For traveling twosomes on the hunt for a romantic retreat that offers escapes to both the beach and the mountains, North Carolina is the answer. Though the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains sprawl from Georgia to Pennsylvania, the highest peaks are found here. In fact, the Blue Ridge covers most of western North Carolina.
Do you and your better half prefer sunbathing in the sand to trekking the trails? Look no further than the barrier islands of the Outer Banks. After all, best-selling romance novelist Nicholas Sparks set some of his most epic love stories, including “Nights in Rodanthe,” “A Walk to Remember” and “Dear John,” along the North Carolina coast. Whether you and your partner are looking for heart-pumping activities or a heavy dose of relaxation, you’ll find it all in the Tar Heel State.
Romantic Getaways in North Carolina:
— The Duke Mansion
— The Omni Grove Park Inn
— Outer Banks
— Lake Lure
— The Fearrington House Inn
— Marsh Harbour Inn
— The Umstead Hotel and Spa
— Chetola Resort
— Treehouse Vineyards
— The Swag
Perfect for duos who crave a mountain getaway that doesn’t skimp on luxury, Highlands promises both. Located in southwestern North Carolina near the Georgia border, Highlands is one of the highest towns east of the Mississippi River, sitting at an elevation of 4,118 feet. Thanks to its alpine location, the town offers postcard-worthy views at every turn. If you and your partner are here to indulge, check in to Old Edwards Inn and Spa. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this Relais & Châteaux property offers a variety of accommodation options, including cozy cottages with fireplaces and private terraces. Even if you don’t want to splurge on a stay here, consider booking a treatment or two at the on-site spa.
For a little more seclusion, reserve a room at Half-Mile Farm, the sister property of Old Edwards Inn and Spa. This adults-only retreat sits on the outskirts of downtown Highlands and embodies a farmhouse charm thanks to its setting on serene Apple Lake and the 14 bucolic acres of trails that surround the property. Expect rustic-chic decor in the guest rooms and cabins, which feature hardwood floors, lake views and, in select accommodations, fireplaces and Jacuzzi tubs. Many past visitors praised the outstanding service and stunning grounds as highlights.
No matter where you choose to bed down, you’ll want to explore the area’s waterfalls. Take advantage of spectacular photo-ops at Dry Falls, where you can walk behind the cascading water, and Whiteside Mountain, where 750-foot-tall cliffs offer panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.
The Duke Mansion: Charlotte
With just 20 individually decorated rooms, screened-in porches, more than 4 acres of landscaped gardens and a full continental breakfast each morning, The Duke Mansion offers a taste of Southern charm in the heart of Charlotte. For the ultimate romantic retreat, consider splurging on the Dowd Suite, which includes a shared screened-in porch and a spacious bathroom with a soaking tub fit for two, among other amenities. Outside your digs, you’ll find a guest library — the ideal spot to grab a book before retiring to your porch — as well as a variety of decor details reminiscent of the mansion’s 1915 debut, such as checkered flooring and ornate chandeliers. For more local history, consider tagging along on a Segway tour of Uptown or a golf cart tour.
The hotel doesn’t have a restaurant on-site, but thanks to its central location, it’s within easy reach of the eateries and bars found in the city’s Uptown and South End neighborhoods, making the property an ideal option for adventurous twosomes eager to explore the city’s dining scene. Some of the city’s best restaurants, including Stagioni (an Italian gem) and RuRu’s Tacos + Tequila (a Mexican eatery known for its lively patio), are located within walking distance of the hotel. What’s more, The Duke Mansion offers room service for wine, beer and cocktails — perfect for a pre- or post-date night drink. For more accommodation options, check out the Best Hotels in Charlotte.
What could be more romantic than strolling through a vineyard with a wine glass in one hand and your love by your side? If this sounds like the dream scenario for you and your partner, consider a trip to Winston-Salem, known as the gateway to the Yadkin Valley. This region in northwestern North Carolina is home to more than 40 vineyards.
