20 Picture-Perfect Day Trips in the Charlotte Region
No matter the time of year, in and around Charlotte adventure is ripe for the taking.
by Jamie Killian
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
This article is brought to you in partnership with Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden.
Day trips are a great way to change scenery any time of year, so bookmark these scenic locales for a getaway just outside of Charlotte.
Brave the 25-foot jump at The Quarry at Carrigan Farms in Mooresville. Mined in the late 1960s, this natural, spring-fed swimming hole is open to groups of any size that make an advanced reservation. Every swimmer must either wear a life jacket – more than 300 are available on-site – or pass a swimming test. Concessions are also available if you forget to pack a picnic.
Grab lunch and discover great wines at Lexington’s Childress Vineyards. Owned by NASCAR Hall of Famer, Richard Childress, the space boasts 72 acres of vineyards with daily tours and tastings. Make a reservation at the bistro to enjoy seasonal selections and wine flights.
Head north of Charlotte to Davidson and take in this quaint college town by grabbing a cup of coffee at Summit Coffee’s flagship location and touring the Davidson Sculpture Garden. Support local makers and pick up some unique gifts at The Village Store, or find a new read at Main Street Books. Finish your day with a walk along Main Street and a delicious dinner at Kindred.
Head west of Uptown to Crowders Mountain State Park for hiking and the solitude of nature. Pack a lunch to enjoy while taking in the view of the skyline from the summit. On your way back, stop at Veronét Vineyards & Winery to enjoy the sunset and sip a glass of sparkling wine.
Drive to Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina to try your hand at the school’s premier disc golf courses. The 18-hole Lake Course is ideal for beginners, while the Gold Course is one of the most challenging in the area. You’ll quickly see why the U.S. Disc Golf Championships are held on this 9,800-foot course every year. Grab your gear at Another Round in NoDa before hitting the course.
Take racing culture out for a spin at Trackhouse Motorplex in Mooresville. While rounding the 0.7-mile, 11-turn karting track, you’ll reach speeds of 55 mph for a high-adrenaline racing experience.
Belmont’s 380-acre plant paradise, Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, is about 20 miles from Uptown and provides the perfect way to enjoy a day outside. Visit the orchid conservatory to see unique exotic plants, grab the perfect social media-worthy photo op in the canal garden, or take a hike on the multiple trails that run through the property.
About an hour from Charlotte, you will find the four-story Hickory Furniture Mart. This is more than just a token of Hickory's industrial heritage – there are thousands of pieces on display and it’s a treasure trove for deal hunters and home designers. Shop top brands, then grab lunch at local favorite Café Gouda.
Escape to Huntersville and enjoy the scenic views at Latta Nature Preserve, a 1,460-acre property adjacent to Mountain Island Lake. This is a great escape for everyone, from hikers and boaters to picnickers and horseback riders. Stop by Quest nature center on your way in for environmental education, outdoor activities and the Carolina Raptor Center.
10. Lake Norman
Rent a boat from All Seasons Marina and spend the day in the water on Lake Norman. Wind down by sipping cocktails lakeside at Hello, Sailor then head to Eddie’s at Lake Norman for dinner on the all-weather patio.
Snag tickets for a Kannapolis Cannon Ballers game and be sure to get to Kannapolis early to check out all the city has to offer. Enjoy the splash pad, train ride and carousel at Village Park. Tour the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame then grab a beer at Old Armor Beer Company before heading to the game.
12. Reed Gold Mine
Pan for gold at Reed Gold Mine, the site of the first documented gold find in the U.S. Located in Midland, a 40-minute drive from Uptown, the site offers guided tours of underground tunnels, glimpses of historic mining equipment and 800 acres of grounds to explore.
Did you know that the world’s largest natural habitat zoo is just an hour and a half away from Charlotte? In Asheboro, the North Carolina Zoo is home to more than 1,700 animals and 52,000 plants. Stroll covered paths at a relaxed pace to take in each expansive enclosure, especially the one dedicated to Africa which takes about two hours to explore.
Pedal away the hours at South Carolina’s 250-acre Rock Hill BMX Playground. This Olympic-caliber BMX training facility, featuring amateur and elite supercross start hills and a pump track, is open to the general public. If you don’t want to brave the track yourself, mark your calendar for one of the BMX competitions held at this track.
Withdraw to the 11 wooded acres of Sacred Grove Retreat Center in Gold Hill, about an hour from Uptown. The secluded enclave encourages revitalization through meditation, yoga and more. Leisurely strolls through the butterfly garden, without your cell phone, are encouraged.
In the late 1700s, potters in Seagrove, a town 90 miles northeast of Charlotte, began molding North Carolina’s rich red clay into fashionable earthenware. Discover the craft’s roots at the North Carolina Pottery Center, then pick up a souvenir at one of the many local studios nearby. Many potters even allow guests to watch as they work.
Treat yourself to a getaway just a few miles away. At The Spa at Ballantyne, part of luxury hotel The Ballantyne, soothing lavender treatments, massages, facials and more offer unparalleled relaxation. Follow your spa session with dinner at Gallery Restaurant, which serves seasonally inspired contemporary American fare.
Pick your own produce at Wise Acres Organic Farm, Indian Trail’s seasonal strawberry and pumpkin patch. Reservations for picking must be made in advance.
In York, South Carolina, Windy Hill Orchard & Cider Mill is a veritable apple paradise. Enjoy apple picking, hard cider tastings, homemade doughnuts, live music and other seasonal events throughout the year.
Play the day away at Dan Nichols Park located in Salisbury. You can ride the carousel, go gem mining, play miniature golf, fish and visit the small aquarium.
Article originally written by Jamie Killian. Updates by Arielle Patterson in June 2023.