When polled on your favorites in our annual contest, you kept it local, picking several North Carolina destinations.
North Carolina's Readers' Choice Awards
The lighthouses, such as this one at Cape Lookout National Seashore, draw countless visitors to the Outer Banks.

We asked. You answered. Your votes in our Readers' Choice Awards reflect swelling pride in your home state. I've been fortunate enough to travel the Old North State extensively, and I'm pleased to learn my favorites are yours as well.

Your Favorite Southern Cities
Both Charlotte and Raleigh popped up in your votes for favorite Southern City. Valerie Henshaw of Cary calls Charlotte the most ideal city in the Southeast, because it's just the right combination of small town and large city. "Folks there exhibit Carolina generosity and ease in their good morning salutes, and they still have the professional sports, arts, symphony, culture, and shopping."

Raleigh native Cherie Phillips shares similar feelings about the state capital. "Even though Raleigh is somewhat of a melting pot, it still maintains its Southern heritage feel," she says. "It's big enough to do just about anything you want, from the theater to the farmers market. But it's also small enough to feel like you live in a community where you can sit on your front porch and speak to the neighbors."

Your Favorite Place to Stay
Not surprisingly, Biltmore emerged time and again in several of our awards' categories--a testimony to the sheer magnificence of Asheville's icon. "When you go into Biltmore off the busy road, you immediately have the feeling of being at a European estate," says Jacqueline James of Lake Junaluska. Several of you have stayed in the luxurious Inn on Biltmore Estate and speak highly of its service. "We are always treated like royalty," says Jane Barnett from Clyde, a sentiment echoed precisely by Bailey's Tammy Collura.

"The veranda was a wonderful place to sit and enjoy a glass of wine or a cup of coffee," says Greenville's Teresa Stainback. I wonder if Teresa realizes that while the veranda affords a glorious view of Vanderbilt's grandiose French chteau, it also maintains its guests' privacy.

Your Favorite Family Destination
I love driving east in North Carolina with the knowledge I won't end my journey until I reach the Outer Banks. These preserved, natural beaches and small communities resonate with me as they do you.

Anne Conner from Cornelius treasures the unspoiled beaches and the crashing surf. High Point's Diana Schlitz shares fond memories from one particular trip. "From the top of Jockey Ridge, I looked down on the little village and felt as though I was in a storybook," she says. "We would fly our kites and enjoy watching the colors of the sky and sand change to a soft magical color. When we returned home we felt that we had enjoyed a feast. There was so much to do! Something for everyone."

Thanks for your votes. Do plan to enter again. Here's to 2008!