For the ultimate wine-filled getaway, head to Medaloni Cellars, a sprawling 22-acre estate about 15 miles west of Winston-Salem. The winery offers views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, as well as three on-site cabins designed just for twosomes. Or, for a taste of “Chianti in the Carolinas,” drive about 40 miles northwest of Winston-Salem to Raffaldini Vineyards and be transported to Tuscany via its dry Italian-style wines. Prefer beer to wine? Sign up for a trolley pub tour of Winston-Salem. You two will enjoy local brews as you pedal your way through downtown.
After a day of tastings, check into the 55-acre Graylyn Estate, where guests are referred to as “lord or lady of the manor” by the on-site butler staff. Turn the romance up a notch by booking one of the hotel’s premium suites, which tout ornamental fireplaces and 17-head showers, among other luxurious amenities.
The Omni Grove Park Inn: Asheville
Escape to the Blue Ridge Mountains with your sweetheart at the historic Omni Grove Park Inn. Built in 1913, this Asheville hotel boasts an enviable location atop Sunset Mountain and offers sweeping views of the stunning mountain range from its restaurants and select accommodations. Heed the advice of past guests and spring for one of the mountain view rooms to make the most of your alpine getaway. For many past lodgers, the unbeatable views more than justified the pricey room rates.
When you’re not admiring the scenery, indulge in a treatment (or two) at the resort’s 43,000-square-foot subterranean spa, which features cavernous rock walls, arches and tunnels. Or, if you and your partner prefer more adventure, put on your hiking boots and explore the property’s Sunset Trail, which travels within the grounds up Sunset Mountain. There’s also an 18-hole, Donald Ross-designed golf course on-site. When you’re ready to explore off the property, consider booking a guided hiking tour of the Blue Ridge Parkway or a walking tour of downtown Asheville. At the end of a fun-filled day, cozy up by the massive stone fireplace and settle into one of the rocking chairs in the hotel’s Great Hall.
For couples who prefer a city escape to a mountain getaway, Durham offers an affordable, yet luxurious respite. You’ll be transported to an English country house at the elegant Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club, which sits on the stately Duke University campus on 300 pine-filled acres. Challenge your better half to a round of golf on the hotel’s 18-hole Duke University Golf Club course, or venture off the property to the Sarah P. Duke Gardens. Sprawling across 55 acres, the attraction shelters a variety of gazebos, water features and themed gardens, such as the photogenic terrace gardens, perfect for stealing quiet moments with your sweetheart. Plus, access to the gardens is free.
For more leisurely strolling, head to Brightleaf Square, where historic tobacco warehouses shelter locally owned restaurants and shops. Celebrate happy hour in style at the Counting House, the restaurant and bar at the 21c Museum Hotel Durham known for its inventive cocktails and art-filled ambiance. If a more casual atmosphere is what you’re after, heed the advice of past travelers and head to Fullsteam Brewery, which abides by a “plow to pint” philosophy of using local produce to make its beers.
The Outer Banks is a popular vacation spot for families, but this chain of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina also offers an idyllic backdrop for those traveling sans kids. In fact, the Outer Banks provided the setting for the film adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks novel “Nights in Rodanthe.” You and your significant other can feel like the stars of your own romance flick by booking a stay at the six-bedroom, oceanfront vacation rental used in the film, the Inn at Rodanthe. Rates at this Hatteras Island hideaway are pricey, starting at more than $2,000 a week, but its unbeatable location just steps from the ocean, its multistory outdoor decks and its unique amenities, including an outdoor shower and a fish-cleaning station, may be worth the splurge.
If you and your sweetheart are looking for a more low-key accommodation option, consider The Tranquil House Inn on the Manteo waterfront. Housing just 25 rooms, the inn provides an intimate atmosphere thanks to its spacious decks and porches, complimentary breakfast, and afternoon wine and cheese reception — a favorite amenity among past guests. For more accommodation options, check out the Best Hotels in the Outer Banks.
No matter where you and your beau choose to hang your hat, you’ll want to admire the incredible coastal scenery of Cape Hatteras National Seashore and the Corolla Wild Horses, wild Spanish mustangs that live on the beach between the town of Corolla and the Virginia state line. For help spotting these majestic creatures and to learn more about the ecology and history of the island, sign up for a guided, four-wheel-drive tour of Corolla. Sports-loving pairs may also be interested in a paddleboard tour of Kitty Hawk and the North Carolina Coastal Reserve.
