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Special North Carolina Vacation Destinations
North Carolina offers visitors many exceptional resorts, hotels, and inns, from some of the world's top award-winning golf resorts to scenic mountain retreats and idyllic oceanfront escapes. If you are planning a visit to North Carolina, check out these top 10 places to stay and play, with an array of options for your golf getaway, family vacation, romantic weekend, culinary adventure, corporate meeting, or convention.Continue to 2 of 11 below.
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Pinehurst, in Pinehurst
Pinehurst, a legendary golf resort in the North Carolina Sandhills, is world-renowned for its eight world-class golf courses, making it the largest golf resort in the nation. It's also the resort of choice for more championships than any other golf course and the only site to host all five of the U.S. Golf Association's major championships.
In addition to the famed golf facilities, Pinehurst guests have access to many other recreational options that include tennis and lawn sports, a lakeside beach club, swimming pools, fishing, special family activities, and a seasonal KidsClub. The award-winning Spa at Pinehurst offers massage, body treatments, and salon and fitness services. Several signature treatments are enhanced with fragrant and soothing regional delights such as pine, peach blossom, and magnolia.
Three hotels offer lodging options: The elegant Carolina is a 230-room AAA Four Diamond hotel and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places; The Holly, opened in 1895 as Pinehurst's first inn, offers 82 guest rooms as well as the resort's AAA Four-Diamond 1895 Grille. The 42-room Manor offers casual lodge accommodations. Pinehurst dining options range from upscale fine dining to casual.Continue to 3 of 11 below.
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The Fearrington House Inn, Pittsboro
Among the many top accolades and awards garnered by the Fearrington House Inn, both the inn and the restaurant are AAA Five Diamond-rated, the inn is Forbes Five Star-rated, and it was also selected by Forbes as the top U.S. luxury hotel for weddings. Centrally located, about 16 miles south of Chapel Hill and 36 miles west of Raleigh in Pittsboro, this celebrated Relais & Chateaux member inn is situated on a former dairy farm in a charming, upscale village setting.
Each of the 32 English countryside-inspired guest rooms features a distinct design and is appointed with antiques, luxurious bed linens, regional artwork, fresh garden flowers, and other luxurious amenities. Located near the inn, the Spa at Fearrington offers facials, massages, pedicures, and manicures. The award-winning restaurant features farm-fresh seasonal selections and is a standout dining destination on its own. Outdoor gardens and pastoral views add to the enchanting ambiance.Continue to 4 of 11 below.
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The Inn on Biltmore Estate, Asheville
The Inn on Biltmore Estate opened in March 2001, and although it is not a replica of Biltmore House, it was designed to recall the elegance and hospitality of the Vanderbilts' mansion in Asheville. Perched on a hill within the grounds of the spectacular 8,000-acre estate, the hotel overlooks Antler Hill Village and Biltmore Winery, with sweeping views of the mountains and Biltmore House. Each of the 210 spacious guest rooms and suites features luxurious appointments and amenities.
Hotel amenities include an outdoor swimming pool and hot tub, fitness center, fine dining restaurant, lobby bar, library, and spa. Estate activities include seasonal celebrations and events, nature walks and hiking, kayaking and float trips, fishing, carriage rides, off-road Land Rover adventures, and shopping. Hotel guests have access to convenient shuttle service to and from the inn and to other popular stops on the estate.Continue to 5 of 11 below.
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Sanderling Resort, Duck
There are many wonderful places to visit along the Southeast U.S. coastline, but there is nowhere quite like the Outer Banks, and, on the Outer Banks, there are no other resorts like Sanderling Resort. Located in the upscale town of Duck, which sits between the Currituck Sound to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the 16-acre Sanderling Resort has received numerous awards and accolades, including the prestigious AAA Four Diamond Award.
The resort features 95 guest rooms and suites designed to recall a seaside style of casual elegance, five rental homes, spectacular ocean views and access, a lagoon-style family pool, and an adults-only tranquility pool, hot tubs, and cozy fire pits, plus several dining options with a focus on locally sourced food. The intimate resort spa offers an array of body treatments, massage therapies, skin care options, and salon services. Several signature treatments are inspired by the bounty of nature's resources that are indigenous to the Outer BanksContinue to 6 of 11 below.
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The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte
Conveniently located in the heart of Uptown Charlotte, this luxury, eco-friendly Ritz-Carlton is the first green hotel in the greater Charlotte area, as well as the first LEED-built hotel within the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. Among its many awards, the hotel has received a LEED Gold certification and an AAA Five Diamond rating.
Opened in the fall of 2009, the 146-room contemporary hotel features a bi-level penthouse spa and wellness center, spacious guest rooms with sophisticated style, and stunning cityscape and uptown Charlotte views. It offers several dining options and bars with a focus on organic, freshly grown local foods. On scheduled days, Cocoa Lab presents pastry and dessert cooking classes. The hotel is situated within easy walking distance of many of Charlotte's popular attractions like the EpiCentre (a mixed-used entertainment complex), the Time Warner Cable Arena, NASCAR Hall of Fame, and many cultural optionsContinue to 7 of 11 below.
