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4 road trips you can take from Charlotte, North Carolina

May 07, 2022
6 min read
Charlotte, North Carolina Skyline
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.


There's a lot to love about Charlotte, North Carolina. While I no longer live there, I was always finding new hidden gems when I did call the city home.

Summertime is a fantastic time for a road trip, with the windows down for some fresh air and your favorite Spotify playlist turned up. Today, I’m walking through four underrated spots within a four-hour drive from Charlotte.

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1. Looking for a mountain escape? Try Boone, North Carolina

Driving time: Two hours

(sshepard/Getty Images)
You’ll get a 360-degree view of the Blue Ridge Mountains from the Mile High Swinging Bridge in Boone, North Carolina. (Photo by sshepard/Getty Images)

If you’re looking for a mountain getaway, Boone is an excellent choice. It’s a short two-hour drive from Charlotte, and it has pretty much everything you could want from a quiet weekend getaway.

You can go hiking, kayaking, fishing and zip lining. I especially love float trips with friends in the summer. Boone is also home to Grandfather Mountain and Mile High Swinging Bridge — the highest suspension footbridge in America.

Boone is also a great spot in the fall and winter. Toward the end of September and into October, the leaves in the mountains turn beautiful shades of yellow, orange and red. Since it's in the Blue Ridge Mountains, it's also perfect for skiers and snowboarders looking for a closer getaway than western spots like Vail.

2. Need a relaxing beach weekend? Check out Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina

Driving time: Three and a half hours

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Johnnie Mercer's pier in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. (Photo by Chad_Talton / Getty Images)
One of my favorite beaches within driving distance of Charlotte is Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. (Photo by Chad_Talton/Getty Images)

When you think of Carolina beaches, your first thought is probably Myrtle Beach. Or, if you watch as much Netflix as I did throughout the pandemic, the Outer Banks. While those are popular spots, I’ve always been a bigger fan of Wrightsville Beach. The water is cleaner and the beaches a little less crowded than Myrtle, and it’s a much closer drive than the Outer Banks.

There are plenty of places to rent right on the beach. However, with Wilmington just a few miles away and plenty of public access points, you can also find lodging in town without sacrificing beach access. Those interested in WWII history can also explore the Battleship North Carolina, docked along the Cape Fear River.

Pack a small cooler with fruit, sandwiches and ice-cold drinks, and spend a long weekend enjoying the sunshine and waves.

3. Interested in unique breweries? Hit up Asheville, North Carolina

Driving time: Two hours and 15 minutes

(Photo by Caitlin Riddell/The Points Guy)
The Omni Grove Park Inn. (Photo by Caitlin Riddell/The Points Guy)

Fun fact: Asheville has the most breweries per capita in the U.S. However, this mountain town has a lot more to offer than just the great beer scene (though if you’re in town, I highly recommend getting a flight at Wicked Weed Brewing — high praise coming from someone who doesn't even like beer that much).

You’ll find plenty of unique shops to visit downtown — including one of my favorite independent book stores, Firestorm Books & Coffee. If you’re into art, the River Arts District houses artist studios in former factory buildings while downtown is home to beautiful architecture and plenty of galleries to visit. While there's now a White Duck Taco Shop location in Charlotte, I still highly recommend stopping at the downtown Asheville location.

Asheville is also where to find Biltmore, the historic family estate of the Vanderbilts and America's largest home. The 8,000-acre house and grounds offer a full day, or more, of fun, including a winery, gardens, historical sites, a spa and a village to explore.

4. Want to play a round? Visit Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Driving time: Three hours and 45 minutes

(Photo by CynthiaAnnF/Getty Images)
With over 24 golf courses from which to choose, Hilton Head is the perfect spot for a quick round. (Photo by CynthiaAnnF/Getty Images)

Another coastal getaway on this list is Hilton Head Island, home to more than two dozen championship golf courses. Casual golfers can play a round, amateurs looking to improve their swing can check out a class and PGA fans can time a trip to watch a tournament.

Of course, there’s more than just golfing at Hilton Head. There are several family-friendly parks, playgrounds and beaches. Renting bikes and kayaks are also popular ways to explore the island and its waterways.

Hilton Head is also the most points-friendly destination on this list. The Marriott Hilton Head or Westin Hilton Head Resort and Spa are both bookable with Marriott Bonvoy points. There’s also Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort, though it’s typically harder to find availability.

Related: Hilton Head for families: What to see and where to stay

Bottom line

All of these spots are great options for a nearby getaway if you live in Charlotte or the surrounding areas. I no longer live in the area, but I still plan to revisit a few of these spots in the next year when I’m in North Carolina for a visit.

Want to take one of these road trips yourself? Just make sure that you’re using a great credit card for gas and maximizing your hotel or Airbnb bookings.

Featured image by Photo by Sean Pavone / Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023