Sometimes life just calls for a quick getaway. A sort of momentary pause from real life to venture out and explore a new place to experience something different can do wonders for the soul — and, let’s face it, our sanity. But, it’s not always possible to jet off somewhere for a little R&R, so we’ve scouted out a few incredible places that are all within driving distance that provide a welcomed breath of fresh air and excitement. Here are three Southern towns that are less than five hours away from Charlotte and ideal for any type of weekend trip, whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or somewhere to escape with friends:

Aiken, SC

Aiken, SC is an enchanting small town brimming with Southern charm, hospitality, and character, that’s an easy two-hour drive from Charlotte. It’s truly the real life version of the quintessential Southern town you’ve seen in the movies with ancient oaks draped in Spanish moss lining the streets and historic homes around every corner.

Downtown Aiken offers a myriad of adorable eateries and restaurants, plenty of boutique shopping, and galleries to meander through. Be sure to take a guided trolley tour to get the full Aiken experience and learn about the area’s interesting history. The town is also a big deal in the Equestrian world, so depending on what time of year you visit you could catch a steeplechase or polo match. 

Where to stay: For luxury at its finest reserve a room at the historic Willcox Hotel, which was built in 1898 and known for its world-class amenities. During a stay at the Willcox guests can expect nothing but the best with special touches like upscale linens and robes, deep soaking tubs, and cozy fireplaces to warm up beside in almost every room. For the ultimate luxe experience book an appointment at the hotel’s spa, which was named one of the top 15 hotel spas in the U.S. by Conde Nast Traveler. Spa services range from in-room massages to oxygen infusion treatments. There’s also an award-winning restaurant on site that serves brunch, lunch, and dinner, making it easy to fill up before or after exploring. If you want to do something extra special order one of the hotel’s picnics to go and enjoy it at Hopelands Gardens.

Beaufort, SC

Experience all the Lowcountry has to offer in the idyllic coastal town of Beaufort, SC located just under four hours from the QC. From tranquil beaches and stately antebellum mansions to the historic landmarks and lively downtown district there’s no shortage of things to do or sights to see in Beaufort.

Be sure to stop into one of the local seafood restaurants like Plums or Saltus River Grill for traditional Lowcountry dishes, including Sea Island shrimp and stone ground grits. You’ll also want to stop by Scout Southern Market to sample their sweet tea bar. While the town is extremely walkable, tourists can also experience the area by horse-drawn carriage. After taking in the sights of downtown Beaufort save plenty of time to explore more of the surrounding area and places like Hunting Island State Park, which is less than 30 minutes away and is home to plenty of picturesque beachfront and a strikingly beautiful lighthouse.

Where to stay: No detail is too small or overlooked at Anchorage 1770, Beaufort’s premier waterfront bed & breakfast. Conveniently located only a short walk or bike ride away from downtown Beaufort, Anchorage offers guests not only an ideal locale, but posh amenities and excellent service. The bed & breakfast’s staff goes above and beyond to ensure every guest’s stay is outstanding by coordinating everything from paddle board and kayak rentals to securing private yoga lessons and fishing charters. For the ultimate Anchorage 1770 experience relax and sit a spell on the bed & breakfast’s expansive front porch and watch the sun go down while swaying on a comfy porch swing.

Dahlonega, GA

Just a little over a four-hour drive from Charlotte sits what’s known as the heart of Georgia wine country — the mountain town of Dahlonega — an ideal destination for anyone who loves to relax and unwind with a full glass (or bottle) of white or red. The Dahlonega Wine Trail boasts five wineries and 12 tasting rooms that all carry a wide selection of varietals sure to suit anyone’s palate. Aside from the wine the town also features plenty of local dining and shopping options as well as outdoor attractions, including the Chattahoochee National Forest and countless hiking and biking trails.

Where to stay: Named one of the South’s best inns by Southern Living magazine, the Beechwood Inn provides a cozy mountain retreat after a long day full of wine tasting. Overnight guests can can their pick from one of the inn’s seven suites or three cabins. Stays include a two-course gourmet breakfast and daily wine-thirty where guests can enjoy a complimentary glass of Beechwood Inn wine and mingle. As an added bonus, every Saturday the owners host a chef’s tasting dinner with elaborate wine pairings from their 4,000 bottle wine cellar. North Georgia winery tours can be arranged with shuttle pick up directly from Beechwood.

We’re always looking to add to our list of incredible places to visit and would love to hear about your favorite place to getaway. Let us know in the comments.