Skip to Content

The Best & Worst Times to Visit North Carolina in 2024

The Best & Worst Times to Visit North Carolina in 2024

What's the best time to visit North Carolina?

If you’re drawn to beaches and summer vibes, North Carolina’s coast is perfect with its warm ocean temps and bustling festivals. But if autumn leaves and cooler hikes are more your style, the mountain scenery in fall is unbeatable. Each season offers its own charm, from lively beach towns in summer to serene, colorful mountains in fall, making North Carolina a great destination no matter what you’re into.

The state of North Carolina is a treasure of a destination for everyone from families to honeymooning couples. Along the coast, visitors can check out the beautiful beaches, from Emerald Isle to the family getaways of the Outer Banks.

Inland, the state’s spectacular nature is preserved in parks like the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Be sure to check out the state’s thriving cities like Asheville, Raleigh, and Charlotte, all known for their funky arts scenes, live music, and so much more.

North Carolina has something for everyone, and what you’ll discover varies depending on the region of the state you visit and the season. Keep reading to learn more about the best time to visit.

Overall Best Time to Visit North Carolina

City and streets with a park in full view in Charlotte pictured during the best time to visit North Carolina


The best time to visit North Carolina is in the summer if you’re heading to the coast, while those who are more interested in hiking or exploring fall foliage should visit in the autumn.

The best time to visit the state depends a lot on what you want to do there. If you were hoping to visit the beach, then obviously, you should visit during the summer.

North Carolina’s summers are balmy and warm. According to the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce, average temperatures in July in this popular resort town are in the mid–high 80s. Ocean temperatures are also warm, making this the perfect weather for a beach vacation.

During the summer, North Carolina’s resort towns come alive thanks to the extra visitors. Many businesses only operate seasonally, so this is the time to visit if you want to check out that great fish shack you heard about.

Towns also put on plenty of festivals and outdoor events to entertain visiting families. For example, the Outer Banks organize events like summer markets, outdoor plays, races, and more. Holidays like the 4th of July are particularly lovely.

Inland, summer is also a great time to explore the great outdoors in North Carolina. People flock to the mountains to go hiking, camping, and tubing down the many rivers.

However, the consensus among hikers is that North Carolina’s mountains are at their most beautiful in the autumn. The fall foliage displays in the Great Smoky Mountains are spectacular and draw thousands of visitors annually.

According to the National Park Service, the best colors are usually between mid-October and mid-November. The weather in the mountain region remains mild even in autumn. Asheville, the gateway to the mountains, has average temperatures of 68 degrees well into October.

This is perfect weather for hiking and even camping if you prepare properly. Summer inland can get quite humid without the cooling ocean breezes that the coast gets, so this is the best time to visit for savings.

Fall in the mountains also means that you’ll get to check out local festivals. Traditional fall activities like apple picking are in full swing.

Many local businesses, such as craft breweries, put on seasonal festivals. Plus, major regional events like the N.C. Mountain State Fair in September and the Barbecue Festival in October are in full swing.

Cheapest Time to Visit North Carolina

Welcome sign outside the state limits of North Carolina pictured during the overall cheapest time to visit

Katherine Welles/Shutterstock

The cheapest time to visit North Carolina is during the winter, which is the state’s low season, but you can also get bargains in the spring. Keep in mind, though, that the state sees a spike in visitors around the holiday season.

Events like Christmas at Biltmore attract a lot of visitors, which in turn drives visitor numbers up. However, once the holiday season is over in early January, you can get great discounts on hotels.

These discounts continue into spring (although you will need to avoid holiday weekends like Easter). Raleigh hotels offer discounts of up to 30%. You can find similar discounts in Asheville, while along the coast, you can find even better discounts of up to 40%.

Spring is also one of the cheapest times to fly into North Carolina, with flight prices at their cheapest in March.

September is the absolute cheapest time to fly into the state, but hurricane season along the coast may disrupt your travel plans. If you are driving to North Carolina, prices stay the same no matter what time of year you visit.

