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Editor Pick

Charlotte, Off the Beaten Path

Updated: October 25, 2023

Written by

AAA Travel Editor, Sherry Mims

A road trip through Charlotte, N.C., and neighboring South Carolina destinations offers plenty of fun things to do on a vacation. Head off the beaten path on this Carolinas-inspired getaway through artsy neighborhoods and suburban splendor.

Best Western Carowinds

Fort Mill, South Carolina

If you’re looking for hotels in Charlotte, N.C., check out this property on the outskirts of the city. Tucked away on a side road near the Carowinds theme park and I-77, this hotel provides a convenient yet quiet place to go when you want to unwind. It’s also an affordable option with a complimentary continental breakfast that’ll fuel you as you head toward local attractions.Book Now

The Billy Graham Library

Charlotte, North Carolina

Billy Graham, the well-known evangelical Christian leader who counseled presidents, grew up near Charlotte on a dairy farm. Those interested in his ministry should plan a visit to this immaculately landscaped destination near the airport. Along with the family farmhouse, the free attraction includes a silo, a barn with a retrospective of the family’s life and beliefs, and a memorial area for Billy and Ruth Graham.Read More


Charlotte, North Carolina

NoDa, which stands for North Davidson Street, is the place to go if you want to see the artsy side of the Queen City. Note the bright murals on many of the nearby businesses. Afterward grab a drink and a live performance at the NoDa Company Store (3221 Yadkin Ave.).

President James K. Polk State Historic Site

Pineville, North Carolina

If you’ve exited toward Carowinds, off Charlotte's I-77 exit 90, follow the signs toward this historic site associated with President James K. Polk, America’s 11th president. The drive through the countryside is short but picturesque. The grounds feature a visitor center, reconstructed cabin, outbuildings and exhibit garden. After learning some presidential history, be sure to explore the tranquil setting, which is especially colorful in fall.Read More

Riverwalk: Piedmont Medical Center Trail

Rock Hill, South Carolina

Head south of Charlotte to enjoy the recreational opportunities at this beautiful retreat by the Catawba River. (There’s also a launch if you prefer to kayak.) Stately trees surround the paved trail in Rock Hill, making it a vibrant place to stroll and take pictures most of the year. A Little Free Library with a couple of shelves containing donated books also beckons by the trailhead, offering an opportunity to refresh your reading materials—and perhaps inspire your next vacation.

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Written by

AAA Travel Editor, Sherry Mims

Sherry is an experienced #AAAEditor and former journalist who enjoys writing informative travel articles and reviews. Her commitment to making meaningful connections with people and places fuels her work for AAA. Favorite activities range from skiing to backpacking abroad and taking ghost tours.

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