Whether you've got a three-day weekend coming up that you want to take advantage of or you're looking for a getaway from Charlotte, we have some suggestions to make the most of your weekend trip.
A town named Lake Lure should offer a lot to draw visitors in, and it does. Drive 1.5 hours, 92 miles west of Charlotte, to reach this quiet North Carolina hamlet famous for its role in the 1987 movie “Dirty Dancing.” Nestled in the center of Hickory Nut Gorge, the community features an island for family beach fun, wooded hills for hiking enthusiasts, and lake access for activities including fishing, boating, and swimming. Rent a kayak, boat, or canoe at Washburn Marina, or take a tour with Lake Lure Tours to see the area. Duffers tee off at the scenic Lake Lure Municipal Golf Course, or at Bald Mountain and Apple Valley, two private courses. End your weekend getaway with a relaxing brunch at the Veranda Restaurant in the historic Lake Lure Inn.
Boone gives you another great getaway that’s not far away. It’s just a 1.75-hour drive 95 miles northwest of Charlotte to the High Country and home of Appalachian State University. Before checking into your vacation rental, stop at Dan’l Boone Inn, the town’s oldest restaurant. The family-style dining, country ham, biscuits, and sweet tea have been putting smiles on visitors’ faces for generations. During your stay, see the historic outdoor drama, Horn in the West, which recounts a story about Daniel Boone and the Battle of King’s Mountain during the American Revolution. Satisfy your spirit of adventure at Sky Valley Zip Tours, featuring Whistle Pig Adventure Park, where children from four years old enjoy zip line fun. For a different adventure, try gem mining at Foggy Mountain Gem Mine, where visitors of all ages sift through buckets of soil and find real gems.
Banner Elk, another High Country getaway, is a perfect location for year-round fun. Sandwiched between two ski resorts, Beech Mountain and Sugar Mountain, the community offers plenty of winter outdoor activities. If water sports attract your family, check out the beach and pier in town at Wildcat Lake. Drive 117-miles northwest from Charlotte and arrive at this peaceful North Carolina town in about 2.25 hours. For a taste of life during the 1860s, visit the Banner House Museum. Numerous restaurants satisfy various culinary tastes, from the Mexican dishes, homemade salsas, and vegan options at Puerto Nuevo Restaurant, to classic Southern comfort foods at The Pedalin’ Pig BBQ.
Further west of Brevard lies Cherokee, which is part of the ancestral homeland of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The Oconaluftee Indian Village shows you how the Cherokee lived in the 1760s. From Charlotte, drive three hours west, about 165 miles, to the southern entrance of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Before entering the park for fly fishing or hiking, have a hearty breakfast at Peter’s Pancakes. Shops are plentiful, including Medicine Man Craft Shop, featuring handmade Cherokee pottery and baskets. Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, the state’s only full-scale casino, is the sole place on the Cherokee reservation that sells alcoholic beverages.
An epicenter for street performers, musicians, and artists, Asheville is known as the “San Francisco of the South.” Stroll downtown to rummage through art galleries, organic food stores, and boutiques where the vibe is laid-back and friendly. The restaurant scene features dozens of cuisines that you can sample when you join one of the guided food tours. There are lots of breweries that are within walking distance of each other in the downtown area, or take the Brews Cruise to check out some of the breweries located outside the town limits. One of the fun attractions is pub-cycle. Hop on with like-minded visitors to pedal around town for beer. Unwind in a hot tub at Shoji spa, relax in silence in a salt cave, or sign up for the pampering of your choice at any of Asheville’s spas.