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Charlotte, NC is charming southern city with a metro-population of about 800,000. This puts the city at a ‘right in the middle’ size category. Residents have access to most city activities they can think of: a great food scene, arts, culture, and history. Thanks to the space and population,  Charlotte locals are also able to appreciate the calm speed of the mid sized city.  That being said, everyone needs to get out of town every now and then. A day trip from the city might be just the ticket for some nice time spent with Mother Nature. Within a couple hours of driving time, you have a number of natural North Carolina attractions to explore. Whether you live in Charlotte or you are visiting, consider these 10 ideas for day trips from Charlotte.

Crowders Mountain State Park

Crowders Mountain State Park is just 30 miles to the west of town. Several trails are available for hiking with varying degrees of difficulty. It’s a popular spot for thrill-seeking rock climbers, too. Those with dogs can enjoy many trails that are pet-friendly. If you are looking to experience the great outdoors overnight and get a real taste of this park, grab a rental or stay in the campground.

Drive time from Charlotte: 40 minutes

Asheville

The scenic drive from Charlotte to Asheville offers spectacular vista views as you wind up the mountain just over two hours away. Asheville is a thriving city known as a foodie town with lots of craft beer, but also has tons of hiking trails, wildlife and outdoor adventures. Heading to Asheville for the day or weekend serves as a great way to reset those mental batteries. Catch some live music, have a nice meal, and enjoy this hip NC town. All seasons are appropriate for a visit to this destination.

Drive time from Charlotte: 2 hours and 3o minutes

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Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens

About 20 miles outside of Charlotte to 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 & 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 in this magical place.

Drive time from Charlotte: 40 minutes

Boone

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. The 230-foot bridge lives up to its name as it stretches 80 feet long! Make sure to grab a bite at Coyote Kitchen for some delicious SW/Caribbean fusion, and don’t forget to order the Sedona Bowl.

Drive time from Charlotte: 2 hours

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Latta Plantation Nature Center and Preserve

Latta Plantation Nature Center and Preserve hosts over 16 miles of trails for outdoors lovers to enjoy. The park is very animal friendly as well, 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. It’s a family-friendly attraction with interactive exhibits and educational programs in the nature center. Hiking trails and picnic areas are scattered throughout 1,460 acres. The preserve itsself is free to visit, but we love recommending visitors to check out the very economical guided tour. Experiencing the charm that this preserve offers is a guaranteed great way to spend the day.

Drive time from Charlotte: 30 minutes

Blue Ridge Parkway

Known as ‘America’s Favorite Drive’, the Blue Ridge Parkway hosts magnificent views of gorgeous southern mountain landscapes along a drive that runs from Virginia to North Carolina. 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, so we love to suggest making a weekend road trip out of it! Make sure to check out Blue Ridge Music Center for a chance to ‘hear the mountains’.

Drive time from Charlotte: 1 hour and 45 minutes

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Reed Gold Mine

Take the family to Reed Gold Mine in Midland for a taste of the rich history in North Carolina. The mining town is about 30 miles from Charlotte. Check out guided tours, underground tunnels, panning for gold and exploring some of the over 800 acres fill an afternoon. This mine is said to be the first place gold was found in the U.S. We especially love recommending this activity as it is completely free! The gold mine welcomes visitors 5 days a week and is closed on all major holidays.

Drive time from Charlotte: 45 minutes

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Lake Lure

Lake Lure is in the Hickory Nut Gorge in the foothills of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. The mountain views, peaceful lake water and shoreline attract many visitors each year. This place is so peaceful that many visitors may find themselves wanting to stay longer! The location has many rentals available and can serve as an awesome weekend getaway destination.

Drive time from Charlotte: 1 hour and 45 minutes

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Morrow Mountain State Park

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. Tent, cabin and trailer camping is an option 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 a leash and picked up after.

Drive time from Charlotte: 1 hour and 20 minutes

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North Carolina is a special place

With such a diverse amount of exciting things to do near Charlotte, all you need to do is throw some gas in the car and get going!