Home Travel 17 Top Romantic Getaways in North Carolina

17 Top Romantic Getaways in North Carolina

by Atlanta Business Journal

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 range covers most of western North Carolina.

Do you and your better half prefer sunbathing on the sand to trekking the trails? Look no further than the barrier islands of the Outer Banks. After all, bestselling romance novelist Nicholas Sparks set some of his most epic love stories – including “Nights in Rodanthe,” “A Walk to Remember” and “The Rescue” – 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 all the romantic getaways you seek in the Tar Heel State.

Romantic Getaways in North Carolina:

(Courtesy of Old Edwards Inn)

For duos who crave a mountain getaway that doesn’t skimp on luxury, Highlands is the perfect place to visit in the Carolinas. Located in southwestern North Carolina near the Georgia and South Carolina borders, Highlands is one of the highest towns east of the Mississippi River; it sits at an elevation of more than 4,100 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 the 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. It’s also home to a European-style spa that offers facials, massages and body treatments.

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 fields and forest that surround the property. Expect rustic-chic decor in the guest rooms and cabins, many of which treat you to lake views, fireplaces or Jacuzzi tubs. 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.

Taken from Southend, this picture shows the Charlotte skyline with its various lights on during a late blue hour

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If you and your significant other are on the hunt for a metropolitan escape that promises delicious food, trendy bars and great live music, consider a trip to Charlotte. The city’s rapidly growing dining scene leaves you with a dizzying array of restaurant options, but for a memorable meal in a cozy setting, make a reservation at The Fig Tree Restaurant. The restaurant occupies a historic landmark and serves a French and Italian-inspired seasonal menu. Cap off your evening by paying a visit to one of the city’s rooftop bars, such as Merchant & Trade at the Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel or Fahrenheit. If you prefer to enjoy a cocktail with a side of live music, head to one of the city’s smaller venues like Middle C Jazz.

Though the city is home to a variety of brand-name hotels, it also has its fair share of boutique properties, including The Duke Mansion. With just 20 individually decorated rooms, screened-in porches, more than 4 acres of landscaped gardens and a full 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 soaking tub fit for two among other amenities. Outside your digs, you’ll find a guest library and 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 sits within easy reach of the eateries and bars found in the city’s Uptown and South End neighborhoods. Take a stroll to intimate Italian eatery Stagioni or the lively patio at RuRu’s Tacos + Tequila. What’s more, The Duke Mansion offers room service for wine, beer and cocktails – perfect for a pre- or post-date night drink.

Exterior of Raffaldini Vineyards & Winery.

(Courtesy of Visit Winston-Salem)

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 west of Winston-Salem to Raffaldini Vineyards and be transported to Tuscany via its dry Italian-style wines.

After a day of tastings, couples can 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.

Asheville, North Carolina, USA Drone Skyline Aerial.

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With the Blue Ridge Mountains as its backdrop, a slate of tasty restaurants and an impressive brewery scene, Asheville appeals to those who love the outdoors as much as they enjoy a well-prepared meal. Start your trip with a scenic drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway, where must-see attractions like Mount Mitchell and Craggy Gardens provide the perfect setting for an exciting hike or an Instagram-worthy sunset. After you’ve worked up an appetite on the trails, treat yourselves to a delicious meal at one of the city’s top restaurants such as Cúrate Bar de Tapas, an intimate Spanish tapas restaurant, or Rhubarb, a farm-to-table eatery that specializes in Appalachian cuisine.

Asheville is also home to more breweries per capita than any other American city. Even if you and your significant other don’t consider yourselves beer aficionados, it’s still worth checking out a few of the city’s popular breweries, including Highland Brewing, Burial Beer and Bhramari Brewing.

When you’re ready to retire for the evening, take your pick between rustic yet romantic cabin rentals (many of which feature private hot tubs) or luxury at The Inn on Biltmore Estate. Just a shuttle ride away from George Vanderbilt’s 8,000-acre Biltmore, the inn offers guests easy access to the estate, not to mention a seasonal outdoor pool, a spa, and rooms and suites inspired by the old-world elegance of the original Vanderbilt home.

Interior of large spa at The Omni Grove Park Inn.

(Courtesy of The Omni Grove Park Inn)

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, bars 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 vistas more than justified the pricey room rates. If you don’t score a room with a view, you can admire the mountain scenery from Vue 1913, the property’s AAA Four Diamond Award-winning restaurant.

When you’re not admiring the landscape, indulge in a treatment (or two) at the resort’s 43,000-square-foot subterranean spa, complete with 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.

A pedestrian mall of retail shops converted from old tabacco warehouses in Durham, NC

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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 and serves as one of Durham’s top hotels. 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 now house 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.

Wild Horses with blaze pattern on the beach in Corolla, NC (OBX).

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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 Inn at Rodanthe, the six-bedroom, oceanfront vacation rental featured in the film. Along with its unbeatable location on the beach, the rental also features multistory outdoor decks, an outdoor shower and a hot tub, among other amenities.

If you and your sweetheart are looking for a more traditional 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 reception – a favorite amenity among past guests, who also recommend dining at the 1587 Restaurant & Lounge.

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: feral 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.

Couple on summer vacation enjoying walk on the waterfront. People waiting for the boat to Shackleford Banks. Beaufort, North Carolina, USA.

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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, known as the southern Outer Banks, Beaufort features boutiques filled with local wares, a downtown marina, plenty of delicious seafood, historical sites and seasonal ferry access to Cape Lookout National Seashore.

Acquaint yourselves with the waterfront and the historic district by signing up for a bike tour 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 designated with plaques 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 displays 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.

