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26 Unique Day Trips From Charlotte, North Carolina

Everyone needs a day off now and then, a day to just be carefree and not worry about all the stresses of day-to-day life. While some people understand this concept and happily take a day off to recharge their batteries, many of us don’t fully acknowledge that it is more than just staying home from work. Taking a day off to recharge and rid yourself of stress, as well as get in touch with your creative, talented self should be all about changing your environment.  For some, that might mean going for a hike, others might be content taking a long drive, and others still will want to tour a museum or go on a flea market hunt.

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What are some fun day trips to take around Charlotte, NC?

Besides just exploring all that Charlotte proper has to offer, consider taking a day trip to one of these great locations around Charlotte on your next vacation:

  • Land of Oz Park
  • Museum of the Bizarre
  • Uwharrie National Forest
  • Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Davidson
  • Gold Hill

Whatever it is you do to recharge those batteries, there are numerous unique day trips you can take from Charlotte, North Carolina.

For me, the thought of a day trip is all about getting as far away from home as possible. Removing myself from all those have-to things is the only way I can relax and unwind, and I am sure many of you are like that too, so this list is for you!

Land of Oz Park

1007 Beech Mountain Parkway, Beech Mountain, North Carolina 28604

(828) 434-8056

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Everyone loves a great movie, and almost everyone has seen Oz and met Dorothy at least once while watching those shoes click together as we wish for home along with her, but oddly there is a place where you can go and visit Dorothy and all the other characters of the Wizard of Oz.

While at one time this location was a completely functioning theme park, through natural events and disasters, the theme park closed in the 1980s. Since then, parts of the park’s staff have salvaged some of the equipment and get together from time to time for special events.

It’s during these times you can visit and enjoy a lovely Oz-themed festival where you can literally walk those yellow bricks while enjoying vendors, crafts, food, and other festival happenings.

Museum of the Bizarre

201 South Water Street, Wilmington, North Carolina 28401

(910) 399-2641

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If you like odd, and most of us do even though we wouldn’t necessarily admit it to anyone, this museum is all about the oddities of life and exploring them. The science-based museum is great for families or groups, and provides an exciting diversion from the norm in between shopping and a visit to the local beach area.

You can check out Houdini’s Ouija Board and a Unicorn Horn as well as other strange oddities, then head on over to the children’s museum that’s not far away and grab a quick bite to eat before heading home after your day trip!

Uwharrie National Forest

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789 Biscoe Road, Troy, North Carolina 27371

(910) 576-6391

Nothing says stress-free like an outdoor adventure. At just over an hour and under seventy-five miles, you can take a hike, watch wildlife and take some fantastic photos.  If that doesn’t suit your fancy while you’re in this national forest you can enjoy the Badin Lake and take a swim or simply admire the forest’s beauty while listening to the sounds of nature.

Outdoor adventures during the beautiful summer months are a hit in North Carolina. So, from Charlotte, you can head to Uwharrie National Forest, that’s between Davidson and Randolph Counties.

It’s a nature lovers’ paradise. Uwharrie National Forest is acres of spectacular woodlands that are well-maintained. There are ample markings in the national forest that help you find your way easily. So, you can drive, go on horseback, ride a mountain bike, or hike.

Camping facilities are available for folks who want to spend the night. The best part is you can camp anywhere in the national forest using a primitive tent. Some developed areas charge a fee, but you also have an option for non-free undeveloped camping areas.

Hiking trails vary in skill and difficulty level, but there is something for everyone from the novice to the expert. Be sure to follow all rules and regulations while visiting and be aware of the dangers of wildlife, if you are not an experienced hiker.

Blue Ridge Parkway

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For a great drive or motorcycle adventure, you can drive a mere one hundred and forty miles north in about two hours and wind up on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Parkway may not seem like an exciting journey, but if you like to drive, stop and see some beautiful scenery without the walk, this is a perfect choice.

The ride takes you through numerous historic spots where you can enjoy the local culture, art, and communities as well as the stunning scenery.  The views are breathtaking and memorable no matter how you travel. Be sure to sample some food, wine, or beer and perhaps a festival, carnival, or another local event, if the time is right.


