With diverse landscapes that range from the majestic Great Smoky Mountains in the west to the awe-inspiring Atlantic Ocean in the east, North Carolina offers breathtaking cities and towns ideal for a spring break getaway. The state’s incomparable scenery, pleasant climate, and rich history and culture attract visitors from all over the country. Many North Carolina vacation rentals are situated in proximity to abundant outdoor activities, amazing landmarks, great entertainment, and first-class dining experiences. Here are the best spring break vacation destinations in North Carolina.

1. Asheville

The lovely city of Asheville sits at the confluence of the French Broad and Swannanoa Rivers in the midst of the Blue Ridge Mountains in western North Carolina. Marvel at spring’s fiery foliage as you wander the trails at the North Carolina Arboretum. If you’re looking for a more thrilling experience, get a panoramic view of the city skyline and lush surrounding landscape while you enjoy zip-lining at the Adventure Center of Asheville. The Folk Art Center showcases both modern and traditional crafts of the Southern Appalachians. Tour the 250 rooms and spacious grounds of the largest home in America at the Biltmore House, or take a ride through mountain gorges and valleys bursting with blossoms on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. After a fun-filled morning and evening, sample fine craft beers from some of the best breweries in the area with your guide from Asheville Brewery Tours. Once your stomach starts to growl, join a guided walking tour of the best restaurants of downtown Asheville with Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours.

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2. Boone

The town of Boone is in the lush, beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in northwest North Carolina near the border with Tennessee. The Boone area section of the Blue Ridge Parkway provides easy access to spectacular natural landmarks, such as Mount Mitchell, Grandfather Mountain, Crabtree Falls, and Linville Falls. Rent mountain bikes from Magic Cycles and explore these breathtaking locations, or take a thrilling horseback ride over lovely forested hills with Vx3 Trail Rides out of nearby Blowing Rock. The fascinating Hickory Ridge Living History Museum recreates the cabins, clothing, tools, and lifestyle of 18th-century pioneers. Wander the streets of downtown Boone, and peruse the numerous art galleries, antique stores, and eclectic shops. Once you’ve built up your appetite, stop in at the Gamekeeper Restaurant for excellent meat or fish meals cooked over a wood-fired grill.

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3. Cherokee

Source: Flickr/junaidrao

Located in southwestern North Carolina at the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the charming town of Cherokee offers natural beauty and deep historic roots. The town is the headquarters of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation, and the Museum of the Cherokee Indian offers an absorbing look at Cherokee history and culture. Take a tour of the Oconaluftee Indian Village, which provides a living history of Cherokee dwellings, ritual sites, work area, and cultural dances. Rent a kayak or tube from Cherokee Rapids Tube and Kayak Rentals, and enjoy floating on the clean, beautiful Oconaluftee River, or angle for trout with an experienced guide through Fly Fishing the Smokies. Don’t forget to pick up some reminders of your exciting vacation by shopping for work from talented local artists at the Native American Craft Shop.

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4. Charlotte

Source: Flickr/James Willamor

The city of Charlotte lies in south-central North Carolina in the lovely Piedmont region. Visit the University of North Carolina Charlotte Botanical Gardens for a breathtaking look at gorgeous spring foliage. Learn about the area’s great music and artists at the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame. If you’re a fan of mid-20th-century contemporary art, peruse the vast international collection at the renowned Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. For a thrilling adventure in a safe environment, experience mountain biking, rope courses, zip lining, and whitewater rafting and canoeing at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. If you enjoy motorsports, take in a car race at the world-renowned Charlotte Motor Speedway. Take a guided food tour to some of the best restaurants in Charlotte with Tour De Food.

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5. Greensboro

Source: Flickr/Richard Janecki

The city of Greensboro, which is in the center of North Carolina amidst beautiful green rolling hills, offers a wealth of spring break activities for all ages. Take the kids to the immense Wet ‘N Wild Emerald Pointe Water Park, featuring over 35 rides and attractions. A great way to mix fun and education is with a visit to the Greensboro Science Center, which includes the Animal Discovery Zoological Park, the Wiseman Aquarium, and a museum with a fascinating dinosaur gallery. Head for the Greensboro Arboretum to enjoy the wonderful new blooms of springtime. For shopping, try the Four Seasons Town Centre, a three-level mall with over 140 stores. The Carolina History and Haunts Tour in downtown Greensboro is a fun and eerie guided experience that focuses on supposed sightings of local ghosts. Head for Smokey Bones Bar and Fire Grill for some great southern barbecued meat.

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6. Fayetteville

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Located along the Cape Fear River in the beautiful Sandhills region of central North Carolina, the city of Fayetteville is renowned for its natural beauty and historic significance. Walk the nature trails past lovely spring growth and dense stands of pine and hardwood forest at Cape Fear Botanical Garden. View displays on the history of the U.S. Army and special operation units at Airborne and Special Operations Museum. If you’re an outdoors person, rent a bike at the Bicycle Shop, and enjoy the magnificent views along the four-mile Cape Fear River Trail. Afterwards, relax with some typical southern fare at Vicky’s Famous Biscuits and Chicken.

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7. Elizabeth City

Source: Flickr/Wendy

Picturesque Elizabeth City is in the northeast corner of North Carolina on the shore of the Pasquotank River near Albemarle Sound and the Atlantic barrier islands. Stop by the Elizabeth City Visitor’s Center to pick up a loaner bike and an itinerary of all the great cycling trails in the area. Look to Albemarle Guided Fishing Charters to take you out on the sound to angle for flounder, largemouth bass, trout, and crappie. The Camden County Heritage Museum gives you fascinating insight into local history. Head out for an exciting weekend at the Downtown Waterfront Market for local foods, handicrafts, and live performances. Grouper’s Waterfront Restaurant, which is right on the docks, offers great seafood and a spectacular view.

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8. Wilmington

The city of Wilmington lies in the southeastern corner of North Carolina within easy reach of the coastal beach towns of Fort Fisher, Carolina Beach, and Kure Beach. Rent a bike at Wheel Fun Rentals in Carolina Beach and explore the coastal trails. Fish offshore for mackerel, flounder, shark, and sea bass with Carolina Explorer Fishing Charters. Don’t miss a visit to the awe-inspiring North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. In downtown Wilmington, visit the Cape Fear Museum of History and Science. Tour the famous battleship USS North Carolina, which is now a museum docked across the river from downtown Wilmington. The 67-acre Airlie Gardens offers beautiful nature trails where you can view blooming flowers, majestic oaks, pristine lakes, and local wildlife.

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