Trying to decide where to stop on your Raleigh to Asheville road trip? Look no further. A North Carolina road trip like this offers plenty of amazing stops in cities and at natural beauty. Best of all, there are a couple of amazing routes you can take depending on your interests!
Of course, it’s your road trip, so feel free to skip any stops that aren’t up your alley. Besides, then you’ll have more time to explore the wonders of Asheville!
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Where to Stop between Raleigh and Asheville, North Carolina
Whether you’re planning a side trip from Raleigh to Asheville or live in Raleigh and are headed for a weekend getaway in Asheville, you’ll have a great time! The drive from Raleigh to Asheville is one of the best road trips in North Carolina offering you stops in many of the wonderful cities the state has to offer.
And perhaps best of all, this NC road trip takes you to Asheville, one of the crown jewels of the state. Nestled into the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville offers a plethora of outdoor activities, delicious southern food, dozens of craft breweries, and a thriving art scene. No matter your interests, you’ll find Asheville will keep drawing you back in – or at least it does for me!
Keep in mind that if you’re short on time, you can drive straight through from Raleigh to Asheville. After all, it only takes 4 hours right along i40, but you’d be missing a lot of great places to stop along the way. As a North Carolina resident, I’m always finding new and amazing parts of the state, and trust me, you’ll want to explore more of North Carolina along the way!
Starting Point: Raleigh
Your road trip starts here, the capital of North Carolina, the “City of Oaks”. It’s an easy place to fly in to, or maybe you call this lovely city home, like me. Either way, it’s time to prepare to for your road trip through North Carolina starting with the exploration of Raleigh!
Top Things to Do in Raleigh
As the capital city of North Carolina, Raleigh offers a wide variety of activities for people of all ages and interests. Whether you love museums or are a foodie, you’ll find yourself right at home in Raleigh. Here are some of the “can’t miss” Raleigh experiences:
- Visit the North Carolina State Capitol Building
- Eat at the award winning Brewery Bhavana, one of the top restaurants in the world, featuring a brewery, dim sum restaurant, bookstore, and flower shop, all-in-one (You’ll need to make reservations in advance!)
- Stop by Moore Square to understand why Raleigh is the “City of Oaks”
- Admire the many outdoor murals throughout the city
- Watch chocolate being made at Videri Chocolate Factory (and of course taste it!)
- Taste all of the beer at Raleigh Beer Garden, which holds the Guinness World Record for number of beers on tap!
Find more top things to do in downtown Raleigh
Where to Stay in Raleigh
Determining where to stay in Raleigh depends on the purpose of your visit, but if you’re coming as a tourist, the Marriott Raleigh City Center in downtown is the best option! You’ll be located right in the heart of the city, close to everything you want to see and do in downtown Raleigh.
Your first stop after Raleigh, will be Chapel Hill, another one of the “Research Triangle” hubs (along with Raleigh and Durham). Home to one of the premier universities in North Carolina, Chapel Hill has been nicknamed “The Southern Part of Heaven”, and you’re just going to have to stop by to find out why…
Distance from Raleigh to Chapel Hill: 33 miles / 35 minutes
Top Things to Do in Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill is best known as being the location of UNC Chapel Hill, the first public university in the United States, but it offers a lot more than just the university. Spend an afternoon or a day or two exploring this quaint town to take in its southern small town charm. While you’re in town, make sure to hit some of the highlights:
- Explore Franklin Street, the main street in downtown Chapel Hill and home to dozens of shops, restaurants, and bars
- Walk through the stunning University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus
- Grab a craft beer on the terrace of Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery overlooking Franklin Street
- Catch a basketball game at the Dean E. Smith Center – after all, basketball is king in North Carolina!
- Sink your teeth into a delicious, award-winning burger at Al’s Burger Shack
- Stop at Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, the largest full-dome planetarium in the southeast
- Visit the North Carolina Botanical Garden at UNC Chapel Hill
Where to Stay in Chapel Hill
Stay overnight at The Carolina Inn for an authentic Chapel Hill experience. This landmark hotel is located central to University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and historic Franklin Street and offers modern amenities in a truly charming setting.
Next up is the third largest city in North Carolina, Greensboro. Known as “The Gate City“, this nickname came from Greensboro’s historic prominence within the railroad system where it became the gateway to the West and the South. This helped the city boom to the thriving metropolitan area it is today.
Distance from Chapel Hill to Greensboro: 50 miles / 50 minutes
Top Things to Do in Greensboro
If you have the time, you can spend a couple of days exploring all that Greensboro has to offer, or you can swing through for a quick walk or beer! Whatever your NC road trip itinerary looks like, you’ll be driving through on your way to Asheville, so it’s worth getting a feel for this gateway city.
