One of the best things about living in North Carolina, and especially the Charlotte region, is that we are a short drive from both the beach and the mountains. This makes planning a full-on vacation or a quick weekend getaway easy. No full days of travel you can get to either option after work on a Friday, and leave mid-afternoon on a Sunday. Getting a great trip in, without having to sacrifice a precious vacation day. Naturally, since it’s summer we talk a lot about the fantastic beaches and beach towns found in North Carolina. Many of these are nationally recognized. But maybe you aren’t a beach person. Or you have your favorite beach you go every summer but are looking for another vacation option. Look no farther than the North Carolina mountains and these quaint mountain towns.

There is something about strolling the main street of a mountain town, with that cool mountain breeze in the summer. Browsing shops and art galleries, grabbing a drink at a brewery or winery, and enjoying a meal at a great restaurant. Of course there are all the outdoor activities too if you’re into to that type of thing. Hiking, tubing, white water rafting, and more. All these can be down in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. But where should you go? There are many North Carolina mountain towns you will certainly enjoy visiting this summer. But I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorites.

Keep reading to see what they are and a little bit of what each has to offer!

  • Little Switzerland

    Little Switzerland is a tiny town right off the Blue Ridge Parkway. If you don’t know it’s there it could be easy to miss, but you’d be missing out! The town is located at mile marker 334 off the Blue Ridge Parkway and about an hour’s drive north from Asheville NC. Visitors enjoy mining at Emerald Village and hiking to Wiseman’s View or Crabtree Falls. Make sure to take in a home-cooked meal at the Switzerland Cafe in the heart of town. Looking for a fancier meal? You can find it at the Switzerland Inn Chalet Restaurant, served with some incredible mountain views. Kick back with a cocktail at the Foul Play Pub & Taproom.

    The main area of Little Switzerland features many shops including a general store, a bookstore (even I, not much of a reader) spent a while browsing around. There’s also a boutique, art gallery, and trading company.

    Want to stay in or stop by Little Switzerland? Get all the info you need here.

  • Blowing Rock

    I grew up going to the picturesque mountain town of Blowing Rock at least once a year. This small town is located a few miles outside of Boone off 321 and near the Blue Ridge Parkway. It features a main street full of shops, restaurants, and a public park (that has been redone but had the best slides when I was a child). Looking for a luxurious stay? Chetola Resort is a great option, or there are several inns many located on Sunset which runs perpendicular to the main street. Some of my personal favorite restaurants include Town Tavern which is always a must-do for lunch or dinner, or to watch a football game (guilty). Six Pence Pub has some great British Food, and I’d also recommend the Speckled Trout and the Peddling Pig. Don’t forget to grab and ice cream cone from Kilwins after dinner!

    Each month during the summer Blowing Rock plays host to Art In The Park a Saturday festival full of artisans set up in the park selling an array of products. Attractions include The Blowing Rock, Moses Cone House, and Tweetsie Railroad. And of course plenty of hiking and scenic views from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Learn more about visiting Blowing Rock here.

  • Hendersonville

    Hendersonville is a vibrant and beautiful town full of southern hospitality. A short drive from Asheville it offers everything you could want in a North Carolina mountain town. Park your car as your won’t need it, the town is easily walkable to destinations like wineries, breweries, and cideries. Visit the Apple Valley Model Railroad Museum, Historic Johnson Farm, and Western North Carolina Air Museum. Enjoy a bite to eat at restaurants such as Bay Breeze Seafood, Blue Ridge Pizza Company, or Campfire Grill. Grab a cone at Luv Ice Cream or Mills River Creamery.

    There are just a small sampling of the fun to be had in Hendersonville, learn more here.

  • Lake Lure

    Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains you’ll find the breathtakingly gorgeous Lake Lure. This man-made lake is surrounded by mountains and even Chimney Rock. Walk across the flowering bridge or on the boardwalk. You can even go to the “beach” in this mountain town. If that’s not the best of both worlds I don’t know what is! Visitors can take in the beauty or hikes or tours. Perhaps you want to participate in a round of golf at Lake Lure Golf Club. A visit in September could put you there during the yearly Dirty Dancing Festival.

    Dine with spectacular views of the lake at Lake House Restaurant Bar & Grill. Or grab a bite at Lake Lure Inn Moose and Goose Lounge or Point of View Restaurant.

    Get more info on Lake Lure here.

  • Banner Elk

    The small town of Banner Elk sits outside Boone and offers all that small-town charm you love, along with the amenities that you need. The single-stoplight town is home to Grandfather Mountain and many outdoor adventures. Rent a house or stay at the Bearfoot Lodge. For that special meal make sure to dine at Louisiana Purchase (LP) on Main. Other fantastic restaurants include Stonewalls, Sorrento’s Italian Bistro, and Bayou Smokehouse. Kids and adults (myself included) will love the thrills of the area’s only alpine coaster- Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster.

    Adventure lovers will want to take part in activities like rafting, tubing, and hiking. Personally, you’ll find me browsing one of the art galleries, and shopping at stores such as Southern Market Collections or Twisted Twig. And afterward, wind down with a glass of wine at Banner Elk Winery.

    Planning a visit to Banner Elk, here’s all the info you need!

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