Linn Cove Viaduct along the Blue Ridge Parkway

31 Awesome Day Trips From Charlotte NC For 2024

Looking for Day Trips from Charlotte NC?

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We live just north of Charlotte and enjoy getting in the car and finding places to explore for the day. I have included some great places to enjoy if you are looking to get out of the city for the day.

Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventures, historical landmarks, or small-town charm, there’s a day trip from Charlotte that’s perfect for you. From the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains to beautiful lakes, there’s no shortage of amazing destinations within a few hours’ drive.

Best Day Trips From Charlotte 

There is a limitless supply of fun to be had both indoors and out in the greater Charlotte area. Here are 31 fantastic day trips from Charlotte NC, to choose from.

1. US National Whitewater Center

Distance from Charlotte: 23 minutes or 15 miles 

The US National Whitewater Center features over 30 different recreational activities with the goal of facilitating access to outdoor active lifestyles for the community. Set on over 1,300 acres of protected lands, the Whitewater Center is home to the world’s largest man-made whitewater river for rafting and kayaking adventures.

There are also 50 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, and trail running. Other activity highlights include ziplining, ropes courses, climbing, and more. 

In addition to the many outdoor activities the Whitewater Center offers, you will also find multiple dining options on-site as well as a Biergarten with up to 60 craft beers on draft. Throughout the year, the Center also hosts various large festivals, races, and competitions. There are a seemingly endless number of activities available.

Things To Do While Visiting the US National Whitewater Center

Zip lines: Five zip line courses run over the rapids, the forest, and the entire Whitewater Center. Climb the 42-foot tower to go sailing 1123 feet through the air! 

Zip line at Whitewater Center

Climbing: Rock climbing is becoming a trendy sport, and at the Whitewater Center, they have one of the most extensive outdoor climbing facilities in the region. They have 45 top ropes courses, 50 bouldering courses, and a 46-foot-tall spire for top roping. 

Whitewater Center Climbing

Whitewater Rafting: With class II-IV rapids available on the world’s largest man-made whitewater course, rafting options include family rafting (ages eight and up), adventure rafting (ages 11 and up), big water sessions, and rodeo rafting (ages 16 and up). There are also kayaking and paddle board options for the rapids as well as flatwater kayaking opportunities on site. 

2. Carowinds

Distance from Charlotte: 20 minutes or 14 miles 

For over 50 years, Carowinds has been North Carolina’s premier entertainment destination. Inside the park, you’ll find over 60 amusement rides, Carolina’s best waterpark, live entertainment, fantastic cuisine, lodging, and endless fun for the whole family. 

Entrance to Carowinds

Things To Do While Visiting Carowinds

Fury 325: Fury 325 is one of Carowinds’ most popular roller coasters. This ride is the world’s tallest and fastest Giga roller coaster and is definitely for thrill seekers. If you enjoy roller coasters, you can’t visit Carowinds without hopping on. 

Carolina Harbor: The Carolina Harbor is the region’s best waterpark. There is a three-acre kids’ water area, the longest mat-racing slide in the Southeast, and all the water fun you can think of. There is something for everyone in this part of the park. 

3. Huntersville NC 

Distance from Charlotte: 20 minutes or 15 miles 

Huntersville, NC, is a large suburban town with a fun downtown area. Huntersville has museums, restaurants, outdoor recreation areas, and kids’ activities.

The Birkdale Village development in town features upscale shopping, numerous dining options, and space for community events, including live music and other activities. Exploring Huntersville is a great way to spend the day out of Charlotte.

Things To Do in Huntersville NC

Carolina Raptor Center: The Carolina Raptor Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to the environmental education and rehabilitation of injured or orphaned birds and raptors. There is a three-quarter-mile walking trail where you can see the permanently housed birds of prey. 

Discovery Place Kids: This kid’s museum is one of the best and most exciting things around the area for little ones. There are dozens of interactive exhibits and hands-on learning experiences for kids of all ages (including experiences for ages 0-36 months). 

Discovery Place Kids Huntersville outside the entrance

4. Davidson NC

Distance from Charlotte: 27 minutes or 22 miles

Davidson is a small, Southern college town with charming shops, restaurants, and plenty of outdoor activities. The small town is one of North Carolina’s best-kept secrets, so worth the visit. Their seasonal Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings between Main and Jackson Streets is a great experience from spring into fall.

