The weekend’s coming up, and all you want to do is get away from town, go on a quick yet worthwhile adventure, and make memories instead of staying home. Well, we’ve got just the list of the best weekend trips from Charlotte, North Carolina, for you.
From Durham to Hendersonville, this pinpointed list of day trips from Charlotte will be just the trip you need. So pack your bags and clear some needed memory space in your phone for tons of photos. Then, it’s time for a weekend trip!
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Gear up right for your weekend getaway
- If you are on a road trip from Charlotte, you may find yourself hiking a mountain, fishing off the coast, or strolling through a quaint downtown strip. Columbia Sportswear has quality gear to make sure you are ready for whatever adventure you get into!
Here's what we're covering:
- Where To Go For The Best Weekend Trips From Charlotte
- 1. Cherokee, North Carolina
- 2. Bald Head Island, North Carolina
- 3. Hendersonville, North Carolina
- 4. Spruce Pine, North Carolina
- 5. Durham, North Carolina
- Final Thoughts
Where To Go For The Best Weekend Trips From Charlotte
Each of these weekend getaways from Charlotte offers a unique appeal. Whether it be the quaint island town of Bald Head Island or the intellectual atmosphere of Durham, every one of these destinations is full of intriguing attractions and rewarding activities that are perfect for solo travelers, families, or friend trips.
1. Cherokee, North Carolina
Known for being the home of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Cherokee, North Carolina, is one of the best day trips from charlotte. Full of history, Cherokee hosts popular attractions such as the Great Smoky Mountains, Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, celebrity chef restaurants, and much more!
Guy Fieri’s Cherokee Kitchen & Bar
Featuring larger-than-life creations, Guy Fieri’s Cherokee Kitchen & Bar serves award-winning burgers stacked with Guy Fieri’s iconic flair.
The setting of this top-notch restaurant emboldens rustic-chic designs highlighted by millwork and sparkling chandeliers. Then, try out the multi-time award-winning bacon-n-cheese burger stacked with donkey sauce, mac-n-cheese, and crispy bacon for an unforgettable taste bud-exploding experience!
Museum of the Cherokee Indian
The Museum of the Cherokee Indian dedicates its space to preserving, educating, and collecting Cherokee art, culture, and history through exhibitions.
First opened in 1948, the museum has helped the Cherokee community by sponsoring the Warriors of Anikituhwa to continue the traditional dance, revitalizing the stamped pottery tradition by establishing and collaborating with the Cherokee Potters Guild, and many more efforts that put the museum in the running to win the Preserve America Presidential Award, the Mountain Heritage Award, and the Community Traditions Award.
At the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, you can absorb over 13,000 years of Cherokee history and tradition and the devastating impact the Trail of Tears had on the Cherokee people through first-hand accounts.
Skip the line by purchasing your tickets ahead of time!
Standing 120 feet high, Mingo Falls is an impressive waterfall in the Qualla Boundary, a land trust of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
Among the tallest waterfalls in the southern Appalachians, the falls have become a popular tourist attraction for their beauty and the rewarding hike to reach them. The hike to Mingo Falls is less than half a mile, considered moderate in difficulty but incredibly worthwhile.
Another outdoor scenic adventure is this self-guided driving audio tour of Blue Ridge Parkway. The educational audio dives into the legends of the Cherokee tribe who called the mountain range home, the intriguing history of the parkway, and the people who built it.
Where to Stay in Cherokee, North Carolina
Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort
Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort features luxury accommodations in an environment full of thrill and excitement. Whether it be world-class golf, renowned celebrity chef restaurants, gambling at the casino, sitting down for popular shows and events, shopping for souvenirs, or basking in unrivaled views of the Great Smoky Mountains, this resort stay in Cherokee, North Carolina, makes Cherokee, North Carolina, one of the top day trips from Charlotte, North Carolina.
Looking for more than a weekend getaway?
Try this adventure into the Smoky Mountains!
