Discover NC in a New Way
The NC Main to Main Trail is a unique way to experience North Carolina communities. Since 1980, the State of North Carolina has been selecting cities and towns of all sizes to carry the distinction as designated North Carolina Main Street communities. These communities are actively engaged in the Main Street America network and are following the Main Street Approach™ to revitalize their downtown districts.
From the Great Smokies and the Blue Ridge Mountains, the urban growth of the Piedmont, to the eastern inner banks to the coastal plains, Main Street communities are destinations. Each downtown district features architectural treasures from typical commercial buildings, governmental icons, and cultural attractions. Locally owned shops, restaurants, and spirits offer the communities many unique options. Stroll the tree-lined streets to take in the flavor of the district and gain the perspective of why the locals call their community home.
The NC Main to Main Trail leads you through the state’s designated Main Street communities, highlighting each town’s best downtown and outdoor experiences, and providing links to the local Main Street program, VisitNC and the local tourism websites, so that you don’t miss a thing as you trek the NC Main to Main Trail.
NC Main Street Regions
Brevard . Forest City
Hendersonville . Murphy Rutherfordton
Sylva . Tryon . Waynesville
This 13-county region cradles some of the coolest cities and towns in the state, and not just in temperature. The Great Smoky Mountains and the southern tip of the Blue Ridge Mountains serve as the backdrop to this region, where local breweries, chocolatiers, apples, and agritourism are abundant. The downtown districts pride themselves on offering creative economies with authentic shops and galleries, live bluegrass music, locally sourced fine and casual dining options, and lots of opportunities to explore. The Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians call the Western region of North Carolina home. Follow the NC Beer Guys Map, the Blue Ridge Craft Trails, or the Trail of Tears. Explore some of the state’s best apple orchards. Mountain bike or hike to the highest peaks in the mountains or down to the waterfalls; and whitewater raft or kayak down the icy-cold mountain rivers. Do not forget to try your hand at a little fly fishing, or maybe just order North Carolina trout for dinner. The Western region of North Carolina has a lot to do and is waiting for you!
Boone . Hickory . Lenoir
Marion . Morganton
Newton . North Wilkesboro
Spruce Pine . Valdese
This 12-county region rolls through the foothills and the peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Locals interact with the tourists that enjoy trekking through the cities and towns of the Northwest region. Take in the beautiful architecture while having a great locally sourced meal in one of the casual downtown restaurants. This region, originally home to textile and furniture industries, has produced artists, craftspeople, and other makers. Their talents are reflected in a vast array of locally owned shops that offer such products as wood furniture and textile art pieces, handcrafted cheese, ice cream, brews, honey, and more. Explore some of the state’s best apple orchards, take home a fresh cut Christmas tree, or try the local spirits, including a little North Carolina moonshine. Appalachian State University alums and fans are everywhere, and as much as they love football, they also enjoy hiking, rock climbing, road cycling, and mountain biking from spring through fall, and skiing and snowboarding in the winter months. The Northwest region is for exploring, so plan on taking it all in!
Albemarle . Belmont Bessemer City
Cherryville . Concord
Monroe . Mooresville
Salisbury . Shelby
Statesville . Waxhaw
This 10-county region includes the Charlotte metropolitan area, one of the largest financial centers in the United States and a major international airport hub. Some of the fastest growing towns and cities in the state are found in the Southwest region of North Carolina. Whether you drive or take the Carolinian or the Piedmont train to the region, the small and medium-sized towns and cities are actively engaged in developing livable downtown districts that offer all of the conveniences of neighboring Charlotte, but with the ease, comfort, and charm that smaller towns exude. Walk the streets of these downtowns to take in the architectural style of each community, follow the Carolina Thread Trail to explore the textile history of the region, stroll through the specialty shops, take in a show, dine in the restaurants, and enjoy handcrafted chocolates and the fizzy wild cherry taste of Cheerwine, a uniquely southern soft drink that is native to the region. The Southwest region is home to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the Charlotte Panthers, the Charlotte Hornets, the Uwharrie National Forest, and some of the state’s largest manmade lakes. Sports, cultural venues, outdoor recreation, appealing small towns, and lots of great food and spirits: this region has it all. Whether you spend a day, a week, or a lifetime here, you will always find something new to see and do in the Southwest region of North Carolina.
