Romare Bearden Park

Charlotte to Raleigh NC | 30+ Best Stops Along the Way

Looking to travel from Charlotte to Raleigh NC?

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Distance: 170 miles

Ways to travel between Charlotte to Raleigh NC

Travel by Car
Travel Time: 2 hr 30 mins to 3 hr without stops

Flights from CLT to RDU
Flight Time: 1 hr 5 min

Amtrak Train from CLT to RDU
Travel Time: 3 hr to 3 hr 30 min

Greyhound Bus
Travel Time: 3 hr to 4 hr

Car Travel from Charlotte to Raleigh NC

Are you ready for an exciting road trip adventure through the beautiful state? Buckle up and get ready to explore the captivating journey from Charlotte to Raleigh, NC. This scenic route takes you on a thrilling ride, unveiling charming towns, historical landmarks, and breathtaking landscapes along the way.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the best stops between Charlotte and Raleigh, offering a delightful blend of history, culture, and local experiences. Whether you’re a curious traveler, an adventurous family, or a history enthusiast, there’s something for everyone to enjoy on this unforgettable road trip.

So, fasten your seatbelts, roll down the windows, and let the anticipation build as we delve into the exciting world of North Carolina’s road trip delights that await you on the journey from Charlotte to Raleigh, NC.

Best Stops between Charlotte to Raleigh NC

For your drive from Charlotte to Raleigh, you might be looking for stops along the way or things you can add to your travel list.  Below you will find some great options to enjoy.

Charlotte NC

Before you take off to Raleigh, let’s cover some things you can do in Charlotte before you embark on your trip.  

Explore Uptown Charlotte: Begin your journey in the bustling heart of the city, Uptown Charlotte. Take a stroll along Tryon Street, admire the impressive skyscrapers, and soak in the vibrant atmosphere of this urban hub.

Uptown Charlotte NC

✅ Discovery Place Science: Dive into the world of science and technology at Discovery Place. This interactive museum offers engaging exhibits, hands-on activities, and exciting demonstrations for visitors of all ages.

Discovery Place Science

✅ NASCAR Hall of Fame: Racing enthusiasts won’t want to miss the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Delve into the history of this iconic sport through exhibits, artifacts, and multimedia presentations that celebrate the legends of NASCAR.

Nascar Hall of Fame

✅ Mint Museum: Delve into the world of art at the Mint Museum, which houses an impressive collection of American, European, and contemporary art. Admire paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and decorative arts as you explore the museum’s diverse exhibits.

Mint Museum Exhibit

✅ Romare Bearden Park: Relax in the picturesque Romare Bearden Park, a serene urban green space with beautiful fountains, walking paths, and open-air seating areas. Take in the views of the city skyline and enjoy a peaceful moment amidst nature.

Romare Bearden Park

Concord NC

Concord serves as a fantastic first stop along the route, offering a range of attractions and dining options to enhance your travel experience.

✅ Concord Mills: Indulge in some shopping at the expansive Concord Mills shopping mall. This premier retail destination features a wide array of stores, including high-end brands, specialty shops, and outlet stores. Take a leisurely stroll through the mall, discover great deals, and find souvenirs to remember your trip.

Concord Mills

✅ Charlotte Motor Speedway: For racing enthusiasts, a visit to the Charlotte Motor Speedway is a must. Tours are available during the weekdays. Immerse yourself in the world of NASCAR as you take a tour of this iconic racetrack. Experience the thrill of standing on hallowed grounds that have witnessed legendary races and events.

Charlotte Motor Speedway

✅ Sea Life Charlotte-Concord: If you’re traveling with kids or have an interest in marine life, consider a visit to Sea Life Charlotte-Concord. This popular aquarium features a variety of fascinating underwater creatures, including sharks, stingrays, seahorses, and more. Explore interactive exhibits and get up close with marine life.

Sea Life Aquarium

✅ Historic Downtown Concord: Take a stroll through the charming streets of Historic Downtown Concord. Discover beautifully preserved buildings, boutique shops, art galleries, and cozy cafes, even a cat cafe. Immerse yourself in the town’s rich history and enjoy the small-town atmosphere.

