If you live in Charlotte and are feeling like it’s time for a little getaway, but you don’t want to go through all the trouble of booking flights and renting cars, you’re in luck. There are lots of fun and interesting places to go within a short drive of the “Queen City”. So, forget about weighing your luggage and finding a decent neck pillow. Just throw your bags in the car, hit the road and check out these awesome weekend getaways from Charlotte!
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The small town of Lexington, North Carolina is only about an hour’s drive from Charlotte and is the perfect weekend getaway for food and wine lovers. First, barbecue enthusiasts will love trying to sample as many of the area’s barbecue restaurants (there’s more than a dozen!) as possible during the stay. Not to mention, the town’s barbecue festival that’s held each October. But, wine lovers will definitely want to take a trip to Childress Vineyards, owned by NASCAR team owner, Richard Childress, where you can sample from a selection of more than 30 wines including house blends, varietals, reserve wines, dessert wines and the NC favorite – Muscadine wines.
The beautiful mountain town of Boone is only a two-hour drive from Charlotte, making it a perfect weekend escape. Since Boone is situated in the Blue Ridge Mountains, it’s obviously a great wintertime destination, with lots of opportunities for skiing, snowboarding and tubing. But, there’s also plenty of outdoor activities to explore during the summertime too, like mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, fly fishing and ziplining. In fact, Boone is home to one of the state’s most popular scenic spots – Grandfather Mountain and more specifically, the Mile High Swinging Bridge. There’s also lots of shopping, restaurants, spas and of course, plenty of local history to learn about since the city was named after the famous pioneer, Daniel Boone.
Also just under two hours from Charlotte, Lake Lure is most famously known for being the site where the classic film Dirty Dancing was filmed. Set in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the lake offers breathtaking views of the surrounding scenery, whether you take it in by canoe or kayak on the water, or from hiking or sunbathing on shore. The lakefront beach is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day and has restrooms, a snack bar and picnic areas available. Another must-see while you’re here is the flowering bridge – a 155-foot former highway bridge that has now been turned into a beautiful garden. And for all those Johnny and Baby fans, the cabins that served as the dancers’ housing in the movie have long been torn down, but you can still celebrate your love of the film at the town’s Dirty Dancing Festival held each September.
Just a short distance further is another picturesque mountain town – Asheville. This quirky city is about two hours and minutes from Charlotte and as a unique vibe all its own. Just ask its residents who support the local slogan of “Keep Asheville Weird.” You’ll find lots of eclectic shops and delicious restaurants in the charming downtown district, as well as lots of craft breweries and wineries to explore, and even a few cideries for the gluten-free folks. Asheville is also home to one of the state’s most popular tourist attractions – Biltmore Estate, the largest privately-owned home in the country. Besides touring the gorgeous home, you can also visit their shops, tour the gardens and do a tasting at the Biltmore Winery.
Just across the state line, about three hours from Charlotte is the beautiful South Carolina city of Charleston. This picturesque town is full of charm with its brightly colored buildings (including the infamous Rainbow Row), cobblestone streets, historic churches and horse-drawn carriages. There are lots of different tours available of the historic district where you can learn all about the history of the area, and even a few ghost tours at night if you’re up for a scare. A definite must-see is the City Market, which features four city blocks of wares and products from hundreds of local artisans and craftsman. Of course, don’t forget the amazing Carolina cuisine to be had here, which is worth a trip in and of itself. And before you head out, make sure to stop by the Angel Oak, a massive tree that is believed to be 1,500 years old!
If you don’t mind driving a little further, about three and a half hours, the coastal town of Wilmington offers the perfect beachside getaway. Besides being sandwiched between two of the state’s most charming beaches – Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach – Wilmington also offers a ton of things to do in between. First, the historic downtown district is loaded with shops, restaurants and attractions including the USS North Carolina Battleship and the Riverwalk, which runs along the Cape Fear River. A little further inland, there’s Airline Gardens – a beautiful public botanical garden, Poplar Grove Plantation and the Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts. Since Wilmington is considered the “Hollywood of the East” and has been the backdrop for many movies and television shows, there are also lots of familiar sites to visit while you’re here.