Although “Dirty Dancing” is set at a fictional resort in the Catskills, the iconic romantic drama was actually filmed in Virginia and North Carolina — more specifically, Lake Lure. Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains about 30 miles southeast of Asheville, Lake Lure invites amorous duos to have the “time of their lives.” Check in to T he 1927 Lake Lure Inn & Spa, where stars Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze stayed during filming, and treat yourself to a few nights in Johnny’s Cabin or Baby’s Bungalow (accommodations named after the film’s lovebirds).
Spot local attractions and landmarks featured in the movie during a guided boat or kayak tour of the lake, or get your heart pumping with a hike to the top of Chimney Rock at nearby Chimney Rock State Park. Though the 315-foot monolith wasn’t featured in the film, the sweeping mountain views it offers will no doubt inspire romance.
The Fearrington House Inn: Pittsboro
An ideal retreat for couples on the hunt for some quiet relaxation in a charming setting, The Fearrington House Inn occupies a bucolic location on a historic farm about 10 miles south of Chapel Hill. Take your pick between 32 individually designed guest rooms, which feature luxurious touches like heated towel racks in the bathrooms, fresh flowers and, in select accommodations, gas fireplaces.
Outside your digs, you can stroll hand in hand with your beloved through the property’s scenic grounds, which feature about 60 garden beds connected by brick pathways and lawns. Or, enjoy a romantic dinner at the on-site restaurant, acclaimed for its locally sourced menu (the chef uses ingredients from the on-site herb garden) and robust wine selection. You’ll find more amenities, including boutiques, a coffee shop and a spa, in the surrounding Fearrington Village complex, which shares space with the inn.
Looking for small-town charm and plenty of adventure? Brevard offers the best of both worlds. Located about 35 miles southwest of Asheville, Brevard sits in Transylvania County, known as the “Land of Waterfalls.” Grab a map and explore the region’s more than 250 waterfalls with your sweetheart by your side. Venture to Pisgah National Forest to snap a selfie in front of Looking Glass Falls, one of North Carolina’s most photographed waterfalls. For more impressive photo-ops, seek out Whitewater Falls — called the “King of Waterfalls” — as it’s the highest waterfall in the eastern United States. For help capturing the best photos of the falls and the surrounding mountains, sign up for a guided photo tour.
After a day of chasing waterfalls with your love, retreat to The Greystone Inn — a hit among past lodgers for its stunning location. Situated on Lake Toxaway, the largest private lake in North Carolina, the Greystone Inn offers just 30 guest rooms and suites. Splurge on a Hillmount Classic room for lake and mountain views, a private deck, an in-room fireplace and a deep soaking tub. At the end of the day, soothe sore hiking muscles with a treatment at the waterfront spa or admire the sunset from the floor-to-ceiling windows of the Lakeside Dining Room.
[Read: Top Cabin Rentals in the U.S.]
Marsh Harbour Inn: Bald Head Island
Sitting pretty on Bald Head Island, 2 nautical miles away from the North Carolina mainland, the Marsh Harbour Inn provides a tranquil setting for lovebirds looking for the ultimate escape. You and your partner will hop on a ferry in Southport for a quick 20-minute ride to the island, where the main modes of transportation are golf carts and bicycles. Mount Harbour Inn sprawls across 10,000 square feet and overlooks the island’s marina. You’ll want to reserve a room with a deck facing the marina to admire the views of the Cape Fear seashore.
When you’re not relaxing at the inn, take advantage of the island’s top features, including its 14 miles of beaches. Kayaking or canoeing the island’s creeks, hiking the Kent Mitchell Nature Trail or cycling the 15 miles of roadway will keep adventure-loving twosomes occupied. After a day spent exploring, turn up the romance with a sunset sail or by climbing the 108 steps to the top of the Bald Head Lighthouse, which offers 360-degree views of the state’s southernmost barrier island. To indulge in one of the island’s most beloved culinary traditions, time your visit for fall when locals celebrate the bounty of the sea with oyster roasts.
