City guides

Best weekend trips from Raleigh

Discover the hidden gems and exciting destinations within a short drive from Raleigh, perfect for an unforgettable weekend getaway.

December 11, 2023
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5
 min read
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Last updated:
Feb 6
A view of the Raleigh skyline.
Raleigh, North Carolina, is a city brimming with culture, history, and an unstoppable energy. But sometimes, even the most devoted city dwellers need a break from the hustle and bustle. For those living in or visiting Raleigh, a wealth of weekend trip options are just a road trip away. From tranquil mountain retreats to vibrant coastal towns, these destinations promise to rejuvenate and entertain.

Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville, nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, is a picturesque city that combines natural beauty with a vibrant cultural scene. Known for its historic architecture, including the iconic Biltmore Estate, Asheville offers an array of experiences for every traveler. Art enthusiasts will find a thriving community of artists and galleries, while food lovers can indulge in the city's renowned culinary scene, featuring farm-to-table restaurants and craft breweries. Outdoor adventurers aren't left out either; the surrounding mountains provide ample opportunities for hiking, biking, and exploring the scenic beauty of western North Carolina. Whether it's strolling through the bustling downtown, attending a music festival, or simply enjoying the mountain views, Asheville is a destination that captivates and charms all who visit.

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, a city steeped in history and Southern charm, offers an experience like no other. Its well-preserved architecture, from the antebellum era homes to the colorful buildings of Rainbow Row, tells the story of a city that has gracefully blended its past with the present. Visitors can explore numerous historical sites and museums, or take a relaxing carriage ride through the cobblestone streets. Charleston's culinary scene is a delight, featuring classic Southern dishes and fresh seafood. The city's waterfront parks and nearby beaches provide a perfect setting for a leisurely afternoon. Charleston's blend of history, culture, and coastal beauty makes it an ideal destination for a weekend escape from Raleigh.

Wilmington, North Carolina

Wilmington, with its unique blend of history, culture, and beachside fun, is an ideal destination for those looking to explore beyond Raleigh. The city's historic river district, lined with charming boutiques and cafes, offers a glimpse into Wilmington's rich past, while the USS North Carolina Battleship stands as a testament to its naval history. Nature lovers will appreciate the proximity to several beautiful beaches, including Wrightsville Beach, perfect for sunbathing, swimming, or surfing. Wilmington also serves as a gateway to the scenic Cape Fear Coast, known for its picturesque lighthouses and tranquil island communities. Whether you're interested in exploring historic sites, enjoying coastal cuisine, or simply relaxing by the sea, Wilmington has something for everyone.

Richmond, Virginia

Richmond, Virginia's capital, is a city where history and modernity coalesce to create a unique urban experience. As a city that played a pivotal role in American history, Richmond offers a wealth of historical sites, including the American Civil War Museum and the Virginia State Capitol. The city's art scene is vibrant, with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and numerous galleries showcasing diverse works. Richmond's food scene is equally dynamic, offering everything from traditional Southern comfort food to innovative cuisine. The James River provides a natural playground for outdoor enthusiasts, with opportunities for rafting, kayaking, and scenic walks along the riverbanks. Richmond's blend of historical significance, cultural richness, and natural beauty makes it a compelling destination for a weekend getaway.

Savannah, Georgia

Savannah, known for its enchanting atmosphere and historical significance, is a must-visit destination. The city's well-preserved historical district, with its antebellum architecture, verdant squares, and Spanish moss-covered trees, transports visitors to a bygone era. Savannah's Forsyth Park, with its iconic fountain, offers a picturesque setting for a leisurely stroll or picnic. The city's culinary scene is a fusion of traditional Southern fare and contemporary cuisine, complemented by charming cafes and seafood restaurants. Savannah's riverfront is bustling with shops and entertainment, while nearby Tybee Island provides a serene beach escape. The city's blend of history, culture, and natural beauty creates an unforgettable experience for those seeking a weekend retreat from Raleigh.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, straddling the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, is a sanctuary of natural beauty and serenity. As America's most visited national park, it offers a variety of experiences for nature lovers and adventure seekers. The park's vast network of hiking trails leads to breathtaking views, cascading waterfalls, and diverse wildlife. Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the park, provides panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. The park's historic sites, including Cades Cove and the Mountain Farm Museum, offer a glimpse into the region's past. Whether seeking solitude among ancient forests or exploring the rich biodiversity, a visit to the Great Smoky Mountains is a rejuvenating escape from the urban life of Raleigh.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Myrtle Beach, a vibrant coastal city, is synonymous with fun and relaxation. Known for its long stretch of sandy beaches, the city is a popular destination for beachgoers looking for sun, surf, and sand. The Myrtle Beach Boardwalk, with its array of shops, restaurants, and amusement parks, offers endless entertainment. Golf enthusiasts will find a paradise here, with numerous championship golf courses dotting the landscape. The city also boasts a variety of cultural attractions, including the Broadway at the Beach shopping and entertainment complex and the SkyWheel, one of the tallest Ferris wheels in North America. Myrtle Beach's combination of beachside fun, entertainment, and recreational activities makes it an ideal destination for a lively weekend trip from Raleigh.

Outer Banks, North Carolina

The Outer Banks, a series of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina, offer a unique blend of history, natural beauty, and relaxation. Known for their picturesque landscapes and rich history, including the site of the Wright Brothers' first flight, these islands are a haven for those seeking a peaceful getaway. The wild horses of Corolla, roaming free in their natural habitat, are a sight not to be missed. Visitors can enjoy various activities such as fishing, kayaking, and exploring the historic lighthouses that dot the coastline. The Outer Banks also provide an ideal setting for beach relaxation and water sports, making it a perfect destination for a weekend escape from Raleigh.

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Virginia Beach, located where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean, is a bustling city with a relaxed beach town vibe. The city's famous boardwalk, stretching three miles along the oceanfront, is lined with shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues, making it a hub of activity. Beyond the beach, the city offers a rich array of cultural and outdoor experiences, including the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, and First Landing State Park, known for its scenic trails and diverse ecosystems. Whether you're looking for a lively beach atmosphere, a peaceful nature excursion, or a cultural exploration, Virginia Beach provides a versatile and enjoyable weekend destination for those in Raleigh.

Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina and Virginia

The Blue Ridge Parkway, known as "America's Favorite Drive," is a scenic journey through the Appalachian Highlands. Stretching over 469 miles through North Carolina and Virginia, this route offers stunning vistas, abundant wildlife, and a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle. Along the way, travelers can explore numerous hiking trails, visit quaint mountain towns, and discover the rich cultural heritage of the Appalachian region. The parkway's numerous overlooks provide breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, making it a photographer's paradise. A drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway is more than just a trip; it's an immersive experience in nature's beauty and tranquility, easily accessible from Raleigh. Escaping the city for a weekend doesn't mean leaving behind the joys of discovery and relaxation. Each of these destinations offers its own unique blend of culture, history, and natural beauty, promising a memorable getaway from Raleigh. Whether you're looking for adventure, relaxation, or a bit of both, these top picks are sure to provide an enriching and enjoyable break.

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