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11 Inexpensive Romantic Weekend Getaways in North Carolina

the biltmore ashevillw romantic getaway NC

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Whoever said that romance is dead likely was hoping it’s true so that they wouldn’t have to expend any effort. Romance is anything but dead and gone.

It’s in eyes that meet and hold, lovers falling deeper into love, and simple gestures that mean so much to the recipient. Romance is alive and well, and it can be found anywhere. In particular, one of my favorite states for a romantic getaway is North Carolina.

As an incurable romantic and romance writer, I can tell you how to set the scene. The rest of the romance? Well, that’s up to you. 

11 Inexpensive Romantic Weekend Getaways in NC

The following romantic weekend getaways in North Carolina have two things in common: They are inexpensive and have great romantic potential.

The reality is that you don’t even have to have a plus-one to enjoy the romantic vibes in these cities, but if you are coupled up and are looking to spice up your love life, give one of these destinations a try. 

1. Asheville

The Biltmore, Asheville 
The Biltmore, Asheville — Photo by Crystal Jackson

Asheville, NC, is easily one of the most romantic destinations in the state. While this charming southern city has its share of luxury accommodations, it’s also possible to enjoy a budget-friendly romantic weekend getaway in Asheville.

I’m a big fan of checking prices on Airbnb before a stay and comparing it with local hotels. There are cabins and tiny homes available in and around Asheville that can save you money with glamping options available.

For a bed and breakfast option, consider the Princess Anne Hotel. Once you’ve decided on accommodations, you’ll want to take some time to plan your romantic visit. 

There’s much to see and do in Asheville, but let’s get dining options — that familiar argument for couples — out of the way.

If you want to splurge on a romantic dinner out but stay on a budget, I’d recommend Limones or Bouchon. Both are touted as being among the most romantic restaurants in Asheville. 

I would also recommend making time to have a cocktail in a used bookstore with a visit to the beautiful Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar. This is easily one of my favorite Asheville destinations and perfect for any book lover.

You’ll also want to make time for a stop at French Broad Chocolate for a decadent dessert. Honestly, there’s so much good food in Asheville that you’ll find nearly anything you want to eat at a decent price.

Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar, Asheville 
Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar, Asheville — Photo by Crystal Jackson

Remember that the weekend’s focus is romance on a budget. One of the most affordable things you can do in Asheville is to enjoy one of the many local hikes. Some of them even feature waterfalls.

This is, of course, assuming that your plus-one enjoys hiking and the great outdoors. If they don’t, it’s a bad move to drag them around hiking trails on a romantic weekend getaway.

However, nature lovers and fitness enthusiasts will love the spectacular vistas around Asheville, and anyone can enjoy a scenic ride down the Blue Ridge Parkway. 

Hikes from the Blue Ridge Parkway 
Hikes from the Blue Ridge Parkway — Photo by Crystal Jackson

You don’t have to stay at The Biltmore Estate to visit its grounds. You can splurge on a day pass to enjoy the village, winery, gardens, and to take a tour of the home.

If you don’t want to spend the money on the Biltmore, you can always opt for the Botanic Gardens in Asheville or visit the North Carolina Arboretum to set the scene for romance.

However, nothing is as romantic as planning destinations that are specific to your person. What is it that they love? If you can find that in Asheville, that’s your best bet for a truly romantic getaway.

A gamer might enjoy the Pinball Museum, and an artist might enjoy a walk through the River Arts District. Get creative and have fun with it! 

The Biltmore Gardens 
The Biltmore Gardens — Photo by Crystal Jackson

2. Highlands

Highlands, North Carolina, is often considered an expensive destination — but it doesn’t have to be! Consider staying in an affordable Airbnb.

There are plenty of cozy cabins and private suites that will give you a room with a view. They also cost far less than the hotels and inns in the area, and you’ll still enjoy the spectacular surroundings of Highlands. 

Highlands, NC
Highlands, NC – Photo by Crystal Jackson

There’s also plenty of affordable dining options in the area. If you just want to snuggle up with your plus-one, you can always stop by Mountain Fresh Grocery to pick up everything you need for romantic picnics or cooking dinner for your guest.

Calders Coffee Cafe is the go-to coffee spot in Highlands, and you’ll want to stop by BlackBear Breakfast and Lunch for cheap but crowd-pleasing eats.

For dinner, consider the wood-fired pizzas at Four65. There are many local fine dining establishments, but many of them aren’t quite as budget friendly.

