The Weekend Getaway Guide to North Carolina
Fearrington Village in Pittsboro, North Carolina. Photography courtesy of Fearrington Village.
Now is the perfect time to hit the road for an old-fashioned road trip, and for those living in the vicinity of North Carolina, there are a variety of drivable options, from mountain getaways to bustling metropolises. Here, the editors of The Scout Guide Triad—Greensboro, Winston-Salem & High Point, The Scout Guide Raleigh, Durham & Chapel Hill, The Scout Guide Charlotte, and The Scout Guide Asheville share the must-see attractions in their areas in the ultimate regional getaway guide. Whether you are seeking a relaxing spa experience, an art-centric excursion, or an afternoon at a scenic brewery, these recommendations have you covered.
RALEIGH, DURHAM & CHAPEL HILL
NCMA in Raleigh, North Carolina. Photography by Eve Hobgood.
Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, referred to as “The Triangle” region of North Carolina because of the shape the towns make, is a cradle of academia and the arts, home to beautiful vistas, and has great weather to boot.
When you’re searching for a place to rest your head, Hopie Avery, editor of The Scout Guide Raleigh, Durham & Chapel Hill, recommends The Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary for some serious R&R. For a more metropolitan feel, check into 21c Durham in downtown Durham, a unique art-museum-meets-boutique-hotel concept. Another great option, The Fearrington House Inn in Pittsboro, delivers the Relais and Chateaux experience.
If you are looking to enjoy a little culture, The North Carolina Museum of Art is a must visit. In addition to their usual impressive art collection, they currently have a spectacular “Golden Mummies of Egypt” exhibit. The area is also home to the fabulous North Carolina Museum of Science, which is especially popular with the younger set. Take in nature’s wonders with a visit to JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University. While there, be sure to check out NC State’s Jim Hunt Library. Other great gardens include Coker Arboretum, right by the University of North Carolina campus, and the North Carolina Botanical Garden. For an enjoyable tour of academia, visit the campuses of Duke University in Durham and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While in Chapel Hill, ladies and gents should head over to Julian’s to reinvigorate your wardrobe—and don’t leave without checking out their Carolina basketball memorabilia in the back. Afterward, walk down Franklin Street to Sutton’s for an old-school Cherry Coke and a grilled cheese.
For a hit of caffeine and chocolate, plan to stop into Videri Chocolate Factory factory in Raleigh. When it comes time for libations, pop into the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill and stay to watch a game. The Fearrington House is also the perfect locale for a cocktail. Hopie recommends going early and taking a stroll in the gardens, or making a reservation and enjoying a fine dining experience.
To stave off hunger pangs while getting an authentic North Carolina BBQ experience, pay a visit to Allen & Son BBQ in Pittsboro. In Raleigh, indulge in reimagined comfort food at Poole’s. For fine dining experiences, Hopie recommends Heron’s at The Umstead, Crawford & Son in Raleigh, or Jolie, also located in Raleigh.
Photography by Rachael McIntosh Photography.
If you’re in need of a little mountain time, the bucolic town of Asheville in the Blue Ridge Mountains should do the trick. A vibrant food and beer scene, thriving arts and culture, and plentiful outdoors pursuits make this destination ideal for a variety of visitors.
Looking for a place to stay? Meagan Harris, editor of The Scout Guide Asheville, recommends three options, all downtown. Hotel Arras, located in the heart of downtown Asheville, offers a Southern welcome, free spirits, and breathtaking views. Wanderlust Lofts, located on the South Slope of downtown, affords a luxe getaway with all the amenities of home, including a full kitchen. Cambria Downtown Asheville is the perfect blend of upscale relaxation, business, and fun.
Many come to the area just to visit the renowned Biltmore Estate, and for good reason. Set aside a full day to explore George Vanderbilt’s historic home on 8,000 acres of land with extensive gardens. Get your art fix when you wander the Asheville Art Museum, home to an outstanding collection of American art from the 20th and 21st centuries, and discover the richness of Western North Carolina’s unique artistic history. To get in touch with nature—and yourself—book a tour with Liminal Equus for an immersive equine experience that pairs horseback riding with scenic trails, mindfulness, and personal connection, and promises breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
To scratch your shopping itch, Meagan recommends visiting Scout Boutique and Further Yoga & Boutique for women’s looks. For finds for men and women, don’t miss blu 29 and Hazel Twenty with their new men’s shop Lex Twenty. Head to Provisions Mercantile, a modern day general store, for the perfect mix of nostalgia and modern trends.
