Think one Southern city is like all the others? Think again. As these six towns demonstrate, stereotypes and generalizations can’t possibly account for all the distinct, quirky, and amazing towns that blanket the American South!

Asheville, North Carolina has some seriously quirky, offbeat charm

1. Home of the Locavore Aesthetic: Asheville, NC

Nestled between the Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains lies the town of Asheville, which has earned a reputation for itself as a hub of artsiness, outdoor adventure, and a strong local aesthetic. The city’s downtown is comprised almost exclusively of independent shops and eateries, and the town is filled with artists and musicians from all walks of life (which explains the city’s vibrant busking scene). The city is also a self-described “Foodtopia,” a rich food scene with a farm-fresh bent. And if spiritual exploration is your thing, you’ll be right at home in Asheville, which attracts many a mystical seeker. In short? If you want to expose yourself to unique sights, tastes, sounds, and people, get thee to Asheville.

2. Home of Eclectic Attractions: Birmingham, AL

An odd assortment of attractions has made Alabama’s largest city a popular destination for travelers of all backgrounds. The largest cast iron statue in the world—dubbed “Vulcan”—stands guard over the city, broadcasting to all who enter that Birmingham is just a little bit different. Whether you spend your time at the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, the McWane Science Center (which features exhibits on topics ranging from dinosaurs to space exploration), the Splash Adventure Water Park, the Barber Motorsports Museum (home to more than 1,200 motorcycles), or the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Birmingham offers something unique for every kind of traveler.

3. Home of Southern Outdoorsiness: Charlotte, NC

Charlotte’s culture is distinct in that it combines refined, southern hospitality with rugged outdoorsiness. That’s thanks in no small part to the city’s location: The lively downtown sits near the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains. Locals and tourists alike take advantage of this prime location at popular outdoor destinations that range from the refined Anne Springs Close Greenway, Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens, and Biltmore Estate to the more adventurous U.S. National Whitewater Center, which offers rafting tours of the area’s Catawba River. Combined, Charlotte’s zest for life and welcoming attitude have earned it a reputation as one of the friendliest cities in the South.

Columbia, South Carolina has some seriously quirky and offbeat charm
Photo: Wikimedia Commons via Akhenaton06

4. Home of Epic Festivals: Columbia, SC

Columbia’s tagline is “famously hot,” and it’s easy to see why. The weather is warm (the temperature rarely drops below 50 degrees in winter), the attractions are popular, and the college sports scene is hoppin’. The city serves as the capital of South Carolina and is home to the University of South Carolina, which makes for an interesting mix of college-town culture and commercial prowess. But what really sets the city apart is its exciting annual calendar of events, including January’s World Beer Festival, February’s Lake Carolina Oyster Roast, June’s Ribs & Renaissance extravaganza, July’s Lexington County Peach Festival, October’s South Carolina State Fair, and December’s Famously Hot New Year.

5. Home of Stately Art and History: Savannah, GA

Art and history collide in gorgeous Savannah, where the weather is fine, the architecture is Antebellum, and the trees are shrouded in Spanish moss. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time while strolling the streets of Savannah’s pre-Civil War district, and you’re likely to feel out of place virtually anywhere in the city if you aren’t wearing your Sunday best. Class and elegance infuse every aspect of Savannah—including its most popular tourist activities, such as the Savannah Arts Festival, the Savannah Tour of Homes, and the Savannah Film Festival. But don’t let all the stateliness fool you; in Savannah, Southern hospitality is alive and well.

Tulsa, Oklahoma has some seriously quirky offbeat charm

6. Home of All Things Retro: Tulsa, OK

Tulsa has been a cult favorite since the heyday of Route 66, which passes right through the city. Today, the town draws tourists who are interested in both what the city used to be and all that it now has to offer. From its iconic oilman statue to its neon signposts, old-fashioned pump stations, and art deco buildings, Tulsa has retro funk on lock. The city is also home to a thriving festival scene—most notably, Tulsa hosts one of the country’s largest Oktoberfest celebrations each fall.

From giant statues, to exciting festivals, to dynamic arts, music, and food scenes, these cities provide a whole new take on the meaning of Southern charm.

  This article was posted on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog by The Hipmunk on January 18th.

