Tis the season for the holidays and time away from work to spend with family, friends, and loved ones. If you are like me, the holidays means a perfect time for a quick getaway or two. I love exploring new places without having to travel too far. Below are some quick getaway places to explore, no more than 4 hours away from Charlotte. I hope you get to explore this holiday season.
Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, which is a little more than 4 hours away, is the one of the country’s most visited national parks. The long, thin park stretches along the top of a section of the Blue Ridge Mountains and overlooks the Shenandoah Valley. The Virginia national park’s key attraction is the 105-mile long Skyline Drive that stretches across the top of the park and is full of incredible vistas overlooking the surrounding area. It is known for its hiking, wildlife, waterfalls and camping. If you are not as adventurous as some you can stay in the nearby town of Charlottesville. The park is also about 75 miles from Washington DC.
Charleston, SC, which is about 3 hours away, is one of the country’s most renowned cities, and the historical district is full of some of the most iconic examples of 17th and 18th-century buildings. The center of Charleston, known as the Peninsular, is entirely walkable. Being able to ditch the car for the day is a truly liberating feeling as you explore the streets of this endearing city. Charleston is known for its museums. The Charleston Museum is the oldest in the entire country and has incredible exhibits detailing everything you need to know about the South Carolina city. Charleston is also known for it contemporary art scene, independent shops, boutiques, restaurants, and beautiful beaches.
Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee, which is located a little more than 2 hours away, spreads itself across a large area of the Tennessee, occasionally overspilling into North Carolina. The forest covers sections of the Blue Ridge Mountains and borders Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There is plenty to do within the forest, with fast-flowing rivers perfect for thrill-seekers looking to hurtle down them white-water rafting. In contrast, the calm water of the forest’s lakes is perfect for boating and windsurfing. They are known for their walking trails, array of wildlife, fast-flowing rivers, and the Appalachian Trail.
Asheville, NC, which is a short 2 hour drive away, is situated in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The city is known for its creative arts scene, with plenty of galleries that house works by some of the world’s most famous artists, such as Renoir and local artists, such as Joseph Anthony Pearson located in the Pink Dog – River Arts District. They are also known for their waterfall hikes, museums, streets filled with sounds of music, street performers, outdoor activities like whitewater rafting, and amazing restaurants and cuisine. The biggest attraction known to Asheville, of course, is The Biltmore Estate, which is the largest home in the United States.
Nantahala National Forest, which is located 3 hours away, is the largest national forest in North Carolina and it covers the mountainous region in the state’s southwestern regions. Nantahala is characterized by ancient old-growth forest areas and a deep gorge, which the sun struggles to penetrate apart from a fleeting moment when it is at its highest in the sky. The park is famed for its remarkable whitewater rafting opportunities, with the Nantahala River rapidly coursing through the forest. Along with rafting, over 600 miles of trails weave their way through the forest and are perfect for keen hikers or cyclists to explore. There are some incredible waterfalls throughout the North Carolina forest, as tributaries cascade down the mountains towards the Nantahala River. There is the option to camp within the park itself, or you can find accommodation either in a North Carolina town close by or across the state border in Tennessee.