04 Feb Plan Your Vacation Days: Easy Road Trips from the Upstate
Day by day, we’re getting closer to spring break, Memorial Day weekend, and summer vacation. But did you know that Americans let 705 million vacation days go unused annually? Don’t let your days off go to waste.
Americans who take all or most of their vacation days to travel report dramatically higher rates of happiness than those using little to none of their time for travel. It’s time to start planning your next vacation because you deserve it!
Thankfully, in the Upstate, you don’t have to go far to go on a great trip. There are plenty of destinations within just a few hours’ drive of Greenville and Spartanburg.
Asheville, NC (60 miles North)
Head North to Asheville if you enjoy cooler temperatures, outdoor activities, and beer. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, there are plenty of ways to get your outdoors on in Asheville – hiking, biking, zip-lining, camping, you name it! Afterward, the perfect way to cool down is with a craft brew. Boasting more breweries per capita than any U.S. city, Asheville has become known as “Beer City USA.” Have you really been to AVL if you haven’t been to the Biltmore? Don’t miss a tour of the largest privately-owned house in the U.S. before you head home.
Athens, GA (95 miles Southwest)
Home to the University of Georgia Bulldogs and chart-topping bands like R.E.M. and the B-52s, Athens is known for its charming downtown, student culture, and music scene. Explore the State Botanical Garden of Georgia and the Georgia Museum of Art here, and take a stroll through one of the many parks and nature trails.
Columbia, SC (100 miles Southeast)
Travel to the capital of our state, Columbia, to learn more about South Carolina’s history. This is where the South Carolina Succession Convention was held in 1860, leading to the Civil War. Head to the SC State House and look for the stars to see where it was hit by artillery fire in 1865 by General Sherman’s U.S. Army. After your history lesson, enjoy the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, the Columbia Museum of Art, or the South Carolina State Museum.
Charlotte, NC (100 miles Northeast)
Calling all sports-fanatics: Head to Charlotte to cheer on the Carolina Panthers football team, watch the Carolina Hornets play basketball, and honor the greats at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Beyond sports, you can go to Carowinds for roller coasters and waterslides, Discovery Place Science to get some interactive science and technology learning in, or the U.S. National Whitewater Center for rafting, canoeing, kayaking, rock climbing, and more. There’s plenty of action and adventure in Charlotte!
Augusta, GA (115 miles South)
Golfers, a visit to Augusta National Golf Club (home of the Masters), is a must. While you’re in this charming city, make sure you walk along the Savannah River at the Augusta Riverwalk and take in the scenery. Stop to tour the Augusta Museum of History and the Morris Museum of Art to complete your trip.
Pigeon Forge, TN (150 miles Northwest)
For a taste of Southern culture and country music, Pigeon Forge has become a tourist destination. Popular attractions include Dolly Parton’s theme parks, Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park as well as many outlet malls, gift shops, musical theaters, and other amusement rides.
Atlanta, GA (150 miles Southwest)
The capital of Georgia offers some unique attractions including the Centennial Olympic Park, built for the 1996 Olympics. Just North of Olympic Park, visit the Georgia Aquarium (the second largest aquarium in the world) to see thousands of species in 10 million gallons of marine and saltwater, and the World of Coca-Cola, to learn about the history of the beverage and taste 60 flavors from around the world. Other highlights in the big city of ATL include Ponce City Market, CNN Studio Tours, the High Museum of Art, and the Atlanta Botanical Garden.
Charleston, SC (200 miles Southeast)
If you’re craving beach time, history, and shopping, add Charleston to your list. Some musts include perusing the local goods offered at the historic Charleston City Market, taking a stroll through Waterfront Park past Rainbow Row to the Battery, and learning SC state history at Patriots Point and Fort Sumter. Plus, there are plenty of great restaurants to enjoy, and if you love the beach, add a day at Folly Beach for sunbathing!
Savannah, GA (250 miles South)
Savannah is the oldest city in Georgia. Visitors are attracted to its cobblestone streets, 22 parklike squares, historic district (one of the largest in the U.S.), and historic buildings, including the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts of the USA.
With the beach, the mountains, and big cities within reach, the Upstate is truly one of the best places to live. Whether you’re looking to get away just for a day, an entire weekend, or for a longer excursion, you’re bound to have a blast at any of these locales.