Perfect for when you need to see new sights for the weekend.
From beaches to mountain ranges, cities to hiking trails, North Carolina’s got it all, and relatively close to Charlotte. If you’re in the need for a change of scenery then look no further than this guide bringing you 14 weekend getaway destinations. And none longer than 4 hours away. Perfect timing, as summer is almost here, and we encourage you to spend more times appreciating the great outdoors.
North Carolina’s second largest lake (behind Lake Norma) is in High Rock Lake. Just over an hour’s drive from Charlotte, visitors can enjoy quiet lake living close to home. Boating, waterskiing, kayaking, sailboating, and fishing are all recreational activities to take part in as spring transitions into summer. High Rock Lake also has cabins and RV parking you can rent so you and your family can spend a weekend getting away from the big city.
Blue Ridge Mountains are a relatively 2 and a half hour drive from Charlotte and well-worth the effort. If you’re looking for a weekend getaway in the wilderness, look no further than this section of the Appalachian Mountains that span from George to south Pennsylvania. Take a hike up to Blowing Rock to get a stunning view or stop into Blue Ridge town to taste from the local wineries, breweries, and restaurants.
Nantahala is a 3 hour drive from Charlotte and is the perfect place to do some white water rafting thanks to the Nantahala river. Along the river, you can participate in high-thrill river sports, go kayaking, or fish depending on your penchant towards thrill-seeking. Did we mention there’s also zip-lining? This area is named for the Cherokee word meaning “Land of the Noonday Sun,” founded in 1920 and under the authority of the 1911 Weeks Act, is protected land. Check out their website for reservations.
Have you been to Asheville before? A short 2 hour drive from Charlotte is another hub of art, gastronomy, and parks. Near to the Blue Ridge Mountains, this is the perfect out of town experience for those wanting a mix of nature and city-life. Experience Asheville’s Concert on the Lawn series, explore some of their best breweries, and take a stroll through the Biltmore Gardens. Anyone interested in capturing stunning photos of Asheville can also check out this photo-taking tour for a fun activity.
If you’re ready for beach season, then Wrightsville is the perfect little beach town to satisfy that craving. It’s also served as the setting of the popular show, Dawson’s Creek! Just under a 4 hour drive from Charlotte, Wrightsville is a great little getaway. Fans of water sports will love Wrightsville active community lifestyle and abundant kayak, paddle boarding, or surfing rental stores.
Another nearby beach town is Wilmington, coming in at a 3 and a half hour drive from Charlotte. With its long piers, it’s known as a Cape Fear Coast getaway port town. It’s also in close proximity to Wrightsville. The city leads a strong arts and culture scene as well as being home to a ton of museums and historic areas like The Bellamy Mansion and Temple of Israel, the oldest synagogue in North Carolina.
7. Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill is a popular town here in North Carolina, and it’s got quite a few activities to offer. First off, check out the University of North Carolina famous for its basketball team. Then head on over to the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center or the Ackland Art Museum for some culture. Finally, take a stroll in the North Carolina Botanical Garden. And all of that before grabbing dinner on Franklin Street.
Hendersonville is the perfect charming, mountain town getaway without the tourists, and it boasts a great culinary scene to ensure you enjoy your nights out. Just on Main St. alone, there are over 30 independent restaurants you can try out, various breweries, wineries, and cideries, and more. Not to mention, Hendersonville is one of the smallest cities in America to have its own orchestra symphony. There’s also a hiking trail over in DuPont State Forest to walk off those extra calories the next day.
This charming town is just 90 minutes away from Charlotte and serves as the perfect last minute getaway. If you’re a fan of classic motorcycles, you can get up close and personal with some Harley Davidsons at the American Classic Motorcycle Museum, then end the day with a beer at a local brewery. If you’re bringing the kids along, then head over to the North Carolina Zoo or go zip-lining. This is the perfect getaway for its ability to cater to the adventurous and those who need a little downtown after a busy week of work.
10. Spruce Pine
Right near the Blue Ridge Mountains is the perfect little retreat for someone who likes arts & culture with their cities. Lots of artists have made their stop here in Spruce Pine, and it shows, from the public art displays all around the city to the various art galleries and cultural centers. Spruce Pine also boasts some great fishing right at Toe River, where the trout supply is boisterous. We’d also recommend not missing out on one of the most exciting restaurants in the area, Knife & Fork, owned by James Beard awarded chef, Nate Allen.
11. Yadkin Valley
Yadkin Valley is the perfect wino getaway. This area of NC boasts over 20 different wineries, usually leaning towards the drier and crisper side, but there’s also wines from various regions in Europe as well. Napa isn’t the only region in America known for its wine. That’s because North Carolina is actually a mighty contender when it comes to fresh and crisp vino as it ranks 10th in wine production in the country, and Yadkin Valley is one of the bigger parts of the region. We’ve even written extensively about the wineries here in case you’re interested in a weekend of wine-ing and dining.
12. The Research Triangle
The Triangle, as its more commonly referred to, is anchored by 3 different universities and where there’s a university city, you know there’s a vibrant nightlife just calling your name. From here, students from Duke University, North Carolina State University, and University at Chapel Hill meet to party, dine, and enjoy this charming little university town. But there’s not just partying to be had here. You can also enjoy some culture, with some of the nicest museums in NC, like the Museum of Life and Science or the Nasher Museum of Art. There’s also the Research Triangle Park, where some of tech’s most exciting hubs have settled in, like Apple who are building their latest campus here.
13. Lake Lure
Only a two hour dive out from Charlotte is this cute lake, also famously used as the filming location of Dirty Dancing. The lakefront beach has finally reopened and will be available for swimming all the way through to Labor Day. Whether you enjoy the like by kayak, canoe, boat or by its waterside, Lake Lure is the perfect summer-time destination to beat the heat. Once you’re all waterlogged, head on over to the town of Lake Lure for some shopping of local artisan goods and dining at La Strada, where there’s an incredible lake view.
14. Bald Head Island
Bald Head Island is the perfect remote destination where the oldest Lighthouse in America stands, and has been standing ever since 1817. Dive headfirst into the perfect little getaway right off the Cape Fear River from Southport, North Carolina, and you’ll surely be charmed by its exclusive ferry access and untouched beaches, marshes, and forest. Spend the day walking through the beautiful marina in the June sunshine and then end the night off with some crisp vino and fresh pizza at Will O’ the Wisp.