The Umstead Hotel and Spa: Cary
If you and your beau are in need of a getaway light on adventures and heavy on relaxation, consider The Umstead Hotel and Spa, which sits about 10 miles northwest of downtown Raleigh and is one of the city’s best hotels. Sprawling across 12 acres in Cary, near William B. Umstead State Park and overlooking a private lake, the hotel impresses travelers with its tranquil setting and luxurious, 16,000-square-foot spa. When you’re not admiring the forested landscape from the spa’s floor-to-ceiling windows, you and your better half can indulge in side-by-side couples massages or relax with body treatments and facials.
After you’re sufficiently pampered, explore the 3-acre lake via the property’s 1/4-mile walking trail, or peruse the on-site art gallery. The gallery features a collection of artwork from local and national artists, including renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly. With the help of an art brochure picked up from the concierge desk, you two can take a self-guided tour of the gallery without having to leave the premises. You’ll also want to stay on the property for dinner, as the AAA Five Diamond Award-winning Herons restaurant features multicourse dinners made from ingredients sourced from nearby farms, including the hotel’s own 2-acre culinary plot. After dinner, head to the Bar & Lounge for nightly live entertainment, a stocked wine cellar and inventive cocktails. When selecting your accommodations, consider upgrading to one of the lake view rooms or suites to make the most of the hotel’s stunning location — a recommendation from past guests. No matter which room you choose, you’ll enjoy a deep soaking tub, a Nespresso machine and complimentary Wi-Fi access, among other amenities.
Chetola Resort: Blowing Rock
After checking in to Chetola Resort, you and your significant other will find little need to leave this sprawling oasis in western North Carolina’s Blowing Rock. That’s because this 78-acre resort offers a variety of on-site activities and amenities to keep you and sweetheart occupied for days, including kayaks, paddleboats, tennis, daily fitness and yoga classes, a spa, hiking trails, an 8-acre lake and lawn games. According to past guests, the variety of on-site to-dos is a major highlight of a stay here. Note that the daily $19.95 resort fee covers access to activities and use of equipment, but spa treatments cost extra.
After you’ve worked up an appetite exploring the resort grounds, tuck in for a cozy meal at Timeberlake’s Restaurant, which features dishes like roasted Carolina quail and pan-seared duck accompanied by live music Wednesday through Saturday.
You and your beau will have three different accommodation options to choose from, including Chetola Lodge, Chetola Premier Condominiums and the Bob Timberlake Inn at Chetola Resort. To ensure a romantic atmosphere, traveling pairs may want to opt for a stay in the Bob Timberlake Inn at Chetola Resort, which is the resort’s stand-alone bed-and-breakfast. The inn offers just eight rooms, a personal innkeeper, an evening wine and cheese reception, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies nightly and complimentary breakfast, among other perks. What’s more, rooms at the inn feature fireplaces, whirlpool tubs and, in select accommodations, views of Chetola Lake.
Treehouse Vineyards: Monroe
What could be cozier than sipping vino with your beloved in a secluded treehouse? At Treehouse Vineyards in Monroe — about 30 miles southeast of Charlotte — amorous duos can rent one of three treehouses. Papa’s Dream Treehouse overlooks the vineyard’s pond and is equipped with a kitchenette, a bathroom with a shower, a queen-sized bed, heat and air conditioning, and a deck with a grill. Plus, there’s a porch with a hammock swing. For a bit more space, consider booking the Horsefeathers Hideaway, which can accommodate up to eight lodgers. You and your better half will have plenty of room to spread out and admire the vines from the treehouse’s 400-square-foot deck or the master bedroom. Other amenities include a kitchenette, one full bathroom and one half-bathroom, air conditioning and heating, and a gas grill. If you can’t get away for the full night, consider the Date Nite Treehouse, which you can rent by the hour. It provides a relaxing, secluded setting for enjoying the vineyard’s tranquil atmosphere from the treehouse’s spacious porch. The porch can accommodate up to six adults — perfect for double dates.
Even if you don’t spring for a treehouse, the vineyards still offer an idyllic setting for a unique date thanks to the rocking chairs and lazy swings scattered throughout the property. Pack a picnic or purchase snacks on-site to pair with the property’s delectable wines.
