Fun-filled day trips from Raleigh don’t require long-distance travel: A stay at StateView Hotel puts you in easy reach of some of North Carolina’s most historic and interesting towns. Here’s a list of day trips from Raleigh that take three or fewer hours of driving time. If you’re staying in a room or suite at The StateView Hotel, add a fun-filled day trip to any of these North Carolina destinations to your itinerary.
Raleigh to Durham
Distance: 28 miles; 30-minute drive time
Home to Duke University, Durham is a fun little city rich in history, just outside of Raleigh. Tour re-made commercial hubs of the tobacco business that built the town, visit local distilleries, or spend a day in the woods. Durham has all the makings for a great day trip from Raleigh.
Things To Do:
American Tobacco Campus
Once one of the busiest industrial hubs in the United States, Durham’s tobacco factories built a wealthy economy for the city. When the industry fell out of favor, local investors preserved the historic factory building, remaking it into American Tobacco Campus, notable as the home of Durham Bulls Athletic Park. ATC is now filled with venues, retailers, and restaurants. The American Tobacco Campus is the perfect destination for a shop-and-nosh outing.
If you’re interested in getting outdoors in a unique setting, a hike in Duke Forest is a must during a day trip to Durham from Raleigh. Owned privately by Duke University and operated as an outdoor classroom and living laboratory, Duke Forest is open to the public in certain recreational areas, like Shepherd’s Nature Trail and other footpaths. Dogs on leashes are welcome on designated trails, too.
Durham Distillery produces delightful, locally distilled gins and vodkas. Take a self-guided or private tour or sign up for a special cocktail class at their Corpse Reviver Lounge. Or, sit back and relax as you sip their lovely Conniption Gin, liqueurs, or vodka.
Places To Eat:
Backyard BBQ Pit | 5122 NC-55
Traditional North Carolina pork barbecue is a big deal in Durham (well, everywhere in NC), and most people agree that Backyard BBQ Pit is the best place for the real deal. You’ll also find BBQ turkey and fried seafood on the menu as well as all the fixings, like collard greens, black-eyed peas, okra, corn, sweet potatoes, and mac ’n’ cheese.
Luna Rotisserie and Empanadas | 112 W Main St
If you’re looking for an amazing meal that is conscientiously sourced, give Luna Rotisserie and Empanadas a try. Enjoy South American favorites like Camote Chimichurri and Arepas, or American dishes with a South American twist like their Fish & Chips with yucca frites and jicama slaw. Luna’s offers slow-roasted rotisserie meat platters as well as vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options.
Dame’s Chicken & Waffles | 530 Foster St #130
Southern chicken and waffles don’t get any better than at Dame’s. Served in several mouthwatering varieties like Carolina Cockerel, The Orange Speckled Chabo, and The Frizzled Fowl, Dame’s chicken & waffle combos keep customers coming back for more. Dame’s also features salads and other sandwiches as well as craft beers, wine, and mimosa cocktails.
Raleigh to Chapel Hill
Distance: 29 miles; 35-minute drive time
Chapel Hill may be a small college town, but it packs some exciting attractions for a day trip. It’s home to the renowned University of North Carolina, the first public university in the nation and a hub of arts, culture, and innovation.
Things To Do:
North Carolina Botanical Garden
Located on the UNC campus, the North Carolina Botanical Garden is a conservation garden that is free and open to the public. The lush gardens are designed with plants and flowers native to the Southeast.
This eerie medieval castle is hidden by foliage on the University of North Carolina campus, at the end of Gimghoul Road. It can be a bit challenging to find, but it’s worth the drive to see it in person and offers great photo opportunities. The castle itself isn’t open to the public, but you can view it from the road and capture a unique image for your Instagram.
Ackland Art Museum
Housed on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, Ackland Art Museum offers free admission into the gallery and several museum tours that require reservations. The Ackland isn’t open on Mondays and Tuesdays, so be sure to plan your visit for another day of the week.
Places To Eat:
Sutton’s Drug Store | 159 E Franklin St
If you’re looking for an old-fashioned North Carolina drugstore experience with simple yet great food, try Sutton’s. You’ll feel like you stepped into the ’50s when you visit this local diner and grill that has been serving Chapel Hill patrons since 1923. Sutton’s Drug Store is known for its Oreo milkshake and juicy burgers.
411 West | 411 W Franklin St
411 West brings you classic Italian dishes with a Southern twist. Try their Bianco Pizzette, a white wood-fired pizza with mushrooms, garlic, spinach, mozzarella, and herbs, or their classic Pappardelle Bolognese.
