Downtown Blowing Rock, North Carolina. Image credit Dee Browning via Shutterstock

7 Most Inviting Towns in North Carolina

The southern state of North Carolina is a study in contrast, from the sweeping mountains to the west and scenic Atlantic beaches to the east. Although the state has its fair share of large, bustling cities, the small towns and communities dotting the map give North Carolina a warm, inviting feel. Whether you're just planning a weekend getaway or want to take a week-long family vacation, you'll find the perfect quaint town to call home for the duration.

Blowing Rock

Main Street, Blowing Rock.
Main Street, Blowing Rock. Image credit Nolichuckyjake via Shutterstock.

A tiny town with a population of under 2000, Blowing Rock got its name from the The Blowing Rock, a local natural wonder. The famous rock formation features stunning peaks that rise above lush forests, various flora and fauna, and Johns River Gorge. Not only is Blowing Rock beautiful and quaint, it also has a warm, welcoming community that plays host to several special events, such as a weekly farmers market, a summer concert in the park series, and various holiday celebrations.

One of the town's most popular attractions is the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum, which combines local visual arts with regional mountain heritage history and lore to create an interesting experience. The museum treats locals and visitors alike to art workshops, lectures, and family-friendly events. Situated on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock's Julian Price Memorial Park is the perfect place to walk, bike or have a picnic.


Beautiful summer day on the boardwalk waterfront, Beaufort, North Carolina
Beautiful summer day on the boardwalk waterfront, Beaufort, North Carolina. Image credit Ryan McGurl via Shutterstock

The readers of Budget Travel rated quaint Beaufort as "America's Coolest Small Town," and it's easy to see why. The seaside community was established in 1713, making it North Carolin's fourth-oldest and town and a historical hotbed. Beaufort's fun attractions and outdoor recreational opportunities, combined with its natural coast beauty, make it a very invited place to visit any time of the year.

Start your visit with a stroll down the waterfront Beaufort Boardwalk, stopping into interesting shops or eateries along the way. Located in the 12-block area that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Beaufort Historic Site showcases life in 18th and 19th Century on North Carolina's Outer Banks. The North Carolina Maritime Museum is another attraction that will please both history and ocean lovers. The museum pays homage to the region's seafood industry history, lighthouses, and marine life.


Main street in Davidson
Main street in Davidson, via Cscdavidson on Wikipedia

The cute, charming town of Davidson lies just 20 miles north of Charlotte, but is able to retain its warm and welcoming feel. Prestigious Davidson College is the heart of the town, and along with the downtown area, gives the community an inviting allure. Lake Norman, which is situated adjacent to Davidson, provides a natural playground for both locals and visitors alike.

Check out charming downtown Davidson, which delights with flower-lined walkways, eateries serving local southern-style fare, boutiques filled with handmade treasures, and even a weekly farmers market. If you prefer to have an outdoor adventure, go swimming on Lake Norman or rent a canoe, kayak or other type of boat from a local shop. If arts and culture is more your thing, catch a live show performed by the Davidson Community Players.


Main Street in Hendersonville, North Carolina, on an early spring day.
Main Street in Hendersonville, North Carolina, on an early spring day. Image credit Nolichuckyjake via Shutterstock

Situated in the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains, Hendersonville is blessed with scenic beauty and southern hospitality to spare. Its pedestrian-friendly downtown is home to an exciting culinary scene, as well as art galleries and boutiques full of locally made treasures. In additional to a thriving arts and culture scene, Hendersonville also boasts a handful of wineries and breweries.

If you're looking to do some mountain hiking while in Hendersonville, check out Bearwallow Mountain, peaks at over 4,000 feet and offers a grassy trail and a scenic, panoramic view at the top. The Holmes Eduational State Forest also features well-marked trails as well as informative exhibits along the way. The Mineral and Lapidary Museum of Henderson County is a must-see attraction showcasing local minerals, stones, Native American artifacts, fossils, gems, and much more.


The historic Osbunn Theater in Hillsborough, North Carolina.
The historic Osbunn Theater in Hillsborough, North Carolina. Editorial credit: Nolichuckyjake /

Hillsborough, a small town nestled on the banks on the scenic Eno River, is quaint and serene, but far from sleepy. With so many fun festivals, arts and cultural attractions, and year-round natural beauty, its hard to pick just one time to visit Hillsborough. Civil War history is also alive and well in Hillsborough, in places such as the Alexander Dickson House, a 1790s Quaker Farm House.

The Occaneechi Village Replica Site is another must-see attraction for history buffs, as it sits at the site of the original Native American village 300 years ago. During the growing season, visit the Eno River Farm, a family-owned business, to indulge in local produce and other handmade treats. If you're visiting Hillsborough during the fall, don't miss the unique Handmade Parade, whcih showcases stilt-watlkers, marching bands, costumes, giant puppets and more made and performed by local artisans.

Mount Airy

Main Street, Mount Airy, North Carolina
Main Street, Mount Airy, North Carolina

Sweet and welcoming Mount Airy has been dubbed "Mayberry" as it was actor Andy Griffith's hometown, and the inspiration for his '60s hit television show. Fans of the show trek to Mount Airy from all over to view the original Flyod's City Barber Shop, The Old Mayberry Jail, and other TV show sites. The Andy Griffth Museum pays homage to the late thespian with a large collection of memorabilia, including costumes and photographs.

Other interesting attractions include the Horne Creek Living Historical Farm, which portrays the lifestyles of early 1900s Piedmont families via an original farmhouse, tobacco curing bar, and an heirloom garden. The century-old Mabry Mill is the site of historical gristmill presentations, and is one of the most photographed attractions on the Blue Ridge Parkway. There is also an onsite restaurant and gift shop.


Downtown Sylva, NC, with the Blue Ridge Mountains in the cityscape
Downtown Sylva, NC, with the Blue Ridge Mountains in the cityscape. Image credit Kristi Blokhin via Shutterstock.

Located in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, enchanting Sylva is known for its vibrant community feel and charming and inviting downtown. The town's picturesque main street is filled with unique boutiques, art galleries, bookshops, four breweries, and eateries serving local fare. Downtown Sylva also plays host to the annual Greening Up the Mountain street festival, which beckons visitors from all over the region.

History lovers will delight in the historic Jackson County Courthouse, which was constructed in 1914 and named "the most photographed courthouse in North Carolina" due to its architectural beauty. If you want to escape to nature during your visit to Sylva, spend some time at Pinnacle Park, which features a 7-mile trail to a 5,000-foot mountain peak.

No matter what part of North Carolina you find yourself in, there will be a warm and welcoming small town to call home for a few days, weeks, or even months. These charming southern communities offer it all, from stunning natural beauty and historic sites to shops, eateries, wineries, breweries that give you a taste of local flavor during your visit.

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