20 Day Trips From Charlotte

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Charlotte, North Carolina, is in the centre of the state in the Piedmont region. While the city of Charlotte has a lot to offer visitors and residents, the surrounding area has even more.

With beautiful scenic landscapes, historic locations full of stories, and places of adventure and thrills, central North Carolina has it all. Because Charlotte is a large city with plenty of available accommodations, it provides an ideal starting location for people to explore the region. Here are some day trips from Charlotte.

Day Trips From Charlotte

nc day trips from charlotte dawn
A vibrant city with lots to do, you’ll also find some excellent day trips from Charlotte (North Carolina).

Less Than One Hour From Charlotte

1- Zootastic Park

Zootastic Park is a zoo where visitors can walk and drive around to see the animals.

The walk-through section of the zoo is home to large cats, like tigers and lions, and primates, like spider monkeys and howler monkeys.

Visitors can sign up for animal encounters with several animals to hold, pet and feed.

Animals involved in the interactions include kangaroos, lemurs, monkeys, a baby giraffe, a serval kitten, a sloth, and armadillos.

Zebras, emus, watusi, water buffalo, wildebeests, and eland live in the drive-thru section of the zoo.

Zootastic Park hosts a fall festival with train rides, face painting, pumpkin decorating, tiger feeding and a Wonderland of Lights during the Christmas season.

Zootastic Park is at 448 Pilch Rd, Troutman, NC 28166.

2- Schiele Museum Of Natural History And Planetarium

cool day trips from charlotte nc
For an intellectual day trip from Charlotte, check out the museum. Pictured here is the historic remains of an ancient predatory animal.

The Schiele Museum of Natural History and Planetarium is the place to explore nature, science, and history through indoor and outdoor educational exhibits.

An affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, permanent exhibits include a Catawba Indian Village, Hall of North American Habitats, Hall of North American Wildlife, Hall of North Carolina Natural History and Henry Hall of the American Indian.

There’s a Memorial Wildlife Garden, Nature Trail, Stone Age Heritage Site and The Farm.

These interpretive exhibits allow visitors to walk through and see dioramas that display the largest regional collection of mounted animals.

Planetarium and science theatre shows run throughout the day.

The Schiele Museum of Natural History and Planetarium is at 1500 E Garrison Blvd, Gastonia, NC 28054.

3- Glencairn Gardens

day trips from charlotte with dogs
Admiring the flowers, such as white dogwoods (Kesselringii ) is one of the relaxing day trips from Charlotte in North Carolina.

The Glencairn Gardens contain 11 acres (4.4 hectares) of landscaped gardens and shaded pathways that wind through azaleas, dogwoods, crape myrtles, camellias, wisteria and more.

This garden provides the perfect backdrop for family photos and nature photographers.

The peak colour season for azaleas, wisteria, and pansies occurs during the spring in March and April.

Crape myrtles and daylilies reach peak bloom during the summer months.

Dogwoods bloom in the fall, and some flowers, like daffodils, even bloom during the late winter.

No matter the season, visitors find a lush place to stroll in the shade and experience the peaceful environment of the gardens.

This park features unique places to visit, including a tiered fountain, a Japanese bridge, Veterans Garden and a performance stage.

Amenities include restrooms, benches scattered throughout the gardens, and paved pathways.

The Glencairn Gardens are at 725 Crest St, Rock Hill, SC 29730.

4- The Depot At Gibson Mill

The Depot at Gibson Mill is the largest antique mall in the South containing approximately 88,000 square feet (8,175 square meters) of shop space.

This mall has around 750 vendor booths selling various items, including antique furniture, old knick-knacks and memorabilia.

There’s a textile shop that sells a variety of fabrics in many colours, styles and patterns.

The diner provides a place for visitors to grab a bite to eat without leaving the building.

Visitors drive from all over the East Coast to find new treasures from this large collection of antiques.

The Depot at Gibson Mill is at 325 McGill Ave NW #250, Concord, NC 28027.

5- Mr Putty’s Fun Park

Mr Putty’s Fun Park is famous for its 18-hole championship miniature golf course.

The fun park also offers axe throwing, bungee jumping, timber climbing, a ropes course, zip lines and a zero-gravity simulator called the Spaceball.

Visitors can make wax hands as a keepsake.