Mac Tabby Cat Cafe, fun stop on your way from Charlotte to Raleigh NC

Places to stop off of I-85


Kannapolis is another noteworthy stop along your journey from Charlotte to Raleigh. Here are some details about Kannapolis and its attractions that you shouldn’t miss.

✅ Village Park: Village Park is a picturesque recreational area in Kannapolis. This beautifully landscaped park offers walking trails, playgrounds, and open green spaces. Take a leisurely stroll, have a picnic, or relax in the peaceful surroundings. During the summer, the park hosts outdoor concerts and events for visitors to enjoy.

Village Park with fountain

✅ Dale Earnhardt Plaza: Pay homage to the legendary NASCAR driver at Dale Earnhardt Plaza. This public space features a life-size bronze statue of Dale Earnhardt, a native of Kannapolis. Learn about his remarkable career and contributions to the world of motorsports as you admire this iconic tribute.

Dale Earnhardt Statue

 ✅ Atrium Health Ballpark: Sports enthusiasts can catch a baseball game at the Atrium Health Ballpark. Home to the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers minor league baseball team, this modern stadium offers an exciting atmosphere to cheer on the home team. Enjoy the thrill of America’s favorite pastime in a family-friendly setting.

Atrium Health Ballpark

 ✅ Explore Downtown Kannapolis: Unique Shops and Boutiques: Downtown Kannapolis is home to a collection of eclectic shops and boutiques. Explore these local establishments to find one-of-a-kind items, handcrafted goods, and vintage treasures. From clothing boutiques to specialty stores, you’ll discover a range of shopping options that cater to different interests and tastes.

Downtown Kannapolis


Salisbury’s blend of history, art, and culinary experiences makes it a captivating stop on your journey from Charlotte to Raleigh. Immerse yourself in its vibrant downtown, explore its historic sites, appreciate the local arts scene, and savor the flavors of its diverse culinary offerings.

✅ Visit Historic Sites and Museums: Salisbury is home to several notable historic sites and museums that offer insight into the city’s past. Visit the Rowan Museum, located in the 1854 courthouse, to learn about the region’s history through exhibits and artifacts.

Explore the Dr. Josephus Hall House, a beautifully restored Victorian-era home, or step back in time at the Historic Salisbury Foundation’s properties, such as the Utzman-Chambers House and the Hall House.

Downtown Salisbury NC

✅ Dan Nicholas Park: If you have extra time and are traveling with family, consider making a detour to Dan Nicholas Park, located just outside Salisbury. This expansive park offers a range of recreational activities, including fishing, paddle boating, hiking trails, mini golf, and a zoo. It’s a great place to unwind, enjoy nature, and have some fun with the whole family.

Mini Golf at Dan Nicholas Park

Salisbury National Cemetery: Pay a visit to the Salisbury National Cemetery, a solemn and significant site that honors the brave men and women who have served in the military. Take a moment to reflect and pay your respects to those who made sacrifices for their country.

National Cemetery

✅ Historic Downtown Salisbury: Begin your exploration of Salisbury by strolling through its charming historic downtown area. Lined with beautifully preserved buildings, the downtown district exudes a sense of timeless charm. Take a leisurely walk along Main Street and explore the unique shops, art galleries, and antique stores that showcase the city’s rich history.

Salisbury NC Bell Tower Green

✅ North Carolina Transportation Museum: Step back in time at the North Carolina Transportation Museum, located in a former railroad maintenance facility. Discover vintage locomotives, railcars, and exhibits that showcase the state’s transportation history. Take a ride on a historic train and immerse yourself in the nostalgia of the railroad era.

Transportation Museum


Lexington‘s rich barbecue heritage, historic charm, and natural beauty make it a delightful stop on your journey from Charlotte to Raleigh. 

✅ Bob Timberlake Gallery: Art enthusiasts will appreciate a visit to the Bob Timberlake Gallery, showcasing the work of renowned artist and Lexington native Bob Timberlake. Explore the gallery to admire his beautiful paintings, sculptures, and other artistic creations. It’s a great opportunity to immerse yourself in the local art scene and appreciate the talent of this celebrated artist.

