Whether you’re a Charlotte local, a UNC student, or even a temporary guest of the Queen City, you’re sure to spend plenty of time enjoying the exciting attractions around the metro area. However, North Carolina has a ton of unique destinations from east to west. A short road trip is a perfect way to discover the rich cultural, natural, and historical marvels our beautiful state has in store. Keep reading for a guide to the best day trips from Charlotte, NC.
For a day of outdoor recreation, take a drive to Boone, NC. Just under two hours from Charlotte, Boone offers some amazing views of the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains. Hit the trails at Grandfather Mountain, and take in the scenery from atop the Mile High Swinging Bridge. Thrill seekers will have a blast zip lining and cliff jumping at Sky Valley Zip Tours. Kids of all ages will be delighted to take a train ride at Tweetsie Railroad amusement park.
About 2 hours northwest of Charlotte sits the exciting cultural hub that is Asheville, NC. Spend hours admiring the work of countless talented local artists, and bring home some handcrafted treasures from the unique array of shops downtown. Craft beer enthusiasts will enjoy the eclectic local breweries, and music lovers will be enthralled by lively local performers and street musicians. No trip to Asheville is complete without a tour of the breathtaking Biltmore Estate, the largest privately owned residence in the country and historic home of George Washington Vanderbilt II.
Two and a half hours east of Charlotte lies the capital city of Raleigh, NC. Magnificent oak trees line the streets downtown, and the Greek-Revival architecture of the gleaming capital building is a must-see for visitors. Sample the local flavors at a wide selection of award-winning breweries and top tier restaurants. Take your family out for a self-guided city tour, or let the kids enjoy a fun-filled day on the playground, carousel, train, and boats at Pullen Park.
Hickory is just an hour north of Charlotte, and is known for its history of top-quality furniture manufacturing. Here you’ll find elegant home decor, unique statement pieces, and handcrafted woodworking wonders. Take advantage of the astounding views and exciting recreational activities at Bakers Mountain State Park, or head off to the races during the year-round NASCAR events at the Hickory Motor Speedway.
As the gateway to the Pisgah National Forest, Brevard, NC is a charming town with some seriously impressive scenery. Spend a day sight-seeing at a few of the 250 waterfalls in the area, and stretch your legs on the seemingly endless hiking trails throughout the forest. Head downtown to enjoy lunch or dinner at some of the city’s top restaurants, and sample handcrafted ales at the unique local breweries. Brevard is roughly two and a half hours from Charlotte, but trust us when we tell you that it’s well worth the drive.
In divulging the best day trips from Charlotte, NC, we’ve saved our favorite (and the closest) for last. Hop in the car and travel half an hour north of Charlotte where, alongside the picturesque shores of Lake Norman, you’ll find Davidson, NC. Our charming little town is brimming with beautiful scenery, exciting activities, and sincere Southern hospitality. Explore the campus of Davidson College, where you’ll find incredible art galleries and amazing outdoor sculptures. Stroll down Main Street to visit an eclectic array of shops and boutiques, and grab a bite to eat at some of the best restaurants in the state. For an outdoor adventure, venture out on the scenic paths through the Davidson Greenway, or take on the hiking and biking trails weaving around Lake Norman. Let the Davidson Community Players delight you with exciting theatrical performances, and let a little live music take you away with weekly entertainment at Summit Coffee Company. Drive up for exciting holiday events, from the Lake Norman Fourth of July fireworks display to the festive North Mecklenberg Christmas Parade. If you’d like to turn your day trip into a full-fledged staycation, rest in style and comfort at Davidson Village Inn. Wake up to a gourmet breakfast each morning, sip on complimentary local coffee, and let our dedicated hospitality team assist you in orchestrating your ideal small-town getaway.
Updated December 3, 2021