Charlotte, North Carolina, has been called the "New York City" of the South with the hubbub to prove it.
Luckily, Charlotte's frenetic energy is only a few hours' drive from several mountain towns and attractions. Our five favorites include weekend getaways—never leaving the state—for every type of traveler.
For the Foodie: Asheville
Perhaps no mountain getaway is more stomach-satisfying than Asheville. Just a short two-hour drive from Charlotte, and known primarily for George Vanderbilt’s historic Biltmore Estate—America’s largest home and a destination unto itself—Asheville has gained recent nods on the national stage for its thriving food scene.
Recent hyped-up spots include Cúrate and Tupelo Honey—the Southeast chain got its start here but now has a South End Charlotte location you can try, too—but don’t discount a good wander-around. You’ll avoid long waits and stumble upon some surprising cuisine, from lamb gyro tacos at White Duck to authentic Korean fare at Stone Bowl (1987 Hendersonville Rd., 828.676.2172). Stay in style at several impressive Biltmore quarters or the Omni Grove Park Inn.
For the Adventurous: Bryson City
With close proximity to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Bryson City is a solid pick for the adventurous type. Hike, tube, fly fish or horseback ride the day away here, or hop on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad for a daylong ride to and from the Nantahala Outdoor Center. No matter the mode of transportation, any trip to Bryson City would be incomplete without a visit to the NOC, a whitewater kayaking and rafting outfitter in the thick of the Nantahala National Forest.
Stay at the historic bank-turned-boutique Everett Hotel, built in 1908 and located amid the shops, cafes and breweries in the center of town. With nine recently renovated farmhouse-contemporary rooms, the hotel boasts rooftop mountain views and very close proximity to the Deep Creek trailhead.
Related Article: Bryson City: Travel Into the Great Smoky Mountains
For the Dreamer: Blowing Rock
A walkable downtown dotted with shops ranging from antiques to homemade fudge add to Blowing Rock’s romantic feel. Start the day with a hike around the nearby Moses H. Cone Memorial Park’s Bass Lake trail, complete with impressive wildlife and distant views of the park’s Gilded Age textile magnate’s country manor.
Stop by the town’s namesake and the state’s oldest attraction, The Blowing Rock, for breathtaking views and—as legend goes—one flirtatious Native American tale. After all that, you’ll want to treat yourself to a two-scoops cone at local mainstay Kilwin’s ice cream.
For the Imbiber: Banner Elk
Established in 2006, the Banner Elk Winery was the first commercial winery in the area and now serves up award-winning, European-style wines with panoramic mountain views. Family-run Grandfather Vineyard and Winery, which got its grape-growing start in 2003, offers several white and red options, plus a sweet muscadine Moscato and rosé. Relax with a red in an Adirondack along the Watauga River or picnic with a Pinot Gris.
Banner Elk’s charming, walkable downtown boasts Flat Top Brewing, which employs locally sourced hops and cold mountain spring water as key elements to brews named for local landmarks, such as the Hickory Nut Gap oatmeal porter and Ski Town stout.
For the High-climber: Chimney Rock
The impressive backdrop to "The Last of the Mohicans," this quaint town, just under two hours from the Queen City, lucked out with the unbeatable combination of mountains and lake. For postcard-worthy views, climb “the Rock,” for 75-mile-long views of Hickory Nut Gorge (sometimes you can see Charlotte!), a breathtaking expanse separating the beautiful Blue Ridge and Smoky mountains.
Grab a bite in the Chimney Rock Village and mingle with the inviting locals. When you’re ready to turn in, make your way to the rustic Esmerelda Inn & Restaurant, built in 1891—an impressive place to rest your head that has welcomed the likes of Clark Gable.