Top 5 North Carolina Road Trip Destinations | Budget Car Rental

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Ah, North Carolina. This gem of a state is covered in dense, green forests from north to south, and lined with gorgeous beaches on the east. The state really has stunning scenery, no matter which road you take, making it the perfect place to plan an epic road trip. Whether you start at the famed Outer Banks or choose the path less traveled, you’re sure to be smitten by your travel destinations. So rent a car in Charlotte and start planning. Choose a roomy and comfortable SUV or minivan car rental from Budget and get convenient options like long-term car rental and one-way car rental. Read on to learn about five great places to visit in the Tar Heel State.

#1. Charlotte Motor Speedway


Map: 5555 Concord Pkwy S, Concord, NC 28027

This legendary NASCAR raceway has a seriously impressive stadium and includes another track for drag racing and dirt tracks. Charlotte is home to the NASCAR Hall of Fame Museum, so no trip to North Carolina is complete without seeing some NASCAR action! You’ll find the Charlotte Motor Speedway just 25 minutes northeast of Charlotte Douglas International Airport, so start off your trip by booking tickets to see a race or other seasonal event. Or if you’re wanting a quick trip at the speedway, you can even book a racing class or get a tour of the venue.

#2. Sliding Rock


Map: 7851 Pisgah Highway, Pisgah Forest, NC 28768

Why spend time at a crowded water park when you can get your water fun in nature? Find Sliding Rock nestled in the beautiful Pisgah National Forest, in the city of Brevard. Sliding Rock, a 60-foot slide down a slippery boulder will send you plunging into chilly waters in the 7-foot deep pool below. Families will love this breathtaking adventure, and lifeguards stand on duty to make sure everyone stays safe. The destination is about 2.5-3 hours from the Charlotte Motor Speedway, and you’ll enjoy pretty views along the way.

#3. Ober Gatlinburg


Map: 1001 Parkway #2, Gatlinburg, TN, 37738

Hop across North Carolina’s western border to visit the beauty and charm of Ober Gatlinburg in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. As the top attraction in the Smoky Mountains, this ski resort and amusement park provide fun for all ages, any season of the year. Enjoy the skiing, snowboarding, or tubing on the slopes in the winter. Take the aerial tram in the spring or fall to see the trees in full bloom or showing off their autumn colors. Ride the mountain coaster, ice skate, or climb the rock wall any time of year. Ober Gatlinburg is about 2 hours northwest of Sliding Rock.

#4. Biltmore Estate


Map: 1 Lodge Street, Asheville, NC 28803

You’ll start your journey back to your starting point when you leave Ober Gatlinburg and journey east to the prestigious Biltmore Estate. This unbelievable 8000-acre private estate of George Vanderbilt is the largest private home in North America. The 135,000 square-foot home is a must-see for anyone interested in architecture, interior design, or the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Visitors can even book a room at one of the three lodgings on the estate, then enjoy the winery, explore the garden and grounds, or take a tour to learn about the history of the estate. This is a family-friendly experience that will have you living in fantasy land for a day.

#5. Roanoke Island


Map: Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, 1401 National Park Dr, Manteo, NC 27954 

The final leg of your North Carolina road trip will be a trek, but well worth your time. Head 6 hours east of the Biltmore Estate to find yourself in the magic of the Outer Banks. The island plays an important role in history as the site of the first English settlement in the modern US. Known as the Roanoke Colony or “The Lost Colony” because settlers were driven back to England by Indian attacks and food shortages. You can visit this site at the Fort Raleigh National Historic site. But interesting history is only the start—Roanoke island also offers beautiful Elizabethan Gardens, the North Carolina Aquarium, unique geological formations at Jockey’s Ridge State Park, and much more.

Get Around North Carolina with a Car Rental

Don’t let this road trip wear down your personal vehicle. Put all the miles on an Avis car rental instead, and travel as far as your heart desires.