The holiday celebrations, festive sights and holiday excitement in Charlotte, N.C. reminds residents about the wealth of culture, cuisine and community spirit that attracted them to the area. The temptation to stay in town during the holidays may be great. However, residents considering a vacation away from Charlotte this time of year have countless spots to visit within a few hours’ drive.
The Great Smoky Mountains and the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, the lighthouses dotting the coastline, and winter sports options in the High Country east of Asheville offer people from Charlotte vacation ideas within their own state. Additionally, there are charming cities in neighboring states, like Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina, to explore.
A variety of appealing day trips and vacation packages from Charlotte are available. The Charlotte vicinity offers something for everyone, whether they are looking to visit historic sites, relax at award-winning spas, find décor in the nation’s furniture capital, visit beautiful beaches seen in Nicholas Sparks movies, or hike the Appalachian Trail section adjoining Tennessee. Here are some ideas for a quick vacation from Charlotte:
Surrounded by the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville has been a charming getaway favorite since the 1800s. The Biltmore Estate, George and Edith Vanderbilt’s storied property that opened in 1895, features the largest privately-owned house in the country along with luxurious guest accommodations surrounded by the Gilded Age’s ornate décor. There are several B&Bs from the era too, such as the 1899 Wright Inn & Carriage House. Asheville attractions appeal to a variety of interests. They include the Southern Appalachian crafts from more than 1,000 local artists in the folk art center, the 434-acre North Carolina Arboretum, the childhood home Thomas Wolfe immortalized in “Look Homeward Angel,” a vibrant craft brewery scene and countless options for outdoors enthusiasts.
Named after the famous Daniel Boone, this town is nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, in the western part of the state known as the High Country, near the Tennessee state line. The area is an outdoor adventurist’s fantasyland with bouldering, river rafting, zip lines, snowboarding and other activities. Grandfather Mountain, the highest peak in the range, features the Mile High Swinging Bridge (one mile above sea level) and stunning views. On a clear day, it is possible to see the Charlotte skyline in the distance.
Bursting with Southern charm and antebellum architecture, Charleston offers a mix of history, beautifully cultivated gardens, and maritime and downtown views from the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, an engineering feat over the Cooper River. History buffs will want to visit Fort Sumter, where the first Civil War shots were fired. Others will enjoy the Charleston City Market with its hundreds of vendors and craftsmen. They include local artisans making sweetgrass baskets, a skill that takes years to master and offers a unique souvenir.
Surrounded by the lush Blue Ridge Mountains, Lake Lure offers stunning views of Hickory Nut Gorge, a 14-mile picturesque canyon pass, and Chimney Rock, a 535-million-year-old, 315-foot monolith. Hiking trails for all skill levels take visitors to marvel at panoramic views of Hickory Nut Gorge, Lake Lure and one of North Carolina’s highest waterfalls. Other area adventures include zip line parks, trout fishing, fly-fishing and various watercraft.
The rugged coastline, barrier islands and beaches witnessed pirate Blackbeard’s last battle (on Ocracoke Island), Orville and Wilbur Wright’s fantasy take flight (on Kitty Hawk), England’s first settlement in the New World (on Roanoke Island,) and centuries of family fun. The area’s iconic lighthouses include the one at Cape Hatteras, one of the most recognizable, and Ocracoke Light Station, the second oldest in the country. The lights were needed in the region, which became known as the “graveyard of the Atlantic.” Scuba divers often explore the approximately 3,000 shipwrecks nearby. Summer may be high season, but the holidays offer special festivities with Old World charm throughout the area.
Truly unique, historic Savannah’s Victorian architecture, multiple downtown parks, cobblestone streets and historic waterways provide enduring charm. Savannah features walking tours through history, including Revolutionary and Civil War landmarks. There are riverboat rides and even tours exploring its reputation as “America’s Most Haunted City.” Given its historic past, there are even religious landmarks, including the First African Baptist Church (possibly the oldest African American Baptist congregation in the country) and Temple Mickve Israel, organized in 1735 (the third oldest Jewish congregation in the U.S., although the current synagogue was built in 1878).
It’s safe to say that there are a variety of options if you want to vacation from Charlotte. With these and several other destinations nearby, the biggest challenge will be deciding which one to visit.