When it comes time for a beverage, visit Green Man Brewery, Asheville’s second-oldest brewery, that offers beautiful views on their upstairs patio. For a great selection of wine and beer, plus small bites, hit up Bottle Riot for a worldwide array of boutique wines and a small selection of European beers. If you’re more of a cocktail connoisseur, Cultivated Cocktails is not to be missed. This distillery also features a shop where you can taste, sip, savor, and learn.
When you’re ready to eat, The Bull & Beggar tucked away in the River Arts District has an intimate atmosphere and hearty fare. Also in the River Arts District, Vivian brings the best, bountiful products from the region with a European flair, all in a down home environment. In the heart of West Asheville you’ll find Jargon situated in a small, historic building, where innovative new American cuisine meets outstanding cocktails for a winning combination.
The Duke Mansion in Charlotte, North Carolina. Photography by The Beautiful Mess Photography.
Known as the Queen City, this North Carolina crown jewel enjoys four seasons in which to explore fine dining, award-winning museums, shops and galleries, and many greenways that you can take in on foot or bike. When visiting, The Scout Guide Charlotte editor Lisa Sherrill and co-editor Scottie Akins recommend bunking up at The Duke Mansion, set in the heart of Myers Park residential area. It’s a historical slice of their beautiful city with gorgeous gardens to wander and lovely rocking chair-decked porches that are perfect for soaking in the beauty of the surroundings.
Home to many area attractions, Sherrill and Akins consider the Mint Museum a must, and modern art fans in particular should pay a visit to the Bechtler Modern Museum of Art. Camp North End, a hub of creativity and innovation, always showcases the most beautiful and relevant exhibitions; the editors can’t wait for the upcoming Van Gogh Immersive coming in June 2021.
Shoppers will have much to enjoy in the form of a little retail therapy. Five One Five, located in a sweet bungalow, is full of colorful statement pieces and accessories for any season, and Capitol/Poole Shop is a great spot for the high-end fashionista. For men, Tabor is excellent, and the editors recommend popping in for a caffeine fix at Not Just Coffee while you’re there. Charlotte’s Inc. is a destination for everyday staples, gifts, and cute sets for the kiddos. The Selwyn Shops are a true shopping destination; some of the editors’ favorites include Paper Twist, home to exquisite wrapping paper, customized paper goods, and stationery, and Woo Skincare + Cosmetics, where you can satisfy all of your skincare needs. Treat yourself to a trip to Statement Home for serious interior inspiration, and for a little eye candy, cross the street to Shain Gallery to delight in their newest exhibit. Don’t miss House of Nomad’s new store opening on East Boulevard for unique global treasures, home decor, accessories, and gifts. For more unstructured perusing, Sherrill and Akins recommend walking along one of the beautiful Charlotte neighborhood streets bustling with shops and restaurants: the Rail Trail in South End, Selwyn Avenue in Myers Park, and East Boulevard in Dilworth.
During or after your city explorations, a little libations always make a getaway feel like a vacation. Sherrill and Akins love Dilworth Tasting Room, Optimist Hall, and Suffolk Punch, all offering cocktails and bites with wonderful outdoor seating options. If you are seeking something more substantial, Reid’s Fine Foods is serves up delicious sandwiches alongside gourmet groceries. For upscale dining, book a table at Stagioni or Bardo. Don’t miss Little Spoon for brunch and the dreamy sweets from Suarez Bakery.
TRIAD–GREENSBORO, WINSTON-SALEM & HIGH POINT
Winston Salem, North Carolina. Photography by Lindley Battle Photography.
The Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina is full of wonderful restaurants, locally owned boutiques, fun pop-ups, a great craft cocktail scene, and art galleries showcasing local, regional, and national artists. In addition, outdoor lovers can easily fill a weekend exploring the local parks and trail systems as well, the brewery scene is off the charts, and many of the local wineries are winning national awards and holding their own against their Napa Valley counterparts. Last but certainly not least, High Point remains the furniture capital of the world, with everyone in the home décor industry flocking to the region twice a year to discover the newest trends.
