Best Road Trips From Charlotte

Just outside Charlotte, there are many opportunities for outdoor adventure, including kayaking and canoeing on nearby Lake Norman. Its central location makes it a great jumping off point for exploring tons of East Coast destinations.

Top Road Trip Destinations From Charlotte

Sort by:
Our rankings are based only on editorial opinion, not any commercial consideration.
Times Square intersection in Midtown Manhattan, with yellow cab in foreground, and bright store fronts each side.

New York City

πŸš— 640 miles ⏱️ 10 hours

America's biggest city is a swirling mix of culture and industries that offers an electric experience for visitors of all ages. New York's entertainment scene is unparalleled, as are its shopping and dining opportunities.

There are many new places to discover on this drive, including Fancy Gap, Roanoke, Shenandoah National Park and Pennsylvania State Capitol Building in Harrisburg.

The United States Capitol building with the dome lit up at sunset

Washington DC

πŸš— 400 miles ⏱️ 6 hours, 10 minutes

Washington DC is full of history and outstanding museums. There's so much more to the nation's capital than the White House, National Mall, and Smithsonian; you can sample food from every part of the world and shop along cobblestone streets.

On the way to the capital, you can also visit Greensboro, make a detour to Raleigh and spend some time in Richmond.

Orlando, Florida, USA at Universal studios city walk with a view of the Lighthouse, entrance to Islands of Adventure.


πŸš— 630 miles ⏱️ 11 hours

Orlando is pretty much synonymous with theme parks; live out your childhood fantasies with your favorite Disney characters at the Magic Kingdom, see what it's like behind the scenes at Universal Studios.

This road trip is perfect for history lovers, as you will get to visit the historic cities of Charleston, Savannah, Jacksonville and beautiful St Augustine.

Huge guitars at Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee

πŸš— 460 miles ⏱️ 8 hours, 40 minutes

Nashville, known as β€œMusic City” is a music mecca and has tons of music history and memorabilia to explore. Get your honky-tonk on with a live show and learn about the greats of Country Music at the Country Music Hall of Fame.

This scenic drive is jam-packed with places to visit such as Asheville, Bryson City, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg, Dollywood in Pigeon Forge and Knoxville en route.

Horse drawn tourist cart travelling through streets of historical downtown area of Charleston


πŸš— 215 miles ⏱️ 3 hours, 30 minutes

Charleston's stunning beaches and Southern charm are an unbeatable combination. Where else can you take a horse-drawn carriage ride past historic Victorian homes in the morning and then stroll over to the beach?

On your way to Charleston, don't miss out on visiting Columbia, Congaree National Park, Lake Marion and the beautiful Santee State Park.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Sunrise Scene Gatlinburg TN Oconaluftee Valley

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

πŸš— 180 miles ⏱️ 3 hours, 10 minutes

Great Smoky Mountains is America's most visited national park, offering stunning biodiversity and breathtaking landscapes at every turn. From here, you can also visit Cherokee, the homeland of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

The beautiful places you can visit en route are the scenic Shunkawauken Falls, the impressive Biltmore Estate in Asheville and pretty Lake Junaluska.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, USA with a golden sunrise over calm Atlantic ocean beach with wooden pier.

Myrtle Beach

πŸš— 175 miles ⏱️ 3 hours, 30 minutes

Myrtle Beach has 60 miles of sandy beaches and turquoise waters. Unwind on the beach, stroll the boardwalk and top it all off with local seafood and some mouth-watering Carolina BBQ.

As you drive towards the Atlantic Ocean, you will get the opportunity to spend some time at Cheraw State Park and Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge.

The South Carolina State House in Columbia.


πŸš— 110 miles ⏱️ 1 hour, 50 minutes

Columbia's thriving art and live performance scene will surprise you. It's also got an amazing restaurant scene that extends well beyond its famous BBQ and tons of local breweries.

You can extend this road trip to visit Glencairn Garden in Rock Hill and Landsford Canal State Park, both short detours, on the way.

Asheville, North Carolina skyline nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains.


πŸš— 120 miles ⏱️ 2 hours, 30 minutes

Mountain vibes meld with Southern Charm in Asheville, which is the perfect home base to explore Pisgah National Forest's mile-high peaks and cascading waterfalls. This mountain city is also a great gateway to the legendary Blue Ridge Parkway.

On your way to scenic Asheville, you can enjoy a lovely picnic by the shore of Lake Lure and explore Chimney Rock State Park.

