The Sunset Tee's and Hattery shop on Main St. in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. Image credit Nolichuckyjake via

North Carolina's Best Small Towns for a Weekend Escape

If you want to get out of town for the weekend but do not want the expense of a well-known tourist destination, North Carolina may have everything you want. You can soak in the sun on a quiet beach, shop at a quaint farmer’s market, or go hiking in an out-of-the-way spot. Historical monuments, exciting adventures, and many memories wait for you in the welcoming small towns throughout the "Tarheel State" on your next weekend escape.

Mount Airy

Main Street Mount Airy. Main Street Mount Airy, North Carolina.
Main Street Mount Airy, North Carolina. Image credit LisaCarter via Shutterstock

If you want to see an American small town that is frozen in time, you will love Mount Airy. This city has a quaint downtown area that will make you feel like you are walking in the 1950s. It is situated only a few miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway, so there are plenty of opportunities to see picturesque scenery.

Mount Airy was made famous as the city that inspired the little town of Mayberry on The Andy Griffith Show. There are a lot of landmarks to that show, including a statue and a replica of the courthouse that you are welcome to tour. There are also plenty of music festivals all year, including the Mount Airy Fiddler’s Convention.

If you want a historic experience, stay at Heart and Soul Bed and Breakfast. This home was once owned by William Merritt, one of the city’s first entrepreneurs, and is full of antiques and collectibles telling the town's history.

Blowing Rock

Downtown Blowing Rock, North Carolina.
Downtown Blowing Rock, North Carolina. Image credit Cvandyke via Shutterstock

This town is known as the Crown of the Blue Ridge. You will be in the midst of nature when you enter this quaint little corner of the world. And history lovers will love all the Native American legends surrounding so many of its landmarks. Some of the most loved attractions are the observation deck that juts out above the Johns River gorge and the Rock Art and History Museum, boasting a collection of over 52,000 arrowheads.

If you want to find a beautiful place to stay where you will see the breathtaking beauty Blowing Rock offers, stay at Chetola Resort. They have lovely private rooms to choose from, fine dining at Timberlake’s restaurant, recreation that includes flyfishing, and a spa on the property.


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

As one of the oldest towns in North Carolina, Beaufort is teeming with maritime history. Located in the Outer Banks area of the state, this town is known as the site where Blackbeard the pirate, ran aground and was captured. You can visit the spot where his ship, The Queen Anne’s Revenge, met its end. You will also find one of the nation’s largest Independence Day parades and a beautiful Mardi Gras festival.

You will discover plenty of accommodations in Beaufort, including the beautiful Beaufort Inn. They provide several cottages and staterooms. During your stay, you can roast s’mores, ride bicycles on the Spanish Moss Trail, and enjoy a cozy private courtyard.


Trees and houses reflecting in Lake Sequoyah, Highlands, North Carolina
Trees and houses reflecting in Lake Sequoyah, Highlands, North Carolina.

Perched in the Appalachian Mountains, Highlands is a perfect place to escape the hustle of city life. Surrounded by trees and mountains, it may become your go-to place for hiking, bird-watching, or watching the leaves change color in the fall. You will enjoy visiting Dry Falls, where you can stand beneath the waterfall and remain dry. Or get cultured with music festivals celebrating everything from blues to opera.

Highlands Inn was the first hotel in the area and is still open 140 years later. Situated in the heart of town, this hotel will make you feel as if you have traveled back in time when living was easier and slower.


Boat docked near the Roanoke River Lighthouse in Edenton, North Carolina.
Boat docked near the Roanoke River Lighthouse in Edenton, North Carolina. Image credit Kyle J Little via Shutterstock

One of the prettiest towns in North Carolina is also one that has a rich history. It is also full of Southern hospitality, historic architecture, and beautiful scenery. You can visit places like the Lane House, the oldest house in the state, and the Chowan County Courthouse.

There are plenty of places to stay in Edenton, including affordable hotels and inns. If you are looking for more high-class accommodations, you might enjoy staying at the historic Captain’s Quarters Inn. This bed and breakfast offers eight cozy rooms and will provide a full breakfast when you wake up in the morning.