2. Bald Head Island, North Carolina
One of the largest sea turtle nesting sites in North Carolina, Bald Head Island offers quaint island vibes to join our list as one of the best weekend trips from Charlotte. The island’s close-knit community coincides in harmony with nature, enriching the overall experience and atmosphere for locals and tourists alike to experience the island’s beauty.
Old Baldy Lighthouse & Smith Island Museum
Commonly referred to as Old Baldy, Old Baldy Lighthouse and Smith Island Museum holds the title of the oldest standing lighthouse in North Carolina.
Old Baldy Lighthouse was the second of three lighthouses established on Bald Head Island in the 19th century. Its purpose, along with the other lighthouses, was to save ships from falling into the trap of the treacherous shoals at the mouth of the infamous Cape Fear river.
The Smith Island Museum can be found in the keeper’s cottage of the lighthouse. The museum tells the historical significance of Bald Head Island through a collection of artifacts, presenting the island’s impactfulness through a self-guided tour.
Island Retreat Spa & Salon
Home to Bald Head Island’s only professional Pilates, yoga, and barre studio space, Island Retreat Spa & Salon presents an unforgettable experience that makes Bald Head Island one of the top weekend getaways from Charlotte.
Join a yoga, barre, or Pilates class designed for beginners and experienced students in scenic outdoor spaces that encourage thoughtful serenity. Then, stop by for a much-need spa replenishment to release tension, support wellness, and relax on your weekend getaway trip!
Jailhouse Provisions is a popular eatery in Bald Head Island, serving food baskets, organic wines, full bar service, sandwiches, and many more delicious menu items.
Locals and tourists come to Jailhouse Provisions to satisfy their appetites, socialize, and catch up. This restaurant has become a must-visit whenever friends and family come into town, offering seasonal entertainment and creative drinks for refreshing island vibes.
Where to Stay in Bald Head Island
LaPolena Bed and Breakfast
Designed with simple elegance in mind, LaPolena Bed and Breakfast is a Southern-style estate that overlooks Cape Fear River. Presenting an atmosphere of old-world warmth and refined modernism, this Bald Head Island stay is sure to relax and comfort any who walks through its doors.
Guests can choose between themed rooms that pay tribute to North Carolina’s history and culture. Between activities, sit down with coffee or tea and book in hand in the Reading Room or simmer down for a soothing massage in the Crow’s Nest. Available bikes make it easy to hitch a ride through town to soak in the ambiance of this remarkably quaint island town.
3. Hendersonville, North Carolina
Featuring a pedestrian-friendly downtown, Hendersonville, North Carolina, has made our list as one of the best weekend trips from Charlotte. The town’s vibrant social scene, refreshing wineries, breweries, and cideries that source from local farms, and bountiful outdoor recreational activities, make Hendersonville a must-visit when desiring a weekend trip of fun and adventure.
Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards
A working vineyard and orchard, Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards are found on the Blue Ridge Mountains growing fruit for their award-winning spirits, wines, and ciders.
Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards welcomes everyone to visit to learn about the different farms. During your visit, taste the various locally grown Normandy and French Vinifera-style Hard Cider at one of the three tasting rooms. In addition, diverse events are hosted to feature live music surrounded by fresh drinks and great vibes that you don’t want to miss out on!
Mineral & Lapidary Museum
The Mineral and Lapidary Museum is located in Henderson’s Historic District, where you can discover the world’s beauty beneath your feet.
Dedicated to educating others on geology and paleontology of the earth sciences, the museum holds varying exhibits that feature raw minerals, specimens, polished gemstones, and other interesting collections. In addition, you can find intriguing pieces of highlighted displays of minerals found in Henderson County and the state of North Carolina, one of the nation’s most diverse mineral deposits.
At the museum, you can find impressive displays of fossils that include a wooly mammoth leg bone, a tyrannosaurus rex skull, and a mastodon tusk.
A family-run farm, Grandad’s Apples includes a pumpkin patch, apple orchard, corn maze, and country store.