- Visit Guilford Courthouse National Military Park which commemorates the 1781 Battle of Guilford Courthouse
- Admire the architecture and history at the Greensboro History Museum
- Explore the 17-acre Greensboro Arboretum or the 11-acre Gateway Gardens for your flower and garden fix
- Sip a beer at the Pig Pounder Brewery and admire their #kotisstreetart murals
- Stop at the High Point Furniture Market, just outside Greensboro
- Spend a day at Wet ‘n Wild Emerald Pointe, one of the top 10 waterparks in the US
Where to Stay in Greensboro
Treat yourself to a stay at the Grandover Resort Golf and Spa. This beautiful resort offers luxury you wouldn’t expect in the middle of a road trip in North Carolina! You’ll find two 18-hole championship golf courses, sculpted lawns, a spa center, a beautiful indoor and outdoor pool, tennis and volleyball courts, and more.
Next on your road trip across North Carolina is Winston-Salem, the “Twin City”. This city offers an extremely rich history, dating back to the 1700s. In fact, it’s home to Salem College, which was founded back in 1772 by the Moravians. It is the oldest college for women in the United States.
Distance from Greensboro to Winston-Salem: 29 miles / 30 minutes
Top Things to Do in Winston-Salem
The historic city of Winston-Salem offers highlights that will keep you busy for a couple of hours, but if you’re really into history, you may wish to spend a couple of days. Here are some of the activities you’ll want to check out:
- Explore the Historic West End District to learn the history of Winston-Salem all the way back to the 1800s and admire the old architecture and way of life
- Continue your history tour at the Old Salem Museum & Gardens and Historic Bethabara Park
- Admire the Reynolds building in downtown which was the 22-story prototype of the famous Empire State Building
- Stop at the Black Mountain Chocolate Factory to learn about the chocolate making process
- Grab a beer at Foothills Brewing, a 48,000 foot brewery in Winston-Salem
- Visit the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art to see rotating exhibits of local, national, and international artists
Where to Stay in Winston-Salem
Get the full experience of Winston-Salem with a stay at The Historic Brookstown Inn. This centrally located hotel offers a rustic type of charm with deeply routed southern hospitality. You’ll be greeted by a hot breakfast, evening wine and cheese, and cookies and milk before bed.
Located right off of i40, the stop for Catawba Falls is a short hike on the way to Asheville. If you’re at all interested in hiking, you’ll want to stop here to get a sampling of the wonderful nature you’ll find in and around Asheville.
Distance from Winston-Salem to Catawba Falls: 124 miles / 1 hour 55 minutes
Things to Do at Catawba Falls
The only point of interest at Catawba Falls is… you guessed it, Catawba Falls! The Catawba Falls Trail is an easy 2.3 mile out and back trail and definitely one of the best stops between Raleigh and Asheville. It will take about 1 hour to complete this hike, plus any time you want to spend admiring the majestic Catawba Falls. It’s a pretty easy hike, even for the non-hikers of the group, and the waterfall at the end is 100% worth the stop. Do not miss it!
Black Mountain is “The Little Town That Rocks from Sunup to Sundown” and is rated as one of “The Best Small Towns in Western North Carolina”. Best known for its arts and crafts,Black Mountain is a great stop when road tripping from Raleigh to Asheville, whether you want to stop to admire the small town charm or are interested in grabbing a craft beer.
Distance from Catawba Falls to Black Mountain: 12 miles / 18 minutes
Top Things to Do in Black Mountain
While Black Mountain is a small mountain town, you’ll want to plan your time in town with some of these classic activities:
- Explore the many arts and crafts, art galleries, antique stores, and gift shops around Town Square
- Stop in the old fashion Town Hardware & General Store
- Rock on the “Big Red Rocking Chair” in front of the Black Mountain Swannanoa Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center
- Sip a beer at Lookout Brewing Company or Black Mountain Brewing
- Grab a delicious pizza at Fresh Wood Fired Pizza or an ice cream cone at The Hop
- Walk the half mile loop trail around Lake Tomahawk
Where to Stay in Black Mountain
While Black Mountain is a quaint town, it is situated in the foothills and can be used as your base for mountain exploration. If the small town life of Black Mountain is for you, stay at the Red Rocker Inn. This Bed and Breakfast, Restaurant, and Bakery is located in the heart of Black Mountain and a classic Black Mountain hotel.
End Destination: Asheville
There are plenty of things to keep you busy in and around the Asheville area. After all, that’s why taking a road trip from Raleigh to Asheville is such a popular route! You’ll have the opportunity to see the capital of North Carolina and one of the most beautiful mountain cities in the United States.
