Do you want...or NEED...a vacation, but you don't want to go far, and don't have the money. Yes, that's a problem. But one with a solution, thanks to the North Carolina Division of Tourism. They're celebrating the launch of its revamped travel planning website,, with the “Beauty Amplified Photo Sweepstakes,” which offers travelers the opportunity to win one of three unique experiences: a behind-closed-doors tour of Biltmore, a private dinner in the home of renowned Raleigh chef Ashley Christiansen, or a dive on the wreck of Blackbeard’s legendary flagship — a location so secret that the winner will be blindfolded en route.

“These vacations of a lifetime showcase the amazing experiences awaiting visitors to North Carolina,” said Wit Tuttell, director of marketing for the Division, which is part of the state Department of Commerce. “Our state’s beauty really comes to life in the places, the people and the stories, which add depth to the natural beauty and the connection the traveler feels. We’re excited to see what our visitors consider their favorite North Carolina experiences, and to offer three lucky prizewinners trips that symbolize beauty amplified.”

To enter the sweepstakes, which runs through July 31, just will upload a photo of North Carolina that represents “beauty amplified.” A photo with 20 or more “votes” will qualify the person who entered it for a drawing to win one of three grand prizes. So, post a pic...tell your friends and family to vote for it, and good luck! 

The three grand prize packages, which all include a $1,000 gift card that can be used to cover transportation, feature:

  • Celebrity chef dinner. Renowned chef Ashley Christensen of Poole’s Diner will host dinner at her Raleigh home accompanied by Sean Lilly Wilson of the award-winning Fullsteam Brewery, which will craft a custom beer for the winner. Package also includes five-star, five-diamond lodging at The Umstead Hotel and Spa and other dining and travel experiences in the Greater Raleigh area.
  • Wreck diving at the site of the Queen Anne’s Revenge, Blackbeard’s legendary pirate ship. The dive experience off North Carolina’s Crystal Coast is being coordinated in collaboration with the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources and will include area lodging, dining and attractions.
  • Ultimate Biltmore Experience. The winner will choose three VIP options from among more than 10 behind-the-scenes experiences at America’s largest home. The possibilities include a rooftop dinner for two accompanied by a string quartet and a horseback ride with a Vanderbilt family member. The winner will also receive Asheville-area lodging and other amenities.