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5 Charming Small Towns in North Carolina to Explore

When it comes to small towns in North Carolina, there are a few that really stand out. These five small towns in North Carolina towns are ones that you might not be aware of, but are certainly worth exploring.

5 Charming Small Towns in North Carolina to Explore

5 Charming Small Towns in North Carolina to Explore

These towns are considered the best small towns in the state:

New Bern North Carolina

1. New Bern

New Bern, known as the Birthplace of Pepsi and the state’s second-oldest town, offers a unique blend of natural beauty, captivating history, and warm Southern charm. If you are looking for a small North Carolina coastal town to explore, this is the one to choose.

From colonial architecture to waterfront views, New Bern promises an immersive experience to travelers seeking a quiet getaway.

The town’s bustling downtown is lined with bear sculptures that pay homage to it’s sister-town, Bern, Switzerland. Why Bern?

New Bern, North Carolina was settled in 1710 by Swiss immigrants & led by Christoph von Graffenried, who was from Bern.

Visitors get a taste of the town’s history at the Tryon Palace, a colonial-era mansion that once served as the first permanent capitol of North Carolina.

Tryon Palace Gardens

A stroll around the palace grounds leaves one in awe of the meticulously restored gardens that surround the grandiose structure.

Birthplace of Pepsi Cola in New Bern

One’s journey through New Bern is not complete without a stopover at the Birthplace of Pepsi, the very place where pharmacist Caleb Bradham invented the world-famous soft drink, Pepsi Cola.

This historic site now operates as a store selling memorabilia and Pepsi merchandise.

2. Mount Airy

Nestled in the gentle slopes of the Appalachian foothills, Mount Airy is a small town that is most remembered as the real “Mayberry” from the iconic Andy Griffith Show.

A visit to this town is akin to a journey back in time to a simpler era.

A stroll down the town’s main street reveals a delightful array of nostalgic landmarks that pay homage to the television show.

You might even see Barney Fife’s patrol car!

One of the unmissable attractions is the Andy Griffith Museum, home to a vast collection of memorabilia related to the television star and his namesake show.

A stone’s throw away, you can see the actor’s childhood home, preserved to retain its original charm.

3. Black Mountain

Black Mountain, North Carolina, is a quaint small town just 20 minutes from Asheville that boasts a unique blend of small-town charm, natural beauty, and an inspiring artistic community.

From its eclectic downtown shopping area to the 360-degree views of the beautiful mountains, Black Mountain offers an array of experiences that appeal to a broad spectrum of travelers.

Visitors will love exploring the quaint mountain boutiques that sell everything from antiques to hiking gear.

And a trip to Black Mountain is incomplete without sampling the local restaurants.

The town boasts a multitude of gastronomic delights, from farm-to-table dining to innovative South African-inspired cuisine.

The home to several local breweries, this little beer town offers craft beers & ciders that make a perfect end to a day of exploration.

4. Chapel Hill

Nestled in the heart of North Carolina, Chapel Hill is not just a town, but an experience.

Known as the “Southern Part of Heaven,” this vibrant community offers a unique blend of historic charm and modern appeal that never fails to captivate its visitors.

This destination is perfect for travelers seeking exceptional culinary scenes, vibrant arts and music culture, and a rich history embedded in its streets and architecture.

Home to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill’s lively spirit is heavily influenced by the intellectual vigor and youthful exuberance of its student population.

Take time to walk around the historic campus where you can enjoy the beauty of its historic buildings and green space.

Stop by Franklin Street which is filled with a variety of local boutiques, cafes and restaurants.

Chapel Hill is also a foodie’s paradise. From high-end dining to southern staples, the town’s culinary scene is diverse and delicious.

Beyond gastronomy, Chapel Hill is filled with cultural treasures.

Visit the Ackland Art Museum, which houses an impressive collection of Asian and European art.

Take a walk through the clustered gardens of the North Carolina Botanical Garden, a beautiful sanctuary for native plants and wildlife.

Finally, catch a performance at the PlayMakers Repertory Company and witness powerful storytelling by talented actors.

5. Lake Lure

Nestled amidst the charming ravines of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Lake Lure, North Carolina, lies waiting to be discovered by travelers seeking to be immersed in the beauty of nature.

A hidden gem, the small North Carolina town of Lake Lure will surprise you with all there is to do.

Visitors can check out the iconic inn and even take a boat ride around the lake.

Because some of Dirty Dancing was filmed in Lake Lure, you will find tours and even festivals celebrating the iconic lake lift scene!

Beyond spending time at the lake, visitors should also check out the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge.

This bridge was converted into a beautiful garden with over 2000 different plant species. Guests can walk the bridge for free, taking in the 30 colorful gardens and beautiful views of the foothills and Broad River.

Chimney Rock

A visit to Lake Lure is incomplete without exploring Chimney Rock State Park.

The park is home to a granite monolith standing a majestic 315 feet tall, providing stunning views of the lake and surrounding landscapes.

It’s a hiker’s paradise with trails ranging from leisurely walks to strenuous hikes, leading to enchanting waterfalls and stunning vistas.

There are so many small towns in North Carolina to explore, but these 5 are some of the best! While there is no way to see them all in a day, much less a week, at least one of them should be nearby a location you are visiting!

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