12 Fantastic Weekend Trips from Charlotte, North Carolina

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Are you looking for the best weekend trips from Charlotte, North Carolina? This guide has you covered!

There are so many amazing places to visit near Charlotte, whether they be in North Carolina or somewhere outside of the state in Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, or South Carolina.

Some of the weekend getaways from Charlotte are obvious ones, like Asheville, and some of them are not on the usual travel radar, like Abingdon, Virginia.

In addition, some of the best weekend trips from Charlotte are cities and some of them are natural spots and national parks.  There truly are so many diverse places to go from the large North Carolina city that you will have a plethora of choices.

This guide details some of the most popular Charlotte weekend trips, including the driving time, distance, and main attractions in the destination.  If you have any questions, please leave us a comment!

Sticking around Charlotte for the weekend?  Check out our guide to the best hikes near Charlotte to see how you can still get out in nature!

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Best Charlotte Weekend Trips

Below, you will find a list of some fantastic Charlotte weekend trips, including the reasons to visit each destination, how long it takes to get there, and some of the top things to do in the respective destination.

Abingdon (Virginia)

Distance: 195 Miles
Driving Time: 3 Hours

The historical Tavern built in 1779 in Abingdon, Virginia, now a popular resturant and bar for locals and tourists
Abingdon, Virginia – Editorial credit: Dee Browning / Shutterstock.com

Abingdon, Virginia is the perfect weekend getaway for those who want a mixture of culture and outdoor activities. The small Virginia town sits in the hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and was at one point on the main passage to the American Frontier.

The history is still present today, with Abingdon’s historical district is home to 18th-century buildings and various cultural sites. As you walk the city streets, it is near impossible not to be sucked in by the aesthetically charming red brick sidewalks lined with art galleries and cozy coffee shops.

The mountains surrounding Abingdon provide amazing hiking and biking routes, and the Virginia Creeper Trail is a must. The 35-mile trail stretches between Abingdon and Whitetop and is open to cyclists, hikers, and horse riders.  It is one of the best things to do in Abingdon!

Raleigh (North Carolina)

Distance: 170 Miles
Driving Time: 2 hours 35 Minutes

Raleigh, North Carolina - best weekend trips from Charlotte
Raleigh, North Carolina – best weekend trips from Charlotte

North Carolina’s state capital, Raleigh, is the second-largest city in the state and an incredible weekend trip from Charlotte. Known as the City of Oaks, the tree-lined streets are full of independent eateries and breweries where you can eat some of the best food North Carolina has to offer.

Between meals, explore the fantastic museum scene, taking the time to check out the North Carolina Museum of Art and the City of Raleigh Museum.

The city prides itself on its green parks, and the William B. Umstead State Park sits on the edge of Raleigh. There are miles of hiking and biking trails through the park, many of which connect to paved pathways that meander through the city to various sites. 

Outer Banks (North Carolina)

Distance: 363 Miles
Driving Time: 6 Hours

Bodie Island Lighthouse in the Outer Banks
Bodie Island Lighthouse in the Outer Banks

For those looking to spend a long weekend away from Charlotte, the Outer Banks is one of the most scenic spots in North Carolina. The chain of barrier islands and spits reaches down from the Virginia border, creating a natural barrier between the mainland and the Atlantic Ocean.

Along the 200-mile chain, there are miles upon miles of public North Carolina beaches that can be enjoyed free of charge year-round. However, during the off-season, many places shut up shop until the tourists flock back.  I definitely recommend visiting during the warm North Carolina spring or colorful fall!

On the Atlantic Coast, you can enjoy fantastic surfing opportunities, fishing, or simply relaxing on the beach as the waves crash. Alternatively, the sound’s calm waters are perfect for more leisurely water activities, such as swimming or canoeing.

There is a network of nature reserves throughout the island, and on the wilder beaches, it is possible to encounter the famous Banker Horses, that have roamed wild in the Outer Banks for centuries. Also, some of the best lighthouses in North Carolina are located here!

Wilmington (North Carolina)

Distance: 205 Miles
Driving Time: 3 hours 30 Minutes

Wilmington, North Carolina
Wilmington, North Carolina

Towards North Carolina’s southern border is the vibrant city of Willmington. The large port city is home to a beautiful array of cultural sites, museums, and nature spots.

Spend a weekend in Wilmington checking the city’s extensive historic district that includes over 800 different sites. Docked at the port is the Battleship North Carolina that was used during WW2. The impressive ship is open for tours and provides an interesting insight into America’s involvement in the war.

