Time is flying by and believe it or not, Memorial Day will be here before you know it. So, why not get rid of those “will winter ever end?” doldrums by planning your holiday weekend getaway now. The state of North Carolina has plenty of beautiful places to get away to, from the mountains to the coast, each with its own unique set of attractions, restaurants, and nightlife. Whether you’re looking for action and adventure, or just a simple place to rewind and relax, you’ll find it in the Tarheel State.
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Charlotte (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Known as the “Queen City,” Charlotte, NC has all of the trappings of a big city, with the charm and friendliness of a small town. There’s never a lack of things to do here with a slew of delicious restaurants, plenty of shopping from boutiques to large malls, live music, breweries, wineries and unique attractions like Carowinds amusement park, Discovery Place, the NASCAR Hall of Fame and the National Whitewater Center. Whether you want a low-key relaxing weekend or a busy, active one, Charlotte has something perfect for you. Plus, there are several special events happening over Memorial Day weekend including the Coca Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and the Memorial Day Celebration at the U.S. Whitewater Center, which includes trail races, yoga, live music and fireworks.
Wilmington (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Located along the Cape Fear River, the beautiful waterfront town of Wilmington, NC is like a scene out of a Nicholas Sparks movie. In fact, it’s been just that several times. The historic downtown district is filled with quaint boutiques, restaurants and a variety of things to do from shopping at The Cotton Exchange to taking a guided boat tour down the river. The scenic Riverwalk that extends for a mile along the riverfront also offers waterfront dining, as well as a chance to unwind and take an after dinner stroll. For Memorial Day weekend, you can enjoy art from more than 80 local artists at the Orange Street Artsfest, the city’s largest downtown arts festival. Or to offer your thanks and pay your respects to those who have fought for our country, you can visit the Battleship North Carolina and join in their Memorial Day Observance Ceremony, which includes patriotic music, guest speakers and a 21-gun salute.
Asheville (Hotel Prices & Photos)
The beautiful city of Asheville, located in the mountains of western North Carolina, may be most famously known for Biltmore – the majestic estate that is the largest residential home in the country. And while it is a perfect Memorial Day excursion itself, there are also numerous other things to do while in this quaint mountain town. If you’re coming into the city on a Friday night, you’ll definitely want to check out the infamous drum circle that takes place every Friday evening in Pritchard Park in downtown Asheville. Then, spend some time exploring the streets of downtown and enjoy the eclectic shops, cafes and maybe even play a game or two at the Pinball Museum. For the rest of your weekend, why not go for a tasting at one of the area’s numerous craft breweries or get outside for some adventure and enjoy some of Asheville’s many biking and hiking trails or take a tube or kayak down one of the six area rivers.
Raleigh (Hotel Prices & Photos)
If you’ve never visited the capital city of North Carolina, Memorial Day weekend is the perfect time to check it out. Although Raleigh always has a wide variety of things to do from restaurants and nightlife, to shopping and sports, the holiday weekend brings a few extra attractions to the area. First, there’s the WRAL Freedom Balloon Fest, which features dozens of hot air balloons, tethered balloon rides, food, arts and crafts vendors and more. If you’re into live music, there are several concerts that weekend to choose from, including Franz Ferdinand at the Lincoln Theatre. But, what could be more American than enjoying a good old fashioned baseball game on Memorial Day weekend? Watch the Carolina Mudcats play the Myrtle Beach Pelicans and make sure to stay for the fireworks after the game!
Winston-Salem (Hotel Prices & Photos)
For the ultimate old-meets-the-new getaway, take a visit to Winston-Salem where you can experience the conveniences and perks of a modern city, while also taking in some rich history. Downtown Winston-Salem offers lots of restaurants, bars and nightlife for the perfect date night out. While the area known as “Old Salem” will instantly take you on a trip back in time. Explore historically persevered buildings, watch a blacksmithing demonstration, sample some Moravian sweet cakes at the bakery and even stop in for a pint at the old tavern. To top off your weekend, make sure to visit the 17th Annual North Carolina Wine Festival, which takes place on May 26th in nearby Clemmons, where you can taste over 100 different varieties of North Carolina wine.