Uwharrie Mountains Wine Trail: A perfect Charlotte area day trip, this gorgeous drive through central North Carolina is named for the scenic mountain range that rises to the northeast. Along this route, you’ll find several renowned wineries specializing in North Carolina muscadines, as well as countless breathtaking views.
Jockey’s Ridge: The tallest sand dune in the Eastern United States, Jockey’s Ridge answers the question “What would it be like if there were a desert in North Carolina?” The ridge, located in the Outer Banks, is the perfect place to birdwatch or fly a kite on the swift winds on the dunes.
Mount Mitchell: For our readers of diminutive stature, Mount Mitchell might be the perfect day trip, because for a brief moment while standing on the summit, you can share the mountain’s distinction as the highest point east of the Mississippi River. With 360-degree views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and dozens of species of flora and fauna you can’t see anywhere else in the world, Mount Mitchell is truly something special.
Old Salem: This Piedmont destination was founded by the Moravians before the Declaration of Independence was signed, and many of the historic structures still stand in their original plots today. With an on-site bakery that still uses colonial technologies and regular ghost tours, there’s a little something for everyone.
Grandfather Mountain: It’s a giant, beautiful mountain shaped like the profile of an old man’s face! What’s not to love?
Corolla, NC: Corolla borders both the Atlantic Ocean and the Currituck Sound, allowing visitors access to the salty ocean waves, the calm kayak-worthy sound waters and the idyllic maritime forests that lie in between.
But perhaps the most popular attraction in Corolla is the wild ponies that roam the beaches, which are directly descended from the stallions brought by the Spanish explorers during the colonial era.
Biltmore Estate: The Biltmore Estate, built by George Vanderbilt in the 1890s, is the largest privately owned home in the United States. Nestled within the gorgeous Blue Ridge, just outside of Asheville, the Biltmore features tours of the historic home, an expansive garden and America’s most visited winery.
Outer Banks National Scenic Byway: The Byway follows the North Carolina coastline as it juts east into the Atlantic Ocean and stretches over 140 driving miles and 25 ferry-riding miles along barrier islands, the Pamlico Sound and coastal villages.
Reed Gold Mine: Opened in 1799, the Reed Gold Mine is the site of the first gold discovered in the United States. In operation from that time until 1912, the mine was the source of an influx of gold in the Charlotte area that prompted the opening of the Charlotte Mint.
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse: Conjure in your mind an image that is distinctly North Carolinian. If you, like many, think of a big, beautiful black and white, spiral-striped lighthouse, you’re thinking of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. And you’re in luck, because you can travel to it in under a day.
Linville Caverns: In the western part of the Tar Heel State, you can visit Linville Caverns, where you will go hundreds of feet under the Earth and experience an environment that is best described as alien. Stalactites and stalagmites (which is which, I still don’t know!) abound, and the underground river that flows through the cavern is home to a few species of blind fish. If you’re a fan of rocks and minerals (or visionless sea creatures), this is the trip for you!