he Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce and Visitors' Center sets on Main Street, next to Barney's Café. People. Image credit Nolichuckyjake via Shutterstock.

These Towns in North Carolina Have the Best Main Streets

Beautiful main streets are a significant incentive that draws traffic to towns that are usually dominated by bigger surrounding cities. Some people seek the beauty of nature, while others look for skyscraping skylines, but towns with charming main streets offer a hearty element that both countryside and major cities cannot match!

The beauty of small towns with vibrant and lively main streets lies in their close knit sense of community and the collaborative effort to improve the state of a specific area. With this in mind, almost every state in America has a few towns that hold the title of being home to the best main streets. Read along as we explore the best main streets of North Carolina and what they offer from cuisines, culture, and aesthetically pleasing surroundings. 

Little Switzerland

Panoramic Autumn view of the southern Appalachian Mountains from Little Switzerland North Carolina off the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Appalachian Mountains from Little Switzerland North Carolina off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Image credit Simply Photos via Shutterstock.

Located along the Blue Ridge Mountains Parkway, Little Switzerland is one of the most lively small towns in the area. Little Switzerland is named for its sweeping panoramas of deep valleys and distant ranges resembling the Swiss Alps. However, the architecture of the town and its layout is far from that of Switzerland, as its main street depicts the history of midwestern America with its wooden front buildings. The best small shops and places to visit on the mile high street include the historic general store with the broadest array of random products showcased in a classy vintage way, the Books and Beans wooden Bookshop, or stay in the alpine inn, a lodge on the cliff of the mountains. 


Old Chemistry Building and Davidson Quad at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.
Davidson Quad at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Image credit Bryan Pollard via Shutterstock.

The town of Davidson is a college town located 20 miles north of Charlotte and is home to a welcoming quarter-mile main street district built over 200 years ago to support its residents. The main street of Davidson, NC, comprises glamourous vintage shops and random street aesthetics, including a soda shop with the old Coca-Cola signage, an old Wells Fargo Bank, the Main Street Book Shop, and a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream shop around the corner. Davidson is named and built around the college experience, as students are the town’s main visitors. The main street district sits across from the campus, with its land featuring multiple churches, libraries, and parks. 


 Licensed   FILE #:  130881332  Preview Crop  Find Similar DIMENSIONS 6000 x 4000px FILE TYPE JPEG CATEGORY Travel LICENSE TYPE Standard or Extended Lake Norman, at McCrary Access Area, in Mooresville.
Lake Norman, at McCrary Access Area, in Mooresville. Image credit jonbilous via Adobe Stock.

Bustling with unique boutiques and restaurants, downtown Mooresville is more lively and active than any other main street. A commercialized street that hosts all of the city’s community events and gatherings, some of the most popular being the downtown Wiener Dog Race and the summer festival of food trucks. Contrasting the busy unique central streets, Mooresville offers a beautiful countryside setting of farms and parks. Lake Norman State Park makes for a memorable outdoor adventure, offering 520 miles of shoreline at Lake Norman. Additionally, visitors can discover the town’s hiking and mountain bike trails and make their way downtown to Main Street for refreshments!

Bryson City 

A woman taking a photo from the Smoky Mountains Railroad Scenic Train, adjacent to the Tuckasegee River. It is a freight and heritage railroad.
Tourist taking a photo from the Smoky Mountains Railroad Scenic train. Image credit Bob Pool via Shutterstock.

Located along the borders of the Great Smoky Mountains, Bryson City is more of an outdoor adventure destination than a bustling shopping center. However, Mainstreet in Bryson, North Carolina, offers a warm-hearted walkable street with a range of locally owned businesses such as bookshops, art galleries, a historical museum, and more. This small city is your go-to destination after numerous days of enjoying nature’s wonders at Smokey Mountains, with its hiking trails and famous Grotto waterfall. Surrounded by flowers and greenery, Bryson’s main street makes for a perfect family trip or night out, offering two locally-owned breweries and an aquarium. 

West Jefferson 

Autumn farms from the Blue Ridge Parkway near West Jefferson
Landscape of West Jefferson. Image credit Craig Zerbe via Adobe Stock.

The homely and welcoming downtown of West Jefferson was designed to be built around railroad foot traffic but ended up being an artistic community of diverse residences. Nineteen murals scattered around downtown represent the area’s wildlife, history, music, and culture, symbolizing how far the town has come. From unique coffee spots to over ten art galleries, West Jefferson attracted talent from all around America to form and maintain the beautiful main street and its surrounding community. 

Blowing Rock 

Tourists pass The Sunset Tee's & Hattery shop on Main St. in Blowing Rock, NC, USA.
Main Street, Blowing Rock. Image credit Nolichuckyjake via Shutterstock.

North Carolina residents highly recommend Blowing Rock, as it tops almost every must-visit list for towns in the state. Blowing Rock has the cutest local shops that were once residential houses and are now converted into small locally-owned businesses. Places like the “Funky Tulip” are boutiques in a living room, with separate sections in separate rooms, making it the closest visitors can get to the colloquial phrase “make yourself at home." Colorful flowers decorate the main street of Blowing Rock, adding to the charm of business owners and helping them showcase and maintain the town's surrounding community. Aside from its beautiful shopping district, Grandfather Mountain and its stunning vistas are one of the most visited places in Blowing Rock. 


Aerial View of Downtown Hendersonville, North Carolina.
Aerial View of Downtown Hendersonville, North Carolina. Image credit Jacob Boomsma via Shutterstock.

Hendersonville’s main street is a national historic district that covers over 65 buildings and is part of the central business area. A shopping destination surrounded by old wall murals and planter boxes of colorful flowers, Henderson is a downtown that effortlessly balances vintage and modern retail vibes. Some of the best family-friendly places to check out on Hendersonville's main street include the Hands on Children’s Museum, the Mineral & Lapidary Museum of Fossils and Gems, and the Henderson County Heritage Museum.

Mount Airy 

A group of tourist stroll down Main Street in the town that Mayberry from the Andy Griffith show was modeled after.
Main Street Mount Airy. Image credit LisaCarter via Shutterstock.

Mount Airy is a small city in Surrey County, North Carolina, home to 10 beautiful parks and a small welcoming downtown that makes a perfect summer weekend getaway. In the summer of 2020, the MAMSA MountAiry Main Strreet association launched the Market Street and Entertainment District, which features family-fun activities, and dozens of local food vendors. The district on Main Street brings out all the local talents, from artists to craft makers. Additionally, Mayberry is the hometown of Andy Griffith and inspired the creation of the Mayberry setting city from his show.

There are two main reasons to visit this wholesome small town, first, to view the Mayberry Commemoration and festival in the last days of September, and second, for its heartwarming community.


Ultimately these North Carolina towns each offer a distinctive vibe from the other. With so much to see and experience, all of them are worth a short visit. While some of these recommended towns offer a more nature-centric atmosphere that the main streets tailor to, others elaborate on the history and culture of its residents. In either setting, they are all homely and welcoming of any visitors as they thrive off of tourists and their support. 

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