Families and friends can play in the Challenge Zone, where kids and adults compete against each other in games of skill and physicality.

This park provides visitors with a fun place to spend the day.

Amenities at the fun park include a beer and wine garden, concessions stand, and restrooms.

Mr Putty’s Fun Park is at 2333 Dam Rd, Tega Cay, SC 29708.

6- North Carolina Museum Of Dolls, Toys, And Miniatures

The Museum of Dolls is a non-profit museum containing a diverse collection of toys built around a collection started by the family of a young toy collector.

Other collectors have donated their toys to the museum to preserve them, and the museum now contains thousands of dolls made from different materials and different eras.

There are dollhouses, Tinkertoys, aeroplanes, a Lionel model train village, games and cap guns.

The museum’s two main exhibits are a complete 1910 Schoenhut Circus Figurine collection and the largest public display of Shirley Temple dolls, with over a hundred in the collection.

Look for events at the museum throughout the year.

The North Carolina Museum of Dolls, Toys and Miniatures is at 108 4th St, Spencer, NC 28159.

7- Crowders Mountain State Park

Crowders Mountain State Park has two peaks with scenic views of the surrounding mountains.

This park has a wide diversity of birds that live there year-round.

Miles of hiking and backpacking trails are in three areas within the park.

Sparrow Springs has twenty miles of hiking trails and a nine-acre (3.6-hectare) lake perfect for canoeing and fishing.

Visitors can hike at both Linwood and Boulders. In addition to hiking, Linwood offers rock climbing, while Boulders provides places for people to boulder.

Amenities at Sparrow Springs include tent camping, picnic shelters, and a visitor’s centre.

Linwood and Boulders do not have any amenities.

Crowders Mountain State Park is at 522 Park Office Ln, Kings Mountain, NC 28086.

8- Carolina Raptor Center

awesome day trips from charlotte closeup of an owl
Visiting the raptor centre is one of the best day trips from Charlotte to see wildlife.

The Carolina Raptor Center is a non-profit group that focuses on educating visitors about the environment, rehabilitating injured raptors, and rescuing orphaned birds of prey.

Every year, the raptor centre rescues and treats an average of 900 raptors.

This living museum, located on the Latta Plantation Nature Preserve, allows you to get a close look at these birds of prey and learn about them.

The Raptor Trail at the Center is a short, 0.75-mile (1.2 km) walking trail that displays 25 native and exotic birds for visitors.

People can visit every day during either a morning or afternoon session.

The Carolina Raptor Center is at 6000 Sample Rd, Huntersville, NC 28078.

9- Hendrick Motorsports Museum

The Hendrick Motorsports Museum has dedicated itself to the history and future of racing within the Hendrick Motorsports organisation.

The museum displays race memorabilia, such as the cars used in NASCAR races and the trophies won by drivers in the organisation.

The museum contains exhibits that discuss the history of the organisation that led them to win 14 NASCAR Cup Series championships.

Racing enthusiasts also enjoy shopping for gifts, souvenirs, and race-day memorabilia at the gift shop.

Uniform jackets, t-shirts, and all the gear fans need to support their favourite drivers can be found in the shop.

The Hendrick Motorsports Museum is at 4400 Papa Joe Hendrick Blvd, Concord, NC 28262.

10- Charlotte Motor Speedway

unusual day trips from charlotte
Charlotte Motor Speedway is a fun day trip from Charlotte for racing fans.

The Charlotte Motor Speedway is a 2,000-acre (809 ha) complex most famous for hosting NASCAR races, such as the Coca-Cola 600 and the Bank of America Roval 400.

The Speedway also contains a dirt track that hosts drag races on its four-lane drag-racing strip.

This facility hosts more than 380 events annually, including races, car shows, and concerts.

The Grandstand at the Speedway seats 95,000 people and often sells out for their NASCAR races.

Amenities at the Speedway include restrooms, concession stands, camping, and the world’s largest HDTV at a sports venue.

The Charlotte Motor Speedway is at 5555 Concord Pkwy S, Concord, NC 28027.

11- Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden

romantic day trips from charlotte nc Fresh Beautiful Tulips, flower background.
Visiting a garden is one of the relaxing things to do in Charlotte NC.

The Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens is on a 380-acre (154-hectare) property containing a mix of forest, meadows and lakeshore.

