Holiday Shopping, North Carolina Style

Holiday shopping can be stressful, but not if you’re armed with gift suggestions unique to North Carolina for everyone on your list. From the foodie to the hard-to-shop-for, use our gift guide to find the perfect presents for your friends and family this year.

Due to COVID-19, please check local tourism offices for the most up-to-date visitor information. Additionally, please visit Count On Me NC to see participating businesses and for tips on how to stay safe when visiting North Carolina.

For the Art Lover

North Carolina is filled with artist communities that produce pieces any art lover would love. Consider Seagrove for an original piece of glazed, earthenware pottery made from North Carolina clay, and leave with an encyclopedic education covering everything from kilns to glazes, not to mention a gift sure to delight.

In the mountains, art offerings include Asheville's River Arts District. Here, multiple microbreweries are nestled among an active artist community comprised of more than 240 studios for everything from painting to ironworking. The studios are housed in 20-plus factories and historical buildings.

Just northeast of Asheville is Spruce Pine, where the Market on Oak – a nonprofit benefiting local craftsmen and small businessmen while providing scholarships to high school kids – hosts artisans and farmers who purvey everything from quilts to CDs, all laced with the undeniable local flavor of Appalachia.

For the Foodie

Impress foodie friends and family with gastronomic treasures from native North Carolina culinary offerings. Dewey’s Bakery of Winston-Salem offers a selection of Moravian Cookies – one of North Carolina’s finest exports – in flavors ranging from classic sugar to key lime, as well as a fully outfitted bakery for customized cakes and pastries.

Staying with sweets, visit French Broad Chocolate Lounge in Asheville, where chocolatiers craft caramels, truffles and scratch-made cakes. Gift various collections for an indulgence of artisanal chocolate. The cozy lounge area, local art and liquid truffles – French Broad’s interpretation of hot chocolate – are not to be missed either.

For the health-conscious epicurean, try a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) membership from a famed farmers’ market that entitles members to seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season. Known as the Paris of the Piedmont, try the Carrboro Farmers’ Market, where organic farmers and pastured meat purveyors assemble at one of the oldest markets in our state.

For the Adventurer

When something from the store won’t suffice, try an experience gift that promises adventure. For the thrill-seeker, gift an all-sport season pass to Charlotte’s U.S. National Whitewater Center, where whitewater rafting, mountain biking and zip lining are among several activities to quench adventurous spirits in a man-made park that still exudes authenticity.

For rafting or kayaking without restrictions, give a guided tour from the Nantahala Outdoor Center of Bryson City. Known for its swirling, spitting rapids, the Nantahala River challenges the seasoned adventurer.

Along the coast, hang gliding, kiteboarding and kayaking classes are available from Kitty Hawk Kites of the Outer Banks, while Wilmington offers lessons from its popular Indo Jax Surf School.

For the Fashionista

In the hierarchy of hard-to-buy-for folks, the fashionista often triumphs. Fortunately, North Carolina offers multiple luxury shopping destinations fit for the fashion forward. At North Hills in Raleigh, browse freestanding boutiques nestled along a walkable square, all surrounding a twinkling Christmas tree.

Stop into Monkee’s for shoes and handbags from designers Tory Burch or Kate Spade, Charlotte’s for exquisite trinkets and monogrammed everything (even rain boots), or Lululemon for high-end athletic apparel. If buying name brands, SouthPark mall in Charlotte shops like the pages of Vogue. Options include jewelry from Tiffany & Co. or handbags via Louis Vuitton.

Of course, if buying on a budget, flock to the Tanger Outlets of Mebane or Blowing Rock and pick up something from Polo for him or something from Saks Off Fifth for her. Another popular stop is Charlotte Premium Outlets, which opened in 2014 and features high-end retailers such as Kate Spade New York, Michael Kors and Under Armour.

For the Hard-to-Shop-For

Step away from the generic gift card and try something new for those hard-to-shop-for friends and family. Stop in to Biltmore Village in Asheville, a shopping experience that reflects the mountain town’s bohemian vibe. Visit Compleat Naturalist for field guides and hiking gear, Bellagio for exquisite jewelry or try The Christmas Shoppe for a personalized tree ornament.

Though seemingly unassuming, Raleigh’s Cameron Village hosts original stores with character, including Antiques Emporium for international art, furniture and decor. Try Tin Roof Teas, a family-owned tea emporium with international tea choices ranging from South Africa to Japan, not to mention stone and porcelain tea pots to pair.

For a journey to the days of old, visit the original Mast General Store of Valle Crucis, known for carrying everything from “cradles to caskets.”

Updated October 23, 2020
About the Author

Blair Rumley Cofield

Blair Rumley Cofield is a graduate of University of North Carolina with a degree in Southern Studies. She lives in Raleigh and restricts her barbecue intake to eastern-style only.

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