Published in United States

The Carolinas are a fantastic destination to enjoy a historic hotel. Well known for their Southern hospitality and charm, historic hotels here exude luxury, and are fine examples of culture, architecture and art. They are always fabulously located near their city's main attractions, and in fact, some even qualify as the main attraction themselves.

Depending on the season and the time of year, you can often even finding a cheap hotel deal. The following are the most standout historic hotels in the Carolinas.

Inn on Biltmore Estate, Asheville

Hotels in Asheville offer travelers the chance to stay just off the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, and if looking for an accommodation experience which combines luxury with a historic hotel, the Inn on Biltmore Estate is where you want to stay.

This 4 star upscale hotel sits on the historic estate and puts you within a 15 minute drive of the area's main attraction; Biltmore House. This is the largest privately owned home in America; a 250 room French Renaissance château built by George Vanderbilt in 1895. Guests of the hotel can enjoy an outdoor pool with views of the Mountains, enjoy a bite to eat in the Library Lounge, and enjoy the same level of personalized service the Vanderbilts would extend to their friends.

The Dunhill Hotel, Charlotte

The Dunhill hotel is a fantastic choice of accommodation in Charlotte; a boutique hotel with sophisticated accommodations steeped in history and surrounded by modern significance.

Guests are conveniently located close to museums, art galleries, nightlife, shopping and the CBD. The hotel opened in 1929 and is among the few National Trust Historic Hotels of America in North Carolina. It has been fully restored and is now a landmark in Charlotte's cultural district and arts community.

Marriott's Heritage Club, Hilton Head

In the historic district of Hilton Head Island, Marriott's Heritage Club is close to Baynard Plantation Ruins, Harbour Town Lighthouse and Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge.

This property has an outdoor pool, a fitness center and spa tub, as well as complimentary internet access in public areas. Spacious two-bedroom villas are fully self-contained, and rooms open out onto beautiful patios. This accommodation is a perfect base for those looking to spend a relaxing vacation in Hilton Head.

Kings Courtyard Inn, Charleston

An enchanting blend of history and southern hospitality, culture and cuisine, architecture and art, Kings Courtyard Inn in Charleston embodies all the qualities of a truly remarkable historic hotel.

Decorated with original hardwood floors, antique furniture, oriental rugs, four-poster canopy bed, a fire and modern technology, guests enjoy modern creature comforts balanced with the quaint coziness of a historic inn.

Hampton Inn by Hilton Columbia Downtown Historic District

In the center of downtown Columbia, Hampton Inn by Hilton is a traditional hotel in a fabulous location, a mere 15-minute stroll from Bicentennial Park, and 1 miles drive from the University of South Carolina.

Classic rooms offer free WiFi and flat-screen TVs as well as desks and coffee makers. Suite upgrades offer extra living space, as well as pull-out sofas, microwaves and whirlpool tubs.

  This article was posted on Mapping Megan by Megan.

Published in United States

In terms of thinking of a vacation, North Carolina isn't at the top of everyone's list, but perhaps it should be. Take a look at some of the state's best destinations:

Raleigh

Although it's not the biggest city in North Carolina, Raleigh is one of the state's most hip, up-and-coming destinations (take that, Charlotte!). The city is a veritable melting pot of artists, chefs, entrepreneurs, and hip locals. Nightlife, including live music and the craft beer scene, is steadily improving. Also, the city is absolutely gorgeous, flawlessly wrapping its historic North Carolinian charm in a sleek, modern that still retains its uniquely artistic, relaxing vibe. Don't believe me? Here are 10 amazing photos that will make you want to visit Raleigh right now.

Durham

For travelers looking for the diverse excitement of a metropolis like Raleigh but with a much more subdued countryside escape, look no further than Durham. The city is renowned for its breathtaking beauty and historic charm but at the same time is experiencing a rejuvenation of sorts thanks to surge in festivals, art exhibits, and enough unique eateries and craft breweries to keep even longtime residents busy experiencing new places. More in the mood for golf? The Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club is the city's première hotel and golf course. Featuring exquisite architecture, sprawling grounds, world-class golf and nothing but the finest amenities, this is the place to stay.

