North Carolina almost has so many small, quaint towns that it’s hard to keep track of all of them. Between gorgeous main streets, cozy cafes, delicious restaurants…our small towns all have a lot going for them. But some are more than just towns; they’re communities. Places where everyone knows your name, and sometimes your business. But isn’t that why we love small towns? They have a real sense of community, like these 15.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
Forty miles outside of Asheville is the quaint town of Saluda. The population is only 500...making it one of the best kept secrets in NC. On Main Street you'll find cute coffee shops, mom n pop restaurants, and a shop or two. You can even stop by the train station to see a genuine 19th century caboose.
With a moderate climate, cozy feel, and sweeping mountain views, it's no suprise so many people want to call the small 'city' of Brevard home. The Hunger Games put Brevard on the map...but after the word spread, everyone realized for themselves why this town is just so amazing. The main street is full of life, shops, and restaurants while you're only a quick drive away from several outdoor activities.
The historic and charming town of Edenton will make you feel as if you've stepped back in time. The low population of just above 5,000 lends a small town feel right along the Albermarle Sound.
This is the birthplace of Nina Simone, and the arts are still very much alive in this small town. With a population of just over 1,000 residents, enjoy equestrian activities, outdoor recreation, and wine made right in town. Nestled in the Blue Ridge mountains, this small town is a beautiful secret.
5. New Bern
New Bern's history dates back to 1710. As one of the most historically rich places in the state, there's so much to do that I wrote a
dedicated to it.
Charming yet quirky, Bath is like stepping back in time. One stroll through this historic town, a few looks at some beautiful churches, and a smell of salt water in the air will make you realize why Blackbeard called Bath home. I'm sure everyone knew Blackbeard, too. He was rumored to hang out with his neighbor, Governor Charles Eden.
While Southport is part of the Wilmington Metropolitan area, this town has an energy of its own. Located on the beautiful Cape Fear River, residents enjoy waterfront dining, strolls through a charming downtown, and coastal living at a reasonable price.
8. Blowing Rock
In Blowing Rock you'll find beauty within the town as well as right outside. Tucked away in the mountains, Blowing Rock offers charming streets, delicious restaurants, and breathtaking mountain views. A popular place for retirees or those looking to get away from it all with popular ski resorts not far.
This small coastal town is the third oldest in the state of North Carolina. Located in the 'inner banks,' Beaufort is still fairly close to the beach. Beaufort also has its own Blackbeard history. Blackbeard ran his ship, Queen Anne's Revenge, aground near the present day inlet.
While Boone is certainly a college town (and city of Daniel Boone), its 14,000 or so residents can enjoy year long, breathtaking mountain views. The quaint King Street is filled with shops and restaurants. Just outside of Boone you'll find natural wonders like Grandfather Mountain, Elk Knob State Park, and of course the ever popular Blue Ridge Parkway. No wonder it's not just college students that call Boone home.
Located in Orange County, this little town has been ranked as one of the "coolest" towns in the nation, and It's really no surprise. You'll find coffee shops, art galleries, cute stores, hiking trails, and outdoor activities. The Wall Street Journal even did an article about how Hillsborough is "America's Little Literary Town" with a large amount of authors dominating the quaint population of just over 6,000.
Swansboro is a vacation in itself. With a population of only 2,000 this charming town is a well-kept secret! Swansboro has a gorgeous main street and is a popular destination for Crystal Coast tourists looking for delicious restaurants and unique shops.
Rodanthe is a place brimming with original Outer Banks charm. Only around 500 residents populate the island full time. But summer or winter, it's a gorgeous place that seems away from it all...in the best way possible.
14. Mount Airy
Not too far from Winston-Salem, you'll find the cute town of Mount Airy. It's ok if you call it Mayberry...Andy Griffith's legacy is still very much alive here. You can stop by Snappy Lunch for a delicious meal, then take a short drive to hike or enjoy mountainside scenery.
Known as "Little Washington," this town of 9,000 or so residents is located on the Pamlico River. Washington has found itself on national lists of most beautiful and "coolest" places to live.
North Carolina just has so many unique small towns located throughout the state. Makes you want to settle down and live the simple life. But what if you already are? Do you live in any of these towns or have a few you want to add to the list?