I definitely haven’t been everywhere, but I do enjoy my fair share of traveling and visiting random places.
I am hoping within the next year I will be exploring the idea of getting a fifth wheel RV and expanding that travel a little outside of the local area.. But until then, Here are my Top 5 local vacation spots based on several factors..
5th Place – Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
I have fond memories of Myrtle Beach, Namely North Myrtle Beach (it tends to have less population, and traffic) but over the years its really gone down hill! Myrtle Beach is one of those typical destination cities, where about 90% of the people in the city are tourists. Sometimes destination cities are hit and sometimes they are miss. Myrtle Beach has been a real great place over the years. We typically like to stay on the beach, because there’s really nothing like waking up to the sounds of waves crashing down below.
Over the years of staying in Myrtle Beach, we have noticed a shift toward less wholesome fun, and more profit. Everything is so much more expensive at Myrtle Beach, Even a typical salad was 3x the expected cost for a total of $30.. For a single serving.
Myrtle Beach did not always have this reputation of being a very expensive place to visit, and for that it use to be my favorite spot.. However the overall feeling for the city has turned too corporate for me, and it’s hard to find good wholesome fun while visiting, without spending a fortune to do so.
Myrtle Beach has a fair number of beach houses, but finding availability is nearly impossible. The area is dominated by Elliott Realty which is pretty sub par at best. They typically specialize in Condos, so expect a 15 story building with parking garage type deal.. Its also important to note that not all structures are created equal, if you aren’t careful you may find that you have to park your car across the street in a parking structure, and cross a busy Highway just to get to your condo. (We fell for that once)
BONUS: For my Tesla Readers.. There is only one supercharger here, however there are some destination charger options at hotels. Check PlugShare for more details.
4th Place – Banner Elk, North Carolina
Banner Elk is the perfect Getaway, secluded in the mountains in a nice quiet small town with views all around. Banner Elk is where you go to rent a nice big quiet cabin and get away from it all.. Unfortunately that’s also why its 4th. You are literally away from it ALL. There aren’t a lot of options for restaurants, or entertainment aside from the nearby Tweetsie Railroad, which is more of a children based theme park.
Expect to spend a lot of time at your cabin, so I’d make sure to get a nicer cabin. There’s only one local grocery store, and if you were looking for a Walmart or Best Buy, you’re out of luck.
You are very close to Grandfather Mountain however, which is one of my favorite day trips.. However, expect to pay to enter Grandfather Mountain..
BONUS: Tesla Drivers, there is currently NO supercharger within a reasonable distance, however there are few options for destination and CCS (If you have the adapter). A Boone Supercharger is planned for next year which will fix that.
3rd Place – Outer Banks, North Carolina
Being from Western North Carolina, we’ve heard people talk about the Outer Banks for years. I’ve never personally been until recently..
If the illusion of Island Life is something that intrigues you, this is the perfect destination. You have to cross massive bridges to get to the island, but the island is so huge you could drive for hours and still be on it! (Literally we drove from Duck to Cape Hatteras, it took over 2 hours and we were still on the banks the whole time) As you might expect from the “island life” there is no shortage of seafood restaurants. Unfortunately there is only so much seafood someone can eat in a week, which sends you off searching for something better.. That something better is NOT found in the BBQ!
Being from the Western side of North Carolina, we like our BBQ Sweet. Down east they have a different approach to things. It’s more of a vinegar base instead of sweet. Not my cup of tea.
There are things to do at the banks, but those things will not come without a price tag. The outer banks is one of few places that allow you to drive your vehicle onto the beach, and there are many areas where the ONLY road to some houses is by driving on the beach. In these areas you will find many wild horses as well! Renting a jeep is the best way to get around on the beaches (because a luxury Tesla is not built for sand) but those jeeps can be quite pricey. On short notice we were only able to find one for 1 day, at just under $400. Im sure if you better planned your trip and booked months in advance, it would probably be better.
The outer banks is also one of those “Destination cities”. Although we didn’t get the impression that prices were inflated because its a vacation spot, we did find that a lot of things were based on having to pay to play, and most restaurants fit the bill of being about the tourists (Expensive Seafood, very few chain options, and very few options above seafood, burgers, and Pizza). In fact we found a few restaurants that enforced a 20% gratuity regardless of party size, and even for takeout orders.. Im not sure what you are tipping for on a takeout order..
There are some nice luxury beach houses you can rent. But be ready to lay down $15,000 to upward of $25,000 per week! If that’s outside of your price range, typical houses (on AirBNB or VRBO) run at a more average rate of $200-300/night.
BONUS for Tesla: There is one supercharger in Kill Devil Hills with only one CCS Charging option near Cape Hatteras. Destination chargers are scarce.
