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Best Domestic Adventure Hub: North Carolina

Take California, make the mountains greener and the beaches and restaurants less crowded, and

replace all the digital millionaires with hospitable southerners, and you get North Carolina. On the coast, you’ll find some of the East’s best breaks on the Outer Banks, and stand-up paddleboarders cruise through the 160,000-acre Croatan National Forest, filled with salt estuaries and flooded pines. In the west, there’s world-class singletrack and road riding in the Blue Ridge mountains (pros like local Matthew Busche of Trek Factory Racing train for the Tour de France here), 96 miles of Appalachian Trail, and some of the country’s best whitewater at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. That’s to say nothing of cities like Asheville, Wilmington, and Chapel Hill, which are full of farm-to-table restaurants, local breweries, and great music venues. Where to start your trip? Get a room at the two-year-old Aloft hotel in Asheville (from $159) and mountain-bike the Big Avery Loop, a challenging 13-mile romp through rhododendron tunnels and way-off-the-back rock steps. Or rent a house on the Outer Banks in the spring or fall and learn to surf with the folks at Real Watersports (from $100).
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