Staying local for the weekend? Good call. Around Charlotte, there’s a mini-vacation for everyone, whether you’re looking to check out the latest culinary hotspots or get outdoors. Start planning with our picks for best day trips from Charlotte:
Lexington – Distance from Charlotte: 1 hour, 10 min. (58.5 miles)
If you’ve got an appetite for BBQ, pack up and head to Lexington, just over an hour away from Charlotte. You’ll find over a dozen options for lunch and dinner on your day trip, offering plates and sandwiches of chopped and sliced ‘cue with red or white slaw. Popular stops include Speedy’s Barbecue, The Barbecue Center, Lexington Barbecue and Smokey Joe’s Barbecue. (everyone’s favorite Jimmy’s is still closed…) Don’t forget the sauce; the Lexington-style is typically made with vinegar, ketchup, sugar, salt and pepper.
Asheville – Distance from Charlotte: 2 hours, 9 minutes (130 miles)
If you believe food can heal, Cúrate is a must-stop on any Asheville trip. Literally meaning “cure yourself” in Spanish, Cúrate transport diners to Spain with authentic dishes including croquetas de pollo and jamón Ibérico in a lively tapas bar setting.
Other notable spots include Table Asheville, a destination for seasonal New American fare with a Southern flair, Buxton Hall, a BBQ spot opened by James Beard Award winners chefs Meherwan Irani and Elliott Moss, and Rhubarb, where chef John Fleer brings Appalachian food traditions to Sunday supper in family-style meals.
Kindred & Hello Sailor in Lake Norman – Distance from Charlotte: 46 min (39.4 miles)
Kindred is still on our list of must-venture-to stops in Lake Norman. The chefs keep the freshest ingredients on hand, so their menu changes frequently with the seasons. Grab a seat at their old-fashioned bar or a booth with a front row seat of Davidson’s Main Street. It’s worth the drive for Kindred’s milk bread, Scallops a la Plancha and Appalachian Trout. Since it’s closed on Sundays and Mondays though, we also love….
Hello, Sailor, the new venture from Kindred owners Joe and Katy Kindred welcomes walk ins with sharable appetizers and plates, a bright and sunny interior and a lakefront patio complete with a tiki bar. The menu offers appetizers, fried seafood plates, a lobster roll served on milk bread and a whole flounder with mojo verde and the cocktail program is worthy of a trip all its own.
Banner Elk – Distance from Charlotte: 119 miles, 2 hours 12 minutes
Make a trip to the mountains to visit Artisanal and dine from the menu of farm-to-table dishes using local ingredients served in a converted barn. It’s worth the drive for caramelized cauliflower to share, hickory smoked pekin duck breast and wagyu sirloin. Make your OpenTable reservations here. Summer hours are Wednesday – Sunday, 5 – 9 p.m.
JUST FOR FUN
Lake Lure – Distance from Charlotte: 1 hour, 52 mins. (92.6 miles)
Come for the views, stay for the Sunday brunch. Start off your day exploring Lake Lure with Lake Lure Inn & Spa’s lavish Sunday Brunch, served 10:00 am – 2:00 pm with a build your own Body Mary Bar. Enjoy the lake’s 27 miles of shoreline with seasonal activities like boating and sailing. Visitors can also see what’s in bloom with a walk across the Lake Lure flowering bridge, a pedestrian bridge that spans across the Rocky Broad River.
Hotel Domestique, Travelers Rest – Distance from Charlotte: 2 hours, 3 minutes (110 miles)
World-renowned cyclist George Hincapie leaned on inspiration from his travels abroad when establishing this modern, European-style hotel. Hotel Domestique is home to Restaurant 17, serving regional cuisine sourced from neighboring farms worth the drive. Day guests can also rent bicycles, go on a guided cycling tour and access a pool pass.
Cherokee – Distance from Charlotte: 3 hours, 5 minutes (165 miles)
Place your bets at Harrah’s Cherokee, the state’s only full-scale casino. Enjoy over 150,000 feet of gaming, including live games like blackjack, roulette, craps and more. No luck? You can still shop the casino’s multiple offerings.
FOR THE OUTDOORSY TYPES
Crowder’s Mountain – Distance from Charlotte: 57 min (31.9 mi)
A popular hiking spot for Charlotteans and visitors alike, Crowder’s Mountain has something for everyone. Challenge yourself to reach the top of King’s Pinnacle (an Uptown skyline view is your reward!), take a leisurely family stroll around the one-mile Lake Trail or find something in the middle with the park’s 11 total trail options.
Chimney Rock and Lake Lure – Distance from Charlotte: 1 hour 50 min (95.9 miles)
From rock climbing to trail hiking, taking in the views and perfecting your Instagram captions, you can enjoy amazing 75-mile views of Lake Lure and the Carolina Blue Ridge Foothills atop Chimney Rock. The park boasts the 404-foot Hickory Nut Falls, six hiking trails, ancient cliffs and family-friendly activities.
Greenville, SC – Distance from Charlotte: 1 hour, 47 minutes (102 miles)
Greenville may have that city feel, but don’t be fooled, there’s plenty to do outdoors. Bike the Swamp Rabbit Trail and explore scenic overlooks, waterfalls, and a suspension bridge at Falls Park on the Reedy. Plan stops at The Lazy Goat for riverfront Mediterranean and Soby’s for new south cuisine.
FOR WINE SIPPERS
Treehouse Vineyards – Distance from Charlotte: 45 min (25.8 miles)
Treehouse Vineyards may be just a short drive from the city lights, but you’ll feel as if you’ve taken a vacation. Sip a variety of wines, enjoy the expansive outdoor patio and adventure up to the treehouses for rent.
Yadkin Valley Wineries – Distance from Charlotte: About 1 Hour, 15 min.
Just west of Winston‐Salem, the 1.4 million‐acre Yadkin Valley is home to over 70 wineries. Spend your day or weekend creating your own winery tour, including Stony Knoll Vineyards, Childress Vineyards, Elkin Creek Vineyard and more. Start planning your trip here.
Seagrove Potters – Distance from Charlotte: 1 hour, 34 min.
Less than two hours from Charlotte you’ll find the largest concentration of working potters in the country. Take a self-guided driving tour with over 100 shops offering a range of pottery, from everyday use to historical forms. Start planning your visit to Seagrove studios and potters here.
Hickory Furniture Mart – Distance from Charlotte: 1 hour, 4 min. (48.7 miles)
Get the latest decor inspiration, or even pick up some pieces in time for summer, with a trip to the Hickory Furniture Mart. The eclectic mix of retailers, showrooms, manufacturers’ galleries and more offer hours of browsing. Plan your trip here.
FOR THRILL SEEKERS
USNWC/Belmont – Distance from Charlotte: 24 min (14.7 miles)
Without leaving Charlotte city limits, you can experience whitewater rafting, kayaking, trail hiking and more. The USNWC’s weekend fun stretches all weekend long.
Before or after your visit to the USNWC, don’t miss the down home cooking and hospitality served up at Nellie’s Southern Kitchen in Belmont. Enjoy twists on classics, like the signature fried chicken and the smoke wagon (Pulled NC Pork or Portabellas with Four-Cheese Mac and Dixie Slaw)s in their industrial dining room and rooftop bar.