Summer is almost here, which means it’s time for warmer weather, sunnier days and vacation getaways. And the beautiful state of North Carolina has plenty of great places to vacation, whether you’re into relaxing on a beach, hiking to a waterfall or riding a roller coaster. There’s something for every interest, every budget and every schedule, from the mountains in the west to the beaches of the eastern coast.

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Brevard Sliding Rock is a 60-foot natural waterslide
Sliding Rock is a 60-foot natural waterslide

Brevard (Hotel Prices & Photos)

Brevard, NC is a small town nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, but it is still packed with fun things to do this summer. Perhaps the most well-known tourist attraction in this area is Sliding Rock – a natural “slip n’ slide” made from a 60-foot flat boulder, 11,000 gallons of natural rushing water per minute and a eight foot deep wading pool at the bottom. But, that’s not all the area has to offer. There are plenty of other areas to enjoy by mountain bike, hike or even zip line, including the Pisgah National Forest and the Nantahala National Forest. Back in the downtown area of Brevard, there are lots of unique shops, fine art galleries and restaurants featuring world-class chefs. And of course, the infamous white squirrels that you’ll see running around town that are so popular, they have their own festival here every spring!

Bald Head Island Old Baldy Lighthouse, Bald Head Island
Old Baldy Lighthouse, Bald Head Island

Bald Head Island (Hotel Prices & Photos)

Back on the east coast of North Carolina, Bald Head Island is like a world all unto itself. First of all, the only way to get there is by a 20-minute ferry ride from nearby Southport. Which means, once you get there, you’ll feel like you’ve left the hustle and bustle of the “real world” behind you. In fact, you won’t even find any cars on the island! Just walkers, bicyclists and people getting around by the transportation of choice – golf carts. There’s plenty of outdoor beauty to enjoy here including 14 miles of pristine beaches, as well as the Bald Head Island Conservancy, where you can take part in a turtle walk during the summer.

Wilmington Kure Beach, Wilmington, NC
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Kure Beach, Wilmington, NC

Wilmington (Hotel Prices & Photos)

The picturesque coastal town of Wilmington is the perfect summer getaway thanks to its two beaches and historic downtown area. With the upscale community of Wrightsville Beach at one end of the city and the laidback community of Carolina Beach at the other, there are plenty of places to lay out on the sand, bike around town or just wander through the souvenir shops. Plus, the downtown district of Wilmington is full of unique restaurants, bars and shopping like the historic outdoor mall, The Cotton Exchange, as well as several unique tourist attractions like the Cape Fear River tours and the U.S.S. North Carolina Battleship.

Charlotte Charlotte, North Carolina
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Charlotte, North Carolina

Charlotte (Hotel Prices & Photos)

The Queen City of Charlotte, NC is packed with all kinds of things to do in the summer, whether you’re into sports, the outdoors or just taking in the sites. First, for sports lovers, there are Charlotte Knights baseball games, the NASCAR Hall of Fame and guided tours of the Carolina Panthers’ Bank of America Stadium, held on Wednesday and Friday mornings. Outdoor enthusiasts will want to check out the city’s many parks and green spaces, as well as the National Whitewater Center, where you can go white water rafting, mountain biking, hiking, rock climbing or take on a ropes course. Or if you’re just looking to shop and dine, Charlotte has plenty of places for that too, from the bustling Center City area, to the artsy NoDa community and the upscale Southpark area.

Beaufort BEAUFORT NORTH CAROLINA - Businesses on Front Street in downtown Beaufort
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BEAUFORT NORTH CAROLINA - Businesses on Front Street in downtown Beaufort

Beaufort (Hotel Prices & Photos)

Also located on the coast of North Carolina, is the state’s third oldest town, Beaufort. This sleepy little seaside town is home to Fort Macon State Park – a restored fort from the Civil War, the North Carolina Maritime Museum and most famously, the Island Express Ferry Service, which offers rides along the Crystal Coast and drops you off to explore Shackleford Banks, where you can hunt for seashells, go fishing or swimming, and if you’re lucky, catch a glimpse of the area’s wild horses.

Beech Mountain During the summer, the Beech Mountain Ski Resort turns into a mountain biker's dream.
During the summer, the Beech Mountain Ski Resort turns into a mountain biker's dream.

Beech Mountain (Hotel Prices & Photos)

Although you may only think of the ski town of Beech Mountain as a winter getaway destination, it is anything but! In the summer, Beech Mountain Resort totally transforms from a winter wonderland into a haven for summer sports and relaxation. Mountain bikers from beginner to advanced will love riding the trails that are often used for National Championships. If you’re just starting out, they also offer mountain biking lessons and camps. There’s also a professional-level, 18-hole disc golf course that stretches across 100 acres and offers breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. If you want to enjoy the views, but prefer a little more relaxation, check out their Mile High Yoga, which takes place on a platform at the summit of the mountain at 5,506 feet in elevation. The ski lifts are also open for scenic rides as you climb 830 feet up to the summit.