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Family adventures throughout North Carolina

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Our neighboring state of North Carolina is a popular place for day trips and vacations. From the lush and adventurous mountains in the west to the beautiful coastline and Outer Banks in the east, there’s so much to do in North Carolina. If you’re planning a trip to North Carolina, we’ve got great information on where to stay, where to eat, and what to do.

This article includes travel destinations in:
Western North Carolina
Central North Carolina
North Carolina Coast

Looking to turn your day trip into an overnight trip when visiting North Carolina? Check out our list of Western North Carolina vacation rentals to help you choose the perfect accommodation for your epic adventure!

Western North Carolina

If you’re heading to WNC for a day trip or a weekend getaway, this information will come in handy. We’ve organized helpful content by city, so you can easily find things to do, places to eat, and reader-recommended accommodation tips. Enjoy your trip!

Are you looking for the perfect destination for a day trip? Check out our article on Mom-Approved Day Trip Destinations in WNC.

Ashville

Asheville is a popular destination for many of our readers. With a thriving arts scene, delicious and unique dining options, and a beautiful downtown to explore, it’s no wonder Asheville regularly makes it onto top travel lists across the country. Our helpful guides below offer information to make planning your trip to Asheville easier.

Check out our Asheville Guide for reviews of our favorite things to do in the area, plus some really great places to eat. Many of these places are recommended by our readers and we’ve included their quotes, so you know what to expect!

Sierra Nevada Brewery, Asheville NC

flat rock

Although Flat Rock, NC has become strongly associated with the famous poet Carl Sandburg, there is so much natural beauty, food, and exploration to enjoy. For more things to do, check out A Day in Flat Rock or check out our reviews of popular places in Flat Rock below.

Baby goats at Carl Sandburg House
Children’s Zoo at Carl Sandburg Home

Brevard

Brevard, NC is a cozy little area of ​​NC nestled at the entrance to the Pisgah National Forest near the SC border. Dining, river tubing, waterfalls, and hunting the white squirrels that inhabit much of the city make Brevard, North Carolina an ideal destination for a day trip. Check out our reviews of some of the fun things to do in Brevard below.

Indoor exhibits at the birthplace of forestry
Birthplace of forestry

Hendersonville

Hendersonville is a gem of the WNC destinations and is less than an hour’s drive from Greenville! Home to many U-pick orchards, tubing centers and wineries, activities in Hendersonville will punctuate your day’s itinerary. Don’t miss our list of free things to do in Hendersonville, NC! You can find reviews of some of Hendersonville’s best sites below.

Fairy house on the trail
Fairy House on the Bullington Gardens Fairy Trail

Cherokee

Cherokee, North Carolina is rich in history and culture while complemented by spectacular views of the Great Smoky Mountains! This is the place to go if you are looking for a mountain adventure where you can immerse yourself in the history of the eastern band of Cherokee Indians. You might even see elk crossing the Oconaluftee River during your visit! Check out some of our reviews of Cherokee, NC below.

blow rock

Blowing Rock is home to Tweetsie Railroad, one of North Carolina’s oldest Wild West-themed amusement parks. You can read all about Tweetsie Railroad in our review below.

Engine 12 at Tweetsie Railroad

Little Switzerland

Considered the “Jewel of the Blue Ridge Parkway”, Little Switzerland, North Carolina is the perfect stopover when traveling between North Carolina and Tennessee. Check out our review of Emerald Village in Little Switzerland below.

You can hunt for treasure at Bon Ami Mine in Emerald Village

Cashiers/Highlands

If you are looking to spend time with Mother Nature while traveling in North Carolina, then Cashiers, NC has what you are looking for. Filled with waterfalls, river tubing and beach lakes, the Highlands region is the perfect place to relax while enjoying spectacular views. We have reviews of some of the best things to do at cashiers below.

slippery rock
Sliding Rock in Cashiers, North Carolina

Town of Bryson

Bryson City is an adorable little getaway town in western North Carolina that’s home to the Smoky Mountain Railroad! Downtown offers shopping, dining, and the rich history of WNC without the touristy vibe of some of the bigger cities.

Polar Express Bryson City, NY
Polar Express to Smokey Mountain Railroad

Try

Tryon, North Carolina is a small town that borders South Carolina just above Landrum and is home to one of the largest equestrian centers in the country. You can check out more information in our review below!

Hello

Saluda, North Carolina offers an abundance of scenic wilderness and is only 50 minutes from Greenville. You can check out our review of one of Saluda’s most popular hikes (with a spectacular waterfall reward) below!

Rutherfordton

You can explore the quaint historic downtown of Rutherfordton, North Carolina when you visit neighboring Hendersonville. While you’re there, don’t forget to visit their amazing interactive children’s museum! You can find our review below.

What is KidSenses in Rutherford, NC

Looking for places to hike in upstate and western North Carolina? Check out our ultimate hiking guide to find the perfect trail to spend the day on!

Central North Carolina

The Central North Carolina region includes major cities such as Charlotte and Concord. With big cities comes lots of adventures to see! Below you’ll find curated content to help you plan the perfect trip to the Queen City and cities surrounding the Charlotte metro area, including places to eat, things to do, and awesome places to stay!

Charlotte

Queen City is the largest city in North Carolina. With great dining experiences, sporting events, and one of the largest amusement parks on the East Coast, Charlotte is a world-class destination. You’ll find tons of information in our Ultimate Guide to Charlotte, plus reviews of adventures in the Charlotte and Concord area below.

Charlotte Moter Speedway

Gastony

Gastonia, North Carolina is just south of Charlotte and offers a great day trip destination for those looking to get away for a few hours without burning a whole tank of gas. Check out our list of the 10 best things to do in Gastonia, NC, and find reviews of a natural history museum in Gastonia worth visiting below.

North Carolina Coast

surf town

Located near Wilmington on Topsail Island off the coast of North Carolina, Surf City is a quaint, quiet beach town ideal for families with young children. The town is within walking distance, with small shops and local restaurants to enjoy after a day at the beach. There is even a turtle rehabilitation center that you can visit. You can read our Surf City, NC review to see what this beach town has to offer!

Carolina Beach

Carolina Beach, North Carolina is a great option for a family beach vacation. This beach is less crowded than some other beaches but offers fun entertainment like an amusement park on the boardwalk. You can read our Carolina Beach review for great dining and entertainment ideas to plan the perfect beach getaway!

External banks

The Outer Banks are absolutely beautiful! Located off the northern coast of North Carolina, this 175-mile-long strip of barrier island offers quaint beach towns, massive sand dunes, wild horses, water sports, historic lighthouses and even more ! Check out our review of the Outer Banks, including popular destinations along the island’s coast such as Nags Head, Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills.

Kite flying at Jockey’s Ridge State Park