Things To Do in Davidson, NC

Kindred: Owned and operated by Davidson locals Joe and Katy have made this small-town gem a national treasure. Kindred only uses seasonally fresh, local ingredients to provide delicious meals. We highly recommend you eat there at least once!  You can also check out their sister restaurants, “Milkbread” (also in Davidson) and “Hello, Sailor” (one town over in Cornelius, NC).  Check out our restaurants in Davidson, NC, article as well.

Kindred menu
Dinner at Kindred in Davidson NC

5. Mooresville NC

Distance from Charlotte: 35 minutes or 27 miles

Mooresville, NC, is a medium-sized town close to Charlotte. The city, known as Race City USA, has lots to do and is known for being the home to many NASCAR racing teams and drivers.

Their historic downtown continues to be transformed with old textile mills and industrial buildings finding new life, such as Merino Mill, which has been rehabbed and is now home to award-winning restaurants and Carolina’s largest antique mall.

Mural in Downtown Mooresville NC

Things To Do in Mooresville NC

The Pit Indoor Kart Racing: The Pit is a premier indoor activity center focused on indoor kart racing. However, other exciting activities include laser tag, mini-golf, the arcade, escape rooms, and so much more. This is a great place for adults and kids to spend a rainy day. 

6. Lake Norman State Park 

Distance from Charlotte: 45 minutes or 40 miles 

Lake Norman State Park is 1,942 acres of natural beauty in Troutman, NC. Lake Norman is the largest manmade lake in North Carolina, with over 500 miles of shoreline, and has become an extremely popular destination for all sorts of water recreation. Whether you are swimming, fishing, camping, or enjoying the excellent nature trails, there is a lot to do in this particular area. 

Lake Norman State Park Visitors Center

Things To Do in Lake Norman State Park

Mountain Biking: Lake Norman State Park is home to some of the state’s most popular mountain biking trails. Thirty miles of trails within that park are ideal for top-notch mountain biking. 

Lake Activities: As mentioned above, Lake Norman is a fully recreational state park! You’ll find water sporting activities, boating, swimming, and fishing. If you are looking for boat rentals, including jet skis, kayaks, paddleboards, etc., they are available nearby at places such as Lake Effects Boat Rentals in Terrell, NC. Make sure to check out the public beach area.

Lake Norman State Park Beach
Lake Norman State Park Beach

7. Statesville NC

Distance from Charlotte: 45 minutes or 42 miles 

Statesville was established in North Carolina in 1789, so you can imagine how much history there is in the town. Statesville has always been known for being a leader in tobacco production, whiskey production, and distribution of roots and herbs. Overall, it’s a charming town that will give you a real taste of North Carolina. 

Downtown Mural in Statesville NC

Things To Do in Statesville NC

 ✅ Fort Dobbs: If you visit Statesville, anyone will tell you to see Fort Dobbs. Fort Dobbs was once an 18th-century war fort during the French and Indian war, and today, it stands as a state historical site. It is fascinating to take tours of the fort, see historical reenactments, and learn more about the history of America. 

Fort Dobbs

8. Elkin NC 

Distance from Charlotte: 1 hr and 15 minutes or 75 miles

Elkin is a small but beautiful town centrally located in Yadkin Valley. Elkin is a wonderful place to walk by the river, explore hiking trails, and visit wineries, festivals, and breweries. 

Things To Do in Elkin NC

Carter Falls: Carter Falls is a 50-foot series of upper and lower waterfalls. The falls were hidden on private property for over a century, and now they are open to the public. There are short and long hikes to see the falls, the shortest being a quick 1-mile hike there and back. 

Carter Falls in Elkin NC

Wineries: Elkin is situated in Yadkin Valley, a valley highly known as one of the best places on the East Coast to grow and harvest grapes. The Elkin Vine Line is a popular wine tour that takes you to some of these fantastic wineries in Elkin

Entrance to Raffaldini Vineyards

9. Asheville NC

Distance from Charlotte: 2 hours and 10 minutes or 130 miles

Asheville, NC, is one of the most popular cities in North Carolina. This vibrant town has lots of art, music, history, food, and entertainment. This mountain town has eccentric people, great beer, and many good times. 

Things To Do in Asheville NC

Biltmore Estate: Known as America’s Largest Home, the property, including the 250-room residence, is the main attraction of Asheville. The house, built in 1895, was meant to serve as a welcoming home for events and parties and is a place where people can come together.

On the estate, there are luxury hotel accommodations, a 5-star restaurant, and a superb spa, perfect for a weekend getaway. Tours and a variety of activities are available on the 8,000-acre site.  Read More: Visiting the Biltmore Estate during Christmas.

