The 7 Most Picturesque Small Towns In North Carolina

North Carolina's generally mild climate is perfect for year-round outdoor pursuits. Complete with mountain vistas and a coastal location, the state seems to have it all. Its many small towns, such as those below, serve as picturesquely set getaways into the region's incredible adventures.

Blowing Rock

Autumn view of Broyhill Park and Mayview Lake in downtown Blowing Rock, North Carolina.
Autumn view of Broyhill Park and Mayview Lake in downtown Blowing Rock, North Carolina.

Part of the Blue Ridge Parkway, the town comes complete with the namesake "ancient gneiss outcrop," a bulky protruding rock that makes the wind blow upwards and objects appear as if floating skyward. The Gilded Age estate belonging to the textile tycoon Moses H. Cone is a scenic 3,600 acres of highland fields and forests, perfect for trekking or horseback-riding through. The old-times Tweetsie Railroad takes one atop the Sugar Mountain, from which one can ski, or take the Wilderness Run roller coaster for the return trip. The picturesque highlands town itself comes complete with all the comforts set against the gorgeous backdrop, including upscale dining, terraced cafes, boutique shopping, and charming bed-and-breakfasts, as well as a large city park for some down-time in the outdoors.

Boone

Boone, NC
The idyllic town of Boone in North Carolina.

The idyllic town named after the famous explorer and pioneer Daniel Boone is set in northwest North Carolina with the Blue Ridge Mountains at its backdrop. The town, celebrated for its arts and culture initiatives, has been hosting the play Horn In The West every summer since 1952. Boone is also a getaway to the famed Grandfather Mountain via the Blue Ridge Roadway that is loved to be climbed by adventurers. The Elk Knob State Park is great for calming walks, hikes, and exploration of the vast dramatic natural landscapes. As a college town, its quaint King Street possesses a youthful atmosphere with overflowing shops and restaurants while also being the historic main street. Many of the places one wanders in Boone have been around for generations. 

Bryson City

bryson city
Bryson City.

Set in the western part of North Carolina, Bryson City is the gateway small town into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, making it right off the bet, one of the most picturesque in the state, awaiting the adventurous explorers and photography aficionados. The great outdoors include everything from the majestic Smoky Mountains, to the wild streams and scenic hills, to the Tuckasegee River meandering through the town. For a more laid-back country-watching, an antique train carriage, courtesy of the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, offers all the sights on full display from the comfort of one's seat. The ride takes one from the valley bottoms, and passing through several tunnels, brings one to the Nantahala Gorge.

Hendersonville

Hendersonville
Aerial view of Hendersonville, North Carolina.

This idyllic town in the Blue Ridge Mountains is great getaway spot to explore the area's waterfalls, apple orchards, and lovely hiking trails the, such as the one within the Dupont State Park. The pedestrian-friendly Main Street of the rejuvenated downtown core comes complete with terraced restaurants, various shops, and entertainment venues, all set against the gorgeous mountainous backdrop. The town attracts many writers and literary fans for the inspiring views, the Flat Rock Playhouse, and the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site in the vicinity. There are also a gem mine, the Appalachian Pinball Museum, and the Team Ecco Aquarium and Shark Lab with live shark feeding for some family fun-time. 

Edenton

Edenton
The 1886 Roanoke River Lighthouse in Edenton, NC.

The state's capital in its past and the second-oldest town in North Carolina, the picturesque Edenton is a true gem whose streets are lined with historical 18th and 19th centuries, buildings, and homes. The tranquility of the coastal location and the surrounding scenery induce true relaxation, making Edenton a perfect place for a romantic getaway to feel alone together. The pathways with massive old trees hiding the beautiful churches and stately homes lead to the extensive waterfront area with fantastic views of the Albemarle Sound, where bald cypress trees in the water are almost 2,000 years old. A trolley tour offers a journey through the historic in the town's historical landmarks, while the Roanoke River Lighthouse of 1886 is one of the few remaining screw-pile lighthouses in the country.

New Bern

new bern north carolina
The town of New Bern.

The small town of New Bern is undeniably a picturesque gem, bountiful with history, walking through which will make one feel as if they are on a film set, or in an open-air museum. As the second-oldest colonial European town in North Carolina, New Berm was settled first by the Swiss that erected the town the name of their home city in Switzerland. The four, US National Register of Historic Places, districts of the town, come with unique characters and atmospheres, and offer historic buildings to be admired. The must-visits include the 18th Century Tryon Palace and the Georgian-style Coor-Gaston House, while the town itself is the renowned birthplace of Pepsi Cola.

Southport

Southport
Aerial view of Southport.

While many know Southport for its sleepy, picturesque townscape, it boasts a rich and varied history complemented by coastal charm. It is set on the Atlantic Coast in Brunswick County of southern North Carolina. Spanish explorers discovered the area in the 16th century. Settled by the British in the following years, Southport's facade retains a deep-rooted mixture from both colonies. Fort Johnston from the 18th century is the first fort in the state of North Carolina, while the wooden fishing pier of the town that juts out into the sea offers an Instagram-worthy shot of the pretty collection of buildings. One may not be that surprised to learn that this town was used as a filming location for the iconic Dawson's Creek series, along with other series and movies. 

The drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway to access many of these scenic places already composes a to-die-for experience with killer scenic views of the Appalachian Mountains. With a perfect year-round climate for seasonal activities, these small towns welcome visitors with great skiing in the winter, gorgeous foliage during fall, and ready-and-and waiting summertime activities and entertainment. 

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