Fun-Filled Day Trips From Raleigh

Couple Driving Day Trips From RaleighIf you’re looking to take a road trip but don’t want to commit to anything long distance, why not stay in Raleigh and plan a couple of day trips? You’ll not only get to explore the beautiful City of Oaks and all its charm, but you can explore a handful of cities nearby.  We’ve put a list of our favorite day trips from Raleigh that take 3 hours or less to travel to.

Durham Skyline - Road Trip From RaleighDurham

Drive time: 30 minutes

Home to Duke University, Durham is a fun, little city just outside of Raleigh that has all the makings for a great day!

Things To Do:

American Tobacco Campus

Once one of the busiest industrial hubs in the US, American Tobacco Campus is now filled with venues, retailers, and restaurants. The American Tobacco Campus is the perfect day for noshing while you shop!


Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area

If you’re interested in a really great view head to the Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area. Here you can choose three different trails hike that will lead you to serene views of the wooded area or high views of the summit.


Durham Distillery

Durham Distillery produces delightful, locally distilled, gins and vodkas. While they are temporarily not giving tours, they do offer curbside cocktail kits for you to enjoy their premium liquors.

Places To Eat:

Luna Rotisserie | 112 W Main St

If you’re looking for an amazing meal that is conscientiously sourced, give Luna Rotisserie a try. You can enjoy South American favorites like Camote Chimichurri and Arepas, or American dishes with a South American twist like their Fish & Chips.


Dame’s Chicken & Waffles | 530 Foster St #130

Chicken & Waffles doesn’t get any better than Dame’s! They serve this southern staple in several varieties (all mouthwatering) like Carolina Cockerel, The Orange Speckled Chabo, and The Frizzled Fowl.


The Old Well In Chapel HillChapel Hill

Drive time: 35 minutes

Chapel Hill may be a small town but it packs some exciting attractions for a day trip. It’s also home to the University of North Carolina and the Ackland Art Museum.

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 gardens are quite lush and are designed with plants and flowers that are native to the southeast.


Gimghoul Castle

This eerie, medieval castle is hidden by foliage on the University of North Carolina. It can be a bit challenging to find but it’s worth the drive to see it in person and for some great photo ops.

Places To Eat:

Sutton’s Drugstore | 159 E Franklin St

If you’re looking for an old fashioned feel with simple, yet great food, try Sutton’s Drugstore. You’ll feel like you stepped into the 50s when you visit this local dinner, but you must try their Oreo milkshake and juicy burgers.


411 West | 411 W Franklin St
This Italian cafe 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.

North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro Near RaleighAsheboro

Drive time: 1.5 hours

Asheboro is another quaint little town and probably most well-known for being the location of the North Carolina Zoo –a fantastic day trip activity to enjoy.

Things To Do:

North Carolina Zoo

As mentioned above, North Carolina Zoo is a highlight in Asheboro and a great day activity to do with friends or family. They have many outdoor habitats to explore with animals that range from African elephants and gorillas to exotic birds. Admission is $15 for adults and $11 for children, be sure to reserve your timed ticket in advance. 


Randleman Lake

Randleman Lake is a serene reservoir that makes for the perfect day out on the water. Rent a small powerboat, kayak, paddleboat, or enjoy fishing off the pier. The reservoir is open Wednesday through Sunday, hours vary based on month visiting.

Places To Eat:

The Table | 139 S Church St

Open Tuesday through Sunday, The Table is a cool little restaurant with chefs that create its menu by 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

Calling all burger lovers! Everything Under The Bun centers their menu around the All-American classic burger but with unique twists. They have every kind of burger you can think of including a Fried Pickle Burger, Mac-n-Cheese Burger, Chip & Dp Burger, and so many others!

Winston-Salem Skyline Day Trip From RaleighWinston-Salem

Drive time: 1.5 hours

The fifth most populated city in North Carolina, Winston-Salem is home to many 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 this place! They offer guided tours ($4 per adult, $1 per child) where you’ll experience day-to-day life in the early colonial times in North Carolina.


Reynolda Village

For those looking for a day of shopping and snacking, check out the Reynolda Village. They have a variety of boutiques and galleries like Gazebo, AR Workshop, and Monkee’s. If you need a quick nosh, stop into Penny Path Cafe & Crepe Shop for a fresh crepe!