Day Trips from Charlotte should include the Biltmore Estate in Asheville NC, pictured outside

Breweries: Asheville is known for being one of the beer capitals of the United States. Over 40 breweries in and around the city offer something new and unique. Beers tours and brewery hopping are great ways to spend the day or weekend. 

👉Book Your Guided Brewery Walking Tour

Blue Ridge Parkway: The Blue Ridge Parkway is the most well-known and most visited attraction in North Carolina. The parkway stretches for 469 miles and takes about 12-13 hours to complete if you were to drive the entire stretch. There are four main entrances to the parkway from Asheville.  

👉 Book a Guided Blue Ridge Parkway Waterfalls Hiking Tour from Asheville

Linn Cove Viaduct along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Asheville Historic Downtown Bike Tour: There is a lot to see in Asheville, and what better way to see everything than a bike tour? This historic downtown bike tour of Asheville is the fastest and best way to get around the town and learn as much as possible. The tour takes 2.5 hours on electric bikes. Just follow your guide, and have fun! 

👉 Click here to book your historic bike tour today!

10. Durham NC

Distance from Charlotte: 2 hr 11 minutes or 145 miles

Durham is the 4th largest city in North Carolina and is located about 2 hours from Charlotte and about 3 hours from Asheville. Durham has a ton of history and is known for being one of the best places in North Carolina to live, having some of the best healthcare access, wonderful city parks, and fantastic museums.

Things To Do in Durham NC

Sarah P. Duke Gardens: Sarah P. Duke Gardens is located on the Durham University campus. Visitors can walk amongst the gorgeous 55 acres of trees, flowers, and plants. There are 5 miles of walkways and pathways. These are some of the best botanical gardens in the area and provide a sweet escape from busy city life. 

Sarah P Duke Gardens

Museum of Life and Science: The Museum of Life and Science is 84 acres of pure fun, imagination, creativity, and nature. From an aerospace center to a butterfly house to animal dens and more, this is an exciting place to bring the family and learn about everything! A trip to this museum will take up a whole day, and you will want to return. 

Museum of Life and Science in Durham NC

11. Salisbury NC 

Distance from Charlotte: 45 minutes or 43 miles 

Salisbury holds the title of the oldest continuously inhabited colonial town in the western region of North Carolina. This town is known for its historic preservation and expansive love for the arts. If you want a relaxing day, Salisbury is the perfect place to wander around.

Things To Do in Salisbury NC

Rowan Museum Inc: The Rowan Museum is located in downtown Salisbury. Since the museum started in 1953, its purpose has been to collect, preserve, and educate visitors on the history of Salisbury and Rowan County. Besides the beautiful 19th-century courthouse building, the exhibits are wondrous, and you will see things here you won’t see anywhere else. 

Bell Tower Green Park: Bell Tower Green Park is Salisbury’s biggest and best city park. For centuries, this Bell Tower has acted as a beacon for colonial people and still does today. The park’s events, concerts, and gathering space make this one of the most popular destinations in Salisbury.

Things to do in Sailsbury NC include the Bell Tower Green, a beautiful park

12. Lexington NC 

Distance from Charlotte: 58 minutes or 59 miles 

Lexington is a classic North Carolina town with a quaint downtown. It is surrounded by beautiful nature and the best spot to try some of the best North Carolina barbecue you can find. The town also has some award-winning wineries and fascinating historical museums.

Things To Do in Lexington NC

Lexington Barbecue Festival: Lexington is known as the “Barbecue Capital of the World,” so it’s no surprise that their barbecue festival is the town’s biggest annual event and brings people from all over the country to try some Lexington or western-style barbecue.

There are live music events, contests, stunt shows, and, obviously, all-you-can-eat barbecue. Every year since 1984, one day in October, the town transforms into a barbecue heaven.

Chopped BBQ Plate at Lexington BBQ

Davidson County Historical Museum: This 1858 Greek-Revival style building contains thousands of artifacts, images, and other materials spotlighting Lexington and Davidson County history. History lovers will love the data saved from over 200 years of history. 

13. Boone NC 

Distance from Charlotte: 1 hr 59 minutes or 101 miles

If you want to get out of the city for a day and truly into the North Carolina mountains, Boone is a great little town to visit. Boone and the surrounding area are one of the closest mountains to Charlotte, so the beautiful views and adventures are endless. The town has a super cute downtown with many great shops, breweries, and more!

