There are plenty of things to see in North Carolina. Once you delve in, you’ll find iconic locations like Asheville, Hanging Rock State Park, and even horse-filled beaches like Currituck. There are cities and areas of natural beauty, too. One look at everything on offer could fast have you thinking this would be ideal for your next vacation.
The trouble is that, in case you hadn’t realized, North Carolina is a big place. This state is an astounding 500 miles long and 150 miles across. No wonder it’s sometimes referred to as ‘the long state.’ If you aren’t careful, you could end up driving upwards of ten hours between locations.
For obvious reasons, that can make it challenging to fit this entire state into a week trip. You could fast end up spending more time on the road than you do in destinations themselves. And, as any resident will tell you, NC roads aren’t the relaxing road trip fare found elsewhere. The sheer length of this state means that many roads are congested at prime times.
Of course, that’s no reason not to dip your toes in. Let’s be honest; struggling to fit everything in during one week is a good sign that a place is worth visiting. Plus, it’s easier than you might think to do North Carolina in a week. All you need to do is consider the following to make the most of your time.
Forget The Outer Banks
When we think about North Carolina, most of us consider the Outer Banks. These barrier islands off the coast of NC have their fair share to boast about. The long beach stretches are astounding, and there’s plenty of history given this is where the English first tried to settle in the New World. There are beaches galore, quaint fishing towns, and plenty to do.
But, there’s no way that you can do it during a one week trip to NC. The reality is that getting here from areas like Asheville can take eight hours, and that’s without traffic. Though the Outer Banks is a part of NC, then, they aren’t exactly a part which you can visit fast. In fact, most residents will tell you it would be best to dedicate a week alone to Outer Bank exploration. That could be one for the bucket list, then, but you would best off forgetting about it for now. Otherwise, there’s no way you’ll have time to see the best of NC.
There are no two ways around it; you need to think of transportation during your trip. Unsurprisingly given its length, this isn’t a state for improvising how you travel. That is unless you’re planning to stick around one area. If you want to see the best that this state has to offer, though, tackling transportation is a must. For one, you’re going to need to hire a car. There’s no way that you can see even half of the best states sights otherwise. Even if you tried to get around using Ubers and the like, it would cost you a small fortune by the end of the week. Not to mention that this would restrict you unnecessarily. So, make sure that you book a hire car the second you book your flights.
You may also find that it’s well worth booking up for tours with transport included. Companies like Van In Black can transport you between places for wine tasting, scenic locations, and even cities. Those NC roads can, as mentioned, get a little stressful at times. Turning to tours like these could see you taking at least some time off of driving during your stay while ensuring that you still make the most of your time. Given that such companies know the state well, they could even take end up getting you to locations faster. Again, though, it’s vital that you book options like these ahead of time. That ensures getting around doesn’t take you any longer than necessary when the time comes.
Think About How Busy Locations Will Be
It’s important to consider how busy a place is liable to be whenever you go away. If you’re trying to do NC in a week, though, you have even more incentive to consider this. That’s because you’ll probably have long enough to travel between destinations without throwing traffic and queues into the mix. As a general rule, note that March, February, and July are the busiest NC tourist times. Not only do prices soar here, but it could also take you double the amount of time to get anywhere.
Think, too, about the chances of many tourists visiting your destinations each day. Options like Blue Ridge Parkway and Biltmore, for instance, are pretty crowded no matter when you visit. If you plan to head here, then, you need to account for any time lost when writing your itinerary. Either that or you should see about time-saving methods like buying tickets ahead of time or arriving before the crowds. In these instances, it’s also worth leaving that rental car behind if you can. Instead, try to use arranged tour transport as mentioned above to avoid traffic on the roads. Only then will you be able to make the most of your week-long stay.
Book Up In More Than One Accommodation
Most of the time when we go away, we book up in one accommodation choice and stay there for the duration of our trips. In NC, though, doing the same thing could do you out of the chance to see everything in a week. As you can guess from such a long state, the need to return to accommodation will never work. That’s a sure way of turning a five-hour trip into ten hours before you even explore your end destination. In short; it’s never going to work unless you’re restricting your trip to one set NC area.
If you want to see the best sights, though, you’d be better off booking a trail of accommodation to keep you moving. That way, you can travel down North Carolina for the week you’re there before taking the long stretch back. You could even do something of a loop, and travel across opposite sides of the state. That way, you would see plenty when heading back, too. To keep this option cheap, look out for Airbnb or hostels which can host you along the way. You could even slash accommodation costs further by taking along some camping gear. There are plenty of campsites across the state for you to check into.
Get Picky With Your Itinerary
We’re sorry to say it, but you can only manage NC in a week by getting picky with your trip itinerary. There’s simply no way that you can manage every single iconic location in this state in one week. But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t still see the ones which interest you the most. Before you book anything for your trip, then, write down everything that you want to see. Then, estimate how long the journeys between each will take and consider how long you’ll need to spend at each location. Areas like Asheville, for instance, could take a whole day. Yet, it’s possible to tackle areas like Lexington in a few hours at most.
By thinking about this, you won’t end up taking any more time than you need not to feel rushed in each option. That then frees you up to do more as it means that you can manage upwards of two locations on some days. It’s also well worth getting smart with the routes which you choose to drive from one place to the next. If you’re clever about it, you should be able to develop a plan which sees you at least passing through some of the areas which didn’t make the itinerary.
Stick To The Plan
Sometimes, going off the plan is the best thing to do when you go away. But, trust us when we say that your NC week isn’t the time to do the same. The chances are that you’ll need to plan your itinerary pretty close to the bone. You’ll also need to stick to it if you’re to stand a chance at seeing everything that you want to. That means there won’t be any time to stop off at pretty towns along the way without sacrificing more iconic locations. If you do see sights which interest you along the way, then, make a note of them and keep on moving. Perhaps they could be your priority next time you visit NC because trust us; once you’ve been once, you’ll want to come again.
A Final Word
There’s no denying that NC has a lot to offer. So much, in fact, that it is easy to struggle fitting everything into a week. But, as you can see, a few simple plans can ensure that you see everything you need. Even if not, you could always book up and do it all again!
Have you traveled in North Carolina? Let us know what’s your favorite part of the state in a comment below.
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