Places To Eat:

Mozelle’s | 878 W Fourth St

This little southern bistro has a knack for taking Southern staples and turning them into culinary masterpieces, all while keeping a laid-back atmosphere. Their fried chicken, shrimp and grits, and southern spring rolls are a must-try!


Jeffrey Adams on Fourth | 321 W 4th St

Jeffrey Adams is another restaurant that delivers farm-to-table dishes and they won’t disappoint. Their lunch menu has a variety of American classics from Farm House Burger with goat cheese, prosciutto, and caramelized onions, to their savory Pot Roast Sandwich! Be sure to reserve a seat for a delightful dining experience.

Fayetteville Town HallFayetteville

Drive time: 1.5 hours

Fayetteville is rich in culture, history, and has so many fun shops and attractions. A day-trip from Raleigh to Fayetteville is worth the ride!


Things To Do:

Downtown Fayetteville

Downtown Fayetteville is colorful and full of unique shops and entertainment for you to enjoy. A few of our favorite boutiques to stop by include Diane’s Vintage Market, Downtown Market, Olde Town Apothecary, and Prim & Popper –just to name a few.


Edgar Allen Poe House

Rich in history and known for the famous writer who grew up there, the Edgar Allen Poe House is an intriguing visit. Admission is free and tours are available Tuesday through Friday at 11 AM, 1 PM, and 3 PM, Saturday every hour from 10 AM to 4 PM, and Sunday every hour from 1 PM to 4 PM.

Places To Eat:

Fuller’s Old Fashioned Bar-B-Q | 113 N Eastern Blvd

If you’re looking for a down-home BBQ plate, Fuller’s is where you want to be. They have some mouthwatering plates they 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. Huske has it all from Brew Battered Fish And Chips and Shepard’s Pie, to gourmet burgers like their Cheesy Sourdough Patty Melt.

Day Trip From Raleigh to a North Carolina VineyardElizabethtown

Drive time: 1.5 hours

Elizabethtown is very small but has some hidden gems that are worth the road trip to experience.

Things To Do:


There are a few boutiques in the small town of Elizabethtown that are perfect for splurging or grabbing unique gifts. Leinwand’s is a favorite that features upscale brands like Yeti, Columbia, Bogg Bags, and more.


Lu Mil Vineyard

Lu Mil Vineyard is a stunning vineyard that produces some amazing Muscadine wines. Their tasting bar is open daily from 10 AM to 6 PM (Sunday 1-6 PM). 

Places To Eat:

Melvin’s Hamburgers & Hot Dogs | 133 W Broad St

Melvin’s doesn’t look like much but a line will wrap around the block of people waiting to get their hands on one of their signature burgers or dogs. This cash-only spot has some of the best, grilled burgers, shakes, and fries and should be a must-stop on your list.


The Cork Room | 195 Vinyard Dr

The Cork Room is the restaurant at the Cape Fear Vinyard and Winery. It’s a quaint little place with an artsy feel and the best part is they have recommended pairings with any entree you choose.

Water View of WilmingtonWilmington

Drive time: 2 hours

If you take a day trip from Raleigh to Wilmington, you’ll get the best of both worlds. It’s a beach town with an amazing downtown filled with culture and great restaurants.

Things To Do:

Airlie Gardens

Airlie Gardens is a stunning property with whimsical art, gardens, and more. Explore the gardens or sit under a giant living oak with Spanish moss hanging from its branches and enjoy the view. General admission is $9 per adult and $3 per child; Airlie is open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM.


The Beach

Enjoy a day of sand and sun on one of the many beaches in Wilmington. There are quite a few spots with public beach access, Access 4 has a public bathroom which makes slipping into your swimsuit convenient.


Greenfield Lake

Want a magical experience like something from The Notebook? Take a drive to Greenfield Lake for stunning views like the grove of trees growing out of the marsh. 

Places To Eat:

Fork ‘N’ Cork | 122 Market St

Fork ‘N’ Cork has pub food like no other! Located in downtown Wilmington you can nosh on duck wings, Texas Poutine, or a Carolina Burger in a laid back and fun environment.


Platypus & Gnome | 9 South Front St

Eclectic, yet cool, Platypus & Gnome is a curious little eatery on Front Street. Grab a seat at the bar or a table on their second floor and enjoy unique entrees like Seared Ostrich Steak or Coconut-Chickpea Curry.


On a road trip for two and looking for romantic getaways in North Carolina? Check out our list of activities that are sure to set the mood during your getaway to Raleigh.