What are the best day trips to take outside the Triangle?

16 Feb

I left the Triangle for a few days, and while I’m happy to be back, I’m also craving another trip.

So please help me and other GFTB readers figure out some nearby getaways. What are some places worth visiting within a 90-minute radius of the Triangle? Because as much as I loved spending the weekend on Hilton Head Island, I did not enjoy the drive (although the company was superior).

Are there particular places worth gassing up my VW and heading to on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon? Bonus points for multiple suggestions along the same route. With springlike temperatures already flirting with us, I know I’ll need another break soon.

Suggestions please.

15 Responses to “What are the best day trips to take outside the Triangle?”

  1. suburbanrobot February 16, 2009 at 7:36 pm #

    I regularly have to drive all over NC for my job, so I feel fairly qualified for this one…

    1) New Bern is a fun day trip, if a little far away. Very cute old town atmosphere, and it has a beach too! The best way to go for a day trip is on 264 all the way through Greenville to Little Washington, and then shoot down 17/43 to New Bern.

    2) Greensboro/Winston-Salem/Lexington – Get up early, tour through Old Salem while the sun is still burning off fog. Stop by the Moravian bakery and get some monkey bread, which is maybe the best thing ever. Head down afterwards and hit up Lexington BBQ for lunch. Be warned: you will be disappointed in any BBQ you eat here in the Triangle after tasting Lexington BBQ, so maybe skip this part. After lunch, head up through High Point to the Furniture Mart (over 1,000,000 sq ft of high end furniture), or walk around campus @ UNC-G.

    3) Charlotte – Only 2.5 hours, and there are enough great restaurants and fun shopping to really make this worth the trip. There is an IMAX theatre if you are into that sort of thing, they have IKEA (!!), Concord Mills for outlet shopping, and just driving around the Queens neighborhood, especially when trees are in bloom, is just absolutely gorgeous. Maximize this trip by having a pint or eight at Big Ben or Selwyn Pub, stay overnight, and wake up early for the best road cycling in the state. You could also hit up the Natl Whitewater Center during the summer for a GREAT time with some friends.

    4) Washington D.C. – The drive is a little long and you will want at least one overnight, but this is our closest huge city and it has everything. You could also just head up to Richmond, but the extra drive is really worth it.

    5) Wilmington – Beach central. Great college atmosphere. Not much else to say on this one.

  2. leandra February 16, 2009 at 8:19 pm #

    We are huge waterfall junkies and there are several state parks within a two to three hour drive of the Triangle with great hiking and waterfalls. Three of the closest are Hanging Rock State Park, Stone Mountain State Park and South Mountain State Park. We have photographed 30 waterfalls in NC alone: http://www.ericandleandra.com/waterfalls/NorthCarolina.html. Enjoy!

  3. Brandy February 16, 2009 at 9:33 pm #

    Wilmington is one of my favorite places to go as a mini-vacation. Front Street is BEAUTIFUL. I love their downtown so much! :)

  4. Andrew Wirtanen February 16, 2009 at 9:34 pm #

    Baseball fans tired of the Bulls and Mudcats can check out the Kinston Indians (single A), 1.5 hours southeast.

    In addition, the Coastal Plains League (http://www.coastalplain.com/) is one of the lesser known gems of the region, with some of the top college baseball players in the nation playing in small towns in the summer. It is growing to rival the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League and Alaska Baseball League. Check out teams in Edenton (2.5 hours), Fayetteville (1 hour), Gastonia (3 hours, near Charlotte), Thomasville (1.5 hours), Wilson (50 mins), and Wilmington (2 hours). Edenton is a very historic small town, and Wilmington, as mentioned before me, has the beach. To baseball fans, there is nothing better than a day at the beach, and a night at the ballpark.

    The zoo in Asheboro (1.5 hours) is also worth a visit, and it will take a whole day if you want to do both sides (Africa and North America). You can also check out the Asheboro Copperheads if you’re visiting in the summer.

  5. jmeadows February 16, 2009 at 11:30 pm #

    These aren’t day trip suggestions but while you are out and about:
    If you find yourself in Wilson, eat at Parker’s Barbeque. (NOT Bill’s) BEST barbeque in the state.

