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5 Reasons Why This Underrated U.S. State Is Surging In Popularity

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Sometimes the best destinations catch you by surprise.

Maybe you are on a road trip and stumble upon a hidden gem you'll never forget, or book a trip on a whim and fall in love with a place you knew nothing about prior.

There are a variety of ways to travel, but often the most underrated leave you with the best memories. If you travel to cookie-cutter destinations, there's not a lot of room left for the element of surprise.

charlotte skyline on nice day

One U.S. city in particular is actually breaking tourism records, but it's not just the city driving a surge in popularity for North Carolina.

Here are 5 reasons why this underrated U.S. state is surging in popularity:

Charlotte Brings In 53 Million Travelers

The world is your oyster, as they say, with so many amazing places to choose as your next vacation. Let's be honest – Charlotte probably doesn't come to mind.

The numbers don't lie, though. Charlotte had its best year ever in terms of tourism, with over 53 million travelers visiting in 2023.

uptown charlotte park

Sure, some of these numbers may be skewed given the convenience of the airport, but these sky-rocketing numbers are also attributed to the region's rapid development and of course, remote workers taking advantage of traveling on the job.

Between ritzy hotels, intriguing museums, world-class shopping and an underrated food scene, Charlotte will undoubtedly rock your socks off should you pay a visit as a main stay or a quick layover.

Gorgeous State Parks Are A Big Hit

There has got to be a reason why North Carolina is known as ‘The Great Trails State', right? Well, over 20 million visitors to the state's gorgeous state parks seem to think so.

jordan lake in north carolina

The data backs it up that North Carolina is one of the most scenic in the States. While many National Parks tend to steal the shine away from State Parks, North Carolina is the exception to the rule.

Jordan Lake is the most popular location, more than doubling the numbers of Falls Lake, Fort Fisher, Kerr Lake, Fort Macon, and Pilot Mountain state parks to round out the top 5.

Many of NC's state parks have added new campgrounds and visitor centers to lure in more tourists to take in all the stunning natural sights.

Asheville Is Trending Upward

It's only natural to have underrated cities in such an underrated state. Asheville is gaining national attention as one of the most underrated cities in the world.

asheville skyline at sunset

No longer a hidden gem, this trendy, hip, mid-size city in the mountains is beloved by locals and lures in visitors for its small-town feel, beautiful scenery, culture, and booming arts scene.

It's hard to find a bad word about Asheville except that maybe too many people know about it. With 4 legit seasons, travelers can pick and choose the right time of year for their preference.

There's never a dull moment in Asheville unless you seek solitude in the gorgeous mountains, otherwise the city is full of fun things to do ranging from festivals, hikes and a thriving food and beer scene.

Outer Banks

beach homes in buxton nc

Outer Banks is not only a popular show on Netflix, it's a real-life destination. Although the show is based on a fictional plotline, travelers love coming to this awesome stretch of coastline spanning over 100 miles.

With its seemingly never-ending beaches, some are more popular than others. Many are lined with vacation homes, while it's easy to find isolated areas to avoid other beachgoers to enjoy the scenic views all to yourself.

With a new season expected to be released on Netflix in 2024, travelers will surely be extra motivated to check out the Outer Banks in real life.

beach and pier in the outer banks

Underrated Beaches Throughout The State

The Outer Banks is not the only beach option in North Carolina. Further south near the South Carolina border are some of the top beaches in the state.

The charming city of Wilmington is the perfect gateway to the southern coast of North Carolina where travelers can choose between Kure Beach, Carolina Beach and the pristine, yet oddly named, Bald Head Island for a relaxing beach getaway.

Intermixed from the Outer Banks to the South Carolina border, beach lovers will find charming beach towns with delightful stays ranging from ritzy to cozy for all budgets.

kure beach boardwalk

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