AshevilleNorth Carolina is quickly becoming one of the most renowned destinations for beer, with more breweries than any other state south of Pennsylvania and east of Texas. To celebrate its budding hops and barley industry, North Carolina has designated April as its official “Beer Month,” with many of the state’s breweries, hotels, restaurants, pubs and other venues offering special travel packages. (For details go to www.ncbeermonth.com.)In funky and artsy Asheville (www.exploreasheville.com), Highland Brewing Company, the city’s first craft brewery, is offering a special package April 12-14 that’s priced at $349 per couple for one night or $499 for two nights. The package includes accommodations at the stylish new Aloft Downtown Asheville (aloftashevilledowntown.com). Located within easy walking distance to nightclubs, restaurants, galleries and shops, the 115-room hotel has an expansive outdoor pool and deck with great mountain views along with a state-of-the-art fitness center and sleek lounge. During your stay, explore the city via the fun and lively LaZoom Comedy Tours (lazoomtours.com), another feature of the travel package. From aboard a big purple bus—you can bring your adult beverage of choice—take in the historical and fascinating sites of Asheville as the tour guides perform outlandish and edgy comedy skits. To round out the experience, the travel package includes a tour of Highland Brewing Company (highlandbrewing.com), where you can sample more than a dozen craft beers and hang out at the outside bar and stage and enjoy live music. Finally, a travel package to Asheville wouldn’t be complete without a sampling of the city’s great cuisine. For brunch, dine at The Blackbird (theblackbirdrestaurant.com), which specializes in Southern favorites such as shrimp and grits and chicken and waffles. For dinner, enjoy fresh, made-from-scratch menu items at Lexington Avenue Brewery (lexavebrew.com), including salmon, duck and pork tenderloin.
CherokeeIf you’re feeling lucky, drive about three hours west to Cherokee, where Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort (www.harrahscherokee.com) recently unveiled a $633 million renovation. Changes include a new 532-room tower, multiple restaurants, including Paula Deen’s Kitchen, as well as the new Mandara Spa, which offers a host of decadent treatments such as massages and body scrubs. And the newly expanded 80,000-square-foot casino has new bars and lounges and more than 3,500 video gaming machines along with table games like blackjack and roulette. When you’re ready to take a break from gambling, head outdoors to the 6,600-yard Robert Trent Jones-designed Sequoyah National Golf Club (sequoyahnational.com), which features breathtaking mountain views at every hole. You can also explore Western North Carolina’s rich history at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian (cherokeemuseum.org) and the Oconaluftee Indian Village. In the evening attend the most popular outdoor drama in America, “Unto These Hills,” at the stunning Mountainside Theatre (cherokeeadventure.com). For something more adventurous, there’s nearby Nantahala Outdoor Center (www.noc.com), which offers boat rentals and guided tours of the Nantahala River. It takes about three hours to paddle down a popular eight-mile stretch of the river, which provides plenty of excitement with Class II and III rapids along with amazing views of steep canyons and quarries before ending at the thrilling Nantahala Falls, the longest and swiftest rapid on the river.
CharlestonThere’s never a bad time to visit Charleston, but April is particularly idyllic, with spring flowers in full bloom, temperatures averaging in the low 70s and a host of fun activities.A great place to stay during your visit is Elliott House Inn (elliotthouseinn.com), which reopened last fall after a two-year renovation. Nestled among the handsome Queen Anne and Greek Revival style homes in the heart of city’s historic downtown, Elliot House Inn, which was built in 1861, features 25 cozy rooms with new furnishings that maintain the inn’s historic Southern charm. There’s also an artfully decorated courtyard with lush plantings, intimate dining tables, a pool and hot tub. The inn is just steps away from the bustling and vibrant market area, where thousands of local vendors sell everything from spices to handcrafted baskets. Also nearby is the scenic Battery Park along the shores of the Charleston peninsula. Here you can stroll along beautifully landscaped lawns, shady oak trees and dozens of historic antebellum homes. As you explore downtown, a must-see destination is Husk Restaurant (huskrestaurant.com). Located in a restored pre-Civil War mansion, Husk offers fresh Southern classics like skillet-roasted chicken, one of the dishes that convinced Bon Appetit magazine to name Husk America’s best new restaurant in 2011. For a truly special Charleston experience, there’s the 36th Annual Cooper River Bridge Run (bridgerun.com), scheduled for April 6. People come from all over the country for this fun 10k event, during which some 40,000 competitors cross the 13,200-foot suspension bridge. The race culminates in downtown Charleston, where there’s live music, kids games and other festivities.Also in April is the Family Circle Cup (familycirclecup.com), a professional women’s tennis tournament that takes place at Daniel Island, about a 15-minute drive from downtown Charleston. The nine-day tournament, which ends April 7, features some of the biggest names in women’s tennis—Serena and Venus Williams are both scheduled to play this year—along with a host of fun activities for kids and adults.
Myrtle BeachAlthough best known as the spring break capital of the South, Myrtle Beach nonetheless holds plenty of appeal for visitors of all ages and interests. One of the newest attractions is the revamped $6 million, 1.2-mile boardwalk, which has also spawned many new shops and restaurants. There’s also the new SkyWheel complex (myrtlebeachskywheel.com), which features a 200-foot Ferris wheel. Moreover, the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, and the city will host a number of events and activities, including air shows. Many of these activities will be taking place along boardwalk’s new entertainment complexes, including one that’s located at the former site of the historic Chesterfield Inn and boasts family fun activities like miniature golf and kids rides along with new shops and restaurants. During your visit, stay at Springmaid Beach Resort (www.springmaidbeach.com), which recently completed a $7 million renovation, including upgrades like new décor, furniture, cabinetry, big-screen TVs and artwork in the 492 guest rooms. The resort also features an indoor and oceanfront pool, miniature golf, arcade games and direct access to Myrtle Beach’s longest pier.