We motorcyclists have a rather voracious penchant for “getting away from it all.” There’s nothing quite like riding to an intimate location to forget about the worries of the world for a day or two.
Here are six motorcycle-friendly North Carolina establishments that make for an unforgettable romantic overnight or weekend getaway.
A historic, rustic stone lodge listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Fryemont Inn has provided lodging and great food for over 100 years. The owners ride, making this a truly motorcycle-friendly hotel.
Situated in Bryson City, the Fryemont serves as gateway to great riding—Blue Ridge Parkway, US 129 Dragon, SR 28 Hellbender, the Cherohala Skyway, and US 441 in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are all nearby, along with numerous mountain roads to explore. The staff can provide maps and directions to ensure you get the most out of your motorcycling experience, welcoming you back in the evenings for a meal and relaxation in the lodge or one of the fireplace suites and cabins.
In addition to riding, there’s hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a choice of outfitters for whitewater rafting, zip-lining in Nantahala Gorge, horseback riding, mountain biking, and the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad, which offers scenic excursions that thestaff is happy to book for you. Closeby is Fontana Dam and Almond Boat Park, with some of the best trout fishing in the nation—hence the Fly Fishing Museum.
There’s also golfing, antique hunting and shopping, as well as the Biltmore House, home of George Vanderbuilt. Of course, you may choose to simply relax on the Fryemont’s shaded grounds, lounge by the swimming pool or on the stone patio, or take a stroll into nearby Bryson City.
Find it at 245 Fryemont St, Bryson City, NC, (828) 488-2159.
The Switzerland Inn is RoadRUNNER Editor-in-Chief’s favorite spot. That’s a strong endorsement for any motorcycle enthusiast, and for good reason.
In addition to being a well-appointed hotel and spa, the Switzerland Inn is the only privately-owned business on the 495-mile Blue Ridge Parkway, America’s most scenic drive that’s considered by many to be motorcycling heaven. Staying at the hotel grants you instant access to the twists and turns of this legendary route.
Situated in the heart of the peaceful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, the Switzerland Inn offers a variety of accommodations, from casual rooms to mountain-view suites and rustic cottages. The hotel boasts fine dining and full spa amenities—perfect for finishing off a day of riding the Parkway.
Nearby Grandfather Mountain has the famous Mile High Swinging Bridge, as well as hiking trails with an abundance of wildlife. In July, the mountain hosts the annual Highland Games, celebrating the region’s Scottish heritage. Also nearby is the Orchard at Altapass, where you can pick your own apples or take a hayride.
For hiking, the Switzerland Inn is surrounded by trails of all levels, from easy to experienced—including Mount Mitchell, which at 6,000 feet above sea level is the highest peak in the eastern U.S. There are also plenty of casual trails for the entire family, alongside nature walks and rigorous climbs for the serious hiker.
The on-site Chalet Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with panoramic views. Terrace dining is available for lunch and dinner, weather permitting.
For evening drinks and meals on-site, there’s also the Fowl Play Pub & Tap Room, with 20 beers on tap, local craft brews, wine, and mixed drinks. Adhering to the Swiss motif, you can also find the Swiss Shoppe, whose shelves are filled with a host of candy, ice cream, and treats.
Find it at 86 High Ridge Rd, Little Switzerland, NC, (828) 385-4500.
Constructed in 1837, this dynamic brick building just minutes outside of downtown Winston-Salem served as the Salem Manufacturing Company before transitioning through various roles as a mill. The site has been transformed into the Historic Brookstown Inn, with 70 guest rooms, of which 28 are full suites.
Flush with an air of southern hospitality, the hotel has a grand ballroom which can accommodate 200 guests and features a large courtyard. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Brookstown Inn has a long and storied history.
The hotel serves as gateway to a number of popular motorcycling roads. The most famous is the Blue Ridge Parkway, which—as I already mentioned—is high on the “must ride” list of routes. Other rides in the surrounding area are the popular Rte 66/Rte 89 loop to Hanging Rock, Pilot Mountain, and Blowing Rock.