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For a family that has a mixture of adults, teenagers, and young children this place is for you.  This college town offers unique shopping from art galleries, antique shops boutiques, and restaurants near Charlotte. Mom can enjoy a day of shopping while the kids take dad along to the Discovery Place for Kids and Raptor Center where they can get a bit of education with their fun.

Lake Norman is a huge hit for people who are visiting Davidson. However, there’s so much more to do when you plan a day trip to this amazing town.

The Town of Davidson has a lively downtown where you can awaken your taste buds. This place has numerous restaurants and pubs and comes alive in the evening. Next, you can enjoy spending time exploring museums.

The family can take a bike ride or enjoy the walk from shop to shop to enjoy all the interesting sites they have to see.

Gold Hill

770 St. Stephens Church Road, Gold Hill, North Carolina 28071

(704) 267-9439

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If you like a bit of yesterday blended in with your relaxation today, this spot is for you. At just under fifty miles and at fifty minutes you can easily step back through time to yesterday and learn about the gold rush. This can be a great family day trip where everyone in the group can get a bit of education, history, and fun all rolled into one day.

Depending on when you visit, there is a Bluegrass Jam and other musical entertainment at select times, which can be a delightful experience. Should you and your family want to do some shopping there is a Western shop and a vineyard a few minutes away from where you can sample some of the local wines.

You’ll even find a ghost hunt tour for some scary afternoon fun. On-site dining is unique, and you will find a mine shaft and other buildings and historic spots to explore. It’s a great day outdoor where you can tackle a lot of things in a one-day trip adventure.

Town of Spencer

As you experience North Carolina, Charlotte is a fantastic place to stay. From there, you can go on many amazing day trips. For example, a day trip to the Town of Spencer is a worthwhile experience.

The Town of Spencer is in Rowan County, and there are numerous things to do when you arrive. Start your trip by touring the North Carolina Transportation Museum. Many temporary and permanent exhibits take place when the museum is open.

Other exciting activities in Spencer include Fred and Alice Stanback Educational Forest and Preserve, the North Carolina Museum of Dolls, Toys and Miniatures, and the Spencer Yadkin River Park. 

It’s even possible to be a part of the Spencer Historic District Walking Tour.

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Cornelius Town

Cornelius Town is another fantastic place to tour on a day trip from Charlotte. It was once a huge trading center for cotton, but today the town is a hit with visitors. It’s a hit because of the unique cuisines and drinks you can find.

This food and drink hub is a foodie’s paradise. There’s so much to do, and you can enjoy your meals overlooking the gorgeous waterfront. Some places have a cozy feel for the entire family, and some are perfect for adults looking to have a good time.

The icing on the cake is the breweries in Cornelius. Sit down, grab a drink, and enjoy live music with family and friends.

The City of York

The City of York is the place to be during the epic peach season. The peach trees are full of this delicious fruit, and the harvest can begin. Get a chance to taste peach drinks at The Peach Tree Orchards’ stands, which are open to visitors.

Next, check out the Windy Hill Orchard & Cider Mill. The food and cider are memorable, and there’s a lot on offer. Kids will love the apple slushy, apple pie, and donuts. You can take home special jams and hard cider to remember your trip.

Asheboro City

Asheboro City is a great stop when enjoying a day trip from Charlotte. And there are so many fantastic annual events you can participate in.

Examples of annual events at Asheboro include the Seagrove Celebration of Spring, May food and music festivals, The North Carolina Food Truck State Championship, and the Annual Holly Ridge Charity Classic golf tournament.

Kids will also love spending the day at the North Carolina Zoo. It’s home to different species and covers 2600 acres. There’s also the Randolph County Arts Guild that offers pottery classes.

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Crowders Mountain State Park

Drive to Gaston County, where you can spend the day in Crowders Mountain State Park. It’s a fantastic place to be with friends and family who enjoy outdoor activities.

Crowders Mountain State Park is even close to numerous other mountains worth exploring. The park covers over 5000 acres and is a hit with hikers. So, bring your hiking boots and explore the 16 hiking trails that offer fantastic views.

Folks who want to reach the peaks of Crowders Mountain can choose between The Pinnacle and Crowders Mountain. There are also spots to sit down, enjoy a picnic, and marvel at the amazing scenery away from busy city life.