Least Busy Time to Visit North Carolina

Night view of a sunset over Wilmington pictured during the overall least busy time to visit North Carolina


The least busy time to visit North Carolina is in the spring, when the weather is beginning to warm up, but the tourist crowds haven’t wised up to it yet. The state’s springs are mild and beautiful.

By April, daytime temperatures are already in the low 70s, with mild, crisp evenings. There are occasional downpours, but spring is one of the sunnier seasons in the area.

The beautiful weather makes for even more beautiful flower blooms. This is a great time to go hiking in the Blue Ridge or Great Smoky Mountains, thanks to the blankets of wildflowers carpeting the area.

Spring is also the best season to visit the famous Biltmore Estate near Asheville. Not only are the gardens full of flower blooms, but the crowds aren’t there yet, so you won’t have to fight your way through the grounds.

Late spring is considered the best time to head to the North Carolina coast, according to locals. By May, the weather is positively balmy, with temperatures in the high 80s, but without reaching the oppressive humidity of summertime.

Before Memorial Day, you won’t have to deal with crowds of vacationing families, so you can truly have a relaxing beach vacation. This is also a good season to check out North Carolina’s compelling cities.

Raleigh and Asheville make for good city breaks during this time since you can explore their charms without the high-season crowds. In Charlotte, check out the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament and other cool sporting events all season long.

Worst Time to Visit North Carolina

Picturesque snowy day in the Blue Ridge Mountains pictured during the worst time to visit North Carolina, the winter

Nickolay Khoroshkov/Shutterstock

There is no bad time per se to visit North Carolina, but in the winter, you won’t have the best weather for spending time outdoors. Many visitors are surprised by how cold winters can be.

In the mountains, temperatures barely get above freezing during the day! Many popular trails in national parks like the Great Smoky Mountains are closed due to the weather, so always check official park websites to see if you can see what you had planned to—many visitors go home disappointed due to seasonal closures.

Even along the coast, North Carolina’s winters can get cold, although not as cold as in the mountains. In Cape Hatteras, nighttime temperatures are barely above freezing, and the cold ocean winds make it feel even colder.

Since most coastal towns are tourism-oriented, many businesses close completely for the off-season. You can still have a good time during this season if you are more flexible with your plans, and winter is a good time to visit to discover some of North Carolina’s seasonal gems.

The state actually has six ski resorts, perfect for winter sports enthusiasts. In February, you can warm up with plenty of jazz festivals across the state, like Chapel Hill’s Carolina Jazz Festival and Black History Month celebrations like the parade in Durham.

Frequently Asked Questions

Lighthouse on Bodie Island in the Outer Banks pictured during the best time to visit North Carolina


Here are some of the most common questions about picking the best time to visit North Carolina:

Where is the best weather in North Carolina?

The best weather in North Carolina is along the coast, where the breezes from the ocean keep away the worst of summer’s humidity, and the winter isn’t as biting.

What are the best months to visit the Carolinas?

Both Carolinas shine from April to early June, then again from late September to November, when you avoid the worst of summer humidity.

What is the best month to visit Charlotte, NC?

The best month to visit Charlotte, NC, is April or October, when the weather is good and there are plenty of events in town.

What is the rainy season in North Carolina?

North Carolina doesn’t have a rainy season per se, but the rainiest season is the summer, with frequent downpours in July and August.

What is the hottest month in NC?

The hottest month in North Carolina is July, when average temperatures can reach the 90s, and high humidity makes it feel even hotter.

So, What’s the Best Time to Visit North Carolina?

The best time to visit North Carolina depends a lot on what you want to do. While beach lovers should visit in the summer, to explore the mountains or head on a city break, the fall is the best time to visit.

So, with so much to see and do and no bad time to visit, what are you waiting for — book your trip today and experience for yourself all that North Carolina has to offer. Happy travels!