Bob Timberlake Gallery

✅ Barbecue Heritage: Lexington is renowned for its barbecue culture and is home to numerous barbecue restaurants that have perfected the art of slow-cooked, mouthwatering barbecue. Indulge in a delicious meal of Lexington-style barbecue, characterized by its tangy vinegar-based sauce and perfectly smoked meats. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor this local culinary specialty that has put Lexington on the map.

Lexington Barbecue

✅ Boone’s Cave Park: For nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, a visit to Boone’s Cave Park is a must. This scenic park offers hiking trails, picnic areas, and opportunities for wildlife viewing. Explore the cave where legend has it that Daniel Boone, the famous frontiersman, once sought refuge. Enjoy the tranquil beauty of the park and take in the sights and sounds of nature.

High Point

High Point‘s thriving furniture industry, cultural landmarks, and natural beauty make it a compelling stop on your journey. Whether you’re interested in design, history, nature, or the arts, High Point has something to offer. 

✅ Furniture Capital of the World: High Point is known as the “Furniture Capital of the World” and has many furniture showrooms and manufacturers. If you work in the furniture industry or are interested in interior design and furniture, you should visit the High Point Market.

It’s the largest trade show for home furnishings globally, but it’s not open to the public—only for industry professionals. If you’re not in the industry, you can still explore the local furniture stores in the area to see the newest furniture and home decor trends.

World's Largest Chest of Drawers

✅ Piedmont Environmental Center: Immerse yourself in nature at the Piedmont Environmental Center. This 376-acre nature preserve features a variety of hiking trails, wildlife habitats, and educational exhibits. Explore the trails, discover local flora and fauna, and enjoy the serene beauty of the Piedmont region.

High Point Piedmont Environmental Center

✅ High Point City Lake Park: If you’re looking for outdoor recreation, visit High Point City Lake Park. This expansive park offers a range of activities, including fishing, boating, picnicking, and walking trails. Take a leisurely stroll around the lake, rent a paddleboat, or simply relax in the peaceful surroundings.

High Point City Lake Park

✅ High Point Museum: Discover the history and heritage of High Point at the High Point Museum. Learn about the city’s evolution from a small village to a major furniture manufacturing hub. Explore exhibits that highlight local industries, including furniture, textiles, and transportation. The museum also hosts special events and programs throughout the year.

High Point Museum

Places to stop off of I-40


Greensboro‘s blend of history, art, nature, and culinary delights makes it a captivating stop on your journey. Whether you’re interested in science, art, history, or simply enjoying the city’s vibrant atmosphere, Greensboro offers a variety of attractions and experiences to enjoy. 

✅ Greensboro Science Center: Immerse yourself in the world of science and nature at the Greensboro Science Center. This popular attraction combines a zoo, an aquarium, and a museum, offering a range of educational exhibits and interactive experiences. Get up close with animals, learn about marine life, and explore fascinating science exhibits.

Greensboro Science Center

✅ Downtown Greensboro: Explore the vibrant downtown area of Greensboro, which is home to a thriving arts scene, eclectic shops, and a variety of dining options. Take a leisurely stroll along Elm Street and discover unique boutiques, art galleries, and charming cafes. Don’t miss the opportunity to sample delicious local cuisine or catch a live performance at one of the downtown venues.

Downtown Greensboro NC

✅ Tanger Family Bicentennial Garden: Take a break from the urban hustle and immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature at the Tanger Family Bicentennial Garden. This beautifully landscaped garden offers a serene setting with walking paths, blooming flowers, and peaceful water features. Enjoy a leisurely stroll or find a quiet spot to relax and unwind.

Tanger Family Bicentennial Garden

✅ Greensboro Arboretum: Take a leisurely stroll through the beautiful Greensboro Arboretum, a 17-acre botanical garden that showcases a variety of plants and landscapes. The arboretum features an extensive collection of native and exotic trees, flowers, and shrubs, all carefully curated to provide a serene and picturesque environment.

