Ranging from glowing white-sand barrier islands in the east to oak- and hemlock-clad mountains in the west, North Carolina is surely up there with the most eclectic states in the nation. Don't miss out on your fix of colonial history, Appalachian adventure, and Atlantic swells – use this guide to find North Carolina rentals in a spot you'll love…
Historic cities with awesome North Carolina rentals
Start with the cities in North Carolina. There are a few that are sure to catch the eye, offering elegant architecture and Southern hospitality, creative art displays and vibrant student scenes. Check out some of the best below…
Raleigh – a step back in time
Come to Raleigh to snap shots of the grand North Carolina State Capitol and delve into the Raleigh City Museum for tales of English adventurers and a colonial past. Back in the present, this one's also NC's university hub, so expect to catch some North Carolina rentals tucked into happening districts of beer bars and art galleries.
Wilmington – for culture on the water
With the Cape Fear River on one side and the roaring Atlantic Ocean on the other, Wilmington – and all its history – is wedged onto NC's coastal barriers. Antebellum homes, craft beer breweries, a buzzy Riverwalk with art galleries, and even urban beaches combine to help make it one of the state's most alluring spots.
Charlotte – a city of excitement
Cutting-edge Charlotte is the biggest city in the Tar Heel State. Topped by shimmering skyscrapers, its central blocks certainly aren't only the business center they might look like. Amid it come the petrol-headed exhibits of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the creative pieces of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, and oodles of taste-bud-tingling BBQ cookhouses. Families love the mix, which is why so many North Carolina vacation rentals cater to larger groups out in the suburbs.
North Carolina mountain vacation rentals
As it runs westwards from the Piedmont and the plains, North Carolina begins to crumple skywards. First come the Black Mountains and the Pisgah National Forest, where waterfalls gush through mossy woods. Then come the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Smokies, with hazy lookout points that gaze deep into Appalachia.
Asheville is the capital of the NC peaks
Of all the towns in the depths of North Carolina's mountains, it's Asheville that's the most famous. It sits between the Great Smokies and the Blue Ridge Mountains, with the iconic Blue Ridge Parkway meandering away to the east and west – get those open-top sportsters ready, folks. In town, you can score slick and stylish flats and cottages in areas like Five Points, where you are only steps away from breweries and art institutions.
Beech Mountain vacation rentals
Billed as the highest town in Eastern America, at over 5,000 feet up this might just be the most accomplished ski field in the Carolinas. Winter is when it's at its most popular. Ski trails wiggle through the forests, ski schools beckon beginners, and there are even ski-in, ski-out Beech Mountain vacation rentals with hot tubs at the base of the lifts.
NC mountain rentals in Highlands
Right on the cusp of Georgia and the southern Appalachian Mountains, Highlands is a hearty retreat with lodges and fire-warmed B&Bs. The gorgeous reserves of the Nantahala National Forest encircle it on all sides, which means you can hop from your suite and instantly be in the wilderness. Highlights include the two-tiered Dry Falls and the lookouts from Sunrise Rock.
Beachfront vacation home rentals in North Carolina
Ah, the coast – let's not forget the coast. North Carolina rentals turn into something totally different down here. They become salt-washed mansions huddled amid dunes, or quaint boltholes where fisherfolk once lived. You find them in quiet marina villages or in historic colonial settlements with long stories to tell.
Be wowed by the Outer Banks
Extending like a long arm of islands and beaches from the very northern edge of North Carolina are what many locals consider to be the jewel in the crown of the Tar Heel State's coast – the Outer Banks. They artfully fuse immersive colonial history – consider getting a colonial-era cottage in boat-bobbing Manteo for that – with jaw-dropping ocean views. Corolla and the Cape Lookout National Seashore await.
Escape the world at Bald Head Island
No cars are allowed on Bald Head Island, which is why it can feel like you're really leaving the Rat Race behind when you board the cross-river ferry to enter this small resort on Cape Fear. When you do arrive, there are picturesque homes built from wood and topped with slate, offering wide porches and sun rooms overlooking white-sand beaches and dunes. Keep calm, relax, and rejuvenate – that's what this one's for.
Wrightsville Beach – something more lively
From May to August, Wrightsville Beach is a hubbub of life. Just a whisker from Wilmington, it's easy to get to, and packed with enticing North Carolina vacation homes and condos that but right up to the boardwalks. It's a place to taste seafood buffets, sling the fishing rod on piers, and wax down the surfboard for a ride on the swells.