North Carolina places and cities make USA Today’s Top 10 list of 2022
USA TODAY readers voted three North Carolina spots among the best in North America in the “Small Town For Adventures” and “Best Aquariums” categories.
The top 10 annual Readers’ Choice Awards are determined by reader votes. The initial selections came from travel experts choosing the top 20 nominees in a number of categories, including Best Art Museum, Best Farmer’s Market, Best Outdoor Water Park and more.
As of June 21, many 10Best categories are still pending and results will be announced over the next few weeks.
All categories, winners and pending winners can be found at 10best.com/awards/travel.
Two small NC towns win best for adventures
Boone and Beaufort won readers’ choice awards for best small towns for adventure.
▪ Boone, North Carolina: This mountain town is part of Watauga County. It takes approximately 3 hours to drive from Raleigh to Boone.
“Nestled in the mountains of western North Carolina at 3,333 feet, this college town is the highest of any town of more than 10,000 people east of the Mississippi River. As a result, Boone is at heart of outdoor adventure activities,” USA TODAY 10Best told USA TODAY. “There are plenty of hiking and climbing spots in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Nearby, Mount Mitchell is the highest peak east of of the Mississippi, and Grandfather Mountain and Blowing Rock are popular day trips.The rivers are also great for fishing, or you can go white water rafting on the French Broad River.”
Boone came in at No. 5 on the list. Savannah, Illinois took first place.
▪ Beaufort, North Carolina: This picturesque coastal town is part of Carteret County. It takes approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes to drive from Raleigh to Beaufort.
“From wild horses on Shackleford Banks to boating, fishing and kayaking the many waterways and marshes of the Inner Banks, Beaufort, NC is a mecca for the outdoors,” say 10Best contributors Cele and Lynn Seldon. The Boathouse Marina offers easy access to the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean, and it’s also possible to drop a kayak into Taylor’s Creek for a paddle. Charter companies facilitate offshore fishing and diving, and the Rachel Carson Preserve sets the stage for wildlife viewing,” USA TODAY 10Best told.
Beaufort came in 9th on the list.
For the full list of winners, visit 10best.com/awards/travel/best-small-town-for-adventure.
North Carolina Wins Best Aquariums Award
▪ North Carolina Aquariums: Four spots in North Carolina made it to readers’ Top 10 Aquariums in North America list, judging by their high-quality exhibits and visitor interactions.
“This quartet of aquariums — Roanoke Island, Pine Knoll Shores, Fort Fisher and Jennette’s Pier — each offer a unique experience,” USA TODAY 10Best told USA TODAY. “Stroll through a sunken ship or explore the wildlife of Roanoke Island’s wetlands, see loggerhead sea turtles at Pine Knoll Shores, come face-to-face with an albino alligator at Fort Fisher, and get interactive at Jennette’s Pier. ”
All four places collectively came in at 10th place on the list. The Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium in Springfield, Missouri, took the top spot.
For the full list of winners, visit 10best.com/interests/explore.