Enjoy walking along winding paths, crossing charming bridges, and admiring the vibrant colors of the seasonal blooms. The Greensboro Arboretum is a perfect place to reconnect with nature and enjoy a peaceful retreat within the city.

Chapel Hill

Whether you’re interested in academic pursuits, arts, and culture or simply savoring the local atmosphere, Chapel Hill provides a delightful mix of opportunities for exploration and enjoyment.

✅ Morehead Planetarium and Science Center: Embark on a journey through the cosmos at the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center. This renowned institution offers engaging and educational shows about astronomy, space exploration, and scientific discoveries. Marvel at the wonders of the universe and expand your knowledge of the cosmos.

✅ The North Carolina Botanical Garden: Extend your adventure by visiting the North Carolina Botanical Garden. This expansive garden spans over 1,000 acres and features a wide array of themed gardens, nature trails, and educational exhibits. Explore the various habitats, including the Carnivorous Plant Collection and the Native Water Gardens, and learn about the region’s diverse flora.

✅ University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Begin your visit by exploring the picturesque campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Take a walk through the tree-lined paths, visit the iconic Old Well, and soak in the collegiate atmosphere. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Carolina Basketball Museum, which showcases the storied history of UNC’s basketball program.

UNC Building at Chapel Hill NC

✅ Ackland Art Museum: Immerse yourself in the world of art at the Ackland Art Museum. Located on the UNC campus, this museum houses an extensive collection of artworks from various time periods and cultures. Admire paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts as you wander through the galleries.


Durham offers a wealth of cultural, natural, and recreational attractions that cater to a variety of interests. Whether you’re seeking outdoor beauty, artistic inspiration, or engaging museums, Durham has something to offer every visitor.

✅ Sarah P. Duke Gardens: Immerse yourself in the beauty of nature at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, a stunning 55-acre botanical garden located on the campus of Duke University. Take a leisurely stroll through the meticulously manicured gardens featuring a diverse collection of plant species, tranquil ponds, and picturesque landscapes.

Sarah P Duke Gardens is a beautiful thing to do in Durham NC for couples

✅ Museum of Life and Science: Embark on a fascinating journey of discovery at the Museum of Life and Science. This interactive museum features hands-on exhibits, engaging displays, and live animal encounters. Explore the outdoor exhibits, including the Dinosaur Trail and Butterfly House, or venture inside to learn about topics such as space exploration, weather phenomena, and the natural world.

Museum of Life and Science in Durham NC

✅ Nasher Museum of Art: Delve into the world of art at the Nasher Museum of Art, located on the Duke University campus. This impressive museum showcases a diverse collection of contemporary, modern, and classical art. Explore thought-provoking exhibitions, attend educational programs, and appreciate the beauty and creativity of the artworks on display.

Durham NC

✅ Durham Bulls Athletic Park: Baseball fans won’t want to miss a visit to the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Home to the Durham Bulls, a renowned minor league baseball team, this stadium offers an exciting atmosphere to catch a game and enjoy America’s favorite pastime.

Durham Bulls Stadium in Durham NC


Welcome to the capital city of North Carolina. When you arrive, here are some fantastic things to do in Raleigh that you can add to your itinerary. 

Durham Raleigh Exit Sign

✅ North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences: Dive into the natural world at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, the largest natural history museum in the Southeast. Discover fascinating exhibits on dinosaurs, live animals, North Carolina’s diverse ecosystems, and much more. Don’t miss the impressive Nature Research Center and the interactive Discovery Room.

Raleigh Museum Sperm Whale

✅ North Carolina Museum of Art: Immerse yourself in art at the North Carolina Museum of Art, which boasts a vast collection spanning thousands of years. Explore works by renowned artists, including European masterpieces, contemporary art, and a beautiful outdoor park with sculptures. The museum also hosts rotating exhibitions and offers engaging educational programs.