There are many other museums dotted throughout the city, and the Cape Fear Museum is the state’s oldest history museum with over 50,000 artifacts.

Within the museum, there is also an exhibit dedicated to Michael Jordan, who was born in the city. There are three island beaches along the coastal front, where you can spend time relaxing and enjoying the sea breeze that comes in off the Atlantic Ocean. 

Asheville (North Carolina)

Distance: 130 Miles
Driving Time: 2 hours 15 Minutes

Biltmore Estate in Asheville
Biltmore Estate in Asheville

Sitting in the Blue Ridge Mountains is the charming city of Asheville. The city is known for its creative arts scene, with plenty of galleries that house works by some of the world’s most famous artists, such as Renoir. There are also so many incredible waterfall hikes near Asheville.

As you dive in and out of galleries and museums, you will notice the streets of Asheville are typically filled with the sound of music. The city has a strong musical connection, and there are plenty of street performers playing excellent music throughout the city. There are also some fantastic restaurants in Asheville!

On Saturdays during July and August, there is a weekly folk music festival, Shindig on the Green, that draws in locals and tourists alike. Throughout the city are some fantastic examples of architecture, with the City Hall designed in the Art Deco style of the 1920s.

The Basilica of Saint Lawrence looks like it has been transported from Southern Europe. Given its location in the mountains, there are plenty of outdoor activities surrounding Asheville. One of the most popular is whitewater kayaking, with some of the world’s best competitors basing themselves in the city. 

One of the main attractions in Asheville is the Biltmore Estate, the largest home in the United States. If you’re looking to head outside of Asheville somewhere cool, visit Brevard!

Shenandoah National Park (Virginia)

Distance: 265 Miles
Driving Times: 4 Hours 20 Minutes

Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia
Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia

One of the country’s most visited national parks is Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. The long, thin park stretches along the top of a section of the Blue Ridge Mountains and overlooks the Shenandoah Valley.

The Virginia national park’s key attraction is the 105-mile long Skyline Drive that stretches across the top of the park and is full of incredible vistas overlooking the surrounding area.

There are also over 500 miles of hiking routes throughout Shenandoah National Park, where you can lose yourself in the beauty of the ancient forests and mountains.

The area is full of wildlife, and there is even a chance that you can spot a black bear while you’re enjoying some of Virginia’s best waterfall hikes.

There are plenty of camping spots within the park, where you can connect to nature on a deeper level, or you can stay in a city like Charlottesville that sits on the edge of the park. The park is a year-round destination, but winter in Shenandoah can be a little more challenging, with snow often falling on the mountain tops. 

Charleston (South Carolina)

Distance: 210 Miles
Driving Time: 3 Hours 10 Minutes

Charleston South Carolina colorful buildings
Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston is one of the country’s most renowned cities, and the historical district is full of some of the most iconic examples of 17th and 18th-century buildings.

The center of Charleston, known as the Peninsular, is entirely walkable. Being able to ditch the car for the day is a truly liberating feeling as you explore the streets of this endearing city.

Throughout Charleston, there are plenty of museums where you can learn all about the area’s history. The Charleston Museum is the oldest in the entire country and has incredible exhibits detailing everything you need to know about the South Carolina city.

There is an impressive contemporary art scene within the city that radiates into other areas of life, with the coastal city being home to plenty of independent shops, boutiques, and restaurants.

Along the coast surrounding Charleston, are beautiful beaches where you can enjoy time relaxing and swimming in the Atlantic Ocean. Be sure to take a drive to Isle of Palms or Sullivan’s Island not far from Charleston.  These are two of my favorite spots in the US!

Athens (Georgia)

Distance: 200 Miles
Driving Time: 3 Hours 20 Minutes

Aerial shot of Athens Georgia
Athens, Georgia

The city of Athens is a vibrant college town, where creativity and fun are on show all the time. The city is home to the University of Georgia, and the college town vibe infiltrates pretty much every aspect of the city.

Along with being known for its university, the city has an incredible music scene with some of the world’s biggest bands, such as R.E.M, coming from the city that helped form the American indie music scene.

Live music is still a staple throughout the city, and there are plenty of places where you can catch the latest up and coming bands playing before they hit the big time.

