Best Places to Visit in the Carolinas
North Carolina and South Carolina are two East Coast states with endless vacation possibilities. From mountain towns to big cities to quiet coastal getaways, the Carolinas offer a heaping helping of affordable destinations and Southern hospitality. To help you decide which spot in Carolina is right for your next getaway, U.S. News considered factors such as the number of attractions, availability of accommodations and the opinions of everyday travelers to select the Best Places to Visit in the Carolinas. Vote for your favorite spot below to help determine next year's list.
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The charms of this coastal South Carolina city can't be understated, and travelers from across the country are taking notice. History buffs will enjoy walking tours through downtown, savvy Instagrammers can take advantage of photos ops along The Battery and Rainbow Row, and sun seekers can flock to nearby beaches. Plus, everyone will enjoy the world-class Southern cuisine.
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This North Carolina mountain town has gained acclaim for its vibrant arts scene and microbrew culture, but there's plenty for every type of traveler to explore. Its proximity to the Appalachian Trail and the Blue Ridge Parkway makes it a top pick for nature enthusiasts. And the massive, 250-room Biltmore Estate, built by George Vanderbilt in the late 19th century, is a must-see for architecture aficionados and romance lovers.
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The barrier islands that form the Outer Banks off the coast of North Carolina retain their small-town feel with locally owned shops and a family-friendly atmosphere. Here, you'll find inexpensive vacation rentals and sprawling public beaches that are rarely crowded. Those trying to get away from it all can spend their days lounging on the wide, sandy beaches of OBX or exploring the numerous lighthouses that dot the islands.
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About 100 miles south of Charleston, Hilton Head caters to a slightly more upscale crowd than the Outer Banks but the leisurely pace of the island is the same. Coligny Beach offers a wealth of facilities (think adjacent shopping and dining options), but those looking for less crowded sands should seek out the beach at Alder Lane. What's more, Hilton Head has earned the nickname "Golf Island" for its dozens of championship courses.
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This town of 65,000 people in northwest South Carolina has primarily stayed under the radar to travelers – but it may not be a secret for much longer. Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Greenville is earning a reputation as a culinary destination. In fact, more than 100 restaurants line Main Street. Plus, its charms extend outdoors with spots such as Falls Park on the Reedy and GHS Swamp Rabbit Trail.
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