view of yachts docked at a marina near downtown New Bern, North Carolina.

Aerial view of yachts docked at a marina near downtown New Bern, North Carolina.

As North Carolina's second-oldest town, New Bern boasts a wealth of historic sites and scenic beauty. Start your visit at Tryon Palace, a meticulously reconstructed colonial governor’s mansion surrounded by lush gardens. Inside, you will find period furnishings, interactive exhibits, and costumed guides who bring the 18th century to life. The adjacent North Carolina History Center provides interactive exhibits that delve into the state’s colonial and early American past, making it a must-visit for history enthusiasts. You may also stop by the Birthplace of Pepsi Cola, where you can enjoy a nostalgic soda fountain experience and learn about the drink’s origins.

New Bern’s cozy atmosphere is observable in its friendly locals and community events. The town hosts numerous festivals, such as MumFest, celebrating the vibrant chrysanthemum blooms with live music, arts and crafts, and family-friendly activities.


Aerial view of businesses along Broad Street in Edenton, North Carolina.
Broad Street in Edenton, North Carolina. Editorial credit: Kyle J Little /

Titled as the "South’s Prettiest Small Town" in 2021 by Forbes, Edenton is a cozy harbor town on the tranquil shores of the Albemarle Sound. Edenton’s historical significance is a major draw for history enthusiasts. The town is home to the 1767 Chowan County Courthouse, one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture in the South. Nearby, the Penelope Barker House, built in 1782, serves as a visitor center and museum. This historic home was the site of the first political action by women in the colonies, the Edenton Tea Party of 1774.

The Edenton Harbor is a focal point of the town, providing a beautiful setting for boating, fishing, and waterfront strolls. The picturesque Roanoke River Lighthouse, perched on the waterfront, is another charming sight. This restored 1886 screw-pile lighthouse offers tours that highlight its history and the role it played in guiding mariners.

Discover North Carolina’s Coziest Towns

Whether it is the colonial charm of Edenton, the scenic beauty of New Bern’s riverside, or the golfing legacy of Pinehurst, these towns invite you to slow down and savor their rich stories and warm hospitality. The lush landscapes, charming downtowns, and welcoming atmospheres make these destinations feel like a home away from home. These towns invite visitors to slow down and savor the simple pleasures: a leisurely walk through a historic district, a quiet moment by the water, or an engaging local festival that brings the community together.

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