Things To Do in Boone NC

Tweetsie Railroad: This wild-west-themed amusement park is truly a one-of-a-kind experience. This action-packed park has everything from historic train rides to live interactive shows, other kid-friendly amusement rides, a deer park zoo, restaurants, and so much more! This is an enjoyable activity for the whole family, making the perfect summer day trip out of Charlotte. 

Nearby Blowing Rock is North Carolina’s oldest travel attraction. The rock is a vast cliff, 4,000 feet above sea level. The rocky walls of the cliff form a flume that sends the winds upwards.

For instance, when it is snowing, it will appear as if the snow is falling upside down. The walk to the cliff is just half a mile long and mostly handicap/stroller accessible. You’ll never see anything like this cliff in your life!

View from Blowing Rock

14. Grandfather Mountain

Distance from Charlotte: 2 hr 15 minutes or 113 miles 

Grandfather Mountain is the highest point on the eastern part of the Blue Ridge Parkway, at 5,946 feet. The mountain sits in Grandfather Mountain State Park and is a must-see if you are visiting the area. 

Things To Do at Grandfather Mountain 

Mile High Swinging Bridge: The most famous attraction on Grandfather Mountain is the Mile High Swinging Bridge. This bridge is the highest suspension bridge in the United States. The 228-foot tall bridge suspends across an 80-foot chasm, and guests are welcome to walk across and experience the feeling of floating in mid-air. Whether you hate heights or not, this is a spectacular spectacle. 

Grandfather Mountain Mile-High Swinging Brige near Little Switzerland NC

Hike Grandfather Loop: This loop gives you a great sampling of what the woods around Grandfather Mountain are like, along with great views. The trail isn’t difficult and is 1.5 miles, perfect for a half-day hike. 

15. Hanging Rock State Park

Distance from Charlotte: 1 hr 50 minutes or 109 miles 

Hanging Rock State Park is a 9,011-acre park in Stokes County, North Carolina. The park is well-loved by the community and is home to waterfalls, swimming holes, hiking trails, and the famous Hanging Rock. There is no fee to enter the park (except for boat and swim passes), and it’s dog-friendly! 

Things To Do at Hanging Rock State Park

Hike Hanging Rock: To fully experience Hanging Rock in all its glory, you must hike the 1.2 (2.4-mile round trip) trail to the top of the rock. If you are in the state park, this hike is a must-do. The trailhead starts at the visitor center parking lot and is considered a challenging route. It is the perfect place to be during sunset.  

Lower Cascade Falls: Lower Cascade Falls are very popular amongst travelers and locals. These delightful falls flow 35 feet into a large pool, perfect for wading and swimming. The path from the parking area to the falls is a short 0.3 miles (around 0.7 miles there and back) with many wooden and rock steps. 

16. Pilot Mountain State Park

Distance from Charlotte: 1 hr 35 minutes or 101 Miles

You can find Pilot Mountain State Park in Surry and Yadkin Counties of North Carolina, covering 3,872 acres and the beautiful peak of Pilot Mountain. This mountain peak was once a landmark for pioneers and the Native Americans.

Although you cannot go to the very peak of Pilot Mountain because that area is a wildlife sanctuary, there are still plenty of beautiful hikes and other unique outdoor activities. 

Things To Do at Pilot Mountain State Park

Camping: The camping area in Pilot Mountain State Park has some of the best camping near Charlotte. You can find the camping area near the entrance to Pilot Mountain. 

There are 42 sites for tents and trailers nestled amongst the trees, fire pits, grills, tables, drinking water, and well-maintained bathrooms. Across the south bank of the Yadkin River, there are also two paddle-in campsites if you are up for an adventure. 

Canoeing: Pilot Mountain State Park is known for having some significant canoeing areas. A 2-mile section of the Yadkin River flows directly through the middle of the park, allowing for some great canoeing. 

View of Pilot Mountain from the distance

17. Winston-Salem NC

Distance from Charlotte: 1 hr 15 minutes or 80 miles

Winston-Salem is the perfect combination of small-town vibes wrapped into one big town. The town became popular in the 1900s for its tobacco and textile industries. Today, this town has a deep history and a strong appreciation for culture and the arts. 

Things To Do in Winston-Salem NC

Old Salem Museums and Gardens: Old Salem Museums and Gardens is an important historic site with multiple buildings and attractions. The site is open year-round and has bookstores, shops, a museum center, schoolhouses, a garden, cafes, and more. This place tells the story of the people who made Winston-Salem what it is today. 