While in Highlands, you’ll have the perfect setting for a romantic weekend getaway. There are hikes, waterfalls, and plenty of scenic vistas to soak up with your beloved. You can also enjoy shopping and exploring the downtown Highlands business district.

If you’re looking for entertainment, visit the Highlands Botanic Garden and Nature Center or get tickets to a show at the Mountain Theatre Company. Otherwise, soak in the romantic setting and comfortable accommodations with your favorite person. 

3. Outer Banks

For a coastal inexpensive and romantic weekend getaway in NC, look no further than the Outer Banks! You can stay in an affordable Airbnb guest suite, relax in an Airbnb waterfront cottage, or enjoy the amenities of the First Colony Inn.

Choose the charming destination that best suits your romantic style, and then plan where you’ll eat and what you’ll do. Choose from fine dining establishments such as Tale of the Whale or Basnights Lone Cedar Cafe.

Don’t overlook the value of cooking for your sweetie or planning a picnic lunch for the beach (weather permitting).

If you’ve got the budget for it, you can take horseback beach tours, book a couples massage, go on a sunset cruise, or even book sailing for you and your partner.

If your budget isn’t quite up to that level of luxury, consider keeping it simple with time spent exploring the historic downtown area and relaxing at the beach together.

You can drive to see local lighthouses, visit an Elizabethan garden, and explore the rich history of the area including the Wright Brothers Memorial and the Roanoke Colony. Just don’t pack your itinerary with so many activities that you forget to savor the time together. 

4. Beaufort

Beaufort, North Carolina, is easily one of the most inexpensive romantic vacation destinations on this list. You can stay in a charming Airbnb, relax at the Inn at Pine Knoll Shores, or book the popular Inlet Inn.

You’ll find most accommodations either offer a waterfront view or a view of the charming downtown Beaufort area. 

For fine dining, you can splurge on 34° North or Beaufort Club. Be sure to call ahead for reservations. For breakfast, try the Beaufort Cafe; it’s a local favorite!

Beaufort Grocery Company is known for its lunch and dinner offerings, Black Sheep is known for its pizza, and Marmalade Cafe and Bakery is the premiere dessert destination. 

As far as things to do, don’t overlook the romantic simplicity of a beach day or wandering the historic area together. You can also book a horseback ride on the beach, take a kayak tour together, or go on a ghost tour. You can spend as much or as little as you want on your visit, but don’t overlook the value of simple time together to make lifelong memories. 

5. Boone

Boone, North Carolina, is located in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. You’ll have plenty of choices for romantic accommodations in Boone. You can stay in an Airbnb guesthouse, relax in a farmhouse, cozy up in a cabin, or opt for a rural retreat.

If your budget is larger, you can consider bed and breakfast options or choose from a variety of local resorts.

For dining options, splurge on Basil’s Pasta or enjoy a more relaxed dining experience at Arroz Con Pollo Grill. For dessert, there’s Appalachia Cookie Company or Venture Chocolate and Wine Lounge.  

While planning your romantic weekend getaway in Boone, consider your budget. If you can splurge a little, consider booking a picnic with Wanderlust Picnics to enjoy with the backdrop of Blue Ridge Parkway.

If your budget allows, get tickets to the Appalachian Theatre and see a show. You can book a horse and carriage tour through Moses H. Cone Park in nearby Blowing Rock or even have a UTV adventure with your partner.

Hike to waterfalls and explore the Daniel Boone Native Gardens for a simple but romantic itinerary for your weekend. 

6. Lake Santeetlah

You’ll find Lake Santeetlah about 100 miles west of Asheville on the Indian Lakes Scenic Byway near the town of Robbinsville. This is easily one of the more affordable romantic destinations in North Carolina.

Most of the shoreline of the lake is a part of Nantahala National Forest. There are limited Airbnb cabin rentals available in Lake Santeetlah, but you’ll find more in the surrounding area if you’re willing to drive. The most affordable way to visit Lake Santeetlah is to plan a camping trip.

Lake Santeetlah doesn’t have restaurants, but there are dining options nearby. Cafe de Olla Italian Restaurant is located in nearby Robbinsville.

For pizza, try Tapoco Tavern. You can also check out the Wildwood Grill Spring through Fall in Fontana Village Resort near the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. 

Lake Santeetlah is the perfect destinations for couples who love the great outdoors. Things to do on your romantic weekend getaway include hiking, fishing, biking, and boating.

You’ll find lake rentals locally, but you can also bring your own boat, bike, or gear for a perfect nature lovers’ getaway. 