The 100-acre family farm is a local and tourist family-friend favorite of Hendersonville, North Carolina. Save time by grabbing pre-picked apples fresh off the trees daily, or take your time selecting your own on select weekends at the orchard. Then, starting in September, take your pick of pumpkins and jack o’lanterns at Grandad’s pumpkin patch.
Grandad’s Barn and Country Store offers diverse selections of fall harvest decorations, apple bakers, apple peelers, and more. Also, check out the bakery for fresh hot cider donuts, apple pies, apple cider slushies, cookies, and other apple-tastic foods!
Where to Stay in Hendersonville
1898 Waverly Inn
Established in 1898, 1898 Waverly Inn stands proudly as the oldest surviving inn in Hendersonville. The inn was around when oil lamps lit street corners, and guests arrived by stagecoach or train.
This quaint inn’s ambiance reveals a relaxing Southern feel with its rocking chair porches and hospitality. As a guest, you’ll find the inn is within walking distance of downtown Hendersonville’s nightlife, shopping, food, and social scene, for easy convenience during your stay.
1898 Waverly Inn is just 3 miles from Elijah Gem Mine and Goat Farm which is North Carolina’s largest fossil and crystal store. Check out this unique experience for fun for all ages!
4. Spruce Pine, North Carolina
Home to one of the richest deposits of gems and minerals in the world, Spruce Pine, North Carolina, is full of opportunity. The serenity surrounding the mountain-esque area nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains makes for a great family-friendly experience to explore local history and the great outdoors.
The Orchard at Altapass
The Historic Orchard at Altapass is a 105-year-old apple orchard purchased to preserve its lineage and importance as the Appalachian Cultural Center.
Established by the Clinchfield Railroad in 1908, the orchard offers free admission and stunning scenery surrounded by authentic mountain music, art, an exciting social scene, and plenty of natural beauty. Stop by the Butterfly Conservation Center to watch the life cycle of Monarch Butterflies and observe busy bees pollinate in the Orchard beehive.
Make sure to taste Miss Charlotte’s fresh and famous Orchard fudge and ice cream before you go!
The most well-known waterfall in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Linville Falls, can be reached by trail entrances near the Linville Falls Visitor Center.
The three-tired Linville Falls are reached by following the moderate to strenuous-level trails over the Linville Gorge, commonly referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the Southern Appalachians.” With four overlooks to peer at the impressive waterfalls, you’ll find the hike rewarding with picturesque opportunities for memorable photographs to remember your trip.
We recommend a full-day tour along the Blue Ridge Parkway with stops at Linville Falls and more!
A local favorite, Bierdock Brewery is a favored craft brewery serving up a fresh and tasty selection of brewers sourced locally.
Opening its doors in 2021, the independent brewery is passionate about creating fresh craft beers with unique flavors, atoms, and accents.
Come by for a live music event surrounded by locals and fellow tourists. Order a flight of beers to enjoy different aromas, accents, and flavors crafted by Bierdock Brewery. Don’t forget to pair it with an order of Bierdock Pretzels, the Bierdock Special Burger, or the Chicken Philly Pizza to satisfy your thirst and appetite!
Where to Stay in Spruce Pine
Holding a five-star rating, Smithmore Castle is a one-of-a-kind mountain estate with a castle setting and 100 acres of space for adventure.
The various luxurious dreamlike bedrooms offer their themes and experiences for customers to enjoy. At this ultimate stay in Spruce Pine, learn how to cook gourmet dishes with Smithmore Castle’s five-star rated Gourmet in-house Chef Benjamin Epicure.
During the winter, booking a reservation to stay at the Smithmore Castle is a bucket list must-do! The snow-draped castle, surrounded by scenic mountains and winter wonderland views, makes for an unforgettable romantic, dreamy experience.
5. Durham, North Carolina
Reputably known as the “City of Medicine”, Durham, North Carolina, is also famous for being the home of Duke University. Part of our list of top weekend trips from Charlotte, North Carolina, Durham homes a prevalent social scene, exceptional museums, famous art scenes, and world-class restaurants waiting to be visited.