Old Salem Gardens and House

Visit Foothills Brewing Tasting Room: Foothill Brewing is the star brewery in the Winston-Salem area. They have three locations in Winston-Salem, including their downtown brewpub, which is great for hanging out, having a meal, and trying the beer. 

Their main brewing facility, which includes a 28-tap tasting room and a brewery tour, and their newest location, Footnote Coffee and Cocktails, combines a coffee roastery, a part cocktail bar, and a great event space. Great times are to be had at Foothills Brewing! 

18. Hickory NC 

Distance from Charlotte: 1 hr or 54 miles

Hickory is a mid-sized town in Catawba County, North Carolina. This town is known for having a close-knit community with many fun activities, events, and festivals. It is also known for being the “birthplace of NASCAR stars.” 

Things To Do in Hickory NC

Hickory Motor Speedway:  Hickory Motor Speedway opened in 1951 and quickly became the world’s most storied short track. Today, it is often called the “World’s Most Famous Short Track” and the “Birthplace of NASCAR Stars.” The track is a 0.5-mile dirt track, with over 9,000 seats in the stadium above. The season starts in February and goes until November.  

Hickory Motor Speedway

Glenn C. Hilton, Jr Memorial Park: Relaxing in Hickory isn’t hard as there are so many parks to visit and sit in. Glenn C. Hilton Jr Memorial Park is one of the favored parks in Hickory.

This park has five picnic shelters, two playgrounds, gazebos, restrooms, disc golf, a paved walking trail, and a nature boardwalk. If you are looking for a good picnic spot or a place where the kids can run around, this is the park to be at. 

Glenn C Hilton Jr Memorial Park Sign

Explore Downtown Hickory: The community of Hickory is close-knit and very welcoming, and you can certainly feel those vibes as you walk through their lovely downtown area. Often adorned with lights, there is a comforting feeling about walking in downtown Hickory. You can find a handful of unique retail shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues all in the heart of Hickory. 

Outdoor stage in downtown Hickory NC

19. South Mountains State Park 

Distance from Charlotte: 1 hr 18 minutes or 62 miles

South Mountains State Park is the largest state park in North Carolina, covering over 20,000 acres. The park includes the South Mountains, springs, waterfalls, rivers, and a branch of the Blue Ridge Mountains. A little over an hour from Charlotte makes this gorgeous park the perfect place to spend the day, have a picnic, and explore the great outdoors. 

Things To Do at South Mountains State Park

High Shoals Falls: One of the more popular attractions in the park is High Shoals Falls. The hike is a fun 2.4-mile loop that includes seeing the 80-foot falls, a mountain vista, and a nice calming creek. 

20. Concord NC

Distance from Charlotte: 35 minutes or 27 miles 

Concord is another large North Carolina city just right outside of Charlotte. There is a sizable downtown, along with many other fun activities. Being so close to Charlotte makes Concord easy to visit and explore. Some even consider Concord “a mini Charlotte.” 

Things To Do in Concord NC

Charlotte Motor Speedway: Charlotte Motor Speedway is just outside of Charlotte. It is a large motorsport complex featuring a 1.5-mile oval track that frequently hosts NASCAR racing, including the well-known Coca-Cola 600, on Memorial Day weekend.

Other big races happen throughout the year. Whether you take the whole family or get out for a fun date, seeing a race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway is a thrilling way to spend the afternoon or evening. Check out the Christmas at Charlotte Motor Speedway during the holidays.

Great Wolf Lodge: Great Wolf Lodge isn’t just a resort but also an exhilarating indoor water park. There is something for everyone at the indoor waterpark: kid-friendly attractions and rides, eleven waterslides, four pools, and an interactive four-story water fort. 

Great Wolf Lodge Indoor Waterpark

21. Pinehurst NC 

Distance from Charlotte: 1 hr 58 minutes or 101 miles 

If you love small towns, golf, and relaxing countryside, then you’ll love Pinehurst! This small, underrated village is located in Moore County. The quaint New England-style downtown is filled with delightful shops and restaurants. It should be at the top of your list if you haven’t been to Pinehurst! 

Things To Do in Pinehurst NC

Outside the Carolina Pinehurst Hotel

Pinehurst No. 2: Pinehurst No. 2 is an iconic golf course known for consistently being ranked among the best golf courses in the United States. The course is challenging but has perfect conditions. Many US championships have been hosted here. If you are up for trying your hand at a good round of golf, this is a great place to visit one day.

