Small Town Charm
If you love a small-town vibe, discover the irresistible appeal of these road-trip worthy North Carolina destinations.
Four quiet North Carolina towns that offer big roadtrip appeal. BY MYRA WRIGHT
Historic New Bern is an alluring Southern town along the Trent and Neuse rivers and is the birthplace of Pepsi-Cola. It boasts a lively downtown consisting of shops, restaurants and riverfront attractions. Check out Tryon Palace, a living history site offering character interpretation, tours and programs. The Croatan National Forest offers 159,000 acres for recreational pursuits.
Blowing Rock is known as “the Crown of the Blue Ridge,” is located along the Blue Ridge Parkway and is named for an enormous cliff high above the Johns River Gorge. Fish or hike at Moses Cone Memorial Park, ride the rails at Tweetsie Railroad, launch an aerial excursion at High Gravity Adventures, or explore a natural gravitational anomaly at Mystery Hill.
The charming mountain town of Hot Springs, 40 miles north of Asheville, is named for natural hot springs that have transformed the area into a resort destination. The natural springs were thought by Native Americans to have healing powers. Today, you can relax in modern Jacuzzi tubs outside on the banks of Spring Creek and the French Broad River at the Hot Springs Resort and Spa. Or, hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail, tube, swim, raft, kayak or fish, shop local artisan crafts, and dine at one of many locally owned restaurants. Soar through the forest at nearby French Broad Rafting & Ziplines, or make a day trip to Biltmore Estate or Chimney Rock State Park.
Salisbury is 45 miles from Charlotte and the home of Cheerwine, the iconic cherry-flavored soda brand established in 1917. Salisbury and Rowan County’s countryside and urban vibe speaks to its unique character. Easily spend a day with family at Dan Nicholas Park, which has paddleboats, gem mining, a carousel, mini golf, an aquarium, a barnyard and a water plaza/ splash pad. Savor the sounds of nature at 200acre Eagle Point Nature Preserve with hiking trails and canoe and fishing access. Nearby attractions include the North Carolina Transportation Museum, Lazy 5 Ranch, and Patterson Farm. Tiger World, a nonprofit wildlife preserve for exotic animals in Rockwell, is a 20-minute drive.
Cheerwine calls Salisbury, North Carolina, home. Below, Tryon Palace in New Bern