Whether you’re looking to skip town on the actual big day, or simply hoping to embrace the season in a new place for a weekender or day trip, traveling around the holidays is surprisingly fun, and quite easy if you keep it simple by choosing destinations for a North Carolina Christmas vacation within driving distance.
Break with tradition this year and let someone else do the cooking, cleaning, and hosting at one of these perfectly festive hotels. Or, pack up the car and take a roadtrip to your choice of the many towns and cities in the Carolinas that know exactly how to deck the streets and spread holiday cheer through the community.
North Carolina Christmas Vacation: HOTELS
The Inn on Biltmore Estate
Experience the holiday cheer of the iconic Biltmore, where a châteauesque aesthetic meets modern comforts. Enjoy the spectacular seasonal decor, cozy lodging and amenities unlike anything you have experienced in North Carolina before. As the crown jewel of our state, Biltmore is sure to delight the whole family this holiday season and is always a top North Carolina Christmas vacation destination.
The Biltmore Village Hotel
The Biltmore Village Hotel is also located on the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, but offers a more intimate experience. Guests will find themselves walking distance from the Antler Hill Village, Winery and Farmyard, with access to activities such as bird-watching and kayaking. Enjoy a quiet escape with a stunning view of the Blue Ridge Mountains at the Biltmore and the glittering holiday décor that adorns each area of the estate.
Omni Grove Park Inn
Located in Asheville, overlooking the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains, the Omni Grove Park Inn provides an ideal holiday getaway for a variety of interests. Enjoy a hot chocolate on a brisk day at the Sunset Terrace. Also, experience the authentic Southern cuisine of the Blue Ridge restaurant. If you’re feeling especially festive, the annual National Gingerbread House Competition is for you. Experience the winter splendor of the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway, or get your holiday shopping done in downtown Asheville. All in all, the Omni Grove Park Inn has much to offer for those wishing to experience the magic of the season, North Carolina-style.
Grand Bohemian Asheville
This beautifully luxurious hotel is located right by the Biltmore in Asheville, NC. It is also pet-friendly, which is helpful for holiday travel. While at the Grand Bohemian, you’re granted full access to the beautiful scenery and lively city that will help you get into the Christmas spirit. Dine on-site at Red Stag Grille, or enjoy the Poseidon Spa.
The Ballantyne Hotel
Enjoy a “staycation” just minutes away from home at The Ballantyne Hotel. Just a 20 minute drive from Uptown Charlotte, the hotel is a well-kept gem. Join the festivities on Christmas Day and enjoy the Ballantyne Ballroom Buffet, the hotel’s annual Christmas feast. Spend a day relaxing in the hotel’s luxury spa, or enjoy the high-end Southern cuisine at The Gallery restaurant, and make sure to have a sample of their whiskey collection, one of the largest in the Carolinas.
Reconnect with nature and relax at this immersive lodge. If you are looking for a peaceful escape, look no further than Chetola Resort, located a walking distance from the village of Blowing Rock in the mountains of North Carolina. From November through January, enjoy the annual Festival of Lights by walking or driving the pond loop. For more fun, head to the sporting range, the spa or indulge in seasonally-inspired dining at Bob Timberlake’s.
The Duke Mansion
Just two miles outside of the Queen City, the Duke Mansion allows guests to experience the lively city and relax away from the boisterousness of the city. The property covers 4 and 1/2 acres for guests to stroll through, and the Mary DBT Gardens provides guests with beautiful scenery. During the holiday season, enjoy the annual “high tea and shopping” event with local vendors on site.
North Carolina Christmas Vacation: TOWNS
Southern Pines and Pinehurst, NC
The Sandhills are a great place to visit for the holidays. It’s not as cold as some of the other towns on the list, so you can get out and about and enjoy some outdoor activities while visiting which is always nice. Maybe you like golf and want to play a round of golf in the mild conditions. But after 18, it’s time to get in the spirit of the season. You can do this so easily here. The downtowns of both Pinehurst and Southern Pines sparkle. Storefronts and windows are decked out in displays. There are tree lightings, holiday carriage rides, and a lot of area parades. For all the holiday goodness and things to do in Moore County NC this time of year, click here.
