Things to do near Charlotte, NC: Day trip destinations


Summer is prime time for hitting the road for a trip, but the high price of gas means it can get expensive to fill up your car to get where you want to go.

Still, Charlotte’s proximity to various attractions means there are still plenty of places you can get to and from on just a single tank of gas or less, whether you’re looking to entertain the kids, enjoy a couple’s getaway or just have time to yourself.

Here’s what to know about figuring out how far you can get on a tank of gas and some suggested destinations in a fuel-efficient range from Charlotte:

How far can you drive on one tank of gas from Charlotte?

How far you can get on a tank of gas depends on what car you’re driving, because different vehicles have different sized gas tanks and different fuel economies.

To find specifics for your car, visit and plug in your make and model.

For this story, we’re using a metric of 400 miles per tank of gas, an average of the fuel economies of some of the most popular car models in the U.S.: the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla.

Summer trips that take less than a tank of gas

Asheville, NC

Distance from Charlotte: 131 miles (262 miles round trip)

What to know: Asheville is a popular tourist destination for folks from around the country, but it’s an especially easy trip for those coming from Charlotte. The community offers a variety of activities, from hiking to breweries and art museums. The summer season also features a variety of festivals and concerts.

Grandfather Mountain – Linville, NC

Distance from Charlotte: 116 miles (232 miles round trip)

What to know: A North Carolina landmark, a visit to Grandfather Mountain is a chance to see great views while traversing a variety of trails. One of the most popular stops is the Mile High Swinging Bridge, which celebrates its 70th anniversary this September. There are also wildlife habitats, restaurants and more to check out.

Lake Murray, SC

Distance from Charlotte: 105 miles (210 miles round trip)

What to know: Located near Columbia, South Carolina, Lake Murray offers access to a variety of water activities without having to travel all the way to the coast. In addition to swimming, fishing, boating and more, the area also has a variety of golf courses, trails and restaurants.

North Carolina Zoo – Asheboro, NC

Distance from Charlotte: 90 miles (180 miles round trip)

What to know: Billed as “the world’s largest natural habitat zoo,” the North Carolina Zoo is nestled near Asheboro and home to a variety of animals. There are also a number of activities on-site, such as a rope course and hiking trails, that offer fun for the whole family. Check out the zoo’s website to see even more planned summer events and buy your tickets ahead of time.

Treehouse Vineyards – Monroe, NC

Distance from Charlotte: 28 miles (56 miles round trip)

What to know: Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a fun afternoon with friends, this award-winning Monroe vineyard serves up a variety of wines made in North Carolina. Check the vineyard’s calendar to plan your visit around some of their on-site events, such as live music. You can find more information on how to book a private tasting or a stay in one of the vineyard’s treehouses on the vineyard’s website.

North Carolina gas prices

Even if it’s not that long of a trip, you’ll still need to make sure your car is gassed up.

The national average for a gallon of regular gas, according to AAA, was $4.88 as of Tuesday. North Carolina’s average was slightly lower, sitting at $4.52.

Check out the interactive map below to see how gas prices compare across North Carolina counties:

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Mary Ramsey is a service journalism reporter with The Charlotte Observer. A native of the Carolinas, she studied journalism at the University of South Carolina and has also worked in Phoenix, Arizona and Louisville, Kentucky.


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