Charlotte, North Carolina, is a bustling city with plenty of things to see and do. But sometimes, you just need to get away from it all and reconnect with nature. Luckily, Charlotte is surrounded by some of the most beautiful natural areas in the state. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful hike or a thrilling adventure, we’ve selected the best day trips from Charlotte vacation rentals that will put you in the great outdoors.

Where to Enjoy the Outdoors Near Charlotte

Within a couple hours of driving time, you have a number of natural attractions to explore. Whether you live in the city or are just visiting, consider these ideas that can easily turn into weekend getaways. With that in mind, we’ve added some nearby towns to explore or stay in if you want to extend your trip a night or two.

1. Crowders Mountain State Park

Driving Time from Charlotte: 40 minutes
The view from Crowders Mountain State Park.

Crowders Mountain State Park is just 30 miles to the west of Charlotte. Several trails are available for hiking with varying degrees of difficulty. It’s a popular spot for thrill-seeking rock climbers as well. Dog owners can enjoy plenty of pet-friendly trails. If you are looking to experience the great outdoors overnight and get a real taste of this park, grab a rental house in Gastonia, or stay in one of the many campgrounds in the area.

2. Asheville

Driving Time from Charlotte: 2.5 hours
An aerial shot of downtown Asheville.

The scenic drive from Charlotte to Asheville offers spectacular vista views as you wind up the mountain. Many people choose vacation rentals in Asheville as a way to experience this mountain town, famous for its food and craft scene. Of course, there are also plenty of hiking trails, wildlife, and outdoor adventures to experience. Heading to Asheville for the day or the weekend is a great way to reset those mental batteries. Catch some live music, have a nice meal, and enjoy the eclectic neighborhoods in this hip town. All seasons are appropriate for a visit.

3. Boone

Driving Time from Charlotte: 2 hours
Boone's Mile High Swinging Bridge on Grandfather Mountain.

Boone is located about 120 miles from Charlotte. It’s loaded with outdoor recreation opportunities like zip-lining, river tubing, and trail hiking. If you dare, walk across the Mile High Swinging Bridge on Grandfather Mountain. The 228-foot bridge lives up to its name as it stretches across an 80-foot chasm at more than one mile of elevation! Make sure to grab a bite at Coyote Kitchen for some delicious Southwest and Caribbean fusion, and don’t forget to order the Sedona Bowl.

4. Latta Nature Preserve

Driving Time from Charlotte: 30 minutes
Nature found in the Latta-Nature Preserve.

The Latta Nature Preserve hosts over 16 miles of trails for outdoor lovers to enjoy. The park is also very animal friendly, so feel free to load Fido up for this trip!

Situated in Huntersville, which is just north of Charlotte, folks can take a quick drive to this awesome location. The nature center is a family-friendly attraction with interactive exhibits and educational programs. Hiking trails and picnic areas are scattered across 1,460 acres. The preserve is free to visit, but we love recommending visitors check out the guided tour.

5. Blue Ridge Parkway

Driving Time from Charlotte: 1 hour and 45 minutes
The Blue Ridge Parkway at sunset.

Known as “America’s Favorite Drive,” the Blue Ridge Parkway hosts magnificent views of gorgeous southern mountain landscapes along a drive that runs from North Carolina to Virginia. Lookouts and observation decks are great for photo ops where you can see for miles and miles. Stop for a picnic, and breathe in fresh mountain air. We love recommending this activity as a day trip for folks who are looking for an adventure.

As a day trip, we know it may be hard to cover all 469 miles of this beautiful stretch of roadway, so we also love to suggest making a weekend road trip out of it! If that’s more your speed, we recommend checking out rentals in Roanoke. And while you’re at it, make sure to check out the Blue Ridge Music Center for a chance to hear the mountains.

6. Reed Gold Mine

Driving Time from Charlotte: 45 minutes
Gold found in the Reed Gold Mine.

Take the family to Reed Gold Mine in Midland for a taste of the rich history of North Carolina. The mining town is about 30 miles from Charlotte, and is said to be the first place gold was found in the U.S. Though we don’t attribute it to this today, North Carolina at one point led the nation in gold production until 1848, when it was outpaced by the great gold rush in California. Check out guided tours, underground tunnels, panning for gold, and the incredible history present here. The gold mine welcomes visitors five days a week and is closed on all major holidays.

7. Lake Lure

Driving Time from Charlotte: 2 hours
An aerial shot of Lake Lure.

Lake Lure is in the Hickory Nut Gorge in the foothills of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. The mountain views, fresh lake water, and meandering shoreline attract plenty of visitors each year. This place is so peaceful that those interested in Lake Lure rentals on the water may find themselves wanting to stay longer! This location usually has a nice range of rentals available with pools, hot tubs, and pet-friendly amenities. Consider a longer stay for an awesome weekend getaway.

8. Morrow Mountain State Park

Driving Time from Charlotte: 1 hour and 20 minutes
The stunning views found along Morrow Mountain.

Morrow Mountain State Park is in Albemarle about 50 miles from Charlotte. The park has 15 miles of hiking trails and 16 miles of horseback riding trails. Canoe and boat rentals are available to explore Lake Tillery only a 20-minute drive away. Tent, cabin, and trailer camping are all options for extending your day trip overnight. Also, feel free to bring your dog to this location as they are welcomed in the park! Just make sure they are kept on a leash and picked up after.

9. Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens

Driving Time from Charlotte: 40 minutes
Orchids at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens.

About 20 miles outside of Charlotte in Belmont, visitors can tour the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens. The lush gardens grow on 380 acres of land with a variety of seasonal blossoms. The gardens host numerous outdoor events throughout the year, such as jazz concerts, paint and sips, photography classes, Christmas specials, and even wedding packages. The gardens are open year round and feature a membership program for those who have been fully enchanted by this magical place.

10. Chimney Rock State Park

Driving Time from Charlotte: 2 hours
Hickory Nut Falls at Chimney Rock State Park, North Carolina.

Chimney Rock State Park is located about two hours from Charlotte and features some of the most breathtaking views in the state. The park is home to the 404-foot Hickory Nut Falls, one of the highest waterfalls east of the Mississippi, as well as several hiking trails and picnic areas. For travelers who enjoy outdoor adventures and breathtaking scenery, Chimney Rock State Park is an excellent choice for a mini vacation. The park is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains and features stunning views of Hickory Nut Gorge and Lake Lure. We don’t blame you if you visit Chimney Rock and want to stay longer. Luckily, there are plenty of Blue Ridge cabin rentals to turn your day trip into an overnighter — or longer!

Enjoy Your Great Escape Into Nature

If you’re looking for a break from the city and want to reconnect with nature, Charlotte has plenty of options for day trips that will take you to some of the most beautiful areas in the state. From hiking to swimming to simply taking in the breathtaking views, these destinations are sure to provide an unforgettable outdoor experience.