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. For a traditional B&B experience in Beaufort, book a stay at the Pecan Tree Inn, which offers several rooms with soaking tubs and semiprivate 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.

Sunrise Over Lake Lure with Mist.

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Although “Dirty Dancing” is set at a fictional resort in the romantic New York state destination of the Catskills, the iconic movie 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 The 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.

romantic getaways in north carolina

(Krystal Kast Photography/Courtesy of Fearrington House Inn)

An ideal romantic 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 from the gardens and, in select accommodations, fireplaces.

Outside your digs, you can stroll hand in hand with your beloved through the property’s scenic grounds, which boast about 60 garden beds linked by brick walkways and lawns. Or, enjoy a romantic dinner at the on-site restaurant, acclaimed for its farm-to-table menu (the chef uses ingredients from the on-site herb garden and local farms) and robust wine selection. You’ll find more attractions, including boutiques, a quaint bookshop and a spa, in the surrounding Fearrington Village complex, which shares space with the inn.

Looking Glass waterfall and river on a beautiful fall day in the Appalachians of North Carolina

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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. Couples can 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 Upper Whitewater Falls – called the “King of Waterfalls,” as it’s the highest waterfall in the eastern U.S. at 411 feet. 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 30 guest rooms and suites. Splurge on a Hillmont 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.

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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, bicycles and trams. Marsh 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.

Raleigh, North Carolina, USA park and skyline.

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North Carolina’s capital city offers a healthy dose of tasty eats at its top restaurants, interesting museums and a buzzing nightlife scene. Among the city’s standout cultural institutions is the North Carolina Museum of Art, which displays works from antiquity to the present and spans two buildings. Even if you’re not a fan of art, you should still plan a trip here to visit the free Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park. Sprawled across nearly 165 acres, it’s the nation’s largest museum art park. Along with winding paths for jogging and biking, there are also idyllic spots to set up a memorable picnic amid the park’s permanent installations.

If you’re looking for a unique date night, consider buying tickets for a performance at the Raleigh Little Theatre. You’ll want to arrive to the theater early to explore the enchanting Raleigh Rose Garden, which sits behind the performance venue and features 60 rose beds along with an arboretum of evergreen and deciduous trees. Another hidden spot perfect for romantic strolls: The 2.5-acre WRAL Azalea Gardens make for a popular outdoor wedding venue that’s tucked behind the WRAL television studios.

If you and your better half consider yourselves foodies, you’ll want to book a table at Death & Taxes, a swanky restaurant boasting a menu of local fried fish and roasted oysters. For something a bit more casual, stop by one of the city’s food halls, including the Morgan Street Food Hall and Transfer Co. Food Hall. End your night at one of Raleigh’s rooftop bars. The Willard Rooftop Lounge, which sits atop the AC Hotel by Marriott Raleigh Downtown, and Level7 at the AC Hotel Raleigh North Hills are two popular spots.

romantic getaways in north carolina

(Courtesy of the Umstead Hotel and Spa)

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. Sprawling across 12 acres in Cary, near William B. Umstead State Park, and overlooking a private lake, this pet-friendly hotel impresses travelers with its tranquil setting.

Explore the 3-acre lake via the property’s quarter-mile walking trail, or peruse the on-site art gallery. The gallery features a collection of artworks 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. 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 alongside other amenities.

Older couple drinking wine by the fire at Chetola Resort.

(Courtesy of Chetola Resort)

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, guided hikes, 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 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 Timberlake’s Restaurant, which serves up seafood, steak and more accompanied by live music most nights.

You and your beau will have three different accommodation options to choose from: 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, which is the resort’s stand-alone bed-and-breakfast. The inn offers just eight rooms, 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.

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. Choose from Papa’s Dream Treehouse or Horsefeathers Hideway for an overnight stay; both accommodations are equipped with a kitchenette, a bathroom with a shower, a queen-sized bed, heating and air conditioning, and a deck with a grill. For maximum space, go with the Horsefeathers Hideaway, which can accommodate up to eight lodgers with its pullout sofas. You and your better half will have plenty of room to spread out and admire the vines from the treehouse’s primary bedroom or the more than 400-square-foot deck.

If you can’t get away for the full night, consider the Date Night 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. Up to six adults can fit on the porch – perfect for double dates. But even if you don’t spring for a treehouse, the vineyards still offer an idyllic setting for a unique romantic outing 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 various wines.

romantic getaways in north carolina

(Courtesy of Jumping Rocks – The Swag)

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 to soak in the views from the front porch, relax in a hammock built for two, and 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 hotel’s treehouse.

Since The Swag only houses 17 rooms, you won’t be rubbing elbows with hordes of other vacationers. Most rooms feature wood-burning fireplaces, steam showers, and private balconies or patios, but if you and your better half are willing to splurge, consider booking one of the rooms equipped with an outdoor shower, private sauna or balcony soaking tub. For many past guests, the spacious rooms and stunning views were the highlights of their visits.

Crabtree falls on the Blueridge Parkway in North Carolina

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Nestled in North Carolina’s High Country amid the state’s highest elevations, Boone offers a great romantic 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 sweetheart 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.

Couples visiting Boone in the warmer months can take advantage of the pleasant temperatures with a hike on one of the area’s top trails. The 2.5-mile Crabtree Falls Loop Trail leads to one of the most picturesque waterfalls in the Southern Appalachians and makes for a scenic spot to snap a selfie or even get down on one knee. If you consider yourselves advanced hikers, you 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, follow 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 unique date option ideal 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 from the seven rooms available in the 19th-century farmhouse or the four private cottages 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.

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