Franklin’s annual Winter Wonderland festival is the perfect place to spruce up your holiday season. Bundle up and sip on hot cider while you take a carriage ride through the quaint city streets. Or, opt to walk through the downtown, where you can shop and take in the sights and sounds of the season with several of the living window displays. Moreover, enjoy local shops where you can purchase artwork, pottery or handmade gifts, and don’t forget to stop at Honeysuckle Bakehouse, which sells delicious cakes, pastries and other festive treats perfect to bring with you to a holiday party.
Sylva offers the perfect North Carolina Christmas vacation. For those who want to brave the cold, take a hike at Pinnacle Park and take in scenic winter views. Or, head downtown and shop local for your gift needs. While there, you can stop at the Farmhouse Mercantile and Coffee bar, and sip on a delicious cup of coffee while you browse the boutique store.
To enjoy the flavors of the season, drive up to Davidson, NC. This cozy town, situated right on Lake Norman, is about 30 minutes north of Uptown Charlotte and home to several eclectic and unique dining experiences. Savor the season at Summit Coffee, where you can relax with a cup of their spiced apple cider and for dinner, head to Kindred, where the team carefully curates small plates that incorporate the best flavors of the season. Expect Davidson to be decked out with twinkling lights and other festive notes. For one weekend in December, Christmas in Davidson, an annual festival, takes over the entire Main Street with vendors, a tree decorating contest, sleigh rides, and more.
North Carolina’s most iconic mountain town, the seasonal delights of Asheville are endless. Bundle up and enjoy the brisk weather as you explore the beautifully decorated North Carolina Arboretum, host to 434 acres of Christmas lights. In addition, buy your loved ones a gift at one of Asheville’s many quaint shops, and celebrate the season with a stay at the luxurious Biltmore estate.
Forest City, NC
The small North Carolina town of Forest City is well known for its holiday festivities. Beginning with the lighting ceremony on Thanksgiving night, visitors can take a carriage ride down Main Street to enjoy the lights. Alternatively, spend a romantic evening going ice skating like something straight out of your favorite Christmas movie. All in all, Forest City is the place for Christmas cheer.
McAdenville is the perfect place for the whole family to visit during the holidays. Undoubtedly, this is a town known for their holiday spirit. Annually, they offer two special events; one of them is a tree lighting ceremony and the other the yule log ceremony. Drive through the town to take in the many twinkling houses. Given the abundance of beautiful lights and homes, and lots of Christmas spirit, visiting McAdenville is fun for the whole family.
Bryson City, NC
If you’re looking for a place to visit for the fall weather, Bryson City is the place to be. Here, you’ll be able to visit the Great Smoky Mountains, hike, and embrace the season’s change. New in 2022 is the Smoky Mountain Christmas Light Spectacular, a drive-thru light show set to music. Also, other events include a holiday hayride, holiday shopping from local artisans, and an outdoor ice skating rink. These activities make for a festive North Carolina Christmas vacation.
Banner Elk, NC
This holiday season, take a trip up to Banner Elk, NC. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, this quaint town offers visitors an opportunity to enjoy its sweet mountain air. Spend the day at Grandfather Vineyard and Winery, or enjoy the slopes during a stay at Sugar Ski and Country Club. Located at the top of Sugar Mountain, the resort offers year-round rentals that are just steps away from the piste.
For the perfect holiday getaway, enjoy a stay in Hendersonville, NC. Take a stroll down Main Street, and stop by Moonshine and Magnolias to pick up the perfect unique gift. While you’re in town, have a bite at Postero and browse their well curated wine list. Above all, make sure to stay for the annual tree lighting ceremony and watch as Main Street lights up.