North Carolina has something for everyone — from magnificent mountains and sandy beaches to modern cities and trendy enclaves. Whether you plan to sunbathe on the beach or dance the night away downtown, the activities and attractions in North Carolina are nearly endless. Don’t forget to tour one of many local microbreweries and wineries. That said, check out the top eight getaway spots to book a North Carolina vacation rental. Your weekend adventure awaits in this lovely state.

1. Currituck

lighthouse overlooking a boathouse dock

Currituck is part of the North Carolina coastline system of coastal towns and barrier islands called the Outer Banks. The area is known for its natural beauty, secluded beaches, wetlands, forests, and the wild horses that live on the islands. Enjoy sweeping ocean views in waterfront vacation rentals on the mainland or on the beach. Try a day of enjoying nature by taking the ferry over to Knotts Island to discover the Martin Farm and Winery, where you can sit down and relax for a spell. Back on the mainland, head south to visit the Weeping Radish, the state’s oldest microbrewery. Just a mile away, Sanctuary Vineyards serves about 10 different wines. Your trip to the Outer Banks just isn’t complete without taking a wild horse tour on Corolla Island with one of the 10 or so guided tour companies.

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2. Pilot Mountain

pilot mountain

Pilot Mountain is named after the very distinctive landmark Pilot Mountain, which is nearby. The drive up to Pilot Mountain State Park takes you along a quiet, wooded forest road to the parking lot at the top, where you can leave your car and follow any of the hiking trails. Several look-out points reveal breathtaking views of the valley below. As for the town, locals believe it served as the inspiration for Mount Pilot that was often mentioned on “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Mayberry RFD.” A drive of about 11 miles to the northwest puts you in Mount Airy, the model for Mayberry and the town where Andy Griffith grew up. Take a tour of the town in a replica of the Mayberry squad car to see the Mayberry jail and other points of interest. With just a 26-mile drive to the southeast, Pilot Mountain is close enough to Winston-Salem to allow your family an opportunity to enjoy live theater, fine dining, and the arts.

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3. Asheville

a cycle pub
Source: Flickr/cifraser1

An epicenter for street performers, musicians, and artists, Asheville is known as the “San Francisco of the South.” Stroll downtown to rummage through art galleries, organic food stores, and boutiques where the vibe is laid-back and friendly. The restaurant scene features dozens of cuisines that you can sample when you join one of the guided food tours. There are lots of breweries that are within walking distance of each other in the downtown area, or take the Brews Cruise to check out some of the breweries located outside the town limits. One of the fun attractions is pub-cycle. Hop on with like-minded visitors to pedal around town for beer. Unwind in a hot tub at Shoji spa, relax in silence in a salt cave, or sign up for the pampering of your choice at any of Asheville’s spas.

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4. Asheboro

pisgah covered bridge
Source: Flickr/Donald Lee Pardue

As the geographical center of the state, Asheboro gives your family many opportunities for a weekend of adventure. The place to start your weekend getaway fun is at the North Carolina Zoo, located less than 15 minutes from downtown. It’s the largest natural habitat zoo in the country; the animals roam on grass and dirt and among trees and ponds outside the confines of steel cages. Browse the gift shops for souvenirs, and stop by one of the on-site restaurants for burgers or sandwiches. The American Classic Motorcycle Museum in Asheboro displays a beautiful private collection of antique and classic Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Pick up some burgers and hot dogs at Dixie Express to take for a picnic at Pisgah Covered Bridge in the Uwharrie National Forest, which is about 20 minutes south of town. San Felipe serves Mexican cuisine, or you can get steaks and seafood for dinner at Timothy’s.

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5. Charlotte

water banks of charlotte

Uptown Charlotte features the mall, where kids love the LEGO store. It’s a polished area with beautiful flowers, fountains, and park benches. About 25 minutes away, Carowinds amusement park sits on the border of the Carolinas. The largest water park in the Carolinas is there, with rides and slides for all ages. To change the pace, Charlotte Motor Speedway gives you the opportunity to ride in a race car with a driver who takes you around the track at speeds up to 180 mph. When you’re finished, race over to Mac’s Speed Shop on South Boulevard for barbecue and southern cuisine. Mac’s also serves over 160 beers from all over the world.

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6. Linville

swinging bridge at linville grandfather mountain
Source: Flickr/Jared

Grandfather Mountain in Linville welcomes you to test your mettle on the Mile High Swinging Bridge, where the brave-at-heart enjoy magnificent panoramic views. Whether you cross the bridge or stand back to admire its artistic beauty, it’s an experience to remember. The bridge is a total of 228 feet long, spanning an 80-foot chasm at one point that is one mile deep.

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7. Carolina Beach

carolina beach boardwalk
Source: https://www.carolinabeach.org

The amusement park on the Carolina Beach Boardwalk brings excitement and makes great memories of the beach, from the giant Ferris wheel to the fun houses to the rides. The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher puts your family nose-to-nose with some interesting marine animals in sparkling aquarium displays and gives you the opportunity to learn about state history. At the end of the day, take in a stunning sunset at the Tiki Pier, with dinner, cocktails, and music.

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8. Highlands

dry falls at highlands north carolina
Source: Flickr/Patrick Mueller

Highlands is a little mountain town nestled in the Nantahala National Forest. About three hours from Atlanta, this vacation destination has art galleries, fine-dining, and scenic beauty. For nuances of Europe and New Orleans, try dinner at Wolfgang’s Restaurant & Wine Bistro, where there’s a wine cellar with 700 wines. Try the grilled venison wrapped bacon or the Cajun barbecued shrimp. Among the many scenic spots, you can easily drive to Bridal Veil Falls and Glen Falls, which are about three miles from the downtown area.

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