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Summer vacation is just around the corner. Soon it’ll be Memorial Day and time for you to decide where you’re going to go on your next summer vacation. Does a vacation to the mountains sound like you? Or perhaps a summer vacation in a lake house is more your style? When you vacation to Western North Carolina, you can enjoy both. This is just one reason why some of the best summer vacations in North Carolina are out west near the mountains. Keep reading to learn more about Western NC and everything it has to offer summer vacationers.

In order to have one of the best summer vacations in North Carolina, you’ll need to know where to go for mountain hiking, waterfalls, charming mountain towns, things to do in Western North Carolina for families, where to find the perfect summer mountain vacation rental, and more.

Keep reading for answers to these questions and more so you can rest easy knowing you’re planning the best summer vacation in North Carolina.

What City Has the Coolest Summer Temperatures in North Carolina?

which city has the coolest summer temperatures in north carolina

If you’re going to have the best summer vacation in North Carolina, you want to escape to somewhere with cooler temperatures so you can fully enjoy your trip and experience everything the area has to offer. Cities and towns near the mountains are going to have the coolest summer temperatures.

U.S. News and Travel dubbed Highlands one of the best mountain towns to escape the summer heat. Highlands is located on the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau in Western North Carolina.

It sits at an elevation of 4,118 feet, so temperatures stay cool, even in the summer. It’s also located in the Nantahala National Forest, which also helps keep the area’s temperature cool. Highlands and other parts of the Plateau are known for their emphasis on arts and culture and a family-centric atmosphere, Highlands is known for its Main Street. You’ll find local shops and businesses, antique stores, art galleries, restaurants and bars, home décor, jewelry stores, and more.

There are five locations on the Plateau to explore for the best summer vacation in North Carolina:

  1. Cashiers
  2. Highlands
  3. Lake Glenville
  4. Lake Toxaway
  5. Sapphire Valley

5 Best Places to Vacation in North Carolina

If you’re looking for a cool place to visit with an abundance of small town-like charm and outdoor activities, it’s got to be the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau in Western North Carolina.

Where is the Prettiest Place in North Carolina?

where is the prettiest place in north carolina

The Plateau is full of rustic charm and stunning vistas nearly everywhere you go. Sometimes you may not even want to leave your vacation rental because curling up and reading a book with impressive mountain views as your background suffices.

What’s affectionately referred to as the Plateau is one of the most beautiful places to visit in North Carolina because a variety of elements come together to make it a truly unique and scenic place.

In Western North Carolina, you get the elevation of the mountains and all of the stunning vistas that come with it, a couple of serene lakes to enjoy and it’s located in a temperate rainforest, the Nantahala National Forest.

Best Vacation Spots in North Carolina for Families

The Highlands-Cashiers Plateau is a very community and family-oriented place, making it one of the best summer vacation spots in North Carolina for families. If you’re bringing the kiddos, you’ll want vacation activities that appeal to all members of the family.

Here are some family-friendly vacation options we think everyone will love, whether they’re five years old, 55 or older:

  • A drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of the most scenic drives in the United States
  • A trip to Gorges State Park
  • Hiking trails near the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Overnight hiking, if you’re up for a challenge
  • A day trip to Grandfather Mountain, one of the highest peaks in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and also home to the Mile-High Swinging Bridge
  • Visit the Bascom in Highlands
  • Take a train ride on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

Summer Mountain Vacations in NC

summer mountain vacations in nc

Besides the Highlands-Cashiers area being abundantly beautiful, it has Highlands has an interesting history to learn about. History buffs will love visiting. Some of the best summer vacations in North Carolina should include learning about the area, right? Like many of us at Landmark, you may end up visiting on vacation and never wanting to leave.

We’ve told you about Highlands, but the other four cities in the area have a lot to offer as well.

Lake Glenville

Lake Glenville and Lake Toxaway are popular lake towns on the Plateau. Lake Glenville is the most popular lake destination in the area and a popular vacation destination for the Fourth of July. This is because it’s a public lake where boating, kayaking, swimming, and more are allowed. Lake Glenville is also the most elevated lake east of the Mississippi River.

Lake Toxaway

Lake Toxaway is another option. It’s a private lake so you’ll enjoy more privacy, which appeals to many people while they’re on vacation. Lake Toxaway has been a vacation destination for over 100 years. The Edison, Ford and Rockefeller families used to be frequent visitors, so you know you’re in good hands.


While Highlands has its popular Main Street attractions, Cashiers is more known for its outdoor activities. Highlands and Cashiers both put on events to bring the community together throughout the year and one of the most popular event centers is The Village Green. Visit in the fall for the annual Leaf Festival. Don’t forget to go to the seasonal farmer’s markets for some local treats. The 13.2-acre park is also home to music concerts, art festivals, educational and community programs and cultural events.

Sapphire Valley

Sapphire is next door to Cashiers and it’s home to some seriously gorgeous places. One thing we highly recommend for the best summer vacation in North Carolina is to go hiking along the Panthertown Valley Trail. Photographers love going here to take pictures. You can’t go wrong with any of these Western North Carolina destinations. They’re not far from each other, either, so you could stay in one area and easily visit another!

Good Places to Stay in North Carolina

Now that you know more about Western North Carolina and the secret to planning the best summer vacation in North Carolina, all that’s left to do is choose your home away from home and eagerly await your upcoming trip. You may like it as much as we do and never want to leave!

Browse our available vacation rentals at your convenience and let us know if you see something you like. If you have any questions, we can answer those, too. We love sharing our home with people and we can’t wait to ask you what you loved the most about your summer vacation on the Plateau!