Last Updated on July 22, 2021
Last Updated on July 22, 2021
If your weekdays are spent searching for that next place to explore, we think you’re going to love our favorite weekend getaways in North Carolina, for families, couples, and just yourself!
We’ve included a mix of small towns and cities from the mountains to the sea. They come packed with incredible breweries, outdoor fun (including hikes and waterfalls), exquisite food, and all of the above.
Because we’ve spent so many weekends exploring our wonderful state, we know this guide will help your search for the perfect getaway.
Weekend Getaways in North Carolina
Organization Note: We’ve alphabetically arranged these weekend getaways in North Carolina by cities, towns, counties, and regions.
Asheville is not just the first alphabetical entry in our guide to weekend getaways in North Carolina. It’s one of the first places to visit in Western North Carolina that we mention, no matter who’s asking.
The Buncombe County seat has plenty of restaurants to keep your belly happy and ready to explore more! Whether you’re walking around Biltmore Estate, the River Arts District, or any of the great hikes near Asheville, get ready for a weekend you’ll never forget.
It’s also home to white squirrels that lurk around Brevard College, a nice downtown, and tons of gorgeous scenery all around. Many of the beautiful spots are housed inside Nantahala National Forest and Pisgah National Forest.
When you get to this awesome small town, we hope you’ll be able to at least get out and see Looking Glass Falls and Sliding Rock, with the Moore Cove Falls Trailhead in between the two. However, there are many more waterfalls near Brevard, hence the name!
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay, check out Pines Country Inn in the town of Pisgah Forest. We loved our time there!
Of course, you’ll want to check out the famous seafood at Calabash and the awesome Oak Island Lighthouse. From the latter, you can look out over nearby Caswell Beach and across the water at Bald Head Island (and Old Baldy Lighthouse).
We’re huge fans of Holden Beach, also known as North Carolina’s “Family Beach.” You can totally chill out here at your rental, which is likely close to the beach or Intracoastal Waterway.
Another fun spot is Leland, recognizable from the many movies filmed here. Cape Fear National at Brunswick Forest is one place that’ll convince you why Brunswick County ranks among our favorite weekend getaways in North Carolina.
Near the top of favorite weekend getaways in North Carolina for families is Bryson City. Sitting on the western edge of North Carolina, Bryson City is a quaint small town that packs a punch and their Great Smoky Mountain Railroad is a bucket list experience!
Head to the Nantahala Outdoor Center for some rafting, hiking, or just enjoying the river. Afterward, take the kids on the Deep Creek trail for an easy hike to three waterfalls.
The Road to Nowhere is another interesting and quirk place to visit near Bryson City.
From Bryson City, you can easily pop over to nearby Cherokee for Mingo Falls (one of our favorites!) and much more!
Morganton is the Burke County seat and a great base for exploring the Linville Gorge Wilderness. Hop in your car and hit the trails at Table Rock Mountain and Hawksbill Mountain, or drive up to Wiseman’s View for equally gorgeous views of the Gorge.
For a flatter walk or ride, check out the Catawba River Greenway in Morganton. It’s a lovely, scenic trail that connects two of the mountain town’s best parks.
Fall in love in front of Linville Falls and stop by Silver Fork Winery for a taste of some delicious wine. Add in a lovely view and this place is a shoo-in as one of the best wineries in North Carolina!
Beyond this place being the perfect North Carolina getaway for outdoorsy couples, we think you’ll enjoy Morganton’s downtown and surrounding towns like Valdese, Connelly Springs, and more.
Before we move further east, we think you should know about the Henry River Mill Village in Hildebran. Some locals have preserved this piece of NC Mill history, but you may also know it as District 12 in the first Hunger Games film!
Our guide covers things to do in Morganton and Burke County, including all these fun attractions and more!
If you’re seeking excitement, weekend getaways in North Carolina’s largest city are right up your alley.
That’s why we’d suggest Charlotte for a winter getaway. If you’d like to bounce around to nearby towns, fun day trips from Charlotte include Huntersville, Matthews, and Davidson in Mecklenburg County, and Concord over in Cabarrus County.
The Crystal Coast
The Crystal Coast runs from the Bogue Banks (including Emerald Isle and Atlantic Beach) and runs to Cape Lookout and Harkers Island. These spots alone put this area on our map of favorite weekend getaways in North Carolina, but there’s even more.
Mainland spots include Beaufort, Morehead City, and Newport, rounding out some of Carteret County’s most impressive small towns. We love coming to this area for weekends (or longer) at Atlantis Lodge in Pine Knoll Shores and visits to natural spots like the Rachel Carson Reserve.
We live in the Bull City, so we may be a little biased when we say Durham is one of the best weekend getaways in North Carolina! You can hop around all the city’s different breweries, dig into Durham’s awesome restaurants, or take the kids to the Museum of Life and Science.