Wilmington

When it comes to finding the best beaches in North Carolina, Wilmington takes the gold. The city is part of a small peninsula nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Cape Fear River, so rest assured there is no shortage of water-based activities here. Wilmington even includes several beautiful beach islands that act as a natural barrier to the ocean. Surfing, fishing, boat and jet-ski rentals ... the city caters to water sport enthusiasts. However, there is also much to do on dry land, including golfing, hiking/biking, museums, and art galleries, even a surprisingly wide selection of nightlife and live music options.

Greensboro

Like many destinations in North Carolina, Greensboro is great at combining natural beauty with historic charm and plenty of ex align="justify"citing activities to keep visitors entertained, whether they are in town for a weekend or a week. The city is also home to a large selection of budget-friendly hotels, making it easy to save some extra money for all the fun things to do/see/eat around town. The Wingate by Wyndham offers an amazing level of comfort and service for only around $100 a night. Of course, there are also plenty of other options that are even more affordable.

Asheville

In the time-honored tradition of saving the best for last, let's conclude this list with Asheville. From craft beer to live music, the city has everything that makes Raleigh great but wrapped up in a smaller, more hip package. And if by some strange chance you do happen to get restless in the city, there are many amazing outdoor destinations just outside the city limits. If you only have time to visit one city in North Carolina, make sure it's Asheville — you won't be disappointed!

Published in United States

Explore the Beauty of Asheville

Asheville, North Carolina, is one of the trendiest smaller cities in the eastern U.S., which is not really surprising seeing as it offers something for everyone.

Whether you come here for the stunning fall colours, amazing food scene, great outdoors, artsy culture or just to see the historic Biltmore Estate — the most famous and iconic of Asheville’s attractions — this cool and cultured town is sure to be a great short escape.

Asheville is a stylish place with gourmet dining options, mouth-watering chocolate shops and microbreweries. However, underneath the glossy façade, Asheville is still a down-to-earth mountain town that will be a welcome breath of fresh air to city dwellers. The artsy and hippie population also adds character and soul to this town that’s hard not to fall in love with.

Biltmore estate in Asheville, North Carolina
Biltmore estate in Asheville. Photo Credit: Steven Hirsch

Fall is one of the most popular times to visit Asheville, because the region is known for having some of the most beautiful fall colours in the country. Visit in the first few weeks of October to view the magnificent leaf colours of over 100 species of deciduous trees.

Asheville is also a town with a conscience; you’ll find plenty of yoga classes, vegan food and sustainable businesses. Therefore, when in Asheville, do as the locals do and support independent and local businesses. With so many boutique hotels in Asheville, it’s not hard to have a stylish, independent and sustainable visit.

Five of the Best Boutique Hotels in Asheville for a Memorable Stay

Haywood Park Hotel

The Haywood Park Hotel is a great boutique hotel with a unique twist due to its history as a department store. With a great central location and super friendly staff, a stay at Haywood Park will get you all set for a memorable experience in Asheville.

The Omni Grove Park Inn

If you want to splash out in Asheville, then the Omni Grove Park Inn is the ultimate luxurious mountain resort escape. The location view and setting are stunning, and with luxurious rooms and a huge array of facilities, you might not want to leave!

Asheville, North Carolina
Views from Asheville. Photo Credit: Curt Rosner

1900 Inn on Montford

The 1900 Inn on Montford has the benefit of a downtown location but still offers a quaint alternative to standard Asheville hotels. This bed and breakfast has luxuriously appointed rooms full of Southern charm and all the home comforts you need for a perfect stay.

The Residences at Biltmore

If you want to feel more like a local while staying in Asheville, then check out the Residences at Biltmore for conveniently located, spacious and luxurious apartment-style accommodation. The featured fireplaces, spacious balconies and stylish swimming pool area add nice touches.

Hill House Bed & Breakfast Inn

The Hill House Bed & Breakfast Inn offers a great all-around, independent stay in Asheville. Rooms are spacious, clean and comfortable with touches of historic character. The location is close to downtown but far enough away to be peaceful, and the free full breakfast is a tasty extra touch.

  This post was sponsored by Hipmunk and originally appeared on Global Gallivanting's The Best Boutique Hotels in Asheville on February 25th.

Published in United States

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