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6 great day trips from Raleigh that are not the beach

We have some great ideas for fun that aren't too far away!

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Go hit the road! Tourists spent nearly $29 billion while visiting North Carolina in 2021. This includes North Carolina residents who were visiting other parts of the state.

Raleigh has a lot to offer, but there is so much else to see throughout North Carolina. Yet you shouldn't fill up your gas tank just yet. You should learn about great day trips from Raleigh first.

What are good cities to visit? Where should you go if you want to get away from the major hubs? Where are good places to bring the kids?

Answer these questions and you can find the perfect things to do on your day trips. Here are six great ideas for day trips from Raleigh.

1. Durham

Durham is a good place to visit if you don't want to go on a long drive out of Raleigh. As the home of Duke University, Durham is one of North Carolina's leading cultural hubs. You can attend free events on Duke's campus, including art shows and lectures from scholars.

You can also visit a number of historical sites in the area. Bennett Place State Historic Site is the location where Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston surrendered to Union General William Tecumseh Sherman. You can learn more about the Civil War and walk through the grounds.

If you prefer visual art, you can visit the Golden Belt District. You can visit small art galleries and look at public installations in old buildings.

You can also enjoy some baseball at a Durham Bulls game.

2. Greensboro

Greensboro is an hour and a half away from Raleigh. It is home to many museums, including ones dedicated to family activities.

The Greensboro Children's Museum has dozens of exhibits for children of all ages. Your child can enjoy the Outdoor Play Plaza, crawling through net tunnels and sliding down slides. They can then head inside and play in hands-on exhibits, pretending to be a doctor, chef and whatever else they want to be.

The Greensboro Science Center is one of the leading zoos and aquariums in North Carolina. You can see many species of animals, including turtles and tigers. You can also see laser shows and ride on ziplines.

3. Wilmington

Wilmington lies on the North Carolina coast, but it's more than just a beach town. It is home to the Battleship North Carolina, which offers premium exhibits about World War II.

Wilmington's downtown district is extremely walkable, and you can visit many different art galleries and shops. When you want something to drink, you can visit a microbrewery, speakeasy, or bar. You can also find many small coffee shops and bakeries.

The Cape Fear Museum of History and Science is the oldest history museum in North Carolina. Exhibits rotate throughout the year, so feel free to come back and see what's new every few months.

This giraffe is part of State of the Art, a new exhibit at Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington.

4. Southern Pines

Southern Pines is an hour away from Raleigh. But if you want to do something a little different, you can take the Amtrak line to the Southern Pines train station. The visitor center for the city is in the train station, so you can learn more about things to do with friends.

Southern Pines is a small town, which makes it a good destination if you want to get away from the big cities. You can find many small attractions in the town, including the Christian Book Store. The store sells Christian books and fudge, and if you venture into the basement you can see the Taxidermy Hall of Fame and Creation Museum.

The Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities is a performance center. You can listen to live music, poetry readings and theatrical performances. You can also visit the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame at the Center and learn more about North Carolina writers.

5. Pinehurst

Many golf writers call Pinehurst "The Cradle of American Golf," and for good reason. The Pinehurst Resort has hosted many U.S. Open Championships, and it is open to the public for games. You can stay on the grounds and take classes from instructors.

If you can't get into the resort, you can visit dozens of other courses in the area. When you're done golfing for the day, you can go to Sandhills Horticultural Gardens. The gardens are free to visit, and you can see thousands of species of plants, including flowers and trees.

6. Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is nearly 500 miles long, and it runs through North Carolina up into Virginia. Great Smoky Mountains National Park lies at one end, and you can spend an entire day hiking and climbing mountains.

You can then drive on the Parkway and see many places to visit. You can visit Waterrock Knob and get panoramic views of the Great Smokies.

You can find many spots to go hiking along the Parkway as well. Devil's Courthouse is a mountain that is more than 5,700 feet tall. You can go on a hike up to the top and see beautiful views of the countryside.

The Folk Art Center is on the Parkway just outside of Asheville. The Center offers exhibitions of Appalachian artists, and you can buy craft objects from decades ago.

The Best Day Trips From Raleigh - other options

You can do a lot of things during day trips from Raleigh. If you like cities, you should stop by Durham, Greensboro, and Wilmington. All three are homes for children's and science museums.

Southern Pines and Pinehurst are small towns, but you can find tourist attractions like bookstores and golf courses. The Blue Ridge Parkway is North Carolina's leading scenic drive, and you can spend hours on hikes.

These trips are just a few fun things you can do while living in North Carolina. WRAL provides informative guides to North Carolina. Read our guide to NC summer events.


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