Asheboro . Burlington . Eden
Elkin . Elon . Lexington Mocksville
Mount Airy . Pilot Mountain
This 11-county region, which includes the Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and High Point metropolitan areas, also encompasses the Yadkin Valley Wine Region (a designated American Viticulture Area) to the west, in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. The downtown districts in this region are community centers that not only provide the majority of the jobs for local citizens, but also offer a rich collection of locally owned shopping, dining, and cultural amenities that celebrate the artistry of each county, entrepreneurship, and, of course, regional favorites such as Lexington style barbecue and sonker, a unique dessert made in Surry County. The Piedmont-Triad region is recognized as a transportation hub for the southeastern United States, a nucleus of higher education and progressive healthcare for North Carolina, and a rich cultural center that includes the U.S. Civil Rights Trail, the North Carolina Zoo, theaters, museums, dance and live music venues.. Follow the Yadkin Valley Wine Trail, explore beautiful hiking trails and state parks, kayak the lakes and rivers of central North Carolina, explore the arts scene and public art dotted throughout the region, and enjoy the economic vibrancy of the Piedmont-Triad region.
Aberdeen . Clinton
Laurinburg . Lumberton . Troy
This 10-county region, which includes the Fayetteville metropolitan area, was formerly referred to as the Carolina Piney Woods. The longleaf pine, the state tree, is found throughout this region. Fort Bragg Army Base, the largest active military base in the country, and the Camp Mackall Army training facility call the Sandhills region home, as does the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. The region has a vibrant agricultural heritage, with fruit and produce shipped throughout the state and around the nation, along with forestry, wood products, and livestock. The downtown districts offer an eclectic mix of locally owned shops and restaurants supported by both residents and visitors, incredible public art, history, and heritage museums, and opportunities for family-friendly fun with festivals, holiday events, farmers markets, and concerts. The region is a recreation playground, offering world-class golf, equestrian experiences, kayaking and canoeing down the Cape Fear and Lumber rivers, and exploring the Uwharrie National Forest and the Uwharrie River by land or by boat. Learn about the mystery of the Town Creek Indian Mound, a state archaeological site. The Sandhills region offers one-of-a-kind experiences just waiting for exploration.
Benson . Dunn
Fuquay-Varina . Garner Henderson . Oxford . Pittsboro Roxboro . Sanford . Smithfield
Tarboro . Rocky Mount
Wake Forest . Wilson
North Central Region
This 15-county region, including the metropolitan areas of Raleigh, Durham, and Cary known as the Triangle in North Carolina, is the state’s innovation center. The region is globally known as the largest research center in North America, offers world-renown healthcare, and serves as the higher education hub for the state with three major universities and numerous smaller colleges and universities. The small towns and cities are exploding in population, and that has resulted in vibrant downtown districts that offer a variety of housing options and job opportunities, plus lots of locally owned shops and businesses, award-winning culinary delights including farm-to-table options and Eastern North Carolina style barbecue, handcrafted cocktails and brews, and a plethora of cultural amenities that include internationally known Whirligigs and folk art, theater, live music, art galleries, and more. Explore the region’s farm and food tours, experience the public art, take in a college football or basketball game, and enjoy the outdoor recreation options in the state parks and regional lakes. A visit to the North Central region may convince you to become a new resident.
Goldsboro . Kinston
Morehead City . New Bern
This 12-county region provides direct access to much of the North Carolina beachfront. Home to three U.S. military bases, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Marine Corps Base Camp LeJeune and the Marine Corps Air Station at Cherry Point, together comprising the largest employer east of Interstate 95, the Southeast region has a deeply-rooted history of honor and pride. The communities in this region have been actively revitalizing their downtowns for more than 30 years, and that has resulted in vibrant districts where people live, work, play, and explore beautifully renovated buildings and walkable streetscapes that draw visitors. The downtown districts also boast some of the state’s finest chefs preparing regional cuisine, including Eastern North Carolina style barbecue, Calabash style seafood, North Carolina oysters, and the fresh catch of the day. Pepsi-Cola was invented in this region, so kick back and have a soft drink. The Southeast region has a rich railroad and cargo shipping history, agricultural base, boating culture, and is a nature’s playground for rest, relaxation, and entertainment by the water. The region also serves as the backdrop for many film and television shows. Explore the Cape Lookout National Seashore and Tryon Palace, the first capital of the Colony of North Carolina; follow the NC Oyster Trail; and experience beach music and the jazz, blues, and gospel sounds of the African American Music Trail. There is much to discover. The Southeast region is calling you.
Ayden . Edenton
Elizabeth City . Hertford
Roanoke Rapids . Washington
This 17-county region includes the Outer Banks and the Inner Banks, an area that surrounds the Albemarle Sound, and the rivers that flow through northeastern North Carolina. Home to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and some of the oldest small towns in the state, the slower pace of the region makes it an ideal place to stroll through downtown districts, enjoy the fresh catch of the day or North Carolina oysters, frequent the shops and restaurants, and learn about the river lighthouses and the unique history of the communities. While there, learn about the agricultural history, make sure to experience the fishing, boating, and waterway cultures, enjoy hiking, cycling, and kayaking through the natural environment, and catch the brogue of the locals that call the Northeast region of North Carolina home.