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The Omni Grove Park Inn, Asheville
The Omni Grove Park Inn, which opened in the summer of 1913 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a sprawling resort situated on the slope on Sunset Mountain, just 1.5 miles from the center of Asheville. Built of rusticated granite stones, the architecture alone is notable. Immense granite fireplaces (one with a tiny elevator behind it) anchor the enormous lobby, original Arts and Crafts furnishings are displayed throughout the hotel, and large terraces, balconies, and many guest rooms open up to panoramic views of Asheville and the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Resort amenities include the Donald Ross-designed Grove Park Inn Golf Club and a stunning $50 million underground spa. The spa design elements of fire, rock, water, and light create a fantasy ambiance throughout the romantic, cavernous spaces with cascading waterfalls, natural daylight and moonlight, fireplaces, flickering candles, and a series of relaxing pools.
Throughout the year, the Omni Grove Park Inn offers special entertainment events, concerts, holiday celebrations, and activities with options for romantic couples, as well as for family members of all ages.Continue to 8 of 11 below.
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The Umstead Hotel and Spa, Cary
Conveniently located in an idyllic, wooded setting next to Umstead State Park, The Umstead Hotel and Spa is a member of Leading Hotels of the World and Leading Spas of the World, as well as an AAA Five Diamond and a Forbes Five Star recipient for both the hotel and the signature restaurant, Herons. Inspired by the beauty of art and nature, the hotel design features natural building materials, tranquil surroundings and landscaping, an extensive collection of original art, attentive yet unobtrusive service, and fine contemporary furnishings.
The top-rated spa offers a full menu of services in an atmosphere of tranquil elegance and includes 10 treatment rooms, relaxation lounges, and a meditation courtyard garden. Outdoor amenities include poolside cabanas, a cozy terrace fireplace, and several hiking trails.Continue to 9 of 11 below.
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High Hampton Inn and Country Club, Cashiers
Set on 1,400 idyllic acres surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains in western North Carolina, High Hampton Inn and Country Club in Cashiers is truly a special place to unplug, relax, and enjoy the splendor of nature. Rustic accommodations include guest rooms and suites in the historic main lodge, as well as a selection of charming cottages dotted around the property, most with lake or mountain views.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, High Hampton is steeped in time-honored traditions that entice generations of guests to return year after year. Near the main lodge, an heirloom tree garden was planted around the turn of the 20th century with an award-winning Frasier fir (one of the largest in the nation), a ginkgo tree, bottlebrush buckeye, bald cypress, and a gorgeous copper beech. Also on the property is the lovely Dahlia Garden, also first planted around 1900. Ample on-site recreational opportunities include golf, tennis, a spa and health club, hiking, lake swimming, fly fishing, and seasonal special activities and events. Breakfast and lunch are served in the dining room and are casual; however, tradition reigns, and there is a dress code for dinner.
In keeping with the historic and nature-focused setting, High Hampton guest rooms and cottages do not have televisions or telephones, although wireless internet service, TVs, and telephones are available in the lobby, many rooms, and common areas. Also, you will find neither elevators nor air conditioning here, which the resort management acknowledges may not appeal to everyone. But you enjoy falling asleep to gentle night sounds of the forest and fresh mountain air from an open window and waking to the melodies of birdsong, High Hampton may be the ideal choice for a memorable family vacation or romantic mountain escape.Continue to 10 of 11 below.
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The Swag, Waynesville
The Swag, an award-winning country inn, sits atop a majestic ridge that forms one of the boundaries of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Originally built as a family home, this intimate inn offers 14 guest rooms and suites, many with wood-burning fireplaces, private balconies, steam showers, and saunas. Three separate cabins feature sitting rooms, fireplaces, and porches. Design features include 17th- and 18th-century hand-hewn logs, local fieldstone, and rustic antiques.
The views from this mountaintop property are spectacular, with vistas of four of the six highest mountain ranges in North Carolina. There are several on-site hiking trails as well as direct access to the adjacent national park. Other recreational amenities include a swimming pond, lawn games, a regulation racquetball court, and seasonal special events. Room rates vary by accommodation, and three meals (including a packed lunch) for two guests are included in the rate.Continue to 11 of 11 below.
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Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort, Cherokee
Located on 56 acres in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina, Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort features a 21-story hotel, casino, restaurants that include a Ruth's Chris Steak House, a buffet with flavors from around the world, an on-site spa, and retail shopping. A 3,000-seat Event Center hosts big-name shows and concerts.
In addition to on-site activities and amenities, hotel guests get special rates and privileged access to the Sequoyah National Golf Club. With more than 1,100 hotel rooms and suites, the resort offers the greatest number of hotel accommodations in the state.
Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort is owned by The Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation. Caesars Entertainment is the managing partner for the resort.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with some complimentary stays and meals for the purpose of reviewing those services. While it has not influenced this article, TripSavvy.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.