Cover photo: Biltmore the Vanderbilt Estate by Matthew MacPherson via Flickr
The beauty of offbeat destinations is that we choose them not for the number of items on a must-see list, but because every little detour will make a great story later. You may have noticed I particularly enjoy finding unconventional things to do even in the most famous of destinations.
North Carolina’s appeal groups my three favorite things in travel: art, music, and food. I also look for chances to contribute to the local economy as much as possible. These are some of the top things to do in the beautiful cities of Asheville, Charlotte, and Durham.
Photo by David Wilson via Flickr
Asheville, “The Paris of the South”
Lovers of art and architecture will find plenty of things to keep them busy in Asheville, with its European artistic vibe. From live glass blowing at the Lexington Glassworks working studio to visiting the Thomas Wolfe Memorial State Historic Site, to wandering through the more than twenty galleries at the DAAD (Downtown Asheville Art District), you’ll have plenty to explore.
Where to stay: Take in the resort-like experience near the Blue Ridge Parkway at the Crowne Plaza Resort Asheville.
Photo by Daniel X. O’Neil via Flickr
Charlotte, “The Queen City”
Named after German Queen Charlotte Sophia of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Charlotte has something for everyone. If you’re a fan of speed and fast cars, you probably know the city for its most famous attraction, the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Engineering enthusiasts will find their place at the Carolinas Aviation Museum. For history and art buffs, head over to the Levine Museum of the New South and the Mint Museum Uptown.
Where to stay: In this charming city, choose a classic and historical place like The Dunhill Hotel downtown.
Photo by Doug Kerr via Flickr
Durham for Art Enthusiasts
Dubbed as the “Bull City,” Durham has a vibrant and unique cultural identity. A visit to the contemporary art installations at 21c Museum or to the Beaux Arts-style Carolina Theatre puts the city on the map for art enthusiasts.
Where to stay: To stay close to performance venues like the Durham Performing Arts Center, book your room at the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club.
Photo by Lana Dyck via Flickr
Durham for Sports Fans
Home of the baseball team the Durham Bulls and Duke University’s basketball team, The Blue Devils, Durham is the perfect travel destination for sports fans. Pick your favorite between visiting the Duke Basketball Museum & Sports Hall of Fame or catching a baseball game at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Even if you can’t decide between basketball or baseball, you’ll get what makes this city rock when it comes to supporting their teams.
Where to stay: If you’re looking for the greatest Southern hospitality experience, the Hilton Durham is your hotel of choice.
Photo by Mark Doliner via Flickr
Durham for Science Geeks
Home of Duke University, Durham also welcomes enthusiasts of science and research. Be wowed at the Rhine Research Center, the world’s most famous laboratory studying so-called paranormal events. Wander through the beautiful university campus and take the chance to visit top spots like the Duke Lemur Center or the Nasher Museum of Art.
Where to stay: The Millennium Hotel Durham is conveniently in the heart of the research triangle.
This is a post written in collaboration with the Hipmunk Boutique Hotels campaign.