7. Black Mountain

Black Mountain makes the list as yet another inexpensive romantic weekend getaway destination. You’ll find Airbnb rentals for nearly any budget. You also can consider options like the Monte Vista Hotel or Arbor House

You’ll want to start your day with coffee from Dynamite Roasting Company and breakfast at Blue Ridge Biscuit Company. For lunch, you can take your sweetheart to Veranda Cafe and Gifts for soup, salads, sandwiches, and dessert. La Guinguette French and Latin Cafe offers a more upscale lunch or dinner experience.

If you’re looking for something to do on your romantic getaway, consider booking a show or class at Black Mountain Center for the Arts. To make your romantic getaway perfect, keep things simple.

Walk hand-in-hand through the local farmer’s market during the summer season, or explore the downtown district of Black Mountain and its charming local shops. Walk or cycle around Lake Tomahawk or enjoy a round of golf at Black Mountain Golf Course.

You can also enjoy hiking — and perhaps a picnic — in the Pisgah National Forest. 

8. Lake Lure

You might not know that the some of the iconic scenes in Dirty Dancing were filmed at Lake Lure. If you want to cozy up with your Baby, consider a romantic weekend getaway to this charming North Carolina town.

You can stay at the 1927 Lake Lure Inn and Spa — and upgrade to get a room with a jet tub. Other options include VRBO cottages and cabins. You just might find it surprisingly affordable.

Fine dining options for your romantic getaway include the Veranda Restaurant, the Chimney Rock Tasting Room and Bistro, or La Strada at Lake Lure. Nobody puts Baby in a corner — unless that corner is the best seat of the house. 

There are numerous romantic possibilities at Lake Lure. You can take a scenic driving tour to local wineries, rent a boat or take a boat tour of the lake, visit the picture-perfect Lake Lure Flowering Bridge (which is the largest Sensory Garden for the Blind and Visually Impaired in North Carolina), or hike the trails at Chimney Rock State Park.

You might recognize Hickory Nut Falls from the movie The Last of the Mohicans. There are also golf courses, horseback riding adventures, and more to enjoy at the beautiful Lake Lure. 

9. Winston-Salem

Another romantic weekend getaway destination in North Carolina is the city of Winston-Salem.

Located near the center of the state, don’t overlook this city and all of its romantic possibilities. You might even be surprised to find out how just affordable a weekend getaway can be. 

For affordable but romantic accommodations, stay at the Providence Manor House Inn, Providence Guest House, Providence Apartments, or the Providence Cabins at Tanglewood.

You can also check out the accommodations at The Historic Brookstown Inn. For a romantic and historic stay, consider Summit Street Inns or the Shaffner Inn. Both offer affordable pricing in elegant surroundings. You’ll also find a surprisingly affordable range of home rentals on Airbnb that rival even these deals. 

With accommodations settled, you can focus on where to eat in the Winston-Salem area. Try Dom’s for plant-based meal options. Local foodies recommend Spring House Restaurant, Bernardin’s at the Zevely House, 1703 Restaurant & Catering, Meridian Restaurant, Tavern in Old Salem, Ryan’s Restaurant Steakhouse, and Chops & Seafood. To stay on budget, you’ll likely want to choose one to splurge and then explore the many other area dining options that are more affordably priced. 

Your romantic weekend getaway can be spiced up with a few fun activities. Go axe throwing at Tap That Axe and allow your competitive side to show.

Go expand your horizons at an art house theatre. Visit some of the areas most spectacular gardens or take a fun hands-on workshop at Mixxer. Rent a paddleboard, bike, or segway with Triad ECO Adventures.

For a truly romantic date idea, hire the Winston-Salem Picnic Ladies to pack and organize your picnic. It’s a splurge, but it’s one that’s likely to be appreciated. Learn to decorate cakes or paint a canvas while sipping wine.

Honestly, the sky’s the limit when it comes to planning a romantic date night out in Winston-Salem. It’s easy to find plenty of romantic things to see and do on your visit. 

10. Banner Elk

Banner Elk, North Carolina, is ideally located between two ski resorts and is home to Wildcat Lake. It certainly makes the list as one of the most romantic and affordable destinations in the state.

You can find hotels with price tags well under $100/night, and you can also camp locally. You can also opt for a cabin stay at one of the three Cornerstone Cabins charmingly named Faith, Hope, and Love. With so many options to choose from, you’re sure to find something that’s budget-friendly and romantic.