Pittsboro, North Carolina An Old Man Bent With Age Walks Toward a Barber Shop in Downtown Pittsboro.
Downtown Pittsboro, North Carolina. Image credit Wileydoc via Shutterstock

North Carolina has some big cities, and when the people who live in them want to get away from it all they head to towns like Pittsboro. Steeped in history from the American Revolution and the Civil War, Pittsboro has become known for its easy-going way of life. There are a lot of places like French Connections and Deep River Mercantile to buy art and antiques. You will find fresh seafood at the Postal Fish Company, located inside a building that used to be the town's post office. Do not miss an opportunity to visit Silk Hope Farm Heritage Park where there are log cabins and old machines that will teach you and your family about the way of life of early inhabitants of the area.

While you are in town you can stay at the Lucky Bar Farm Bed and Breakfast. You will enjoy relaxing in a rocking chair on the front porch or helping care for some of the horses. Dinner and breakfast are included and they are better than anything you will find elsewhere.


Downtown Tryon, North Carolina.
Downtown Tryon, North Carolina. Image credit Janet Gray, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the most affluent cities in North Carolina, Tryon was built on hunting grounds that once belonged to the Cherokee. It has since become known for its equestrian community, and is home to the nearby Tryon Equestrian Center. All year, you will find events for horse lovers, as well as several parks and natural areas like Greene's Corner and Pearson’s Falls.

Visitors to Tryon will uncover many accommodations to choose from, including many quaint cottages or bed and breakfasts like the GreenLife Inn, which offers comfortable rooms to relax in, friendliness and hospitality, and delicious meals.


Colorful sunrise on a North Carolina beach in Duck, NC.
Beach in Duck, Noth Carolina. Image credit Jeremy Tyree via Shutterstock

If you are looking for a beach getaway, you will find a great place to visit in Duck, North Carolina. Not only will you enjoy the pristine beaches, but the town’s one mile boardwalk will supply you with endless possibilities for entertainment and dining. If you want a bird’s eye view of all there is for Duck to offer, visit the Currituck Beach Lighthouse.

The Wild Horse Inn is a wonderful place to stay with spacious accommodations, plenty of places to enjoy a picnic, and you will probably see wild horses running along the beach!


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

North Carolina has plenty of opportunities to visit the coast. One of the coastal communities with the richest history is Manteo. This waterfront town is on Roanoke Island and has activities your whole family will love. Your kids will like heading out on Captain Johnny's Dolphin Watch, but you might prefer the candlelight walking tour.

There are a lot of places to stay for you to choose from. If you want an affordable room stay at the Heart of Manteo Motor Lodge, though staying somewhere like Hotel Manteo or one of the Roanoke Island cottages may provide you with a richer experience.


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

If you want to take a trip to a small town but you still want to find plenty of activites, you will be charmed with what you discover in Hendersonville. Situated just outside Asheville, this quaint little town was once home to Cherokee tribes. Today, Hendersonville has a bustling downtown district that is great for a walk or a shopping trip.

In addition, Hendersonville offers plenty for the outdoor enthusiast. You can play a round of golf at Orchard Trace Golf Club or take the family for mini-golf at Laura E. Corn Mini Golf At Edwards Park. There are plenty of opportunities for scenic drives, hiking, and swimming. You can even find farms to pick your own apples, like Stepp's Hillcrest Orchard and enjoy the North Carolina Apple Festival on Labor Day weekend.

You have many choices when it comes to lodging, including campgrounds, vacation rentals, and full resorts. For a richer experience, try the Elizabeth Leigh Inn in town or the nearby Bed and Breakfast on Tiffany Hill. Various packages are available that include massages and gourmet meals.

Discover an array of experiences to choose from in North Carolina. Relaxing on the beach, hiking a wooded trail, and exploring the nation's historic landmarks can all be done in one state. You can also find many interesting places to stay, including quaint bed and breakfasts or save some with a budget hotel. Southern hospitality, charm, and nature’s beauty await you in North Carolina's best small towns for a weekend escape.

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