The botanical gardens lie on 110 acres (45 hectares). People enjoy beautifully landscaped gardens, such as a Children’s Garden, Four Seasons Garden, Cottage Garden, Canal Garden, Perennial Garden, and an 8,000 square foot (743 square meters) orchid conservatory.

The conservatory has many species of orchids and a variety of tropical plants inside the large glass building.

Visitors can hike along 3.2 miles (5.1 km) of trails that meander throughout the property.

These trails connect to the larger Carolina Thread Trail.

The Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens are located at 6500 S New Hope Rd, Belmont, NC 28012.

12- Reed Gold Mine

short day trips from charlotte nc Gold nuggets within an ancient vase.
Learning more about the discovery of gold in the region is one of the interesting day trips from Charlotte.

The Reed Gold Mine was the first documented commercial gold discovery in America after European colonisation.

More gold was discovered in North Carolina than in any other state before the California Gold Rush in 1848.

This historic mine is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark.

The state’s natural and cultural resources department maintains a museum and gold mining facilities at this site, where you can learn about the history of gold mining in the region and tour hundreds of feet of restored gold mining tunnels.

You can also pan for gold from April through October, weather permitting.

Trails criss-cross the property, and visitors can hike around to see additional archaeological and historical sites.

Amenities include restrooms, picnic facilities, and a gift shop.

The Reed Gold Mine is at 9621 Reed Mine Rd, Midland, NC 28107.

13- Carolina Renaissance Festival

The Carolina Renaissance Festival is an amusement park with a renaissance and medieval theme.

Visitors to this 25-acre (10-hectare) village often use the opportunity to dress up as medieval royalty, lords, ladies, knights and peasants.

It is common to find people dressed as fairy tale characters, pirates, and fantastic creatures.

The village, surrounded by forest, contains castles, pubs, kitchens, and stages, as well as a tournament arena where jousting occurs three times per day.

Actors and musicians perform comedy shows and entertain with live music and dancing on outdoor stages.

Falconry demonstrations introduce people to an ancient royal sport.

Live mermaids in the mermaid tank interact with visitors and take pictures with children.

Put aside a day or a weekend to spend at the festival from October through November, enjoying the entertainment and food.

The Carolina Renaissance Festival is at 16445 Poplar Tent Rd, Huntersville, NC 28078.

Less Than Two Hours From Charlotte

14- Visit Winston-Salem

day trips from charlotte
Winston-Salem is an interesting day trip to do from Charlotte.

Winston-Salem is an old city with a colourful history and a unique place to spend a day exploring.

For history buffs, the Old Salem Museums and Bethabara Park are living history museums where you can interact with characters dressed in period costumes.

You’ll learn what life in the area was like a couple of hundred years ago.

If you love art, the Reynolda House Museum of American Art, Körner’s Folly, and the Art Trail in downtown Winston-Salem.

Natural beauty abounds at places like Hanging Rock State Park, Salem Lake Park, and the Quarry at Grant Park.

Eat and drink their way around Winston-Salem, follow the Moravian Cookie Trail, the North Carolina Historic Barbecue Trail, or stop by one of the many craft breweries or distilleries in town.

A day trip to Winston-Salem will likely inspire you to make a return visit in the future.

15- Uwharrie National Forest

The Uwharrie National Forest covers 50,000 acres (202 ha) across three counties in North Carolina, where you can enjoy mountain biking, hiking, camping, fishing and horseback riding.

40 miles (64 km) of non-motorised trails throughout the Badin Lake Recreation Area provide space for bikers, hikers and equestrians to explore.

17 miles (27 km) of trails for off-highway vehicles are also available.

In the Wood Run area of the forest, three mountain biking trails provide visitors with a place to recreate and avoid hikers.

Visitors can fish in Badin Lake or one of the three rivers that meander through the national forestland.

Disc golf and target shooting are also available, while other amenities in the forest include parking, restrooms and picnic areas.

The Ranger District Office of Uwharrie National Forest is at 789 Biscoe Road, Troy, NC 27371.

16- Chimney Rock

day trips from charlotte nc
Chimney Rock is an iconic day trip from Charlotte, NC, to tick off your to-do list.

Chimney Rock is an iconic, 315-foot-tall (96-meter) granite monolith in the Chimney Rock State Park.