The university offers the chance to see Division 1 sports programs, with both the football and basketball teams competing at the top level. In the evenings, enjoy the cities gastronomy scene with plenty of restaurants and independent breweries dotted throughout Athens. It is one of the best weekend trips from Charlotte for those looking for a wild weekend filled with unpredictability.

Cherokee National Forest (Tennessee)

Distance: 122 Miles
Driving Time: 2 Hours 20 Minutes

Bald River Falls in Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee
Bald River Falls in Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee

Cherokee National Forest spreads itself across a large area of the Tennesee, occasionally overspilling into North Carolina. The forest covers sections of the Blue Ridge Mountains and borders Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

There is plenty to do within the forest, with fast-flowing rivers perfect for thrill-seekers looking to hurtle down them white-water rafting. In contrast, the calm water of the forest’s lakes is perfect for boating and windsurfing.

Throughout the Tennessee forest, there are plenty of exciting trails that will take you through the ancient forests, where you can keep an eye out for the diverse array of wildlife that calls the area home.

One of the forest’s main attractions is the Appalachian Trail that cuts through the area as the Appalachian mountains work their way south. It truly is one of the best things to do in the United States. For a more relaxing endeavor, the fast-flowing rivers in the forest are perfect for fishing. 

Congaree National Park (South Carolina)

Distance: 110 Miles
Driving Time: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

Congaree National Park in South Carolina
Congaree National Park in South Carolina

Congaree National Park is one of the most impressive displays of biodiversity in the region. Comprising of rare, bottomland hardwood forests that have been untouched or altered by human activity, the park is a treasure trove of nature.

The forest’s old age has allowed ecosystems to flourish, and floodwaters from the Congaree River to feed the forest with fresh nutrients that enable the plants and wildlife to thrive in this protected area.

Visitors can enjoy plenty of activities within the park, from hiking and nature trails that take you above the semi-swampy land. Congaree’s ecosystem supports many birds and is perfect for spotting some of the world’s rarer birds.

Along the Congaree River, you can enjoy water-based activities such as kayaking. For those looking to overnight in the park, there are primitive camping options that allow you to be at one with nature and appreciate the park’s beauty from a different perspective. 

Although Congaree National Park is one of the least visited national parks in America, it is worth a visit on a weekend getaway!

Nantahala National Forest (North Carolina)

Distance: 175 Miles
Driving Time: 3 hours

Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina
Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina

Nantahala National Forest is the largest national forest in North Carolina and it covers the mountainous region in the state’s southwestern regions.

Nantahala is characterized by ancient old-growth forest areas and a deep gorge, which the sun struggles to penetrate apart from a fleeting moment when it is at its highest in the sky.

The park is famed for its remarkable whitewater rafting opportunities, with the Nantahala Rivier rapidly coursing through the forest. Along with rafting, over 600 miles of trails weave their way through the forest and are perfect for keen hikers or cyclists to explore.

There are some incredible waterfalls throughout the North Carolina forest, as tributaries cascade down the mountains towards the Nantahala River.

There is the option to camp within the park itself, or you can find accommodation either in a North Carolina town or across the state border in Tennessee.  

Pigeon Forge (Tennessee)

Distance: 205 Miles
Driving Time: 3 Hours 50 Minutes

Pigeon Forge Tennessee
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Deep in the heart of the Tennesse mountains is the resort destination of Pigeon Forge, a town that prides itself on southern charm and country music.

The music scene in the resort is vibrant. However, it is probably best known for being home to Dollywood, a theme park co-owned by the famous country singer Dolly Parton.

The theme park includes plenty of rides and attractions and highlights the natural beauty of the local area that sits on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Dollywood also has plenty of live music events, and often Dolly Parton herself will make an appearance. Just five miles from Pigeon Forge is the awe-inspiring Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most popular national park in the United States.

There is plenty to do within the park, from seeing the panoramic views at Clingmans Dome to hiking part of the world-famous Appalachian Trail. In the evenings, hunt down one of the town’s many country music shows and revel in Tennesee’s southern charm. 

We hope that you found these weekend trips from Charlotte, NC helpful for planning a future adventure!

What are some of your favorite weekend getaways from Charlotte? Let us know in the comments section!

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Are you on the hunt for the best weekend trips from Charlotte? This guide covers some fantastic Charlotte day trips as well as longer weekend getaways from Charlotte, North Carolina. Let us know your favorite in the comments! | Charlotte things to do | Places to visit in North Carolina | Day trips from Charlotte | Weekend trips Charlotte | City Breaks Near Charlotte

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