The Spa at Pinehurst: Looking for a romantic day trip? Visit The Spa at Pinehurst for a luxurious, relaxing day. They are a full-service spa with massages, facials, body treatments, nail and hair care, and more. You will not regret your serene visit to this spa. 

Outside The Spa at Pinehurst

22. Uwharrie National Forest 

Distance from Charlotte: 1 hour 7 minutes or 50 miles 

Uwharrie National Forest isn’t the most well-known national forest. However, the Uwharries are some of the oldest mountain ranges in the United States. There are five towns within the national forest, many events, festivals, restaurants, and so much outdoor land to explore.  

The forest has several hiking trails, ranging from easy strolls to more challenging hikes, such as the Uwharrie Trail. There are also several campgrounds and picnic areas to enjoy.

Things To Do in Uwharrie National Forest

Badin Lake Recreation Area: Badin Lake is one of a series of lakes in Uwharrie National Forest. The recreation area includes day use for swimming, fishing, boating, hunting, hiking trails, mountain biking, and more. It is a beautiful area, which doesn’t get very busy. Next to the recreation area, there is Badin Lake campground, with 34 well-kept tent sites. 

Go Off-Road: Uwharrie National Forest is one of the few national forests in the eastern US that allows off-road vehicle use. The forest has several designated off-road vehicle trails, popular among four-wheel drive enthusiasts. Visitors must obtain a permit before using their off-road vehicles in the forest.

23. Greensboro NC

Distance from Charlotte: 1 hr 30 minutes or 93 miles 

Greensboro is the third most populated city in North Carolina. There is always something to do, like trying the many restaurants and visiting the fantastic retail stores. Recently known as Tournament Town, Greensboro has hosted both the ACC men’s and women’s basketball tournaments for over 20 years as well as being one of the most frequently used cities for NCAA March Madness tournament games.

Although similar to Charlotte, it is always nice to have a change of pace to see a new town and experience everything they have going on for a day.

Greensboro Science Center

Things To Do in Greensboro NC

Greensboro Science Center: Greensboro Science Center is a full science center and zoo with over 25 species of animals, including red pandas, hippos, gorillas, lemurs, and more. There is also a full aquarium and museum. Bring the kids for exciting, hands-on, interactive play, or stop at the Omnisphere Theatre for a larger-than-life 3-D show.

Greensboro Historical Ghost Town: Join a guide lighting the way by candlelight through Greensboro’s most haunted and historical parts. Your guide will not only give you a complete history tour of the city but also share spooky stories from the town’s past.

👉 Click here to book your historical ghost tour today!

24. Asheboro NC 

Distance from Charlotte: 1 hr 25 minutes or 85 miles

Asheboro is located in the heart of North Carolina. Most known for being the home of the North Carolina Zoo, this mid-sized city also has a fabulous downtown, great shops, restaurants, and lots of outdoor activities. 

Things To Do in Asheboro NC

North Carolina Zoo is the largest and most exciting zoo in North Carolina. It is also the world’s largest natural habitat zoo. There are over 1,800 animals, with 250 different species representing Africa and North America.

3 Giraffes at the NC Zoo

The goal of the zoo is to protect wildlife and educate the public on nature and its importance in all of our lives. There is alot to see, including live feedings, volunteer programs, and educational tours

Frog at the NC Zoo
Frog on the lily pad in front of an exhibit

Four Saints Brewing Company: Four Saints Brewing is a popular brewing company that made its home in Asheboro, NC. The owners wanted to rejuvenate the town with a place where people could come together and enjoy good beer.

They have every type of beer a beer lover could dream of and hospitality you won’t forget. They hold lots of live music events and themed nights all year long and invite food trucks multiple times throughout the week. 

25. Saluda NC

Distance from Charlotte: 1 hr 42 minutes or 93 miles

Saluda is a very small town in western North Carolina. For railroad enthusiasts, the town was home to the Saluda Grade, the steepest mainline standard gauge railroad in the United States. Saluda is a mountain oasis with a deep history, tons of acres of natural land, and lots of fun shops, restaurants, and historical sites.

Things To Do in Saluda NC

The Gorge Zipline: The Gorge Zipline is America’s fastest and steepest zipline, spanning 1.25 miles with a descent of 1,100 feet. Eleven tracks take thrill-seekers through a canopy of trees. Below is the Green River Gorge. If you are up for trying something new, the feeling of flying through the air is unlike any other.

Saluda NC Zipline

Visit Saluda’s Restaurants: The culinary scene in Saluda has grown exponentially over the last few years. Now, you can find everything from 5-star fine dining restaurants to funky cafes, barbecue joints, and lots more! Are you tired of the restaurants in Charlotte? Take a trip to Saluda for a day filled with delicious food.