Lantern | 423 W Franklin St
Gourmet magazine named this collaborative kitchen “one of America’s best farm-to-table restaurants.” Visit this charming local eatery for Southern fusion dishes like Salt + Pepper Shrimp with fried jalapeños, Pork & Chive Dumplings, and Crispy Wild North Carolina Catfish. Lantern is open for dinner only.
Raleigh to Asheboro
Distance: 77 miles; 1 hour, 30-minute drive time
Asheboro is another quaint little town and probably best known as home of the North Carolina Zoo—a fantastic day trip activity to enjoy.
Things To Do:
North Carolina Zoo
The North Carolina Zoo is a highlight in Asheboro and a fun day trip from Raleigh, especially as an activity to do with friends or family. The NC Zoo is the largest in North Carolina, and one of the most respected zoos in the nation. You’ll find many outdoor animal habitats to explore, including enclosures for African elephants, gorillas, and exotic birds. Find admission prices and FAQs on their website, and buy your tickets in advance.
Randleman Lake is a serene reservoir that makes for the perfect day out on the water. Rent a kayak or enjoy fishing off the pier. The reservoir is open Wednesdays through Sundays, although hours vary based on the month.
North Carolina Aviation Museum and Hall of Fame
A point of local interest, the North Carolina Aviation Museum and Hall of Fame offers a fascinating day trip from Raleigh for any pilot, air travel enthusiast, or NC history buff. Founded by local airmen, NCAM displays several military aircraft and memorabilia at the regional airport.
Places To Eat:
The Table | 139 S Church St
Open Tuesdays through Saturdays, The Table is a cool little restaurant staffed with chefs who create its menu using local ingredients available by season. The chic farmhouse ambiance mixed with their delightful coffee, breakfast, and lunch items is worth the trip to Asheboro alone!
Everything Under The Bun | 1512 Zoo Pkwy, Suite A
Calling all burger lovers! Everything Under The Bun centers their menu around the all-American classic burger, but this no-frills restaurant also offers a selection of meat-and-two-sides platters as well as homemade Southern desserts like lemon icebox and coconut meringue pies.
Something Different | 1512 Zoo Pkwy, Suites G–H
Asheboro’s culinary cultures come together under the roof of Something Different, a restaurant offering Greek, Italian, and American Northern and Southern fare in a friendly atmosphere. Enjoy kabobs or pork chops, Charleston-style crab cakes or St. Peter’s Fish with fettuccine alfredo. Whatever you choose from the menu, just make sure to save room for the dessert of the day.
Raleigh to Winston-Salem
Distance: 104 miles; 1-hour, 40-minute drive time
The fifth most populated city in North Carolina, Winston-Salem is home to universities and colleges and filled with history and unique shops.
Things To Do:
Historic Bethabara Park
Bethabara was the first European settlement in North Carolina Piedmont and now is home to a historical living museum. If you’re a history buff, you’ll love Bethabara Park! They offer guided tours where you’ll experience day-to-day life in the early Colonial times in North Carolina.
If you’re looking for a day trip from Raleigh filled with quaint shopping and snacking, check out Reynolda Village. Discover a variety of boutiques, galleries, local homegoods, fine art, and gifts. If you need a quick nosh, stop into Penny Path Café & Crêpe Shop for a fresh crêpe.
Old Salem Museum & Gardens
A particularly lovely day trip from Raleigh during spring or late fall, the Old Salem Museum & Gardens offer another glimpse into Colonial life in Winston-Salem. This state historic site features the preserved shops, homes, and churches of Moravian, Black, Indigenous, and other people of the South that tell their stories for future generations. Visit a Colonial pottery, gunsmithery, and woodworking shop or stop by the boys’ school or community meeting house. Tickets are required to enter some of the historic buildings, so be sure to check the website and plan your visit.
Places To Eat:
Mozelle’s | 878 W Fourth St
This little bistro has a knack for taking Southern staples and transforming them into culinary masterpieces, all while keeping a laid-back atmosphere. When you go to Mozelle’s, you must try their fried chicken, shrimp and grits, and Southern spring rolls.
Jeffrey Adams on Fourth | 321 W 4th St
Jeffrey Adams on Fourth is another restaurant that delivers farm-to-table dishes, and they won’t disappoint. Their lunch menu includes a variety of American classics, from signature steaks with add-ons to succulent shareables like pork roast nachos. Be sure to reserve a seat for a delightful dining experience.
