Escape to Southern charms and sunny skies with the kids any season of the year in North Carolina, where a pleasant subtropical climate means an adventure always waits around the corner. From golden sand beaches along the state's scenic coast to the verdant crags of the Smoky and Blue Ridge Mountains in the interior, North Carolina is a wild wonderland that the whole family will enjoy. Besides its natural treasures, the state has several cultural and historic cities like Charlotte, Chapel Hill, and Asheville, all filled with world-class attractions for families.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
A UNESCO World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most visited national parks in the country and a must-see for families traveling to North Carolina. After hiking through the old growth forest to Grotto Falls, climb up to Clingmans Dome (6,643 feet) to enjoy awe-inspiring views of the mountain ridges, or rent a bicycle to explore Cades Cove, a historic farming valley where wildlife traffic, also called "deer jams,”"are common.
Spend the night in one of more than 10 vehicle campgrounds throughout the park, or rough it and go backcountry camping. Don't forget to take the little ones outside at night to check out the fireflies.
The Outer Banks
Lying just off the coast of North Carolina, the 130-mile chain of barrier islands known as the Outer Banks offers numerous types of outdoor fun for the entire family. Wide swaths of wilderness beach lead into turquoise waters at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, where a historic lighthouse prevents shipwrecks just off the coast.
Head to Kitty Hawk to check out the Wright Brothers National Memorial, dedicated to the first manned flight orchestrated by the famous brothers. Take the kids to the site of the The Lost Colony on Roanoke Island, where the nation's longest running outdoor theater brings history and the mystery of the Roanoke colony to life under the starry sky.
A bustling college town nestled between the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains, Asheville offers the perfect mix of nature and city for a top-notch family getaway. Take a vintage trolley tour to experience the city's tree-lined historic center, and then spook the kids with a nighttime haunted city tour hosted by Haunted Asheville. Spend your days in the glory of the surrounding forested hills doing zip lines and river tubing. Don't forget to check out the Asheville Museum of Science, which features everything from paleontology to astronomy exhibits designed to engage family members of all ages.
About 100 miles into the Blue Ridge Mountains out of Asheville is the postcard-perfect, storybook mountain town called Blowing Rock. Besides tons of hiking and camping opportunities in the nearby park, the town is home to the Tweetsie Historic Railroad, where a steam-powered children's train puffs its way around the mountain to the delight of all. The Tweetsie complex also hosts a children's zoo, stages live Wild West reenactments, and is home to a variety of carnival-style rides and games.
If you're looking for a cultural hub to serve as home base while exploring the many facets of North Carolina with the family, look no further than Charlotte, the state's largest city. Home to Discovery Place, one of the top-rated children's museums in the country, as well as the critically acclaimed Children's Theatre of Charlotte and its musicals and plays aimed at a younger audience, the city is as family friendly as it gets.
Charlotte is also a major NASCAR mecca. Besides hosting heart-pounding races that will satisfy the thrill seekers in your family, the city is also home to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
With tons of natural scenery and children's attractions around every corner, North Carolina has plenty of attractions to delight the whole family. For more travel inspiration, be sure to follow @hertz over on our Instagram page.