6 Best Scenic Drives In North Carolina With Scenic Stopovers & Hotels

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You can read this article for the best scenic drives or must-do road trips in North Carolina with scenic stopovers, things to do, and overnight stays. 

ALSO READ: 12 Scenic Drives In Great Smoky Mountains (With Maps + Stopovers)

Best Scenic Drives In North Carolina – Nc Road Trips

North Carolina offers a variety of scenic drives that showcase its diverse landscapes, from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the coastal plains. Here are some of the best scenic drives in North Carolina, along with starting and ending points, distances, things to do along the way, and suggestions for overnight stays:

ALSO READ:  6 Best Road Trips In Colorado – Scenic Drives + Scenic Stopovers & Hotels

Blue Ridge Parkway – Road Trips In North Carolina

The Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina is worth driving because it offers some of the most breathtaking mountain vistas in the eastern United States, with countless overlooks and opportunities to connect with nature. It meanders through the Blue Ridge Mountains, providing a serene and scenic escape with numerous hiking trails, waterfalls, and cultural attractions.

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Distance: Approximately 250 miles

    • Starting Point: Cherokee, NC
    • Ending Point: Mount Mitchell State Park, NC

Things to Do & Scenic Stopovers: 

  • Stop at numerous overlooks like Craggy Gardens, Linville Falls, and Waterrock Knob to take panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
  • These popular trails include Craggy Gardens Trail, Linville Falls Trail, and Rough Ridge Trail.
  • Stop at the Southern Highland Craft Guild’s Folk Art Center to view and purchase handmade crafts and artwork from local artisans.
  • Explore the waterfalls along the parkway, including Linville Falls, Crabtree Falls, and Skinny Dip Falls.
  • Learn about the region’s history by visiting Mabry Mill, the most photographed spot on the parkway, and the Blue Ridge Music Center.

Overnight Stay: The Inn on Biltmore Estate, Asheville has various accommodation options.

👉🏼11 Best Vacation Spots In North Carolina – Top Places To Visit In NC

Outer Banks Scenic Byway:

The Outer Banks Scenic Byway in North Carolina is worth the drive for its unique combination of coastal beauty and rich history. Along this route, you’ll encounter picturesque beaches, iconic lighthouses, and historic sites, providing an unforgettable blend of natural and cultural attractions.

Best Scenic Drives In North Carolina - Nc Road Trips

Distance: Approximately 138 miles

    • Starting Point: Whalebone Junction, Nags Head, NC
    • Ending Point: Down East, NC

Things to Do: 

  • Jockey’s Ridge State Park: Explore the East Coast’s largest dune system.
  • Wright Brothers National Memorial: Learn about the birth of aviation at this historic site.
  • Cape Hatteras National Seashore: Relax on pristine beaches, swim in the Atlantic Ocean, and visit iconic lighthouses like Cape Hatteras and Bodie Island.
  • Discover the history of the Lost Colony of Roanoke at the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site and enjoy the Elizabethan Gardens.
  • Visit lighthouses like Cape Hatteras,
  • Jennette’s Pier: Visit this iconic fishing pier for scenic views
  • Enjoy water sports and relax on the beautiful beaches.

Overnight Stay: Try the Sanderling Resort in Duck or vacation rentals along the Outer Banks.

Tail of the Dragon:

The Tail of the Dragon is one of the most adventurous road trips in North Carolina for its unparalleled thrill-seeking adventure. With 318 curves in just 11 miles, it’s a mecca for motorcycle and sports car enthusiasts seeking an exhilarating and challenging road in a stunning mountainous setting.

Distance: Approximately 11 miles 

    • Starting Point: Deals Gap, NC
    • Ending Point: Tapoco, NC

Things to Do: 

Drive the famous twisty road with 318 curves in 11 miles, take in the scenic beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains, and stop at the Deal’s Gap Motorcycle Resort.

Overnight Stay: The Historic Tapoco Lodge provides a comfortable retreat.

Blue Ridge Parkway – Boone to Blowing Rock:

The drive from Boone to Blowing Rock in North Carolina is worth it for its enchanting journey through the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This scenic drive in North Carolina allows travelers to explore charming towns, admire breathtaking mountain vistas, and experience the natural beauty the region is known for.

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Distance: Approximately 22 miles

    • Starting Point: Boone, NC
    • Ending Point: Blowing Rock, NC

Things to Do & Scenic Stopovers: 

  • Moses Cone Memorial Park: Explore the historic estate of Moses Cone, featuring beautiful walking trails, the Flat Top Manor, and serene Bass Lake.
  • Stop at the Linn Cove Viaduct, which is a particularly picturesque spot.
  • Julian Price Memorial Park: Visit this scenic area for more hiking opportunities.
  • Experience the charm of Boone
  • Explore Moses Cone Memorial Park, 
  • Take a short detour to visit Grandfather Mountain, home to the Mile-High Swinging Bridge, wildlife habitats, and breathtaking vistas.
  • Visit the Blowing Rock attraction with panoramic views.

Overnight Stay: The Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock offers lodging options.

Cherohala Skyway 

Cherohala Skyway is one of the best road trips in North Carolina for its unparalleled beauty and serenity as it winds through the lush forests of the Nantahala National Forest and the Cherokee National Forest. With sweeping mountain vistas, opportunities for hiking, and a tranquil atmosphere, it offers an unforgettable journey for nature lovers and road trip enthusiasts.

scenic drives in North Carolina - nc road trips

Distance: Approximately 43 miles (NC section)

    • Starting Point: Tellico Plains, TN
    • Ending Point: Robbinsville, NC

Things to Do & Scenic Stopovers: 

  • Bald River Falls: Marvel at the impressive Bald River Falls, located just off the Skyway. 
  • Stop at Tellico Plains Visitor Center.
  • Cherohala Skyway Overlooks: The Skyway is known for its numerous scenic overlooks, providing breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. Take advantage of the Hooper Bald and Turkey Creek overlooks. 
  • Hike the Hooper Bald Trail, Citico Creek Wilderness Trail, and the Hemlock Hollow Trail.
  • Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest: Take a short detour to explore this ancient forest, home to some of the oldest and tallest trees in the eastern United States, including massive tulip poplars.
  • Santeetlah Lake: Enjoy a peaceful break by Santeetlah Lake.
  • Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness: Explore this designated wilderness area with pristine backcountry terrain, waterfalls, and challenging hiking trails.
  • Admire the views from the Santeetlah Overlook.

Overnight Stay: Robbinsville has various accommodations, including the Phillips Motel and the Snowbird Mountain Lodge.

Nantahala Byway – Nc Road Trips

The Nantahala Byway is worth a scenic drive in North Carolina because it winds through the picturesque Nantahala National Forest, offering stunning views of lush forests, cascading rivers, and rugged mountains. Along the way, you can enjoy outdoor activities like whitewater rafting, hiking, and exploring charming mountain towns, creating a memorable journey through the heart of the Appalachian Mountains.

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Distance: Approximately 43 miles

    • Starting Point: Topton, NC
    • Ending Point: Andrews, NC

Things to Do: 

  • Whitewater rafting on the Nantahala River, 
  • Hiking in Nantahala National Forest, 
  • and exploring the Nantahala Gorge.

Overnight Stay: Check out vacation rentals or small inns in Andrews.


  • Remember to check road conditions and any closures before embarking on your scenic drive, as conditions can change seasonally. 
  • Additionally, make reservations for overnight stays in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons. 

I hope you loved reading about the Best scenic drives in North Carolina or road trips in North Carolina. Enjoy your road trip journey through the beautiful landscapes of North Carolina!  

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