Regardless of what things to do in Durham you choose, we guarantee you’ll have a great weekend!
Durham also has an incredible arts scene, with unique and creative murals found all around the city. While visiting, stay at The Durham Hotel or in one of the adorable Airbnbs, and make sure to take a hike along the Eno River!
If you think you’ve done it all, these amazing day trips from Durham will keep you busy!
Stop and smell the roses at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden (one of the most beautiful in North Carolina!), hike around Carvers Creek State Park, learn about our armed forces at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum, and enjoy some pints by veteran-owned breweries!
While you’re in town, check out some incredible international restaurants in Fayetteville while working it off on outdoor walks and hikes. If you’re into cycling, the Cape Fear River Trail is one of our favorite greenways in the whole state!
We love strolling along Elm St and elsewhere downtown, the awesome restaurant scene, and so many more things to do (especially with kids!). We also love visiting Gate City for the Greensboro Science Center and the Children’s Museum if we’ve brought our little one along!
From Greensboro’s center, you can bounce around the outdoor spots like Triad Park and Guilford Courthouse National Military Park. That latter National Parks site is one of our absolutely favorite outdoor spaces.
The High Country
There are even more spots to explore in the heart of the High Country, beyond those two all-stars. Banner Elk and West Jefferson are two of our favorites, but we also can’t leave out the amazing Burnsville, surrounded by those epic Black Mountains.
Highlands sits in the heart of Western NC and a lovely mountain town in Macon County.
Aside from a quaint and cozy downtown, you’ll find some of our favorite waterfalls in North Carolina here! Two of the bigger names include Dry Falls and the roadside Bridal Veil Falls, not to be confused with the one inside DuPont State Recreational Forest.
A few interesting places to stay await, including the Old Edwards Inn & Spa in the middle of downtown. If you’re looking for a couples retreat, we consider this one of the best romantic getaways in North Carolina!
We’ve mentioned Brevard and Highlands but think Jackson County definitely deserves a chance, too.
Jackson County is largely known for Sylva, Dillsboro, Cullowhee, and Cashiers, four truly colorful towns.
We’re also fans of Tuckasegee, a small Jackson County town that is home to Bear Lake Reserve. This is one of our first choices for weekend getaways in North Carolina. The massive 2,100-acre gated community hosts private residences and rentals that surround the beautiful 500-acre Bear Creek Lake.
Considering its physical size, the smallest of our weekend getaways in North Carolina has to be Little Switzerland. That doesn’t mean there’s little to experience here, which you’ll soon see after hopping off the Blue Ridge Parkway
Whether or not you’re staying at Switzerland Inn, we think you’ll enjoy this lovely little town. You’ll have plenty of time to shop, eat, and peruse at the Switzerland Cafe and General Store. Books and Beans there is one of the best bookstores in North Carolina, in case you’re wondering.
We’re also fans of Grassy Creek Falls, just down the road from Switzerland Inn! We ask this of all outdoor spots but especially so because this one is privately owned. PLEASE be respectful of the property and leave no trace!
Maggie Valley is known for quite a few fun things to do, especially for skiing and tubing at the famed Cataloochee Ski Area. It’s also popular for motorcyclists, which are fun to watch as you sit back and relax in this Haywood County town.
We love the food in Maggie Valley, starting with breakfasts at Joey’s Pancake House, lunch or dinner at Brickhouse Burgers and Pizza, and beers (plus food!) at BearWaters Brewing. The latter’s original location sits in Canton.
New Bern was one of the first historic towns in North Carolina that we visited, and you can believe we keep coming back for more! Tryon Palace hosts charming tours of our state’s first permanent capital and the home of Pepsi also happens to be New Bern.
There are a few more fun facts about North Carolina found in New Bern but even more things to do await beyond these historic tidbits. We love strolling along both Middle and Front streets, taking in gorgeous sunsets from Union Point Park, and grabbing food at one of the town’s amazing restaurants.
Croatan National Forest is also a short drive from New Bern. A nice collection of coastal trails await here, including Flanners Beach and Neusiok. The city of Havelock is nearby, home to the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point.
Asheboro is the first name that comes to mind when thinking of weekend getaways in North Carolina’s Randolph County. However, this isn’t the only place in the area that appeals to both couples and families.
Couples can spend an entire weekend browsing Seagrove Pottery studios and galleries, viewing new and unique pieces at each stop.
Afterward, head to The Table in downtown Asheboro for its farmhouse vibe and fresh offerings. Asheboro is especially attractive to families, as the North Carolina Zoo is an instant hit among kids!
For the rest of your weekend getaway, make sure to stop by Millstone Creek Orchards for some apple picking and try their incredible cakes and pies.
Raleigh and Wake County
If you think we should have grouped Raleigh and Durham together, this is your reminder that the two cities are 20 miles and one county apart. Also, the only place named “Raleigh-Durham” is the airport.