Town of Elkin

A day trip to the Town of Elkin beckons all who are up for an adventure. This is a hub of microbreweries where you can enjoy all sorts of craft beers. Elkin is also a hit, with food available at the breweries and pubs.

Apart from craft beers, you can tour Elkin. Head to Elkin Municipal Park, where there’s a public swimming pool. It’s also a great place to let the kids run around on the playground as you catch up on some tennis.

The Foothills Art Center is a fantastic place to visit while in Elkin. Then, you can finish the day with a visit to Yadkin Wine Valley.

Town of Mooresville

North Carolina has numerous towns that are so fun to explore on a day trip. Another great place to tour on a day visit from Charlotte is the Town of Mooresville.

Fans of racing will have the time of their lives since Mooresville is a well-known racing hub. There are NASCAR team shops, such as Kyle Busch Motorsport and JR Motorsports.

There are also plenty of other things to do when you get to Mooresville. For example, you can participate in seasonal fruits and veggie picking at Carrigan Farms. It’s a fun place for kids during a day trip.

City of Statesville

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The Piedmont Triad region is a hit with visitors who tour North Carolina. Suppose you want a day trip from Charlotte, head over to the City of Statesville in Iredell County. You’ll be on the road for 50 minutes and spend the day having loads of fun.

Statesville is a great place to be if you want a ride on a hot air balloon. It’s home to Balloon Works, which Tracey Barnes set up in 1969. It’s where the annual Carolina Balloonfest takes place, attracting many people.

After the hot air balloon ride, head to Fort Dobbs for an epic tour. It was once a military headquarters and now welcomes visitors. Learn all about the French and Indian War of 1760, and enjoy guided tours at a small fee.

High Point NC

The City of High Point is another great treat if you want a day trip from Charlotte. It’s located in the Piedmont Triad Region and is the smallest of the 3 cities in the area.

High Point is also known as the Home Furnishings Capital of the World. It’s an amazing place to visit if you love everything to do with fabulous home furnishings. And it hosts the largest home furnishings trade show in the world.

Apart from that, there are many other wonderful things to do in High Point. Check out the World’s Largest Chest of Drawers, High Point Museum, All-A-Flutter Butterfly Farm, and High Point City Lake Park. There’s something for everyone on this amazing day trip.

Lake Norman

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Imagine how excited the kids will get when they get to spend the day at a huge lake! If this sounds like fun, then drive to Lake Norman from Charlotte.

Lake Norman is a hit with locals and visitors looking to have a great time. It’s a massive man-made lake that has over 500 miles of shoreline. Visitors can have loads of fun swimming, paddle boarding, kayaking, and even riding on pedal boats.

And, the best part is you can pack a picnic or have a meal at the numerous restaurants in the area. Lake Normal is part of Lake Norman State Park and was formed in 1962.

Wise Acres Organic Farm

Does picking strawberries sound like fun for the whole family? If so, drive from Charlotte to the Wise Acres Organic Farm.

The organic farm opens its doors to visitors touring the area. There are strawberries and other USDA organic-certified seasonal produce. You can have a meal with the family and take a wagon ride through the woods.

There’s no shortage of fun activities at the Wise Acres Organic Farm. Kids will love riding on the barrel train and meeting the different animals at the farm. You can also take part in climbing, ziplining, and riding.

Latta Nature Centre & Preserve

A day trip to Huntersville isn’t complete without touring Latta Nature Center & Preserve. All you have to do is drive to Mecklenburg County with friends and family.

The Latta Nature Center & Preserve covers 1460 acres of land. Here, you can be part of informative educational tours and programs. It’s the largest reserve in this area and goes to Mountain Island Lake.

Spend the day at the reserve from 10 am to 5 pm every week. There’s road and boat access for visitors, which is a handicap-accessible reserve.

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden

Botanical gardens are amazing places to visit when you arrive in a new city or town. If you want an enjoyable day trip from Charlotte, spend time at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden.

Nature lovers or folks who want to tour a calming place will enjoy this botanical garden. It’s 30 minutes from Charlotte and has so much diverse flora. Visitors also get to enjoy gorgeous fountains while walking around.