Grandfather Mountain Appalachian Sunset Blue Ridge Parkway Western NC in the mountains of North Carolina

Boone and Blowing Rock

πŸš— 100 miles ⏱️ 2 hours

These Blue Ridge Mountain towns are surrounded by amazing outdoor adventure destinations, sitting on the legendary Blue Ridge Parkway. Rugged adventure lovers will revel in the hiking, biking, and river adventures to be had nearby.

This is a relatively short drive, so you can take some extra time to visit Adventure Landing Gastonia and Hickory Aviation Museum en route.

Knoxville, Tennessee, USA Downtown Skyline. Aerial shot during sunset.


πŸš— 230 miles ⏱️ 4 hours, 30 minutes

Knoxville's nature-loving-artsiness perfectly rounds out its historical offerings, and it is gaining a reputation as a foodie city. You will also find Pigeon Forge nearby, which is home to Dollywood's country music-themed amusement park.

One the way, we recommend spending some time in Asheville, exploring Cherokee National Forest, and letting your inner child out in Dollywood in Pigeon Forge.

Savannah, Georgia, USA at Forsyth Park.


πŸš— 270 miles ⏱️ 4 hours, 15 minutes

Savannah is a city of contrasts, in a good way. Here you can enjoy historic mansions and streets by day, eclectic shops and restaurants by night, and then escape for a day at the beach at Tybee Island.

A few of the amazing places you can visit as you drive to the coast are Columbia, Congaree National Park, Santee State Park and beautiful Lake Marion.

Atlanta, Georgia, USA with the city skyline in the background and reflections of midtown Atlanta in lake at Piedmont Park in the foreground taken at early evening sunset.


πŸš— 270 miles ⏱️ 4 hours, 40 minutes

One of the fastest growing cities in the country, Atlanta is creative and dynamic with its booming business scene, superb dining, and tons of cultural activities, historical attractions, sporting events, and nightlife fun.

There are many places you can visit on your way to Atlanta including Falls Park on the Reedy in Greenville and Georgia Museum of Art in Athens.

Fall colors over mountain slopes illuminated by sunrise light

Shenandoah National Park

πŸš— 300 miles ⏱️ 4 hours, 50 minutes

With over 500 miles of trails and excellent camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah National Park is a great place to unwind. It feels far from everything, but is only 30 minutes away from Charlottesville, home to the University of Virginia.

For a quirky sight, you can visit the World's Largest Chest of Drawers in High Point as you drive to the national park and make a stop at Greensboro for a meal.

White column-fronted official building with black and white marble foreground


πŸš— 290 miles ⏱️ 4 hours, 20 minutes

Richmond played an important role in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, and you can trace and tour 15 historic landmarks and then take a load off at one of the city's eclectic shops and restaurants.

En route, you can spend some time in Greensboro and Durham as well as make a detour to Raleigh and explore Pamplin Historical Park.

Raleigh, North Carolina, USA downtown as viewed from the Capitol Building grounds.


πŸš— 305 miles ⏱️ 5 hours

The capital of North Carolina, Raleigh, is an energetic, eclectic, and affordable city full of culture, history, and outdoor activities. Raleigh has several excellent museums, great food, and lots of opportunities for biking, hiking, canoeing, and more.

On the way to Raleigh, stop at Lake James State Park to paddle around the lake, fish, bike, or hike the forest amidst the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Vivid sunset over boats moored at Lake Norman, NC


πŸš— 35 miles ⏱️ 50 minutes

The quick drive through Huntersville is the perfect trip is perfect for a sunny afternoon. Nearby, Lake Norman is the largest man-made body of fresh water in North Carolina that is a mecca for water sports, fishing, and other recreational activities.

On your way, we recommend visiting the Carolina Raptor Center, where you can see and learn about majestic birds of prey.

Waterfall Bridge at Reynolda Gardens with beautiful lush trees and plants surrounding it


πŸš— 80 miles ⏱️ 1 hour, 20 minutes

Winston-Salem's unique history and eclectic arts and tech scene attract foodies, historians, and retirees from all over the country. The Blue Ridge Mountains are located just outside the city, so there are also tons of opportunities for hiking, biking, and adventuring.

If you have a little extra time, you can also visit Charlotte Motor Speedway and Lexington.

