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Best 4 Coziest Small Towns in North Carolina – To Visit This Winter


It’s the time of year when we’re layering on sweaters and blankets, and to celebrate the winter season, the dating reviews website has ranked the coziest small towns in North Carolina.

To determine the coziest small towns in America, MyDatingAdviser compared 170 well-known small towns across the country on ten key metrics. 

Source:  Get the data  Created with Datawrapper

They looked into winter temperature, average snowfall, cafes, bakeries, crafts, and bookshops, among other indicators of a cozy small town. By analyzing the data points, each town has been given a ‘Cozy Town Index Score,’ representing the level of coziness you might experience in that small town.

If you’re in the mood for cozy towns to get into the winter spirit, here are some of the best small towns across the country to visit for some serious winter comfort.

Here are the 4 coziest towns in North Carolina: 

These North Carolina towns are considered the coziest: Highlands (ranked No. 36 coziest in the nation), Cashiers (72nd), Nags Head (102), and Ocracoke Island (130).



Highlands, North Carolina, has long been a favorite getaway for Southern city dwellers and antique hunters. Located in Macon County, downtown Highlands is a collection of quaint inns, upscale shops, and renowned eateries that draw visitors from throughout the Southeast. Nantahala National Forest surrounds the town in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

  • Rank: #36 out of 170 cities
  • Average Winter Temperature: 36 °F, Winter Season: 3 months, Snowfall: 10.6 inches, Days Below Freezing: 101.7


Silver Run Falls, in the heart of this Blue Ridge Mountains town—63 miles southwest of Asheville and at about 3,500 feet elevation—is just one of the natural beauties.

  • Rank: #72 out of 170 cities
  • Average Winter Temperature: 40.5 °F, Winter Season: 3 months, Snowfall: 11.2 inches, Days Below Freezing: 101.4

Nags Head


Found on North Carolina’s Outer Banks (ya know, like the show??), Nags Head is a beach town known for its towering sand dunes, many boardwalks, and incredible beaches. What to do: Explore Jockey’s Ridge State Park, walk along Jennette’s Pier, try the obstacle courses at First Flight Adventure Park, and climb the Bodie Island Lighthouse. 

Where to eat: Tale of the Whale is a beloved steak and seafood spot overlooking the Roanoke Sound and featuring live lounge music. Where to stay: First Colony Inn is a historic B&B that’s equal parts charming and chic, with a pool, library, encircling verandah, and close proximity to the beach.

  • Rank: #102 out of 170 cities
  • Average Winter Temperature: 50 °F, Winter Season: 3.3 months, Snowfall: 1 inch, Days Below Freezing: 40.4

Ocracoke Island


With fewer than 1,000 people, Ocracoke is the place to go when you want a quiet summer vacation. The town has several historic landmarks, including a postcard-ready lighthouse, a history museum, a British cemetery, and a nice assortment of restaurants and shops.

 But the best thing to do here is to disconnect, spending your hours walking on the shore and finishing all those books that have been piling up on your bed stand. Fun fact: One of the most popular ways to cruise around this sleepy town, where the speed limit never exceeds 25 mph, is via a golf cart.

  • Rank: #130 out of 170 cities
  • Average Winter Temperature: 50 °F, Winter Season: 3 months, Snowfall: 2 inches, Days Below Freezing: 21.1

Find the 20 coziest small towns in the USA:

  1. Stockholm, Wisconsin
  2. Stowe, Vermont
  3. Stanley, Idaho
  4. Ellicottville, New York
  5. Breckenridge, Colorado
  6. Medora, North Dakota
  7. Lake Placid, New York
  8. Keystone, South Dakota
  9. Mackinac Island, Michigan
  10. Lake George, New York
  11. Deadwood, South Dakota
  12. Leadville, Colorado
  13. Silverton, Colorado
  14. Saugatuck, Michigan
  15. Leavenworth, Washington
  16. Kohler, Wisconsin
  17. Telluride, Colorado
  18. Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
  19. Talkeetna, Alaska
  20. Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin

“We’ve swept the country to find some of the coziest towns in America for a winter weekend escape. Whether you’re looking for a ski lover’s paradise, a historic spot that’s still near a major metropolis, or a remote waterfront retreat, you’ll find it on this list. 

Winter can seem like a never-ending season dampened by drizzly weather, cold temperatures, and dark nights that can leave you in a miserable mood to match. Combat the seasonal blues by visiting some of the coziest small towns on this list, which can provide sanctuary and warmth while winter rages on outside. 

I encourage everyone to indulge in some cozy things. Drink hot chocolate, sit by a fireplace, read a book, enjoy warm meals, and curl up with someone special under a warm blanket.”

Amy Pritchett, Editor-in-Chief at

5 ways to stay cozy this winter

1. Get your hygge on.

Hygge is a Danish term that describes a general feeling of coziness, comfort, familiarity, and well-being. Danes embrace hygge all year and appreciate life’s simple pleasures like a scented candle, a good book, and a blanket. 

2. Cook up some comfort food.

Warming yourself from the inside out is a great excuse to whip up some winter classics. Soups, casseroles, and curries are hearty favorites for a reason and are sure to be a hit with the whole family. 

3. Heat the hub.

If you live in a place that’s cold enough to run a heater, think about the areas of the house that need to be kept warm and set the space up to capture the heat. Close the doors to rooms you’re not using and, if you’re able to, install unique purpose-built windows and door seals to stop the hot air from escaping. 

4. Out with the old.

With the weather so uninviting outside, take advantage of the warmth inside and use your extra time indoors to do a spring clean of your wardrobe. Pull out any clothes that don’t fit well or that you haven’t worn in a while. 

5. Soak those winter blues away.

If all else fails, retreat to the bathroom and run yourself a warm bath. It may not quite get you through to September, but it’ll help warm you up!

To determine the coziest small towns in the nation, compared 170 well-known small towns across the following categories: 1) Weather, 2) Food, and 3) Activities. They then evaluated each area using 10 data points of cozy town friendliness—like average winter temperature, snowfall, cafes, bakeries, and craft shops.

What Small Town in North Carolina do you think is the coziest?

Natalie Holland

Hello! I’m the sweet tea obsessed girl behind the blog. I’m a single mom of four awesome kids and I'm a cook. My hobbies include comedy shows, concerts, binging Tiktoks & Netflix. I also like taking random vacations :)




  • Terri Quick

    I loved North Carolina when I visited there

  • Debbie P

    I live in the midwest but I would love to check these out one day.

  • Cynthia C

    My niece’s family vacations at Ocracoke Island every summer. I want to visit there some day.

  • Marisela Zuniga

    These look like great places to visit! I would like to visit the beach one day, it looks very nice

  • Jeanna Massman

    I would love to visit North Carolina but I think determining what town or city is the coziest is very arbitrary. One person’s definition may be quite different from another’s.

  • Adriane

    Never been to NC – but it seems really inviting!

  • Bonnie

    I would love to visit Highlands and Cashiers, especially during the fall. The views are spectacular.

  • Betty Curran

    I’ve never been to North Carolina but I would love to visit.

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