Let’s take a look at some of our states’ top destinations.
Thinking of a new place to visit? The flowers are blooming, the weather is warming up, with Memorial Day celebrations and longer summer days, it is the best time to take a trip from the Raleigh-Durham area! One thing that makes our area so amazing is that we have so many beautiful cities nearby that are well worth the time to visit. Starting in May, Yadkin Valley Wine Festival will be taking place, which makes for a wonderful road trip opportunity! You can also start your one day spring vacation by visiting the nearby towns of Wilmington and Charlotte. What are some fun things to do in these captivating cities? You’re in the right place to find out!
In Yadkin Valley, May is Wine Festival Month, and you are invited to take part in the festivities. In fact, there are two separate festivals taking place on the first and third Saturday of the month. The Budbreak Wine and Craft Beer Festival takes place first, on the first Saturday of May. Next is the highly anticipated Yadkin Valley Wine Festival! The festival has brought together some of North Carolina’s most renowned wineries for two decades to celebrate the first wine region in the state and its continued growth.
A tasting ticket allows patrons to taste wines from about 20 participating wineries all at once. Various food trucks and vendors will also be providing a variety of foods, from festival favorites to gourmet fare. Let’s not forget to mention the event’s signature feature: the afternoon grape stomp, where more than 100 pounds of grapes are crushed. Those who purchase wine at this event can take advantage of the wine check service and avoid carrying the bottles around. Upon leaving, purchases are taken to a tent near the exit and held for pick-up by patrons. A wonderful day trip idea, in our opinion!
Our favorite Yadkin Winery, without a doubt is Raffaldini Winery. It’s likely due to its romantic Mediterranean architecture and rolling hills and views of vineyards, and of the and of course, amazing wine!
Our next stop is Wilmington and one of the best beach cities in North Carolina. To get here is only a short 2-hour drive from Raleigh and there and there are so many exciting things to do in this coastal historic town. You can take part in the Half-Day E-Bike Tour of History, Haunts and Breweries which is a fun activity that allows you to explore the downtown scene. The bike tour will give you an opportunity to discover some of Wilmington’s historical landmarks, haunts, and breweries. Since this is a popular event, booking your tickets in advance is recommended. Tickets start at $85 per person and is a great activity for couples to enjoy together. While downtown, don’t forget to tour or check out the North Carolina Battleship.
Want to explore the souths most iconic garden and get lost in the ancient (albeit) gorgeous oak trees dripping with Spanish moss? Then you must see Airlie Gardens. A tried and true event destination for Wilmingtonians, this iconic garden can be explored any time of the year. In October it hosts its famous ‘Oyster Roast’ while in November & December, it is flooded with guests to view all of the holiday lights and decorations during its annual ‘Enchanted Airlie’ Exhibition.
More interested in an art museum? The Cameron Art Museum surely won’t disappoint. Check out their exhibition, event & workshop schedule here. It’s likely you’ll find something that itches the curiosity of all family members, no matter their age!
Want to hit the beach? Topsail, Wrightsville, Carolina & Kure (pronounced Kur-ee not like ‘cure’) are all top beach goers destinations! If you are an adventurous beach goer type and want to drive your all-terrain vehicle actually ON the beach, you can definitely check out Freeman Park on the most northern tip of Carolina Beach or Fort Fisher Park on the most southern tip of Kure Beach. Both of these 4-wheeled attractions are on the same island, known as Pleasure Island that offers a lot of family fun activities including the Boardwalk and NC Aquarium.
Lastly, the city of Charlotte is a great place to stop for a quick day trip only 2.5 hour car ride or 3 hour train ride from Raleigh. With its beautiful green spaces, a variety of museums, tours, free attractions, parks, and restaurants, Charlotte is a fun city to visit all year long. Take a tour of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the oldest art museum in North Carolina, and watch a theater performance at the Mint Museum, North Carolina’s oldest art museum. If you are traveling with kids, ImaginOn is one of the best things to do in Charlotte, NC. There are also several nearby waterfalls and beaches to explore with the entire family.
A museum and archive dedicated to the history and heritage of NASCAR, the NASCAR Hall of Fame can be found in Uptown Charlotte. It is one of the top attractions in the city, boasting an impressive 150,000 square feet of interactive exhibits, informative displays, and hands-on displays about automobiles, races, and fans.
The Mint Museum is one of the most important cultural institutions in Charlotte, an internationally-recognized museum with one of the most comprehensive collections of art in the world. With over 200 years of history, the Mint Museum is one of the oldest and most significant art museum’s in North Carolina. It presents a wide range of exhibitions of international caliber, and it houses the largest collection of works in the city. The two museums are located in uptown and downtown Raleigh.
The Mint Museum has two buildings to explore. A fascinating collection of European and African art, ancient American art, ceramics and decorative arts, and fashion is on display at the Mint Museum Randolph, located in the original branch of the United States Mint. The Mint Museum Uptown showcases outstanding American, European, and contemporary art as well as international craft and design exhibitions. Throughout the year, the Mint Museum offers guided tours of its permanent collections in both buildings and special exhibits and presentations. If you are traveling with children, this is another great place to bring them!
In a beautiful garden modeled after the Cross of Lorraine and dotted with perpendicular paths that cross a central path, one will find a wealth of ornamental trees, shrubs, and flowers, as well as a fountain, sculptures, and a beautifully preserved English sundial that dates back to 1705. The garden is also ornamented with a poem written by Japanese peace activist Toyohiko Kagawa, as well as a statue dedicated to Saint Fiacre, the patron saint of gardeners. Here’s another amazing place to visit if you’re looking for fun things to do in Charlotte with kids: Wing Haven Gardens and Bird Sanctuary.
The U.S. National Whitewater Center is the Olympic training facility encompassing over 1,300 acres, 50 miles of trails and over 30 outdoor activities is what makes this regional attraction to have thousands of visitors each month. Activities including whitewater rafting, ziplines, kayaking, bike trails, team building courses, music festivities, restaurants and dinning are just a few things to do there and what make the U.S. National White Water Center a perfect destination for a fun filled day trip.
We hope this guide encourages you to enjoy a well-deserved day trip this spring and explore everything our great state has to offer!