35. Wilmington, NCGet More Info
Why go: Summer is high season in one of North Carolina’s largest cities, and you’ll be vying for beach spots along with tons of other tourists. But the coastal city is an easy drive (two hours or less) from Raleigh and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The Atlantic waters are warm for surfing, paddleboarding, and kayaking at Wrightsville Beach, Kura Beach, and Carolina Beach. Plus, there are free weekly concerts all summer in downtown Wilmington.
Where to stay: ARRIVE Wilmington just opened in June in historic downtown, mere minutes from Carolina and Wrightsville Beaches. Besides its convenient location, the hotel has one unique feature: Guests can now anonymously record a secret in the new confessional being built out just for the hotel.
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