The Katharine Brasserie & Bar | 401 N Main St
If you want your day trip to Winston-Salem from Raleigh to include a delectable French-inspired meal, make reservations at The Katharine Brasserie & Bar. In the famed RJ Reynolds building, The Katharine is named for the tobacco titan’s wife and preserves her elegance and bon vivant lifestyle. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, The Katharine offers French café-style succulent dishes, plats principaux, and apéritifs.
Raleigh to Fayetteville
Distance: 65 miles; 1-hour drive time
Fayetteville is rich in culture, history, and features so many fun shops and attractions. A day trip from Raleigh to Fayetteville is worth the ride.
Things To Do:
Downtown Fayetteville is colorful and overflowing with unique shops and entertainment to enjoy. One of our favorite boutiques is Downtown Market, which supplies fresh flowers, veggies, and art from local craftspeople
E.A. Poe House
Believe it or not, America has two notable E.A. Poes, and this one is not the famous writer (Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston and not affiliated with this family). The Poe family of Fayetteville founded the Poe Brick Company and contributed to the community and development of the region. Guided tours of the house are offered Tuesdays through Sundays at designated times.
Babe Ruth Historical Marker
There’s only one place in the world where Babe Ruth hit his first professional home run, and it’s in Fayetteville. On a short day trip from Raleigh, you can visit the historical marker noting the spot where Babe whalloped a 400-foot homer during an exhibition game. This site is a must for any sports history fans or baseball enthusiasts.
Places To Eat:
Fuller’s Old Fashioned Bar-B-Q | 7735 Raeford Rd
If you’re looking for down-home BBQ, Fuller’s is where you want to be. They offer up mouthwatering plates overflowing with BBQ, shrimp, fish, and all the fixings.
Huske Hardware Restaurant and Brewery | 405 Hay St
Enjoy an ice-cold locally brewed beer with a variety of American dishes at Huske, Fayetteville’s oldest brewery. Huske has it all, from brew-battered Fish N Chips to gourmet burgers like their BBQ Burnt End Burger.
Circa 1800 | 108 Pearson St
For finer dining, head to Circa 1800. Open for lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch, this attractive bistro serves “New Southern” cuisine. Delight in pesto gnocchi as the “dumplings” part of their chicken and dumplings entrée or tuck into the rich onion sauce of their Southern bangers and collard green mash.
Raleigh to Wilmington
Distance: 130 miles; 2-hour drive time
If you take a day trip from Raleigh to Wilmington, you’ll get the best of both worlds. It’s a beach town with a bustling, historic downtown filled with culture, boutique shops, and great restaurants.
Things To Do:
Airlie Gardens is a stunning property with original Minnie Evans folk art, curated gardens, and more. Explore the gardens or sit under a giant live oak with Spanish moss hanging from its branches and enjoy the view. General admission is $9 per adult and $3 per child. Open from Tuesdays to Sundays, 9am–5pm.
Enjoy a day of sand and sun on one of the many beaches near Wilmington. Choose from Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, or historic Fort Fisher. Pay-to-park is in effect most of the year in many public access lots, and rates vary per beach.
Want a magical experience like something from The Notebook? Take a day trip from Raleigh to Wilmington’s cypress-filled Greenfield Lake for views of egrets, cypress knee groves, and the occasional alligator sighting. The lake includes an almost four-mile paved loop trail, which is an excellent walk during agreeable weather.
Places To Eat:
Fork ‘N’ Cork | 122 Market St
Fork ‘N’ Cork, located in charming downtown Wilmington, offers pub food like no other! Known for knocking out Guy Fieri with their confit duck wings, the chefs here create outstanding noshes like Texas Poutine, the Carolina Burger, and Wellington Bites in a fun, laid-back environment.
Platypus & Gnome | 9 South Front St
Eclectic, yet cool, Platypus & Gnome is a curious little eatery on Front Street with a menu that changes seasonally. Grab a seat at the bar or a table on their second floor and enjoy unique entrées of rare meats or unexpected combinations of vegetarian flavors.
The Green House | 1427 Military Cutoff Rd
On your day trip from Raleigh to Wilmington, plan for dinner at The Green House, a pioneering culinary experience in vegan fine dining. The Green House presents the finest ingredients sourced from local farmers and growers. The menu changes regularly based on what the chef can find, so check the website for the day’s delicacies.
Where to Stay in Raleigh
As the centrally located capital city of North Carolina, Raleigh makes the perfect headquarters if you want to enjoy several day trips to explore the charming historic towns within driving distance. Book your room or suite at the StateView Hotel, and start planning your series of day trip adventures. Check our package deals for specials on romantic getaways, golf weekends, and more.