Main Street in Boone, North Carolina, USA. Editorial credit: Nolichuckyjake /

9 Picturesque Small Towns in North Carolina for a Weekend Retreat

North Carolina is filled with beautiful and historic scenery. From the Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway to oceanfront and mountain towns, North Carolina is perfect for a weekend retreat. The western side of the state has 2,700 named peaks, the east coast has historic beaches, and there are more than enough picturesque towns to pick from.

Blowing Rock

Blowing Rock, North Carolina, USA.
Blowing Rock, North Carolina, USA. Editorial credit: Cvandyke /

Blowing Rock is a scenic village along the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is named after a rock formation with stunning views of peaks and the Johns River Gorge. Another natural attraction is the Glen Burney Falls Trail, a beloved hiking path that offers scenic views and access to several waterfalls, including Glen Burney Falls.

The town is just as pleasant as the natural scenery. Here, you will find museums like the History and Arts Museum and historic homes like Cone Manor. Previously called Flat Top Manor, the 20-room mansion was built in 1903 by Moses Cone, a philanthropist. Now, the property is preserved in honor of Cone, and there are 25 miles of horse trails interspersed throughout the 3,500-acre estate.


Waterfront homes, recreational and sport fishing boats, and shrimp trawlers in Beaufort Harbor, Beaufort, North Carolina.
Waterfront homes and various boats in Beaufort Harbor, Beaufort, NC. Editorial credit: Ryan McGurl /

First, it is pronounced "Bow-firt" in North Carolina and "Bew-furd" in South Carolina. Mispronouncing it is a dead giveaway that you are not a local. However, even if you do not say it correctly, the friendly locals will laugh and gently persuade you to display it correctly. Established in 1709, Beaufort is the fourth oldest town in the state and is an ecological paradise. 

This quiet coastal town is in the "inner banks" region and is home to the North Carolina Maritime Museum, the Duke University Marine Laboratory, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research. There is also the Rachel Carson Reserve, a nature preserve with marshes, islands, and wildlife, including horses. Beaufort is an idyllic coastal town and is perfect for a weekend nature retreat. 


 Public library open to all in Davidson, North Carolina, USA.
 The public library in Davidson, North Carolina, USA. Editorial credit: Rex K. Williams /

The small college town of Davidson is adjacent to Lake Norman and is a big draw for foodies, history buffs, and art lovers. The town formed in 1837 alongside Davidson College, and it centers around the college today. Just down the road, you will find Main Street and restaurants like Kindred, owned by 2016 and 2016 James Beard Foundation Award winners.

The Davidson Farmer's Market is open year-round and includes over 35 vendors. This is the spot to find fresh produce, cheeses, and bread. The nature lover should explore Fisher Farm, a 200-acre park with hiking and biking trails. Davidson always has something going on and is a great destination to unwind for the weekend.


Aerial view of downtown Hendersonville, North Carolina.

Aerial view of downtown Hendersonville, North Carolina.

Hendersonville, just south of Asheville, is a historic town that also offers beautiful natural scenery. Jump Off Rock has scenic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and hiking trails, while Mills Park is dog-friendly and includes picnic spots. Pisgah National Park has gorgeous waterfalls and is an excellent place for camping, hiking, or tubing.

The walkable downtown includes historic sites like the Henderson County Heritage Museum, which is housed in the three-story Classical Revival-style courthouse. The museum contains Civil War artifacts and a vintage flag with 35 stars, which predates the 20th century. The downtown district also has notable restaurants like Mezalluna. 

Mount Airy

The Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce and Visitors' Center on Main Street, next to Barney's Cafe, Mount Airy, North Carolina, USA.
The Chamber of Commerce and Visitors' Center on Main Street, Mount Airy, NC, USA. Editorial credit: Nolichuckyjake /

Also known locally as Mayberry, Mount Airy is the hometown of iconic actor Andy Griffith and the basis of the hit show The Andy Griffith Show. Decades later, this quaint town exudes the southern charm and hospitality that made the show famous. For a fun and nostalgic weekend retreat, stop by the Visitors Center for maps and advice on what to see, or join a Squad Car Tour to see the actual sites of Mayberry from a replica squad car of Barney Fife.

 To complete the experience, stay at the Mayberry Inn, where you can request the Aunt Bee room with furniture owned by the late actress. Orc, you can stay at Andy's Homeplace, a bed and breakfast that was Andy's childhood home. There are other Mayberry sites to visit, and for the nature lover, there is Pilot Mountain State Park, which rises to 2,000 feet in elevation. 


Aerial twilight photo of Corolla, North Carolina, USA.

Aerial twilight photo of Corolla, North Carolina, USA.

Corolla is a small village in the famed Outer Banks region. The 24-mile shoreline of pristine beach contains historic Corolla Beach Park which in turn is home to Currituck Beach Lighthouse. Outdoor adventures include riding wild horses on the beach, something the Outer Banks is known for.

The famed Whalehead Club is a 21,000-square-foot mansion erected in 1921 that has been converted into a museum. This beautifully preserved estate invites visitors to experience Outer Banks history like no other. Many visitors come for the Timbuk II, the hub of shopping and dining in Corolla, with over 60 shops and restaurants. 

Cape Hatteras

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse during an orange sunset.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse during an orange sunset. 

 Cape Hatteras is a popular destination on the Outer Banks. The coastal community is famous for the National Seashore which has been home to Native Americans, farmers, and watermen over the years. The barrier island is also home to the black and white Hatteras Lighthouse, the tallest brick lighthouse in the United States.

The Hatteras Island Sea Museum is an indoor/outdoor nature center that allows guests to interact with the native species of the island while also learning about preservation. The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum is dedicated to the thousands of vessels that have been wrecked off of these treacherous shores but is temporarily closed for renovations.

West Jefferson

Buildings on Jefferson Avenue north of First Street in West Jefferson, North Carolina, United States.

Buildings on Jefferson Avenue north of First Street in West Jefferson, North Carolina, United States.

West Jefferson is by the Blue Ridge Mountains and full of history in its own right. The town is registered on the National Registry of Historic Places and is known for merging history with modern culture. It is a vibrant artistic hub known for its art scene, and if you take a quick stroll through town, you will see murals, public exhibits, and several galleries.

Mount Jefferson State Natural Area is a 1,188-acre landmark that offers views of Tennessee from vantage points like Luther Rock. There are over 700 indigenous plants at the park, and there are campgrounds available for an outdoor weekend retreat. This eclectic town is also home to a winery, the Old Barn Winery, and they offer tours as well as wine tasting. 


Boone, North Carolina, USA campus and town skyline at twilight.
Boone, North Carolina, USA campus and town skyline at twilight.

Boone is in the Blue Ridge Mountains that is named after Daniel Boone. Here, you will find the Hickory Ridge Living History Museum, which recreates pioneer life in the 18th century for people such as Daniel Boone. This small mountain town has plenty of outdoor activities like skiing and a vibrant town scene. 

Appalachian State University is behind King Street, the central thoroughfare downtown, and the district is known for its artistic atmosphere. The Turchin Center For The Visual Arts, which is part of the university, is the gateway to downtown and a fun way to start exploring Boone. Other downtown exhibits include the Rosen Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition, along with 11 other outdoor sculptures, and an emporium built in 1923.

Explore the Heart of North Carolina's Charm

North Carolina is a fantastic landscape, filled with mountains, vistas, and white sand beaches. It is brimming with history, which comes alive in these nine small towns. Whether someone is looking for a historic beach or a small mountain town, North Carolina is an idyllic destination for a weekend retreat. 

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