The best part of visiting the botanical garden is you can do so during all seasons. This place remains open all year, even when other outdoor spots close during winter. Christmas is an especially magical time when the garden has lights and decorations.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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Visiting a national park is always a fabulous idea for a day trip. Therefore, plan to drive to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park from Charlotte.

Outdoor lovers will find this national park so thrilling during a day visit. Start at the Sugarland Visitor Center to get more information about the lay of the land. Then, you can check out the Newfound Gap, a space between the mountain ridges.

There’s a 6-mile-long nature trail that’s easy to follow while hiking at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Don’t miss the alluring Cades Cove and Clingmans Dome. To top off the trip, catch a glimpse of the beautiful Grotto Falls Trail.


If you’re looking for a place with numerous things to do during a day trip, check out Winston-Salem. This is part of the Piedmont Triad that’s a favorite for outdoor fun. And there’s so much history that the whole family will enjoy learning during the trip.

This is the place to be if you want to discover the food and drink culture in North Carolina. So, be ready to partake in lots of delicious goodies. There are multiple breweries in Winston-Salem with amazing drinks and food on offer.

In addition, your kids also have a chance to make memories in this fantastic place. Ensure you pass by the Kaleideum Locations.

Lake Lure

Have the best time of your life when you take a day trip to Lake Lure. There are many different attractions and things to do for everyone.

Start your day trip by visiting the beautiful secret garden at Lake Lure. This is the fabulous Flowering Bridge, complete with a welcome center. There’s free parking for folks who want to spend time exploring this magnificent secret garden.

Other amazing activities at Lake Lure include Picnicking at Morse Park, boating in the lake (rent a motorized boat), and relaxing at the beach. Lake Lure is welcoming and a hit with visitors and locals around the Charlotte area.

Belmont City

You can enjoy so many exciting day trips from Charlotte, so get ready! Belmont City beckons the avid traveler seeking fun and adventure.

The City of Belmont is not too far from Charlotte and has much to see. Starting off, you can visit the Kevin Loftin Riverfront Park, situated along the Catawba River. It’s a fantastic family-friendly spot for picnics, swimming, and kayaking.

After that, head to the Millican Pictorial History Museum. This amazing place has hundreds of restored historical images on display. You can also have tons of fun at the Hunted Mill & Escape Room in a 115-year-old former mill.

Chimney Rock State Park

Are you searching for a place to enjoy breathtaking panoramic views outdoors? A drive to Chimney Rock State Park will make for an enjoyable day trip from Charlotte.

Chimney Rock State Park is a beautiful North Carolina icon worth the visit. It’s situated in Rutherford County and covers over 8000 acres of forest. Once you arrive, get your hiking shoes and scale the 315-foot-tall Chimney Rock.

There are also the lovely Hickory Nut Falls and fantastic hiking trails. The state park is also home to an animal den with different animals like Opossum, snapping turtles, and a king snake. Check out the gift shop and take home some souvenirs as memories of the day trip to Chimney Rock State Park.

Downtown Salisbury

Salisbury, in North Carolina, sees thousands of visitors each year. One of the best places to visit is Downtown Salisbury, a hub of activities.

First, begin your day trip with a visit to Bell Tower Green Park. Here, you can take in the sights and sounds of nature and catch a show at the amphitheater. Second, head to the Doctor Josephus Hall House, built in 1820.

Other fun places in Salisbury include Talia Farms, where you can pick blueberries. There are also Blue Water Pools that are a hit during the hot months in summer. The Millbridge Speedway is a hit with folks who want an adrenaline rush.

Morrow Mountain State Park

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If you’re up for a drive from Charlotte, head to Morrow Mountain State Park. It’s a fantastic spot for family and friends to chill and have a fun experience. And the best part is you can drive as you make your way to Morrow Mountain.

Catch a glimpse of spectacular views while driving or hiking at Morrow Mountain State Park. There’s the Fall Mountain trail or Mountain Loop trail that you can take. After the short hikes, go on an adventure and see what the state park offers.

Most people stick to tourist spots, so a day trip to Morrow Mountain is tranquil. The park is spacious and inviting to all adventure seekers.

In Conclusion

This list of unique day trips is just a starting point for the numerous adventures you can take in a day from Charlotte, you only need to be a little creative and you can have a whole lot of fun!