Saluda Historic Depot: The Saluda Historic Depot and Museum serves to educate the public about the history of the depot and the importance of the railroad that the town owes its existence to. You’ll find replica trains, historical artifacts, information about the town, and a gift shop inside the depot.

Outside of the Saluda Historic Depot & Museum

26. Hendersonville NC

Distance from Charlotte: 1 hr 50 minutes or 104 miles

Hendersonville is ranked one of the best places to visit and live in North Carolina. There are many family-fun activities, public walking trails, a beautiful downtown, and a thriving culinary scene. It is best known, however, for its apple orchards.

Things To Do in Hendersonville NC

Jump Off Rock: Jump Off Rock is five miles from downtown Hendersonville. The rock is a beautiful scenic overlook where you can see the Blue Ridge and Pisgah Mountains.  You can stop for a picnic and enjoy the breathtaking view.

Jump Off Rock View with layers of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the background

Carl Sandburg Historical Site: Carl Sandburg was an American literary classic known as “a poet of the people.” He was famous for writing free-verse poetry, journalism, biographies, children’s stories, and prose.

The historical site is on 270 acres, including Carl Sandburg’s home, and public access to the barnyard goats and cows. Visitors are welcome to take a self-guided tour of the land or book a guided home tour to get a deeper look at the life of Carl Sandburg. 

Explore Hendersonville Downtown: Hendersonville has the second largest downtown in western North Carolina, after Asheville. There are over 100 shops, 25 restaurants, galleries, arcades, bars, and more.

Apple Picking: Like Yadkin Valley is known for being wine country, Henderson County is known as a land of apple orchards. There are over 160 apple orchards in Henderson County and dozens in Hendersonville.

Each Orchard has its own story, many u-pick apple trees, themed events, and baked goods. Hendersonville is where you want to be during the fall apple season

31 Awesome Day Trips From Charlotte NC For 2024

Gem Mining and Goat Farm Walking Tour: You may think gem mining and goat farms are an odd combination, but the two make for a fun-filled day! You can pet the goats at the farm, visit the aviary, and explore North Carolina’s largest gem shop.

👉Click here to book your gem mining/goat farm tour today!

27. Lake Lure

Distance from Charlotte: 1 hr 46 minutes or 92 miles

Lake Lure is one of the most beautiful man-made lakes in the country. The lake is surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains and has expansive beachfront access. The famous “lift” scene in Dirty Dancing was filmed at Lake Lure! Lake Lure is a charming and relaxing place to visit on a warm summer day or a crisp fall afternoon.

Things To Do at Lake Lure 

Lake Lure Flowering Bridge: You may never see a bridge more beautiful than the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge. The bridge was built in 1925 over a small river that flows into Lake Lure. Visitors are welcome to walk along the 2000 species of plants and look upstream to a beautiful view of Chimney Rock.

In 2013, after a preservation effort to maintain its continued use, twelve themed gardens were planted in raised beds across the bridge. There are herb gardens, rock, and succulent areas, and magical wildflower garden beds.

Lake Lure Flowering Bridge

Lake Lure Beach and Water Park: Lake Lure Beach has 100 yards of some of the best beachfronts in western North Carolina. There is a small water park with water slides and water games.

At the top of the beach are sizable picnic-covered picnic shelters with grills and tables. However, you can also buy snacks at the ticket office. This is one of the best summer activities for the whole family. 

Lake Lure Beach

28. Chimney Rock NC

Distance from Charlotte: 1 hr 51 minutes or 95 miles

Chimney Rock is a tiny village in North Carolina, most known for housing Chimney Rock State Park, which has been a fantastic mountain destination for decades. It is a nature lovers’ paradise and a perfect place to spend the day outside.

Things To Do in Chimney Rock, NC

Chimney Rock State Park: Chimney Rock State Park has 8,000 acres of beautiful North Carolina wilderness, mountains, lakes, waterfalls, and more.

Visitors often come to Chimney Rock State Park to see the famous Chimney Rock, a 535 million-year-old monolith sticking up out of the trees. You will have 75-mile panoramic views of the park and mountain ranges from the top. The stairs are steep, but the view is well worth it. 

Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park

Chimney Rock Village: Only about 110 people live year-round in Chimney Rock. However, they have a strong community and a tiny downtown strip with funky shops, old mountain vibes, and a few restaurants.

