Travel Near the Triangle
May 11, 2009 2:12 PM   Subscribe

I’m on the search for a great little town for vacationing within about 2 hours of the Raleigh/Durham, NC Triangle area.

I would love to find one great location that I could make a base for both weekends away several times a year and a couple of longer, week-long vacations yearly. I’m having trouble finding anything that seems like a possibility, mostly because of proximity. I’d prefer not to drive more than 2 hours to reach my spot, so that Friday evening get-aways are doable. While I know I’ll likely not find everything on my wish list in one locale, the perfect spot would:

-- Be about 2 hours or so from Raleigh, NC area.
-- Have some natural appeal, preferably with water of some sort (lake, river, ocean), although I’m not an avid hiker or outdoor-type person.
-- Have hotel(s) or B&B(s) within walking distance to at least a few restaurants, coffee shops, bookstores, etc.
-- I don't a lot of entertainment as this will mostly be downtime spent reading, napping, soaking up the sun and just unwinding.
-- Bonus points for having a funky, artsy type vibe like Brevard or Blowing Rock. I love both those spots, but they are too far away for a quick weekend away.

Any ideas?
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit to Travel & Transportation around Raleigh, NC (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The Outer Banks, no question. Consistently beautiful, you can vacation there as cheaply as you like, and have as much entertainment or as much relaxation as you can handle.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:14 PM on May 11, 2009

Outer Banks is fantastic and I highly recommend it, but it's about 3 hours from Raleigh (to Nags Head). Myrtle Beach isn't bad either, especially if you're into golf, but also 3 hours. I've heard good things about Wilmingon, which is right at 2 hour mark.
posted by JuiceBoxHero at 2:44 PM on May 11, 2009

Seconding Wilmington. Lots of character, a beautiful historic district, and good shopping and restaurants. If you go, stay here.
posted by Rangeboy at 2:48 PM on May 11, 2009

Seconding my town, Wilmington. It has most of the things you seek. It is almost exactly two hours from Raleigh. Close to the ocean and a river runs through it. Lots of B&Bs in the historic district downtown area near the river and good restaurants and coffee shops. We don't have a lot of good bookstores, alas--mostly just the usual chains and some small used bookstores. I can't say we have a funky, artsy type vibe, either--Not like Asheville.
posted by pasici at 2:55 PM on May 11, 2009

Re: the Outer Banks. If you want a nice town, rather than a somewhat barren except for touristy things town (how many T-Shirts can you buy?), you'll want to go to Manteo. It's on a little two-town island in the sound, and it has a certain amount of charm that my aunt found delightful. There's the outdoor production of "The Lost Colony" every year (a huge "outdoor symphonic drama" based on the history of America's first English colony), some botanical gardens, restaurants with a water view, dolphin cruises, a very old cemetery, and pretty streets with old houses.

We also enjoyed Charlottesville, VA, which is where Monticello is. Driving down there last spring when the redbud was in bloom was just lovely. We stayed somewhere relatively inexpensive, but I believe there's a downtown that might be nice, or a B&B near Monticello. It might not be what you want, but it should be worth a look.
posted by amtho at 4:23 PM on May 11, 2009

Is Ashville too far? Nthing Wilmington, prefer it to Ashville.
posted by slateyness at 4:51 PM on May 11, 2009

You want Wilmington.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:36 PM on May 11, 2009

I've heard good things about Edenton, but it might be too quiet for your tastes.
posted by armage at 7:29 PM on May 11, 2009

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