Last Updated on August 14, 2023 by Kristin
North Carolina’s capital of Raleigh may offer the perfect mix of city living and natural landscapes, combining cosmopolitan cocktail bars and fine dining spots with sprawling parks featuring biking trails and lakes. Raleigh and its neighbors Chapel Hill and Durham make up a metropolitan region known as the Research Triangle, thanks to the prestigious universities located there. But if you’re looking for an adventure a bit further away, Raleigh is a few hours’ drive from some stunning cities, beaches and national parks. Here are the best road trips from Raleigh.
77 miles/1 hr. 20 min.
The charming town of Greensboro are packed with history and make for a perfect weekend trip from Raleigh. Known for its lively downtown district, Greensboro boasts an eclectic mix of restaurants and cultural attractions like the International Civil Rights Center & Museum. About a half hour further west lies Winston-Salem, a charming city that combines stunning street art with important historic districts. >> Recommended hotels in Greensboro
129 miles/2 hrs.
North Carolina has some of the nicest beaches on the East Coast, and a trip down to Wilmington is the quickest way to enjoy sand and sun from Raleigh. Explore Wilmington’s historic downtown by taking a stroll down its Riverwalk path. Want to head straight for the sand and sun? Drive 10 minutes to the barrier island of Wrightsville Beach or about 20 minutes south to Carolina Beach’s infamous boardwalk.
170 miles/2 hr. 30 mins.
Head north on I-95 to explore one of America’s oldest cities: Richmond, Virginia. Along with historical monuments and sites, Richmond has a lively arts and music scene. Check out the Victorian-era Maymont estate and Edgar Allan Poe museum for a healthy dose of history. Then, explore Richmond’s extensive selection of craft breweries, buzzy fine-dining restaurants, and outdoor attractions like the riverfront Canal Walk.
193 miles/3 hr.
Craving a beach getaway off the beaten path? The Outer Banks, a chain of barrier islands featuring several small towns, is the place to visit. Perfect for nature lovers, the Outer Banks features a diverse mix of activities like kayaking and surfing. In addition — if you’re lucky — you might spot some of the wild horses that call the beaches of Corolla home. Your first stop will be Nags Head, a more populated part of the region with hotels, restaurants and outlets. For a more remote experience, head south to check out the Cape Hatteras lighthouse and drive onto the ferry to Ocracoke Island to lounge on its unspoiled beaches.
247 miles/3 hr. 45 mins.
Nestled in the lush Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville’s laid-back, artsy vibe makes it a favorite long-weekend trip from Raleigh. Asheville’s downtown is dotted with unique art galleries, Southern restaurants, craft breweries and a beloved pinball museum. A short drive away is the Blue Ridge Parkway, a scenic mountain road with hiking trails and overlook points to take in sweeping views of the green mountains. >> Recommended hotels in Asheville