2nd Place – Asheville, North Carolina
Having lived in Asheville my whole life, it never really seemed like a great vacation spot.. Until I recently had some friends come to visit, and started exploring options for things to do.
Asheville (and surrounding area) have plenty to do! There are tourist attractions such as the Biltmore Estate which is the worlds largest house spanning 175,000 Square feet with 250 total rooms. But aside from the pay to play aspect, there are also hikes, waterfalls, and scenic Blue Ridge Parkway drives that are fun for even locals, and FREE. Around October we become the largest destination city because of the fall colors when trees start to change.
Don’t be mistaken by our charm though, there are no price inflations for guests.. Unlike Pigeon Forge, there is no locals discount where locals pay normal price and tourists pay a little more.. The price is the price of things, and it’s at a very fair and reasonable rate for everyone.
Asheville has no shortage of food either. Food (as you may have noticed) is a huge motivator for me! There are a ton of local restaurants, as well as chain options a well! One of my favorites is Cheddars Scratch Kitchen, which is a southern chain.
You’ll also get your shopping fix here as well, Because there are options spanning from Best Buy to a full fledged mall. Its the best mix of big city and small rural all in one!
Asheville and surrounding cities have tons of options for Hotels, Air BNB and VRBO rentals (ranging as low as $50/night and up). There are even tiny houses if you are in to that sort of thing (not me).. But if its luxury cabins in gated communities you want, we have those too.
BONUS: Tesla Drivers, There are 4 total supercharger stations with over 8 stalls each within reasonable driving distance of Asheville. There are more than 4 locations with CCS including Electrify America, and Destination Charging can be found at some hotels. Asheville has a lot to offer for things to do and see, but some of these things will require driving. Luckily there are superchargers in nearby cities as well as free level 2 options.
Winner! – Pigeon Forge, TN
Every time I have to come back to Pigeon Forge, TN. It has the perfect mix of everything. Sure its a bit secluded, so a Best Buy is out of the question.. And there is only one Walmart up near Sevierville. There are tons of options for groceries if you want to stay in, Tons of options for nice cabins to rent from many different companies.
We can’t talk about Pigeon Forge without talking about it being the home of famous country singer Dolly Parton! Dolly owns her now theme park located in Pigeon Forge called Dollywood, and a water park called Splash Country. Dolly also owns some dinner show attractions called Pirates Voyage and Dollys Stampede which are highly recommended, but run about $50/plate. Its not just food though, there is a entire dinner show while you eat each themed with their respective names.
Dolly isn’t the only option however, there are other dinner show venues such as the Hatfield and McCoy dinner Show, and there are other comedy options without food such as the Comedy Barn.
There is no shortage of food either. Some of my personal favorites are the Alamo Steak house, Although not cheap, this is some of the best steak you will have.. Ever. Applewood is great for breakfast, but not bad for any meal. Bennetts BBQ is another personal favorite, Not only do you get the sweet WNC style BBQ, but their deserts are worth the stop alone. (Peach Cobbler personal favorite)
Its important to note that I’m only listing things I’ve personally done. Im sure there are a ton more options, but in this case I have first hand experience and enjoyed it, otherwise I wouldn’t mention it.
So by now, you are probably noticing that Pigeon Forge is coming off as a Destination City. Yes, is absolutely is. However I do not find that they inflate the prices too bad there as some others do.. Gatlinburg which is a short drive away is far more inflated than Pigeon Forge. Gatlinburg is also a small city crammed into a gorge. So there is one road going straight through the center, and most commuting in Gatlinburg is on foot. Not a fan.
Don’t let the hustle and bustle of the city scare you away. There are some free options for entertainment as well! Cades Cove is about 1.5 hours away, and well worth the drive. The cove is a one way loop Road that spans for over 30 miles. In Cades Cove you will drive on a newly paved asphalt path (so great for any car) and see acres and acres of untouched land, Wild horses, bears, deer, etc. It’s a wildlife sanctuary. While Cades Cove is free, Donations are greatly appreciated for upkeep. Keep in mind that there is no guarantee you’ll see anything. So have low expectations, so when you do see something you’re surpised!
The Island is also a popular spot, They have shopping, dining, and some rides (including the iconic Ferris wheel) but there is also a nice little pond to sit around and watch the water dance to music. Its pretty relaxing.
BONUS: For Tesla Readers, There is only one supercharger in Pigeon Forge, TN. There are a lot of options for charging around the city on a Level 2 charger, but note that most of them charge for usage. Free options are limited, but my personal favorite is the Marriott. Obviously for guests only. Luckily the area isn’t so far spread out, that you won’t need to charge more than just overnight while exploring the area.
This has been my top 5 list for local attractions! As I continue to travel and expand, I’ll have a more comprehensive list on further destinations. So far I have a base list, but as the years go on I expect to expand on that!