Where should I go, within a 2 hour drive of Durham, NC?
September 18, 2005 10:32 AM   Subscribe

Where should I go next weekend? I live in Durham, NC and would like to keep the drive under two hours. Key points would include: really great B&B or eco-hotel (treehouse? massive windows looking outside?), great walks or cute town nearby, a body of water (lake, ocean, inlet) or nice woods, clean lines rather than frilly, or luxurious rather than old-lady-B&B. It would be great if you could recommend a specific place (Asheville is too far away for this weekend), or better yet, a specific hotel/B&B/inn. Pretend that money is no object, but I'd like to keep this under $200 a night (less is better) if possible; if a really unique place came up, I'd splurge.

Where should I be looking? Winston Salem? Beaufort? Jordan or Kerr Lake? I know there must be something unique out there that I just haven't found yet. Help us have a weekend away!

Or, if you have something in mind that isn't within two hours, post it here anyway for future reference.
posted by fionab to Travel & Transportation around Durham, NC (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I'm sorry in advance for taking up so much room on the front page. It didn't look that big in preview.
posted by fionab at 10:35 AM on September 18, 2005

I can't help with the B&B side. Most of the lakes in the area seem tilted towards bass fishin', not lazing on a B&B deck. For attractions to look for lodging near, you might try:

The NC Zoo in Asheboro. About an hour, hour and a half from Durham west on US64. If you haven't been, it's surprisingly well done. Whether there's anywhere nice to stay or eat in Asheboro I dunno, but the Blue Mist (IIRC) on the way there serves up some good pig.

Mt. Airy / Pilot Mountain / Hanging Rock area. Mt. Airy, the "real" Mayberry, is cute enough, and there are local mini-mountains to stomp around on. There are probably nice places to stay with views of PM or HR, but I don't know what they are. When in Mt. Airy, a stop at the Snappy Lunch for a pork-chop sammich is required.

3 hours: Mt. Rogers area near Galax VA.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:16 AM on September 18, 2005

Stamey's BBQ in Greensboro. And please bring me two BBQ sandwiches, a pint of BBQ slaw, and some hushpuppies.
posted by corpse at 12:40 PM on September 18, 2005

Well if you're the outdoorsy type, there are plenty of lakes and rivers to explore. Maybe ask at the Great Outdoor Provision Co., they seemed helpful when my husband and I bought our kayaks. I know that the Beaver Dam area of Falls lake is off limits to motor boats and therefore a relaxing place to paddle, though right now water levels may be quite low.

I'm assuming you already know about Wilmington/Wrightsville beach (2.5 hours but an easy trip). The zoo is indeed worthwhile, though I personally wouldn't make a weekend out of it; a day trip is sufficient.

I'm sure there are great B&Bs around, but I don't know anything about 'em.
posted by statolith at 2:19 PM on September 18, 2005

When my wife and I were in the Carrboro/Chapel Hill area, our favorite beach getaway was Darlings by the Sea, a B&B in Kure Beach. Kure is a small beach town, removed from Carolina Beach and much more family oriented (read, less college students). Darlings is lovely...not terribly modern, but wonderfully beach-relaxed. Great beds, and nice whirlpool tubs in the rooms.

Kure's small, but has a couple of decent little restaurants, and a nice pier to walk and hang out on. You can get Ice Cream at the shop on the pier, and Darlings has bikes that you can use to explore the area.

All in all, I highly recommend.
posted by griffey at 2:55 PM on September 18, 2005

Response by poster: Oh, wow, Gideon Ridge looks awesome, and would be perfect if it was a bit closer. I'll definitely put that on mental reserve for a longer weekend away though. Thanks for all of the suggestions so far, and keep 'em coming!
posted by fionab at 4:41 PM on September 18, 2005

Stamey's! (Actually, Allen & Son is closer to you and is even better, but the mention of Stamey's made me both homesick and hungry. Dammit.)

Don't know much about B&Bs, sorry, with the one exception below.

Second the recommendation for Pilot Mountain/Mt. Airy. You can drive up US 52 into Virginia for some seriously fun mountain driving (roads so curvy I've seen tractor-trailers on their sides)...at Fancy Gap, 52 meets up with the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Beaufort is great. New Bern is charming. Hammocks Beach State Park is wonderful, but hard to get to. And the Wilmington/Wrightsville Beach areas are a good recommendation as well.

If you go to the mountains, Asheville is fun. I also like the area around Highlands and Cashiers, near the Georgia line. I stayed at the 4 1/2 Street Inn in Highlands and enjoyed it greatly. Our innkeepers recommended the very good Lakeside Restaurant.

NC has some wonderful state parks, and I was lucky enough to visit a bunch of them in my Scouting days. Some of them are in your range. South Mountains is not, but it's a wonderfully rugged park with some good hard hikes. Merchants Millpond, up by Roanoke Rapids, has big cypresses, a swamp forest, and a coastal pond -- great canoeing. And Raven Rock, an hour away, has nice forests. The rock itself, which looks down on the Cape Fear River, is quite impressive.

Some other good resources include NC Visit, the official tourism site, and the DOT's Scenic Byways book.

Wait -- this is for this coming weekend? Go to Mule Days in Benson.
posted by Vidiot at 10:08 PM on September 18, 2005 [1 favorite]

Sleep in a caboose in Fancy Gap, VA.
posted by scratch at 6:31 AM on September 19, 2005

I live in Durham, NC too! Hope I can help. I don't know if they have any rooms available, but the Big Mill Bed & Breakfast in Williamston, NC is a fantastic place to stay. I stayed there for part of my honeymoon last year and its beautiful and peaceful out there.

The place is very simple and very affordable. The breakfast was delicious each morning and across the street is an absolutely stunning garden (pics are on their website). There's a lot of eastern NC small town charm very close to there.

Google Maps says that its over 2 hours, but almost the entire drive is on Highway 64, which is interstate-style divided four lane highway with 70mph speed limit most of the way. The drive is fast.

I'd say for super exciting areas (mountains or beach) you'll have to drive more than 2 hours.

BTW, for the Asheville area, I highly recommend the Old Stone Inn in Waynesville, NC (about 30 mins away). Waynesville has a terrific local arts scene.
posted by Sasquatch at 7:03 AM on September 19, 2005

In Benson there is a B&B I keep hearing good things about: The Preston Woodall House. It might be booked this weekend because of Mule Days but it is within your price range and worth a shot.

If you can still get your hands on Sunday's N&O, they had good articles about NC wineries and places to watch fall colors. It is too early for colors but those areas are always pretty. (I can't find the articles on the website but they might be up there somewhere.)
posted by smash at 7:24 AM on September 19, 2005

what about the Outer Banks (of course, if there's no hurricane a-comin') I stayed at Crews Inn on Oakcrokoke years ago and it was very nice
posted by sandra194 at 9:21 AM on September 20, 2005

Absolutely go to Beaufort. There are a number of nice B&B's and small hotels. See this for a good list. There are great restaurants and a neat maritime museum. At night, it is fun to hang out in town on the marina docks and listen to live music, drink beer, eat oysters.
posted by Shike at 12:03 PM on September 21, 2005

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