Not to be confused with Beaufort, South Carolina, this North Carolina town with the same name offers traveling twosomes a charming seaside getaway. Situated along North Carolina’s Crystal Coast in the southern Outer Banks, Beaufort features boutiques filled with local wares, a downtown marina, plenty of delicious seafood, historical sites and ferry access to Cape Lookout National Seashore. Acquaint yourselves with the waterfront and the historic district by renting bikes from an outfitter like Hungry Town Tours. As you two leisurely cycle along the waterfront and side streets, take time to admire the restored historic homes — many of which are designated with a plaque from the Beaufort Historical Association. History-loving pairs will also want to set aside an hour or two to peruse the North Carolina Maritime Museum, which features artifacts recovered from Queen Anne’s Revenge (the pirate Blackbeard’s original ship), a shell collection and the skeletal remains of a sperm whale that washed ashore in 2004, among other displays.
After you’ve explored downtown Beaufort, you can hop on a ferry to Cape Lookout National Seashore, which is filled with remote beaches perfect for quiet shoreline strolls with your significant other. Cap off your day with a sunset dinner at one of Beaufort’s popular seafood eateries, such as City Kitchen, Aqua Restaurant and Front Street Grill at Stillwater. Two top accommodation options in the area are the Beaufort Hotel NC, Ascend Hotel Collection and the Pecan Tree Inn. For a traditional bed-and-breakfast experience, book a stay at the Pecan Tree Inn, which offers several rooms with two-person Jacuzzi tubs and semi-private porches. For access to a plethora of on-site amenities, including a seasonal outdoor pool, a waterfront restaurant and a fitness center, consider the Beaufort Hotel NC.
The Swag: Waynesville
For lovebirds seeking an isolated, adventure-filled getaway, The Swag offers the perfect all-inclusive setting. Located in Waynesville about 40 miles west of Asheville, The Swag occupies 250 mountaintop acres on the border of Great Smoky Mountains National Park at an elevation of 5,000 feet. Take advantage of the inn’s convenient location by hiking into the park, or stay on the grounds and soak in the views from the front porch, relax in a hammock built for two or square off in a game of croquet or badminton. When you’re ready to up the romance factor, take one of the chef-prepared picnic lunches up to the treehouse.
Since The Swag only houses 14 rooms, you won’t be rubbing elbows with hordes of other vacationers. Most rooms feature wood-burning fireplaces, steam showers and private balconies, but if you and your better half are willing to splurge, consider booking one of the rooms equipped with an outdoor shower, a private sauna or a balcony soaking tub. For many past guests, the spacious rooms and stunning views were the highlights of their visits.
Nestled in North Carolina’s High Country amid the state’s highest elevations, Boone offers a great getaway for adventure-loving couples. Powder hounds will be happy to hear that the Boone area is home to the longest and largest slopes in western North Carolina, with three ski resorts to choose from. After a day schussing the slopes with your ski bunny by your side, you two can retire to one of the area’s cozy cabins — many of which come equipped with a fireplace or Jacuzzi.
If you and your sweetheart are visiting Boone in the warmer months, you can take advantage of the pleasant temps with a hike on one of the area’s top trails. The 2 1/2-mile Crabtree Falls Loop Trail leads to one of the most picturesque waterfalls in the Southern Appalachians and is a scenic spot to snap a selfie or even get down on one knee. Meanwhile, couples who consider themselves advanced hikers may want to tackle the trails that crisscross Grandfather Mountain; permits are required and challenging terrain, such as ladders that scale cliff faces, awaits brave hikers. For a more low-key vacation, hop on the Boone Area Wine Trail. The trail features three wineries alongside dreamy alpine scenery. A horse and carriage tour through Moses H. Cone Memorial Park is another memorable date option perfect for soaking up the views of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
When it comes to accommodations, you and your partner may want to book a stay at The Mast Farm Inn if you’re hoping for a romantic atmosphere that doesn’t skimp on luxury. Take your pick between the seven rooms available in the 19th-century farmhouse or the nine private cottages and cabins available on-site. The Loom House cabin in particular is a favorite among vacationing duos thanks to its gas fireplace, private porch and two-person massage tub.
More ways to explore North Carolina and beyond:
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