When staying in the Greensboro area, Ashley Powell Nosek, editor of The Scout Guide Triad, recommends three premier properties. The Proximity Hotel and its sister property, the O.Henry Hotel, are centrally located near a number of great local shops and restaurants. For a downtown location within walking distance to many restaurants and bars, check out the Hyatt Place Greensboro Downtown, where the food and craft cocktails are top-notch. If you want to stay in the middle of the region, Ashley recommends the luxurious Grandover Resort, which boasts multiple golf courses, among other amenities. In Winston-Salem, rest up at Graylyn, a small luxury hotel on a former historic estate near the luxury shopping destination Reynolda Village, or at Kimpton Cardinal in downtown Winston-Salem.
While in the area, take some time to get outdoors, as the park system in the region is almost unparalleled; Ashley recommends downloading the free app Piedmont Discover to help navigate the parks and other sights. For the young and old, Greensboro Science Center is a must-visit. Dramatically enlarged in the past few years, it features a wonderful aquarium as well as an outdoor zoo area that continues expanding each year. In Winston-Salem, visit Reynolda House Museum of American Art (adjacent to Reynolda Village), which showcases an extensive collection of American art, while Old Salem in downtown Winston-Salem provides a fascinating glimpse into the local history of the past. The biggest attraction in High Point, of course, is the myriad furniture stores and exhibit spaces that make up the High Point Furniture Market.
In need of a shopping fix? Options abound. In Greensboro, the majority of the locally owned boutiques and stores are in an area of town called “Midtown” on Battleground Avenue. Here you will find the fabulous children’s boutique, Polliwogs, and the luxury cigar store and smoking lounge, Havana Phil’s, as well as numerous clothing boutiques and high-end gift shops packed into the approximately six-city-block-long area. About two miles away is the State Street Shopping district, which runs between Elm Street and Church Street. This area also has many local boutiques and charming destinations, including Sweet Tea Studio and Vida Pour Tea. Winston-Salem is also home to two phenomenal shopping areas. Reynolda Village is full of luxurious stores including Norman Stockton, which carries high-end men’s clothes and has been in business for over 100 years, and home furnishings store Sfeer+Co. The other shopping area consists of Thruway Center and Stratford Plaza, which are across from each other on Stratford Road. There you will find an abundance of local gift stores, high-end jewelry at Schiffman’s, and designer clothes at Nitsa’s. In High Point, there are a number of fabulous locally owned stores and boutiques that are concentrated on Main Street near the Lexington Avenue intersection. Ashley’s personal favorite is Monkee’s of High Point and its neighbor Wynnies Boutique, which carries great children’s clothes.
When it’s time to refuel, there are plenty of options. In Greensboro, visit The Loaded Grape, a wonderful wine bar and wine store, for drinks. Downtown, check out the craft cocktails at 1618 Downtown and White & Wood. Some of Ashley’s favorite restaurants in the area are 618 Concepts restaurants (1618 West, 1618 Midtown, and 1618 Downtown), Green Valley Grill, Lucky 32, and Printworks. And don’t miss the best steakhouse in town, B. Christophers. For pre-dinner drinks in Winston-Salem, you can’t go wrong with a visit to Tate’s Craft Cocktails, Fair Witness Fancy Drinks, or Vintage Sofa Bar. And if you enjoy really good bourbon, don’t hesitate to check out The Whisky Box. While in Winston-Salem, Ashley’s go-to restaurant is Mozelle’s, and Roosters, Ryan’s, Krankie’s, and Quanto Basta are also high on her list. Finally, post-furniture shopping, whet your whistle in High Point at Brown Truck Brewery and Sweet Old Bills. Also check out Magnolia Blue, Cork & Grind wine and coffee bar, Tipsy’z, and Lulu and Blu. For a more substantial meal, you won’t be disappointed with a stop at Penny Path Café, Christina Gray’s, Sweet Old Bill’s, 98 Asian Fusion, or Kepley’s BBQ, which has been in business for over 60 years.
For additional recommendations for what to do, see, and experience in these areas, follow The Scout Guide Raleigh, Durham & Chapel Hill on Instagram, follow The Scout Guide Asheville on Instagram, follow The Scout Guide Charlotte on Instagram, and follow The Scout Guide Triad on Instagram.