5 one-tank road trips from Charlotte, North Carolina

Use this guide for inspiration for your next locally-based road trip from the Queen City—without needing to stop for gas

Photo: Nolichuckyjake / Shutterstock.com

Between high gas prices, limited vacation days, and chaotic air travel, taking a local road trip is more appealing than ever this summer. These five destinations are all within 300 miles (round-trip) of Charlotte, North Carolina, making them ideal for quick getaways. Spend less time at the pump and more time enjoying the road. 

If you’re in an electric vehicle, we’ve noted whether you can expect to find chargers along each route as well.

1. Highlands-Cashiers, North Carolina

Total mileage: 300 miles

Come for the cool mountain air, stay for the quaint towns and outdoor recreation. The Highlands-Cashiers Plateau is located in the southern Appalachians and its communities—including Highlands, Cashiers, Lake Sapphire, and Lake Toxaway—offer unique lodging, scenic drives, and secluded hikes. 

Don’t miss: Hike in the Nantahala National Forest and Gorges State Park, eat breakfast at ​​Blue Bike Cafe, enjoy lunch at Cornucopia, and try the BBQ at Highlands Smokehouse

Stay: Overnight at Skyline Lodge or camp at Highlands Hidden Creek

Charge: There are minimal charging station options in the Highlands-Cashiers area; you’ll find some options along your route from Charlotte, so recharge before you get off Interstate 26. 

Related Black bears, waterfalls, and pastrami: 14 stops on a Highlands-Cashiers Plateau road trip


2. Asheville, North Carolina

Total mileage: 260 miles 

Located just over 2 hours from central Charlotte, Asheville is the largest city in Western North Carolina. It offers a mix of urban conveniences and outdoor recreation thanks to its location along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Take a scenic drive, visit the iconic Biltmore Estate, or explore the city’s dining scene. 

Don’t miss: Hike in the Pisgah National Forest, tour the River Arts District, visit the North Carolina Arboretum, and have a beer at Wicked Weed Brewing

Stay: Glamp at Asheville Glamping or overnight at The Foundry Hotel Asheville.

Charge: There are more than 240 EV charging stations in the Asheville area and options for charging along the route to and from Charlotte. 


3. Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Total mileage: 280 miles

Part of the area known as “The Research Triangle,” Chapel Hill is located near Durham, and the state capital, Raleigh. It might be most well-known as the location of the University of North Carolina’s main campus, but there’s more to do here than study. Carborro is located just down the road and offers plenty more dining and drinking options as well. 

Don’t miss: Stroll along Franklin Street, visit the North Carolina Botanical Garden, attend a home football game, and have New York-style breakfast at Brandwein’s Bagels.

Stay: Overnight at the Graduate Chapel Hill or The Carolina Inn.

Charge: There are a handful of free, public charging stations around Chapel Hill as well as options along the route. 


4. Blowing Rock, North Carolina

Total mileage: 190 miles

Located in the state’s High Country, Blowing Rock sits along the Blue Ridge Parkway and is worth a visit any time of the year. You’ll want to extend your stay with a bustling Main Street and plenty of hiking opportunities in the surrounding parks and national forest. Nearby you’ll find the college town of Boone and Grandfather Mountain State Park

Don’t miss: Visit Blowing Rock Art & History Museum, tour Flat Top Manor at Moses Cone Memorial Park, take a photo at the town’s namesake cliff, and eat breakfast at Sunny Rock

Stay: Overnight at the Chetola Resort or the Blowing Rock Ale House & Inn; camp at Julian Price Memorial Park Campground.

Charge: Some of Blowing Rock’s accommodations offer charging stations, and there are chargers at the halfway point of this route.

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5. Mount Airy, North Carolina

Total mileage: 200 miles

Best known as Andy Griffth’s hometown and the inspiration for the town of Mayberry in The Andy Griffith Show, Mount Airy is located less than a 2-hour’s drive from Charlotte. Fans of the hit 1960s show will recognize plenty of landmarks in town. Mount Airy is the perfect home base, near the Virginia-North Carolina border, to visit two popular state parks in the northern part of the state—Pilot Mountain and Hanging Rock—and tour Yadkin Valley wine country. 

Don’t miss: Climb Pilot Mountain, hike Hanging Rock Trail, visit the Andy Griffith Museum, eat lunch at Snappy Lunch, and eat and drink at Old North State Winery.  

Stay: Sleep in a cabin at Round Peak Vineyards or rent Andy Griffith’s childhood home, Andy’s Homeplace; nightly rates are available through the Mount Airy Hampton Inn by calling 336-789-5999.

Charge: You’ll find charging station options in the Mount Airy area, including Tesla Superchargers and chargers at Pilot Mountain State Park Visitor Center.

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