    If you find yourself in Angier in the months from March to October, stop by Sunny Sky’s Ice Cream. The owner makes all of his ice cream and even on weeknights, the line is out the door. There isn’t any seating, so cop a squat on the ground or pull down your tailgate.

    If you find yourself in Wilmington, my favorite seafood restaurant is the Oceanic, with seating on the pier.

  6. Jason K February 16, 2009 at 11:55 pm #

    I can vouch for Hanging Rock State Park, I work at a camp there during the summer, I’ve done the various hikes several times, the hikes are not too strenuous (but also not too easy) and the waterfalls never get old, my twitter profile picture is from the top of Hanging Rock. It’s about a 2.5 hour drive to get there, and while you’re there you can check out the Hillbilly Hideaway in nearby Walnut Cove.

    A closer day trip, only about a 45 minute drive from Raleigh, is to Harris Lake County Park in New Hill. It’s a beautiful park they’ve built around the reservoir near the nuclear plant, there’s a 2-mile hiking trail that follows the peninsula, and about 10 miles worth of mountain-bike trails and disc-golf. I make a point of going there every few weeks when I’m in the area.

  7. Brandon February 17, 2009 at 11:30 am #

    My family had a great time taking a morning hike on Pilot Mountain and then hitting the Winston-Salem Arts District for shopping and lunch.

  8. ginny February 17, 2009 at 11:45 am #

    These are awesome suggestions, even though some are a little further than I’d prefer to drive on the weekends (especially with rising gas prices). I’ve never been to Winston-Salem though (just passed it on the interstate). And I love hiking, waterfalls, biking, etc.

    I’m going to print out these comments and start researching which ones I should do. I’ll definitely share photos when I get to them. And please keep them coming.

  9. suburbanrobot February 17, 2009 at 1:09 pm #

    If you do go for Winston-Salem, another fun thing to do is just walk around downtown, around all of the old tobacco factories, and take lots of pictures. There is some really interesting urban exploration to be done in that area.

  10. RaleighRob March 3, 2009 at 3:46 pm #

    1- Winston-Salem’s Old Salem historic district. They have tours, shops, an historic tavern (Washington slept there), wood-fire bakery, and much more. Definitely a good way to spend the day if you’re into colonial-era history.

    2- NC Zoo. Only an hour and half down US 64 and big enough to fill a whole day. Spring and Fall are best times to go by far.

  11. Lisa March 7, 2009 at 10:58 am #

    Ok, this is not a day trip but it’s worth the weekend ride. Head 3 hours east on 64 and you hit the Outer Banks. It’s so relaxing there. I really love Duck and Roanoke Island. It’s no Hilton Head but it’s just beautiful.

    For a day trip, I agree with Andrew, the zoo is a PERFECT day trip but just don’t go in the heat of the summer. :-)

  12. Keith April 4, 2009 at 10:45 am #

    I’d suggest a trip to Pilot Mountain State Park in Surry County. It’s an easy 1.75 hour trip (tops) – take 40 to US 52 N in Winston-Salem. I like to stop at Pulliam’s Hot Dog Stand in Ogburn Station, NC (one of the oldest hog dog stands in the state) which is just off of US 52 in near the Smith Reynolds airport. PMSP has some exciting vistas, and a handful of short (less than 1 hour) to long (full-day) trails for hiking.

  13. Michael May 15, 2009 at 10:57 am #

    If you’re heading to Winston, maybe shoot across I-40 to Tanglewood Park in Clemmons. It’s probably my favorite spot in the entire Piedmont. Fish, play golf, go swimming, tour the arboretum, or just hang out. Great, great spot.

    Also, if you’re a race fan (or even if you’re not), check out a Saturday night race at Bowman Gray Stadium. You haven’t seen anything like it, I promise, ha.

  14. Player Profiles October 29, 2010 at 7:22 pm #

    You you could edit the blog name Ginny from the Blog » Blog Archive » What are the best day trips to take outside the Triangle? to something more generic for your blog post you make. I enjoyed the post even sononetheless.

  15. Becky April 5, 2011 at 6:16 am #

    My husband and I visited the Hope Plantation outside Windsor where Governor David Stone lived. There is also another home on the property that we didn’t get to visit but I will go back. The guide was very informative and I found the facts about Gov. Stone and the plantation most interesting. It is worth the trip. We also visited “Little Washington” that same day and that was interesting. They were restoring a lighthouse on the river there.

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