Hit the Road: Our Favorite North Carolina Travel Destinations

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Find inspiration for your spring and summer travel plans with some help from our staff

The lighthouse on Ocracoke, a favorite travel destination for Chatham Magazine's managing editor Anna-Rhesa Versola
Ocracoke Lighthouse. Photo by Anna-Rhesa Versola

My family’s happy place is Ocracoke, a tiny barrier island off the coast of North Carolina. From Pittsboro, it’s about a four hour drive to Cedar Island where you roll onto a ferry. Two hours later, you follow Highway 12 to the only village on the island. We usually rent a home at the edge of Springer’s Point, a nature preserve along the sound. We ride bikes to small shops, like Mermaid’s Folly, and restaurants like Dajio. Our favorite eatery is Thai Moon, which has the best Thai food in the state. During the day, we hang out at one of the many beaches. I enjoy hunting for pretty shells while my husband is fishing and our daughters are jumping the waves. – Anna-Rhesa Versola, Senior Staff Writer

Lauren Phillps and friends travel to the Blowing Rock for hikes and scenic views

I love getting out to the mountains, specifically Blue Ridge Parkway around Blowing Rock in the spring and summer. I love to camp out at Julian Price Campground, coming up to town to get breakfast at Blowing Rock Market and then coffee at Camp Coffee Roasters. I will spend the day out on the parkway, whether on bike doing a round trip from Blowing Rock to Linville Falls and back, taking in the views and overlooks, or finding any of the amazing hiking trails. – Lauren Phillips, Account Executive

Each summer, my family heads east and rents a house on south Topsail Island. By day, we swim in warm water, look for dolphins and walk. For casual eats, we grab a burger or mahi sandwich at SurfDog Bites & Brews. Another favorite is Beach Shop & Grill on Topsail Beach where we can shop while we wait for our seafood meal. With my kiddo in tow, the retro putt-putt, arcade and ice cream shop Patio Playground is always on our list. – Jenna Parks, Publisher, Heart of NC Weddings

I love a quick getaway with girlfriends to Wrightsville Beach. It’s less than a two hour drive from here. We stay at the newly renovated and modern Holiday Inn to save a buck, eat at cute, casual beach bars for great margaritas and fish tacos like Shark Bar and Kitchen or dine late on the waterway at Bluewater Waterfront Grill. It’s the perfect short getaway. – Ashlin Acheson, Director of Creative Operations

I love spending my summer weekends in Wilmington, North Carolina. After a sunny day at Carolina Beach’s Freeman Park, I like to eat at The Kitchen Sink for dinner. Afterward, I head over to Boombalatti’s for the best nondairy coffee ice cream or walk next door to Edward Teach Brewery for their signature B.A.D. Lager. Visit Airlie Gardens, eat an acai bowl at Zeke’s Beans and Bowls, relax with a drink at High Tide Lounge & Tiki Bar, have some coffee from Bespoke, eat the tastiest brunch at Blue Surf Cafe, learn all about Wilmington’s ghosts on a tour, take a tour of the Historic Thalian Hall, and, most of all, enjoy the sights and sounds of the sun, sand and surf. – Lindsay Scott, Graphic Designer/Production Coordinator

Up-close shot of Smokehouse at Steve's chicken biscuit and grits, which Jessica Stringer will travel to Graham for

Spend time outside in Graham and Burlington, two charming towns just a hop, skip and a jump away from Chatham. Start with brunch at the Smokehouse at Steve’s in Graham and order the hefty chicken biscuit and grits. Enjoy a walk through Burlington’s Springwood Park or stroll downtown. Forgotten Road Ales in Graham has amazing sour ales and an expansive patio with a disc golf course in back. And, perhaps best of all, Forgotten Road is dog-friendly! – Jessica Stringer, Editor, Chapel Hill Magazine

Our family has been heading to Bald Head Island for more than 30 years. Tip: Plan your trip around a full moon so you can enjoy bagpipes, a bonfire and a stunning moonrise at the year-round Howl at the Moon event held at Beach Access 39 and sponsored by Maritime Market. You really do get to howl at the moon with your fellow islanders! – Sally Scruggs, Creative Director, Triangle Digital Partners

Kure Beach is a bustling beach town. We love going in May or October when the weather is warm, but it’s not overcrowded. We always stop by The Veggie Wagon on the way into town for a seasonal beer on tap and to pick up some ready-made dinners and local vegetables. Spend a long weekend surfing and building sandcastles on the beach, or take a ride to Southport on the ferry. Hike through Fort Fisher and spend an afternoon at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. – Rory Kelly Gillis, President, Triangle Digital Partners

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