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weekendIn addition to the many local attractions the Triangle area has to offer, there are several more that make terrific weekend getaways. All of the following are less than a 5 hour drive from most areas of the Triangle and can be fully enjoyed with a one or two night stay.  Many are popular summer destinations so some planning in advance is recommended. You can also take mid-week getaways.

WILMINGTON, NC    Wilmington is a short two hour drive from Raleigh and is surrounded by some of the best and most pristine beaches on the east coast. Wilmington is home to many popular festivals including the NC Azalea Festival held in April and Riverfest, typically held at the end of September. One of the most famous attractions is the battleship North Carolina; among the most decorated battleships of WWII which is permanently moored there. Other attractions include Front Street, a popular area of shops and restaurants that runs along the river and the nearby NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher .

The OUTER BANKS   Play on the beach, fish in the surf or go deep sea fishing for the BIG one!  There’s so much to do on the Outer Banks.  You’ll also want to do a kayak tour of the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, visit the Wright Brothers Memorial commemorating the world’s first powered flight and visit Jockey’s Ridge State Park, home of the largest sand dune on the east coast. If light houses are your thing, there are several to visit, most of which you can climb including the world famous Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.  The Outer Banks also has over 200 restaurants, most featuring fresh seafood from the local waters. The summer showing season of National Geographic’s “Wicked Tuna” is filmed at Oregon Inlet. Travel time to the Outer Banks from Raleigh is under four hours.

ASHEVILLE, NC     If altitude affects attitude, then the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains will elevate your spirits and mood.  Asheville is well known for its splurge-worthy attractions and high-end culinary experiences.  There are just as many options for anyone seeking an affordable getaway to the mountains. Asheville is also known for its artsy-crafty population with anything from pottery to music. Asheville boasts more craft breweries per capita than any other U.S. City .  People from the Triangle now take weekend “Beercations” to Asheville.  Other major attractions include the Biltmore House or perhaps you might enjoy white water rafting.  Every fall, the beautiful colors of the changing leaves attracts thousands of visitors along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Asheville and the mountains are some 4 hours west of the Triangle.

The NORTH CAROLINA ZOO   Located 75 miles west of Raleigh in Asheboro.  The NC Zoo is nationally recognized as one of the nations finest zoos.  It was the first American zoo designed from its inception around the “natural habitat” philosophy.  Instead of cages, the zoo presents animals and plants in exhibits that closely represent the habitats in which they would be found in the wild. This makes for a great day or weekend trip.

MYRTLE BEACH, SC  Although being named “Golf Destination of the Year” several times with 117 available courses to play on, sand and surf remain the #1 Attraction. Entertainment, dining of all types and shopping abound in this southern resort city.  Travel time from the Triangle is about 4 hours and makes for a great long weekend getaway.

WASHINGTON DC   Sightseeing our nation’s capital never gets old.  If you can avoid the traffic, downtown Washington DC  is only  a 4 1/2 hour drive from Raleigh.  For a special trip, schedule your visit in April when the cherry blossoms are in bloom.