Art at NC Art Museum

✅ North Carolina State Capitol: Visit the North Carolina State Capitol, a historic landmark that showcases Greek Revival architecture. Take a guided tour to learn about the state’s history, explore the beautifully restored rooms, and admire the Capitol’s impressive dome. The Capitol grounds are perfect for a leisurely walk or a picnic.

Raleigh NC Capitol Building

✅ City Market: Experience the vibrant atmosphere of City Market, a historic market district in downtown Raleigh. Browse through local shops, art galleries, and specialty boutiques, and indulge in delicious food at various eateries and cafes. City Market often hosts events and live music, adding to its lively and inviting ambiance.

Downtown Raleigh NC

Where to Stay in Raleigh, NC

#1 Top Pick
Downtown Raleigh NC

Heart Of The City | 2 Bedroom

Just Blocks to NC State &, Cameron Village, a few minutes drive, or Uber to PNC Park to go to concerts or Glenwood South to check out the bar scene or go sightseeing in Downtown Raleigh.

#2 Top Pick
Raleigh NC Capitol Building

The StateView Hotel, Autograph Collection

3.1 mi from State Capitol, The StateView Hotel, Autograph Collection offers accommodations with a restaurant, complimentary private parking on site, an outdoor swimming pool, and a fitness center. Close to the Museum of Natural Sciences and the North Carolina Museum of History.

#3 Top Pick
Raleigh Museum of Natural Sciences Building

Hilton Raleigh North Hills

The Hilton is conveniently located near a number of major interstates. The PNC Arena, a sports and entertainment venue, along with the Museum of Natural Sciences and North Carolina State University, are all easily accessible.

Charlotte to Raleigh NC: FAQs

📌 Is Charlotte bigger than Raleigh?
At the time of this writing, Charlotte is larger than Raleigh in terms of population. Charlotte is the most populous city in North Carolina and ranks as the 15th largest city in the United States. Raleigh has a smaller population compared to Charlotte.

📌 How much is a train ticket from Charlotte to Raleigh?
Tickets start around $27 for a coach ticket and $41 for a business ticket and up.

📌 Can you drink your own beer on Amtrak?
Amtrak’s alcohol policy allows passengers to consume their own alcoholic beverages on select trains and in designated areas, such as private sleeping compartments and lounge cars. However, there may be restrictions or limitations depending on the specific train route and local laws. It’s best to check with Amtrak for the most up-to-date information.

Amtrack Train at Station

📌 Does it snow more in Charlotte or Raleigh?
Raleigh tends to receive slightly more snowfall on average compared to Charlotte. Both cities experience occasional winter precipitation.

📌 Can you bring a cooler on Amtrak?
Passengers are allowed to bring coolers on Amtrak trains as long as they comply with the company’s carry-on baggage policy. Coolers must meet the size and weight restrictions, and any perishable items should be properly packed and labeled. It’s advisable to check with Amtrak for specific guidelines before traveling.

📌 What are the coldest months in Raleigh, NC?
The coldest months in Raleigh, NC, are typically December, January, and February. During these months, temperatures can drop below freezing, with average highs ranging from the low to mid-50s Fahrenheit (10-13 degrees Celsius) and average lows in the 30s Fahrenheit (around 0 degrees Celsius). Read More: Things to Do in North Carolina During the Winter

📌 How fast does Amtrak go?
The maximum speed of Amtrak trains varies depending on the route and the type of train. Generally, Amtrak trains can reach speeds up to 150 mph (240 km/h) on certain high-speed routes, while on other routes, speeds typically range from 79 mph (127 km/h) to 125 mph (201 km/h).

Final Thoughts

Traveling from Charlotte to Raleigh is a journey that takes you through a diverse range of cities and landscapes, offering an array of attractions and experiences along the way. From the bustling streets of Charlotte to the vibrant arts scene in Greensboro and the charming historic towns like Salisbury, each stop has something unique to offer.

As you embark on this road trip, take the time to explore the local attractions, sample delicious cuisine, and immerse yourself in the rich history and culture of each destination. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or a food enthusiast, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

So, pack your bags, fuel up the car, and set out on an adventure from Charlotte to Raleigh.

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