North Carolina has some beautiful cities and incredible coastal towns, but there is something special about small towns nestled in the mountains. With the Blue Ridge Mountains stretching from Virginia down to Tennessee, and the Smoky Mountains close by, western North Carolina has some of the most scenic mountain vistas across all the states. Large or small, the quaint towns scattered across these mountain ranges ooze charm and serve as the perfect base for hiking and waterfall spotting in North Carolina.

10 Hendersonville

Nestled up in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Hendersonville is a lovely small-town alternative to bustling Asheville. The quaint Main Street in the historic downtown boasts an abundance of restaurants, bars, and cozy stores for visitors to explore. Close to downtown is Jumping Off Rock, which offers incredible scenic views over the mountains. Hendersonville is the apple capital of North Carolina and hosts the annual NC Apple Festival. The area is also known for its vineyards, including Burntshirt Vineyards which is one of the state's best wineries, and Saint Paul Mountain Farms which is a working orchard and vineyard offering tastings and live music.

9 Bryson City

Sitting right on the North Carolina-Tennessee border and known as the gateway to the Smoky Mountains, Bryson City is the perfect place to relax after a day exploring the mountains. Visitors will never feel far from nature as the Tuckasegee River runs right through downtown, and rolling hills surround the town. Close by visitors can get lost on the Road to Nowhere, soak up scenic vistas at Fontana Lake, or go whitewater rafting on the Nantahala River. Bryson City is also known as one of the best Christmas towns in North Carolina, thanks to the town's Polar Express train on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.

8 Boone

Boone is a lively university town close to the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway, making it the perfect place to stay a night or two when exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains. The restored downtown area has a great selection of dining and shopping options, including an adorable Mast General Store to buy souvenirs and candy. Boone is a popular base to explore the suspension bridge at Grandfather Mountain in the summer, and the Appalachian Ski Resort in the winter, making it a perfect year-round destination!

Related: 10 Most Scenic Towns Closest To The Smoky Mountains

7 Brevard

Brevard is the perfect base to explore the mountains or makes a great lunch stop when traveling from Asheville or Hendersonville due to its cornucopia of cafes and restaurants. There are also many cute shops including the famous toy store, O.P. Taylor, and the charming Rocky's Grill and Soda Shop. Brevard is ideally located close to the Pisgah National Forest, where there are 500,000 acres of trails to hike or explore on horseback. Some of North Carolina's most spectacular waterfalls are also in this region, including Looking Glass Falls, Moore Cove Falls, and French Broad Falls.

Banner Elk is a popular winter destination due to its location close to some of the best ski resorts in North Carolina - Sugar Mountain Ski Resort and Beech Mountain Ski Resort. It is also a perfect base for summer vacations, just 30 minutes away from Linville Falls, and close to the spectacular mile-high swing bridge at Grandfather Mountain. This small town also has an impressive selection of quality restaurants and is the perfect place to enjoy the scenery and indulge in some fine dining.

5 Highlands

In the far southwest corner of North Carolina, close to the South Carolina border, Highlands is another beautiful town with a tree-lined Main Street filled with quaint stores and charming restaurants. Just 10 minutes from downtown is picturesque Dry Falls where you can walk right behind the water pouring down off an overhanging ledge. For a bit of luxury, stay at the Old Edwards Inn and Spa, a wonderful European-style hotel and spa right in the heart of the Highlands.

4 Blowing Rock

Blowing Rock is another popular mountain destination, close by to Boone and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Its striking downtown is a picture-perfect image of a mountain town, filled with outdoor cafe patios and big trees lining the main streets. After a relaxing lunch, visitors can walk from downtown to the Glen Burney trail to see both the Glen Burney and the Glen Marie Falls.

Related: Maggie Valley: This Town Is Closest To The Smoky Mountains

3 Burnsville

Burnsville is a popular place to stay when exploring Mount Mitchell, the tallest mountain east of the Mississippi. Downtown Burnsville has a charming town square with restaurants and cafes that spill out onto the nearby roads. It is known for its eclectic artistic vibe, with lots of colorful street murals, art galleries, and independent shops to explore. The Bare Dark Sky Observatory is also close by, and is recognized by CNN as one of the 23 best places in the world for stargazing.

2 Hot Springs

Best known for its hot mineral springs, Hot Springs attracts tourists from far and wide to soak in the rejuvenating waters. The Hot Springs Resort and Spa and Broadwing Farms both offer access to the hot spring waters. The famous Appalachian Trail also winds through Hot Springs, making it a wonderful stop for hikers. Popular events in the town include the French Broad River Festival and the Bluff Mountain Music Festival.

1 Lake Lure

Lake Lure is the perfect combination of mountain town and lake town. Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, visitors can swim or boat on the lake while soaking up the scenic vistas. For more incredible views, close to Lake Lure is Chimney Rock State Park which offers some of the most iconic North Carolina mountain vistas. While the town itself has a good selection of shops and restaurants, the main draw of Lake Lure is the scenery.