Walking through downtown Chimney Rock feels like a blast to the past, and it is a great way to experience the mountain charm of North Carolina.

29. Morganton NC

Distance from Charlotte: 1 hr 16 minutes or 75 miles 

Morganton is a mid-sized town bordering the South Mountains, Pisgah National Forest, Lake James, and the Blue Ridge Parkway. The city is well-known for having all the fun outdoor activities, including parks, bike paths, playgrounds, camping, fishing, hiking, and anything else you could think of.

Things To Do in Morganton NC

Downtown Morganton NC

✅ Catawba River Greenway: A gem of Morganton is the Catawba River Greenway. This 3.8-mile paved pathway runs along the Catawba River and offers excellent views. There are picnic shelters, restrooms, a playground, fishing areas, paddle launches, observation decks, bridges, and open areas along the path. This peaceful, calming stroll removes you from the busy city life. 

Catawba River Greenway Sign

Apple Hill Orchard and Cider Mill: Apple Hill Orchard and Cider Mill is one of the best apple orchards to visit during the fall season. There are over 22 varieties of apples available to pick yourself. There is also a bakery serving fresh home-baked goods to take home.

30. Gastonia NC

Distance from Charlotte: 28 minutes or 23 miles

Gastonia is a growing town just miles from Charlotte. It is a perfect size, not too large or too small, and offers abundant beautiful outdoor activities, museums, and more.  

Museums include the Schiele Museum of Natural History, which features exhibits on local history and culture, as well as natural history and science. The Gaston County Museum of Art and History is also located in Gastonia and offers exhibits on the history and culture of the region.

Things To Do in Gastonia NC

Daniel Stowe Gardens: Daniel Stowe Gardens is a botanical garden on 380 lakefront acres founded by a textile executive of the area, Daniel Stowe. The visitor Pavilion includes 30 breathtaking acres of gardens, a children’s garden, a conservatory with rare tropical plants, sparkling fountains, and more. Visitors are welcome to enjoy a garden walk at their own pace or enjoy a picnic amongst the trees or on the lawn. 

Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens Things to Do in Gastonia NC

Read More: Holiday Lights at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden

Dallas Lavender Farm: If you are looking for a good day trip during the spring, consider Dallas Lavender Farm. The farm is only open in spring when the flowers are in full bloom. From April to June, the farm holds a few excellent family-friendly flower and music festivals and is a perfect way to celebrate spring.

Dallas Lavender Lane baby goats and mom

McAdenville during Christmas: It can be more challenging to find fun day activities during the winter. However, come December, McAdenville (a small town directly next to Gastonia) lights up their city to create Christmas Town.

There are over 375 Christmas trees adorned with lights, and everyone living in the town helps with their own holiday cheer. It is quite a sight and a beautiful way to get into the holiday spirit.

Holiday Lights on house in McAdvenville NC

31. Crowders Mountain State Park 

Distance from Charlotte: 36 minutes or 32 miles

Crowders Mountain State Park is on over 5,000 acres of land and has two of the best viewpoints of Gaston County. This park has lots of hiking, fishing, paddling, rock climbing, and bouldering.  

Things To Do at Crowders Mountain State Park 

The Pinnacle Trail: The Pinnacle Trail is the most popular in the entire park. This 4.2-mile out-and-back trail takes you to Kings Pinnacle, the highest point in Gaston County. The trail has its challenging moments and is rated moderate to difficult. However, adults and kids who are used to hiking will have no problems.

Crowders Mountain - Sparrow Springs Access

Day Trips from Charlotte NC: FAQs 

Before heading out on your perfect day trip, here are a few quick things to know! 

📍 What mountains are 2 hours away from Charlotte?
The Blue Ridge Mountains are two hours from Charlotte. 

📍 What is the closest beach to Charlotte
While Charlotte isn’t a coastal town, it is only 3 hours and 30 minutes (or 209 miles) from Wrightsville Beach on the coast of North Carolina. 

31 Awesome Day Trips From Charlotte NC For 2024

📍 What mountains are closest to Charlotte?
Crowders Mountains are some of the closest mountains to Charlotte. South Mountains, The Blue Ridge Parkway, and Beech and Sugar Mountain are also close. 

Final Thoughts

If you have the itch to get out of Charlotte for the day, don’t worry! You have lots of unique and exciting options to explore. Whether you are looking to go out on a family hike, visit zoos or museums, take a relaxing spa day, or even just take a walk through a different city, you can do all that and more, less than a two-hour drive from Charlotte.


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