In addition to riding, the city of Winston-Salem provides plenty to do off the bike as well. Home to Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, the city has a rich history of industry and iconic brands.
A large arts district, which includes the Piedmont Opera, Milton Rhodes Art Center, and a number of museums offers a lot of cultural activities. A large selection of restaurants within close proximity to the Brookstown, which also has its own restaurant, ensures you will find something to suit any tastes.
Find it at 200 Brookstown Ave, Winston-Salem, NC, (336) 725-1120.
Any hotel that markets itself with the word “gearhead” is going to appeal to motorcyclists. With the legendary Tail of the Dragon nearby, the Historic Tapoco Lodge Resort serves as an enticing base for a riding adventure.
The lodge, situated on the banks of the Cheoah River, has answered the call of wanderlust since 1930, offering suites, rooms, and cabins. Exuding rustic charm, it sits on 120 acres adjacent to Nantahala National Forest.
As proof to just how welcome riders are here, the lodge has air pumps on-site so motorcyclists can be assured of proper tire inflation for tackling the area’s roads.
In addition to the famous 318 corners of the 11-mile Tail of the Dragon, the Historic Tapoco Lodge’s location in the Great Smoky Mountains also offer the scenic loops to Gatlinburg, TN, and back, as well as to Fontana Falls. Also, relatively close (by motorcycle standards) is the Wheels Through Time Motorcycle Museum.
On-site, the Tapoco Lodge has two restaurants, with the Tapoco Tavern serving pizza directly from its wood stone oven. For activities off the motorcycle, there’s hiking, canoeing, rafting, fishing, and simply enjoying nature in the beautiful Smoky Mountains.
Find it at 14981 Tapoco Rd, Robbinsville, NC, (828) 498-2800.
Beautifully situated on a beachfront on the Outer Banks between the Atlantic Ocean and Currituck Sound, the Sanderling Resort is an upscale luxury establishment catering to rejuvenation. Whether you’re after lounging around the pool and napping or venturing out on your motorcycle to take in some of North Carolina’s famous two-wheel routes, it’s an awesome base for a weekend.
The most prominent route is the Outer Banks Scenic Highway, with easy access right outside the resort. This 138-mile stretch of road is ripe with coastal Atlantic panoramic views, with SR 12 taking you past the barrier islands. Points of interest include the Wright Brothers National Memorial on the beach at Kitty Hawk, which marks the first powered flight by man. There’s also the nearby Currituck Lighthouse, the North Carolina Aquarium, and Jockey’s State Park.
For those seeking more adrenaline, there’s Four Wheel Drive Beach, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, horseback riding, and surfing available. If you prefer golf, you can find several links close by.
For relaxing, you have access to the resort pool and spa, and the Sanderling has several dining options.
Find it at 1461 Duck Rd, Duck, NC, (844) 890-4393.
Perhaps the address of the Lodge Nantahala River speaks volumes as to the kind of setting you can expect—130 Papa Jim and Nanny Place, Bryson City. Proudly boasting itself as a “hidden gem,” The Lodge at Nantahala River offers a laid-back atmosphere, with fire pits and quaint lodging.
It provides an escape from it all, whether that means a romantic getaway or a riding-themed adventure.
Situated in the Great Smoky Mountains, The Lodge is close to various popular two-wheel routes in North Carolina, most prominently the Tail of the Dragon and the Blue Ridge Parkway, among others.
If your getaway is more of the exploring type, nearby Bryson City serves as a jumping-off point to the Appalachian Trail. There’s also the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad, where you can take a train ride and visit the train museum.
Nearby Tuckasegee River is a whitewater rafting mainstay, and there’s also the Fly Fishing Museum. Or you can choose to relax at the lodge, where nature abounds, and breathe in the fresh mountain air.
Find it at 130 Papa Jim & Nanny Pl, Bryson City, NC, (828) 788-4494.