4 road trips you can take from Charlotte, North Carolina

Sep 28, 2021

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There is 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.

Now that fall is officially here, there are many great road trips worth taking to experience fall foliage and/or enjoy the cooler temps that come in September through November. Today, I’m walking through four underrated spots within a four-hour drive from Charlotte.

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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, ziplining. Boone is also home to Grandfather Mountain and Mile High Swinging Bridge — the highest suspension footbridge in America. Toward the end of September and into October, the leaves in the mountains turn beautiful shades of yellow, orange and red. I could spend hours just sitting at a lookout and watching the rainbow of leaves with a thermos of cider and a blanket in the back of the car.

Boone is also a great spot in the winter. It’s in the Blue Ridge Mountains, perfect for skiers and snowboarders looking for a closer getaway than western spots like Vail.

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

Driving time: Three and a half hours

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 do, the Outer Banks. And while those are popular spots, I’ve always been a bigger fan of Wrightsville Beach. The water is cleaner and 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. But 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.

The water starts to get cooler in the fall, but it’s still warm enough for daring swimmers throughout September and part of October. But even if you don’t venture into the water, the beach is an excellent spot for a fall afternoon picnic as you listen to the waves and enjoy lower crowds.

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. (Photo by Caitlin Riddell/The Points Guy)

Fun fact: Asheville has the most breweries per capita in the United States. But the small 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).

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. And anyone who loves tacos has to try out White Duck Tacos while there.

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

The town is a sight to behold in the fall, when the leaves start to change. I mean, is there anything better than wandering through streets with unique shops on a chilly fall afternoon before hitting up a brewery for happy hour and a local spot for dinner?

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 to choose from, 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. You can stay at the Marriott Hilton Head or Westin Hilton Head Resort and Spa for just 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per standard night. There’s also Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort, though it’s typically hard 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 fall getaway if you live in Charlotte or the surrounding areas. While I no longer live in the area, I still plan to revisit a few of these spots in the next year when I’m in North Carolina for a visit.

Roadtrips are high on my list for 2021 travel — windows down to watch the fall foliage with my Spotify playlist turned up sounds like heaven after a year spent indoors. Just make sure that you’re using a great credit card for gas and maximizing your hotel or Airbnb bookings.

Featured image by Sean Pavone/Getty Images.

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