Even if you already knew all of that, you still need to know that we’ve enjoyed many weekend getaways in North Carolina’s capital city. You can stay in vibrant downtown Raleigh while exploring the restaurants, including the two food falls (Morgan St and Transfer Co).
For some after-lunch activity, make your way out of the city to Umstead State Park for hiking. Umstead hosts some of our favorite trails in the area, but we especially love the Multi-Use Trail that leads to chainsaw art.
The outdoor fun doesn’t stop here, though, as we’re also big fans of the parks around Shelley Lake and Lake Johnson!
We also recommend biking the Art to Heart trail that begins at the North Carolina Museum of Art (one of the city’s best museums). You can also pop over to surrounding Wake County towns like Cary, Holly Springs, or some of our Research Triangle favorites!
Speaking of the NC Museum of Art and Umstead State Park, we included them among our favorite things to do with kids in Raleigh. If you’re searching for fun places to stay, check out these cool Airbnbs in Raleigh!
Rocky Mount is one of those small towns that doesn’t receive enough recognition for its awesomeness! Some of our favorite things to do here include rides along the Tar River Trail and stays at River & Twine.
Of course, you can easily make an entire weekend getaway at Rocky Mount Mills. The renovated cotton mill has breweries, some of Rocky Mount’s best restaurants, and a beautiful backdrop for rest and relaxation!
Jacksonville and Camp Lejeune are home to the beautifully constructed Lejeune Memorial Gardens. Many folks may first come here to serve but more than a few stick around and come back to this lovely part of Eastern North Carolina.
There are some wonderful restaurants in Jacksonville and its surroundings in Onslow County. Our favorites change according to the time of day, but we think Jeff’s and the Kettle Diner are two favorites at all times.
We think you’ll love the small town of Swansboro, a shop-heavy spot about 30 minutes away from Jacksonville. The awesome Hammocks Beach State Park also awaits, perfect for birding, hikes, boating, and ferry rides over to Bear Island.
If you love beaches, Bear Island is a wonderful spot for camping but the southern half of Topsail Island lies in Onslow County, with the rest shared by Pender County.
We love Topsail’s beaches on the ocean side, gorgeous sunsets on the sound side, and the communities of North Topsail Beach, Surf City, and Topsail Beach here.
The Outer Banks
We admit that we usually like to spend at least a week on the Outer Banks, but it’s still one of the best weekend getaways in North Carolina, too! Check out the dunes at Jockey’s Ridge State Park, hike to see bird migration at Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, or just enjoy all of the adorable OBX towns from north to south.
Do you want to know our secret for planning the best Outer Banks getaway? Go during the off-season!
Fall and much of winter in North Carolina are mild enough that you can still have an enjoyable time with lower-priced rentals and fewer people!
For those who love the outdoors, Wilkes County also has plenty of wonderful opportunities to get out. There are world-class mountain biking trails at W. Kerr Scott and hiking trails starting from downtown Wilkesboro.
Don’t forget to stop by the Blue Ridge Artisan Center or Wilkes Art Gallery and enjoy works by local artists.
The underrated Stone Mountain State Park is shared by Wilkes and Alleghany counties. You’ll like hiking on and around the granite dome, stopping at Stone Mountain Falls, and driving over to Widow’s Creek Falls for a dip.
Wilmington (and Surrounding Beaches)
Wilmington is one of the most popular weekend getaways in North Carolina for us since it is the closest beach to Durham.
Regardless of where you’re coming from, you’ll love soaking up the sun, relaxing on the beach, hopping around the breweries, or just taking in the sights here! We also love the amazing restaurants in Wilmington (and its surroundings) and can’t wait to share more about them with you.
Walk the riverfront, take a sunset river cruise, and climb down into the depths of Battleship North Carolina.
If you’re searching for places to stay, check out these cool Airbnbs in Wilmington and its surroundings.
Winston-Salem is the last of our weekend getaways in North Carolina but definitely not least! It’s in such a good spot, with easy access to so many beautiful parts of North Carolina!
Thanks to these historic hotels, though, we think you’ll want to stick around Winston-Salem. The fun doesn’t stop there, either, with a great collection of restaurants and breweries in Winston-Salem awaiting.
Some of the best things to do in Winston-Salem (beyond what we’ve mentioned) include the historic Old Salem, the fun-packed Kaleideum (great for kids!), and the very interesting Reynolda House. Those are a few of our favorite museums in the city and great starting points!
There are even some really fun outdoor activities in Winston-Salem, including Salem Lake, Renoylda Gardens, and more!
Which of these Weekend Getaways in North Carolina is Your First Pick?
These are some of our favorite weekend getaways in North Carolina! We’ve spent years exploring and researching the best and we’d love to hear from you about our picks.
Did you see something new to explore? We hope so! If you think there are more weekend getaways in North Carolina worth checking out, we’d love to know about them! Feel free to comment below or let us know by email!