The small town of Highlands is home to one of the most luxurious hotels in North Carolina, the Old Edwards Inn and Spa. Even if you don’t stay in this European-style resort, consider adding a meal at its award-winning restaurant, Madison’s, known for its farm-to-table commitment and harvesting ingredients straight from its own garden. Nearby Lake Glenville is considered one of the prettiest lakes in the state, making for a great excuse to rent a boat, kayak or paddleboard.
If you and your sweetie are winter sports lovers, then a trip to the Ski Capital of the South should be on your bucket list. Boone is home to several ski areas, with Sugar Mountain being the more challenging, while Beech is known for its 360-degree bar at the top of the mountain where it serves up its mountain-brewed beers. The rest of the year, couples that love to golf flock to the 70-degrees-or-less temperatures found here even at the height of summer.
As one of the most popular destinations in North Carolina, Asheville makes a great choice for couples that want to enjoy arguably the state’s best food scene, known as “Foodtopia,” as well as the easy access to the Blue Ridge Parkways, tons of hikes and a plethora of waterfalls. The city’s music and art scenes have also helped put this quirky destination on the map.
Raleigh is in the midst of a cultural boom, with more art, food and music-makers putting Raleigh on couples’ radars who want to take in North Carolina’s largest museum art park at North Carolina Museum of Art. This city is also home to renowned museums of natural sciences and history and several of the state’s best breweries.
This lovely little town nestled at the mouth of the Great Smoky Mountains is known for its railroad, which still provides joy-seeking train rides that offer a whole new way to appreciate the beauty of Western North Carolina. It’s also home to one of the less-crowded entrances to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and tons of amazing camping, hiking and river-tubing opportunities.
Durham has a youthful vibe thanks to its distinction as the home of Duke University and a lively little downtown filled with dive bars, great restaurants such as Toast and tons of cute art galleries. Take in a game or show and go on an old-fashioned pub crawl to make you feel like a college kid again.
The Outer Banks is a legendary beach destination that some families come back to year after year. Each city has its own little personality, but the best part of an Outer Banks vacation is its natural beauty, like the mysterious Carolina Bays, islands were wild horses run free and its huge sand dunes and unique geological makeup.
The Outer Banks gets a lot of attention as North Carolina’s beach getaway, but Wilmington makes for a wonderful home base for those who would rather have the conveniences of town (great food, shopping and fun) and take day trips to the nearest beaches, such as Wrightsville, Kure and Carolina – all three of which were recently named by USA Today as three of the state’s best beaches.
The Linville Gorge area offers a triple threat: the amazing gorge with terrifying cliffside trails, huge Linville Falls and easy access to one of North Carolina’s engineering feats, the Mile High Bridge at Grandfather Mountain. Bonus: Linville Caverns also make for a fun date day, and is a cheap, quick experience that’s especially nice on a hot day or after a challenging hike.
Last but not least, Charlotte makes an excellent choice for a couples’ retreat because it has basically everything you could possibly want to do. Home to nearly 1 million people, Charlotte has an NBA and NFL team, tons of swanky bars and restaurants and a never-sleep vibe that invites sultry late nights and leisurely breakfasts.