The Virginia Creeper Trail, the most popular bike route in the region. Abingdon, VA, USA


πŸš— 155 miles ⏱️ 3 hours, 10 minutes

Voted one of the β€œCoolest Small Towns in America,” Abington's historic dining and lodging offer a unique way to experience the town's rich past. The town is nestled in the Appalachian Mountains near the Appalachian Trail.

On the way, you can visit Hickory Aviation Museum, admire the views from Thunder Hill Overlook near Blowing Rock and hike in Cherokee National Forest.

Public Beach access on Kure Beach on North Carolina's Atlantic coast.


πŸš— 215 miles ⏱️ 3 hours, 40 minutes

Wilmington is a vibrant riverfront city that acts as the gateway to Cape Fear Coast beaches like Carolina Beach, which features a vintage boardwalk with all the trimmings, arcade games, mini golf, pizza, and ice cream all available along its white sand beaches.

If you have time, you can also check out Aw Shucks Farms and theNorth Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences at Whiteville en route.

Vivid orange sunset reflecting on the waters of Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia


πŸš— 230 miles ⏱️ 4 hours

Tucked in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Roanoke's downtown offers boutique shopping and dazzling local dining while the surrounding area is an outdoor playground. Nearby, Smith Mountain Lake is a quintessential mountain lake retreat.

You will find plenty of new places to discover en route such as Fancy Gap, Fort Chiswell Animal Park and Edith Bolling Wilson Birthplace Museum in Wytheville.

Bald River Falls, Tellico Plains, Cherokee National Forest. Appalachian Mountains, Tennessee

Douglas Lake

πŸš— 230 miles ⏱️ 4 hours, 20 minutes

Get lost in Cherokee National Forest amidst the legendary Great Smoky Mountains National Park and continue on to Douglas Lake to hike along the beautiful shoreline or get out on the water for adventure, fishing, or just to cruise around and soak in your surroundings.

En route, take some time to discover the beautiful Shunkawauken Falls, the scenic city of Asheville and Cherokee National Forest.

Close up of Kitty Hawk fishing pier found along North Carolina's Outer Banks

Outer Banks

πŸš— 380 miles ⏱️ 6 hours

The Outer Bank's enormous sand dunes give way to broad sandy beaches and the coastline is peppered with laid back beach towns primed for year-round fun and relaxation. The coast offers fun nightlife; and reaps excellent seafood.

If you have time, you can have a meal at Greensboro en route, explore Raleigh and admire the scenic backdrop of Bodie Island Lighthouse on the shore.

Stunning orange sunset over the lake near Cornelius, with boats docked in the distance


πŸš— 20 miles ⏱️ 25 minutes

If you are looking for a short day trip to a charming small town, you can visit Cornelius for a relaxing day at the lake or explore local shops. This charming town is a great escape just outside Charlotte.

If you have a little extra time, you can also visit Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park just as you enter Cornelius for a fun and adventurous day out.

Beautiful walkway lined with plants leading up to a building


πŸš— 15 miles ⏱️ 20 minutes

Another great town to visit for a day trip, pretty Belmont is nestled near Charlotte, and is home to a historic downtown, eateries, and riverside parks ideal for a quick getaway. You can also visit the beautiful Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden here.

This is a short drive and we recommend extending it to visit Iswa Nature Preserve just before crossing across Catawba River en route.

A white squirrel holding a nut in its mouth standing on autumn leaves on the floor


πŸš— 130 miles ⏱️ 2 hours, 15 minutes

Brevard is known for its scenic beauty, outdoor activities, and the annual White Squirrel Weekend, which celebrates the adorable and beautiful critters that also call this beautiful town home.

As you drive to Brevard, you can also visit the small town of Shelby, Shunkawauken Falls and Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site en route.

Longer road trips from Charlotte

Spectacular Niagara Falls between USA and Canada less than 2 hours' road trip from Toronto

πŸš— 740 miles ⏱️ 12 hours, 20 minutes

Niagara Falls is one place where you should go chasing waterfalls. Get up close to the falls and feel the spray and power of the water as it crashes down.

Streetcar in downtown New Orleans, USA at twilight

πŸš— 825 miles ⏱️ 13 hours, 45 minutes

New Orleans has fabulous and unique food; a vibrant jazz and blues scene; stunning architecture; and an incessant and insatiable festive atmosphere.

Beautiful sunset of Los Angeles downtown skyline and palm trees in foreground

πŸš— 2,420 miles ⏱️ 36 hours

While visiting Los Angeles, you can brush elbows with the stars; scream your heart out on world-class thrill rides; and kick back and relax on its beautiful beaches.