From the top of Chimney Rock, visitors can see a scenic view of the surrounding mountains and Lake Lure.

A small admission fee to the park allows visitors full access to hiking and climbing opportunities at Chimney Rock, as well as fishing and picnicking.

Amenities at Chimney Rock include a concession stand, restaurant, gift shop, interpretive exhibits, and restrooms.

Two other places at Chimney Rock State Park, Rumbling Bald and Eagle Rock, provide a more rugged place to hike with fewer amenities available.

These two locations do not have an admission fee.

Chimney Rock is at 743 Chimney Rock Park Road, Chimney Rock, NC 28720.

17- Hollywild Animal Park

The Hollywild Animal Park is a non-profit zoo on 100 acres (40 hectares) of land.

A 70-acre (28-hectare) outback and safari area provides a place for visitors to drive through and interact with the animals.

You can feed animals from their vehicles, including deer, donkeys, sheep and alpacas.

Wildebeests, camels, and emus roam the property, looking for food.

Some animals that live at the park once performed in movies or TV shows.

Now, they can not release them into the wild, so the zoo keeps them and provides them with a safe place to live.

The zoo is open during the summer and then reopens in the winter for a Holiday Lights Safari.

The Hollywild Animal Park is at 2325 Hampton Rd, Wellford, SC 29385.

18- North Carolina Zoo

family day trips from charlotte Happy boys watching and feeding giraffe in zoo.
Seeing the animals at the zoo is one of the fun day trips from Charlotte for kids.

The North Carolina Zoo is a state-supported zoo managed by the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

It has developed 500 acres (202 ha) of land into animal habitats, making it the largest natural habitat zoo in the world.

Over 1,700 animals live at the zoo, including elephants, giraffes, lemurs, flamingos, polar bears, grizzly bears, gorillas, chimpanzees and red wolves.

Outdoor attractions at the zoo include a carousel, giraffe feeding station, butterfly garden and a treehouse adventure trek.

The zoo participates in many conservation programs and activities worldwide and teaches visitors about those activities and how their visit helps to support those activities.

The North Carolina Zoo is at 4401 Zoo Pkwy, Asheboro, NC 27205.

Less Than Three Hours From Charlotte

19- Biltmore Estate

day trips from charlotte for adults
This is a walkway under a road at the Biltmore Estate in Ashville, North Carolina.

The Biltmore Estate is a historic property with a large, privately-owned Gilded Age mansion that covers more than 170,000 square feet (15,800 square meters).

George Vanderbilt purchased the property and built the mansion in the late 1800s.

This National Historic Landmark attracts more than one million visitors each year.

Visitors can tour the house, seeing beautiful art, an indoor pool, a bowling alley, and restored bedrooms that once housed the family and many guests such as writers, artists and politicians.

The estate contains extensive gardens and a winery.

Different seasons and holidays offer new things to see, so Biltmore attracts repeat visitors.

Christmas is the best time to visit when the estate staff decorates the mansion with lights, greenery and decor.

The Biltmore Estate is at 1 Lodge St, Asheville, NC 28803.

20- Whitewater Pisgah

best day trips from charlotte nc
There are some wonderful hikes to do on a day trip from Charlotte.

Whitewater Pisgah is an organisation that promotes the use of the Pisgah National Forest for outdoor recreation in various ways.

Activities offered in Pisgah include fishing, hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, cycling, climbing, whitewater paddling, flatwater paddling, and trail running.

The guides leading these excursions provide the knowledge and resources necessary to enjoy the outdoor experience.

In addition, this organisation offers overnight accommodations in the centre of the national forest.

These accommodations make it easier for visitors to access outdoor recreational opportunities in the region.

Whitewater Pisgah is at 5289 N Mills River Rd, Mills River, NC 28759.

For more places to visit in the Southern states, see:

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Angie Grier is a spicy señora living in central Mexico with a penchant for freelance writing. Having spent most of her adult life writing as a scientist and then as a teacher, she now contributes articles on a wide variety of topics for print and online media. Originally from the US, she has lived in several different states on the US West and East coasts, the Gulf Coast, and the Upper Midwest. These days, when she’s not camping in the woods in a US national park or shopping in Tonalá or eating chilaquiles, she writes a travel blog detailing her life and adventures in Mexico at www.onaroadleadingsomewhere.com.