Sarah P. Duke Gardens
Stretching across 55 acres, Sarah P. Duke Gardens welcomes over 600,000 visitors annually.
Found in the heart of Duke University, the botanical gardens offer free admission year-round to welcome anyone and everyone who desires to stroll, bask, or re-energize in the refreshing atmosphere of the gardens. Pick out over 2,500 vibrant species of plants as birds serenade. Take pictures of the colorful exotic species dotted around the gardens. Read a book or relax in the serenity of the gardens on one of the many benches.
Museum of Life & Science
Previously named the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science and the NC Children’s Museum, the Museum of Life and Science homes 84 acres of space to create a unique educational experience for those of all ages.
Only five miles from downtown Durham, the museum is considered one of North Carolina’s most prevalent family-friendly attractions. It holds one of the largest butterfly conservatories found on the East Coast. The Museum of Life and Science features a variety of exciting attractions, including the butterfly conservatory, interactive experiences, outdoor exhibits, and the AZA-accredited zoo that homes rescued animals like black bears and endangered animals like red wolves.
One of the best places to stop in Durham, North Carolina, for food, Juju Durham intertwines Asian fusion to create tapas-style creative small plates.
This top-notch restaurant sources its ingredients locally and seasonally, as often as possible, to inspire an unrivaled eating experience. Juju Durham is recognized for its creative take on classic Asian dishes, exceptional wine, beer, and cocktail list, and dedication to creating a life-changing occasion for you and your tastebuds.
Where to Stay in Durham
21c Museum Hotel Durham
A stunning boutique hotel in downtown Durham, 21c Museum Hotel Durham offers an unforgettable stay. The multi-venue contemporary art museum’s 10,500 square foot space functions as an art-filled exhibition, event space, full-service boutique hotel, and home to the Counting House restaurant.
The building is on the National Register of Historic Places, featuring 125 luxurious guest rooms with tall windows and high ceilings paired with desirable accommodations for a unique weekend getaway from Charlotte.
Any of these memorable weekend trips from Charlotte, North Carolina, can be just what you need to reset and re-energize for the upcoming work week. So take your time exploring as you sink into leisurely vibes and make memories you’ll cherish forever.
Travel Resources For Your Next Trip
If you’re in the process of planning your trip and putting together your itinerary, these are genuinely the best resources that the Going Awesome Places team stands by 100%.
Airport Parking: You’ll need a spot to leave your car at the airport so why not book a spot at a discount. Use code AWESOME7 to get at least $5 off at Airport Parking Reservations or Park Sleep Fly packages.
Data: We’ve been a huge fan of wifi hotspot devices like PokeFi because their rates are so good and you can use it globally but recently, we’ve really loved using eSIMs. The best one is Airalo. Save money by getting region-specific eSIMs and use referral code WILLIA9500 to get $3 USD credit on your first purchase. Ubigi is another one that we’ve had success with where they uniquely offer 5G coverage. Use code AWESOME10 to save 10% on your first order.
Hotels: Our go-to is Booking.com because they have the best inventory of properties including hotels and B&Bs plus they have their Genius tier discounts. The exception is Asia where Agoda always has the best prices. TripAdvisor is also useful for reviews and bookings.
Vacation Rentals: Your first instinct will be to check Airbnb but we always recommend checking VRBO as well if you’re looking for a vacation rental.
Travel Insurance: Learn how to buy the best travel insurance for you. This isn’t something you want to travel without.
- Insured Nomads – Popular insurance provider for frequent travelers and comes with great coverage and special perks.
- RATESDOTCA – Search engine Canadians looking for the cheapest insurance including multi-trip annual policies.
- SafetyWing – A perfect fit for long-term nomads.
- Medjet – Global air medical transportation.
- InsureMyTrip – Best for seniors, families, and those with pre-existing conditions.
If you need more help planning your trip, make sure to check out our Travel Toolbox where we highlight all of the gear, resources, and tools we use when traveling.