Top Four Spring Road Trips Within Four Hours of Raleigh

Posted on 03/20/13 No Comments


1. Nags Head

Due east from the City of Oaks, Cary and neighboring Apex is one of the east coast’s most populous summertime destinations: the Outer Banks.

However, the traffic doesn’t back up until after Memorial Day. Schedule a trip before the busy season and you can find less expensive ocean-front hotel rooms, uncrowded restaurants and yes, even peaceful strolls along North Carolina’s thin ribbon of scenic barrier islands.

Keep in mind that some eateries may not be open yet and that you may find yourself needing a sweater. Do not let that deter you. There is a primal beauty that envelopes the Outer Banks when its cold, a raw, serene sense of true wilderness within a place that within only a few weeks, will come to resemble a sandier version of Downtown Disney.

2. Wrightsville Beach & Wilmington

The easiest beach trip from the Triangle cities, Wrightsville Beach, the small town that sits on the edge of historic Wilmington, is only 2.5 hours down I-40. It’s open year-round, has plenty of room to find some privacy and one of the best California-style surf food stands anywhere: Tower 7 and Cafe Del Mar, a mash-up of an authentic Mexican food joint and urban coffee lounge. Surfboards adorn the walls (real ones, that get used), plasma screens highlight great waves and UNC-W students make their wages serving you. The food is fantastic.

Grab a room or rent someone’s beach house anywhere near the village of Wrightsville and spend the weekend walking, even though parking is pretty easy this time of year.

Downtown Wilmington, about 15 minutes away, should be strolled in early evening to see the sun light up the Cape Fear River. Then find any one of the patio restaurants for a drink and some traditional southern faire.

3. Myrtle Beach

South of the Border lies a golf mecca that also happens to be a great beach town. North Myrtle Beach has everything one is going to need to make a great weekend away from Raleigh: affordable hotels, miles of beach access and outstanding calabash-style seafood. (You know, fried. Really fried.)

Golf lovers have come to know Myrtle Beach as a links destination with incredible variety. Courses of any magnitude designed by every top pro in the land are available to the public and spring is the best time to try to get under par; greens fees are lower, the weather is comfortable and you may even have time for a couple of mulligans.

4. Asheville

Look out Boulder, Asheville is hot on your Birkenstocks for becoming the next high-end hippy mountain town.

With an artsy, urban vibe fused with a palpable energy for the outdoors, Asheville is without question on the map of where people come to enjoy great local beer, whitewater kayaking and wine-toasted art gallery tours.

Things have changed quickly for this mountain town, including the decision by famed craft beer maker New Belgium Brewery to open its east coast brewery here. The nearby town of Brevard is fast becoming a rock-climbing and mountain biking hotspot. It’s now the place Asheville locals go to escape the visitors clogging up their trails and barstools.

But you can’t blame either party because western North Carolina has just that much to offer.

There you have it, four of the best places to escape to this spring without having to drive more than four hours from Raleigh, Cary or Apex.

Get out there.

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