Banner Elk is known for being a North Carolina foodie destination, so finding delicious food will be easy. With affordability in mind, let’s visit a few of the options. The Blue Ridge Mountains Travel Guide named the following affordable restaurants among the 10 best foodie destinations in the area.

Banner Elk Cafe and Lodge Espresso Bar and Eatery serves up delicious breakfast, lunch, and dinner with an affordable range of prices. Stonewall’s Restaurant is another romantic dining option. This steakhouse has an outdoor patio and fire pit that allow you to snuggle up with your partner. Sorrento’s Italian Bistro is another option for brunch and lunch on your visit. 

There’s a lot of romantic potential in Banner Elk just waiting for you to access it. You can take a romantic stroll along the 1-mile greenway.

You can visit wineries or breweries, depending on your preference. In the wintertime, you can visit either of the nearby ski resorts for skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, tubing, and other winter fun.

You can take a scenic drive down the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway, which has spectacular foliage in the fall and plenty of nearby hikes as well as Elk River Falls. Wildcat Lake is ideal in the summer for fishing and swimming.

Adventuring romantics may want to check out the only Alpine rollercoaster in the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains. You can check out the views from Grandfather Mountain and the Mile High Swinging Bridge. 

11. Beech Mountain

Beech Mountain is listed last here but is certainly not among the least of the romantic but inexpensive romantic weekend getaway possibilities. Located adjacent to Banner Elk, Beech Mountain is a ski resort town.

It’s known for panoramic views, ski trails, hiking trails, and the 1970s era Land of Oz amusement park. For affordable accommodations, check out the Airbnb cabin rentals in the area. You’ll find plenty of romantic and reasonably priced options for your stay but be sure to book in advance or be willing to stay a little further away.

Beech Mountain might not have as many restaurants as nearby Banner Elk, but you can still find plenty to satisfy your taste buds. The Alpen tops Beech Inn and offers views of the ski slopes.

Famous Brick Oven Pizzeria is a more casual but fun option with an arcade, mini golf, live music, a full bar, an espresso bar, and plenty of dessert possibilities for travelers with a sweet tooth.

You’ll want to check out Fred’s Backside Deli for breakfast and Holy Smokes BBQ for lunch. Slope View Cafe and Mile High Tavern might have the more romantic settings, but if your love loves tacos, don’t overlook Mi Jalisco Mexican Grill. The Beech Mountain Resort also offers dining options seasonally.

If you need more than a cabin stay and delicious food to complete your romantic weekend getaway, consider a visit to Beech Mountain Resort.

You can hike, bike, ski, tube, and snowshoe your way around the area. If you’re a beginner, that’s not a problem.

You can take skiing and snowshoe lessons. While winter might offer the most romantic options in the area, don’t forget that the fall foliage is also worth a visit and the warmer weather allows lake activities. Romance can be found year-round in Beech Mountain. 

Romantic Getaway 101

These 11 unique and inexpensive romantic weekend getaway ideas in North Carolina can give you a start to planning your trip.

Be sure to research hours of operation and to check and make sure any activities will be open during the time of your visit. Plus, you’ll want to follow these tips to get the most bang for your buck, romantically-speaking.

1. Do the Planning

It’s not romantic to make the other person do the mental labor of planning your romantic getaway.

If they like planning, at least do the basics of researching all the options and presenting it to them to choose rather than making them do the legwork for their own romantic trip.

Make sure your plan includes things they enjoy doing and personalize it as much as you can. If you want to make it a surprise, make sure your partner likes surprises. Not everyone enjoys them. 

2. Don’t Skip the Details

You can book a stay, plan where to eat, and have some activities in mind, but that’s not where your effort ends. Make sure to bring the romantic energy you want to manifest on this trip.

Don’t just rush from itinerary point to itinerary point and expect the romance to be there. Do the little things. Make thoughtful gestures. Compliment your partner. Give them your undivided attention and truly listen to what they have to say. 

3. Plan for Imperfection

Please adjust your expectations. Your romantic plans can be foiled by nature. You might not get the weather you were hoping for. Things might come up that are less than ideal.

Don’t expect perfection. Just plan to make the best of the trip no matter what happens.

Getaways to a new destination can involve getting lost and experiencing travel frustrations, but as long as you keep romance in mind, you can keep your cool and remember that even getting lost together can be time well spent.

As long as you aren’t expecting perfection, you’ll find room for error, new inside jokes, and memories to last a lifetime. 

Safe travels!

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