With the Great Smoky Mountains and Blue Ridge Mountains to the west, lovely rolling hills in the center, and white sand Atlantic Ocean beaches to the east, North Carolina offers a wide range of picturesque settings for an unforgettable Labor Day weekend getaway. Situated close to many North Carolina vacation rentals are pristine landscapes, recreational activities, great Southern food, and exciting events. Check out the most notable Labor Day weekend destinations in North Carolina.

1. Charlotte

Dynamic Charlotte, the state’s largest city, lies amidst gently rolling green hills in south-central North Carolina. Among the city’s many cultural and recreational attractions is the U.S. National Whitewater Center, where visitors can practice adventurous rafting and kayaking on the largest manmade whitewater river in the world. Other activities at the center include mountain biking, rock climbing, and zip-lining. On Labor Day, the center presents a major festival with a triathlon, a trail race, live music, and evening fireworks. On the southeast edge of Charlotte, the city of Matthews holds a massive four-day Labor Day festival with amusement rides, a petting zoo, arts and crafts, concerts, and fireworks.

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2. Asheville

Vacation rentals in the lovely city of Asheville are in the Blue Ridge Mountains at the confluence of the French Broad and Swannanoa Rivers in western North Carolina. Visit the extensive gardens at the famous Biltmore Estate, the largest privately owned house in the country, which glow with the first traces of autumn color. Take a day trip north into the mountains to Little Switzerland, the site of the Emerald Village RockFest, a three-day Labor Day event that features guided underground mine tours, treasure hunts, and live bluegrass and country music. Another nearby celebration is the two-day Canton Labor Day Festival, which has a vintage car show, a kids’ village, a handicrafts display, and plenty of live bands.

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3. Hendersonville

Hendersonville lies in beautiful foothills in southwestern North Carolina. As the center of the state’s largest apple-producing region, Henderson hosts the yearly four-day North Carolina Apple Festival over Labor Day weekend. Eight blocks of the historic Main Street fill with a street fair featuring apples and apple products, arts and crafts, and special exhibits. Other events include running races, bike tours, apple orchard tours, car shows, and a gem and mineral show. The festival culminates with the magnificent King Apple Parade, which presents marching bands, floats, antique cars, fire trucks, and other exciting participants.

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4. Bryson City

The town of Bryson City sits along the Tuckasegee River in the midst of the breathtaking Great Smoky Mountains in southwestern North Carolina. Accessible only by footbridge or boat, Bryson City Island Park in the center of the river is an ideal site for picnicking and fly fishing. Other nearby activities include rafting, kayaking, and mountain biking in the majestic wilderness. On Labor Day weekend, the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad rolls out a steam engine to power its Fontana Trestle Train BBQ and Brews excursion, which features a Southern-style slow-cooked barbecue meal paired with beer from local breweries.

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5. Beech Mountain

Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains in northwestern North Carolina, Beech Mountain is the highest town in the eastern United States at over 5,500 feet. The elevation offers spectacular panoramic views and a range of recreational activities. During Labor Day weekend, the town hosts the Mile High Kite and Craft Festival. Kite competitions with prizes take place on the town meadow. Other highlights include face painting for children, a crafts display, kids’ races, and an evening street dance.

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6. High Point

High Point lies between the watersheds of the Cape Fear and Yadkin-Pee Dee Rivers in the hills of central North Carolina. High Point City Lake Park is full of family-friendly activities such as a miniature train ride, a carousel, an 18-hole mini-golf course, and swimming pools with water slides. For music enthusiasts, the city also hosts the annual John Coltrane International Jazz and Blues Festival over Labor Day weekend. Every year, the country’s top jazz and blues musicians perform in concerts at the festival.

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7. Raleigh

Raleigh, the state capital, is known for its numerous cultural attractions, including the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, the North Carolina Museum of Art, and the North Carolina Museum of History. Over Labor Day weekend, the downtown area also hosts the annual African American Cultural Festival of Raleigh and Wake County. On the main stage are various individual musicians, bands, and dance ensembles. The Village Tent features cultural workshops, the Family Village has activities and entertainment for children, and the Vendor Marketplace has items by the African American community on sale.

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8. Wilmington

The city of Wilmington, which lies near the mouth of the Cape Fear River in southeastern North Carolina, abounds with fun, family-friendly Labor Day weekend activities. Take a pleasant walk through the fascinating historic district and along the scenic Riverwalk. Ride a water taxi over to explore the USS North Carolina Battleship and Museum. Thrill to the water slides, wave pools, and other activities at the Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park. As home of EUE/Screen Gems, Wilmington is known as Hollywood of the East, and you can visit filming locations of various famous TV shows and movies on the guided Hollywood Location Walk.

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9. Carolina Beach

Carolina Beach sits on the Atlantic Ocean shoreline in southeastern North Carolina. Miles of soft sand beaches make it an ideal location for swimming, sunbathing, water sports, and surf fishing. The Carolina Beach Boardwalk features an amusement park, eclectic shops, diverse restaurants, and vibrant nightlife. Don’t miss the final Fireworks by the Sea and Boardwalk Blast, a weekly event featuring live music and fireworks, which takes place on Labor Day weekend.

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10. Oak Island

Oak Island is located on a barrier island in the southeastern corner of North Carolina. The island is known for its long stretch of white sand beach, ocean pier, and lighthouse at the mouth of the Cape Fear River. The town of Oak Island hosts a yearly Arts and Crafts Festival on Labor Day weekend. Another popular event is the Oak Island Labor Day Surf Off at Ocean Crest Pier, which features competitions for men, women, and children in surfing and stand-up paddle boarding.

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