Three-day weekends offer the perfect excuse to strike out on a road trip to explore. And, you don’t have to venture very far from the city or cover a lot of milage to enjoy the extra time off. Here are our top picks for day trips to take this Memorial Day that are all within a three-hour drive of Charlotte.
Brevard, NC – Distance from Charlotte: 2 hours 15 minutes (126 miles)
For an exciting outdoor adventure consider visiting the small mountain town of Brevard, located in Western North Carolina. Affectionately known as “The Land of Waterfalls” the area boasts more than 250 different falls and some of the most beautiful in the state, including Rainbow Falls, Looking Glass Falls, and Whitewater Falls — the highest waterfall in the eastern U.S. that rises to a whopping 411 feet.
Looking for somewhere to take a dip and cool off? Make a pit stop at Sliding Rock Falls and take a ride down the 60-ft. slippery slope for the full experience.
Beyond its many spectacular waterfalls, Brevard is also home to Pisgah National Forest, DuPont State Forest, and Gorges State Park, which all offer a variety of hiking and biking trails that vary in difficulty and length, and are waiting to be explored.
Save some time to take a stroll through downtown Brevard. It’s is extremely walkable, so you can park your car and meander around the town’s main streets, which are lined with art galleries, boutiques, restaurants, and coffee shops. To get the full Brevard experience grab lunch (and some ice cream) at Rocky’s Grill & Soda Shop, a local staple that’s one of the oldest restaurants in downtown, and cherished for it’s vintage ’50s vibe and unique ice cream sundaes.
If you’re interested in extending your road trip for a little more sight-seeing hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway — which is only a few miles from downtown — to visit the famous drive’s iconic mile posts where you can experience the pinch-yourself views of the foothills and valley below for yourself.
Columbia, SC – Distance from Charlotte: 1.5 hours (92.8 miles)
If you’re looking for another metro area to explore head south to South Carolina’s state capital, Columbia, and spend some time on Devine St. There you’ll find plenty of boutique shopping. with custom dress shops like LaRoque, outdoor outfitters like Half-Moon Outfitters, antique and home furnishing stores, plus, speciality skin care and cosmetic boutiques.
There’s also no shortage of places to grab a bite to eat or an adult beverage along Devine St. with Craft and Draft, Urban Cookhouse, and Za’s Brick Oven Pizza tucked between several of the shops. If you’re in the mood for a sweet treat instead, pop by Silver Spoon Bake Shop for one of their salted caramel brownies — or, if you want something savory, one of their popular black pepper pimento cheese biscuits. You won’t be sorry either way.
After lunch stretch your legs while taking a leisurely stroll around the city’s picturesque Riverfront Park and historic Columbia Canal.
If you’ve got kiddos in tow, the Riverbanks Zoo provides plenty of family-friendly fun with more than 2,000 animals from all over the world. Along with the impressive number of animal exhibits, the 170-acre zoo features the Sky-High Safari, Wild Adventures Rock Wall, zipline tours, carousel, and train rides.
For more time outdoors swing by Congaree National Park and take a hike through the hardwood forests or canoe down the peaceful waterways that snake through the property. The park’s well-marked Cedar Creek Canoe Trail stretches to approximately 15 miles. (You must bring your own canoe unless you sign up for a ranger-guided canoe tour — which are offered several times throughout the year.)
Floyd, VA – Distance from Charlotte: 2 hours 25 minutes (140 miles)
Part of Floyd’s charm and allure is that it’s set against the unspoiled backdrop of Virginia’s beautiful countryside that’s full of verdant rolling hills and quaint farms lining the roadside. The combination of the county’s natural beauty, fresh air, and slower pace make it an ideal place to get away and disconnect for the day. But, don’t let the slower pace fool you — there’s plenty to do.
You’ll want to start your day off in Floyd getting breakfast at the Mabry Mill Restaurant & Gift Shop — they have some of the best pancakes you can find. Once you’ve gotten your fill of buttery goodness walk over to the historic grist mill, which is one of the most photographed sites in the state.
Make sure Chateau Morrisette is at the top of your itinerary. It’s a popular winery situated along the Blue Ridge Parkway that has a vast selection of wines that range from full-bodied reds and crisp whites to sweet blends and sangrias. The winery’s tasting room is open every day and the restaurant is open every Wednesday through Sunday. Enjoy a tasting and then retreat to the expansive patio to soak in some sun, fresh air, and postcard-worthy views.
For something a little stronger in your glass check out Five Mile Mountain Distillery where they serve up signature cocktails using their handcrafted, flavored moonshines. Drinks range from their Elderberry Lemonade and Mountain Margarita to a refreshing Appalachian Mimosa.
No trip to Floyd would be complete without a visit to the Floyd Country Store, which has been a go-to for locals and visitors alike for more than a hundred years. There, you’ll find everything from hard-to-find old-fashioned candies and freshly baked goods to eclectic local gifts and housewares. There’s even a high percentage that you’ll stumble upon live music at the store, which is a popular gathering place for local musicians to show off their talents.
Now that you’ve seen our top picks for places to drive this upcoming holiday weekend, we want to hear about yours! Let us know in the comments where you like to visit for a quick trip and tag us in your Memorial Day road trip photos on Instagram @ScoopCharlotte.