Distance from Black Mountain to Asheville: 16 miles / 19 minutes
Top Things to Do in Asheville
Asheville is one of my personal favorite locations in North Carolina as it offers something for everyone. Check out a full weekend itinerary in Asheville or start by exploring some of the best things to do in Asheville:
- Go hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains to scenic overlooks and thundering waterfalls – Don’t have transportation? Take a Blue Ridge Parkway Waterfall Hiking Tour
- Visit the Biltmore Estate, America’s Largest Home
- Drive the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway for stunning mountain views
- Admire the hundreds of art galleries in the River Arts District
- Taste dozens of craft beers at one of the 48 craft breweries around the metro-area, particularly Wicked Weed Brewing and Burial Beer Co. – You can even do this on a Guided Brewery Walking Tour!
- Paddleboard or Kayak the French Broad River
- Taking a walking tour or segway tour of downtown Asheville
Read all about how to spend your time in Asheville, North Carolina
Where to Stay in Asheville
Make your trip memorable with a stay at one of the most famous hotels in the Asheville area, the historic Omni Grove Park Inn. It’s the ideal home-base for your time in Asheville as you’ll have fabulous views of the Blue Ridge Mountains while being only 2.3 miles from downtown.
Alternative Road Trip Route from Raleigh to Asheville
Another great route option is to detour from Winston-Salemto Boone and Blowing Rock, rather than heading to Catawba Falls. This alternate route will make your road trip from Raleigh to Asheville a bit longer, but you’ll experience the best parts of western North Carolina this way!
It will take you into the mountains and provide you the opportunity to stop at some of the most scenic locations in the Blue Ridge Mountains and along the famous Blue Ridge Parkway. This makes it a very popular path for driving to Asheville from Raleigh, and one I encourage you to entertain if you love natural beauty!
Winston-Salem to Blowing Rock
Blowing Rock is a small village in western NC located right off the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway. It is your introduction to the wonderful things that await you in the coming days as you explore the mountains and Asheville.
Distance from Winston-Salem to Blowing Rock: 87 miles / 1 hour 35 minutes
Top Things to Do in Blowing Rock
The town of Blowing Rock has a few wonderful activities, but the majority of its perks lie in the mountains, a short hike away. Here are some of the things you won’t want to miss:
- Visit “The Blowing Rock“, North Carolina’s Oldest Travel Attraction
- Hike the 2.3 mile Glen Burney Trail to the Glen Burney Falls Overlook
- Explore and shop through downtown Blowing Rock
- Eat and drink at Blowing Rock Ale House Restaurant
- Ride the Tweetsie Railroad at the Wild West theme park
Where to Stay in Blowing Rock
If you have time to spend a night or two in Blowing Rock, check out Chetola Resort. This centrally located Blowing Rock resort offers all of the small town mountain charm it can fit with a wide variety of accommodation options. Choose from Bob Timberlake Inn at Chetola Resort, Chetola Resort Condominiums, or Chetola Resort Lodge.
Blowing Rock to Asheville (Best Route)
The best route from Blowing Rock to Asheville is to take the Blue Ridge Parkway. You’ll start at Mile Post 293 in Blowing Rock and continue the 89 miles to Asheville at Mile Post 382. With no stops, it will take about 3 hours to do this drive, but you’ll want to plan a whole day for this section of the drive because it is truly stunning!
Distance from Blowing Rock to Asheville on the Scenic Blue Ridge Parkway: 3+ hours
Top Things to Do between Blowing Rock and Asheville
Traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway from Blowing Rock to Asheville, you’ll pass some amazing scenery and dozens of interesting stops. It can be difficult to determine which are the best options for your trip. To make it easier, here are the top must-see options between Blowing Rock and Boone on the Blue Ridge Parkway:
- Stop at all of the overlooks you possibly can!
- Explore the Banner Elk, Beech Mountain, & Sugar Mountain areas at Mile Post 305.2, including the famous Grandfather Mountain and its Mile High Swinging Bridge, which offers 360-degree views
- Visit Linville Falls and the Linville Gorge Wilderness area off of Mile Post 316.4 for stunning waterfall views and endless hiking trails
- Get a taste for Little Switzerland offering views that resemble the foothills of the Swiss Alps at Mile Post 334
- Drive up or hike up to the top of Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi, in Mount Mitchell State Park at Mile Post 355
- Hike the 1.9 mile Craggy Gardens Trail at Mile Post 364 for some of the best wildflowers available along the Parkway, including the rhododendron garden which is in full bloom in June
- Admire arts and crafts at the Folk Arts Center at Mile Post 382, including daily craft demonstrations from March – December
Blowing Rock to Asheville (Fastest Route)
The most direct route from Blowing Rock to Asheville will only take you 1 hour and 40 minutes so you’ll arrive in Asheville much faster, but you will miss a lot of the scenery along the Blue Ridge Parkway. If you are spending plenty of time in Asheville, you’ll want to backtrack at some point to see the many views and places listed above.
Distance from Blowing Rock to Asheville using the most direct route: 90 miles / 1 hour 40 minutes
Your Questions about Traveling from Raleigh to Asheville Answered
If you’re considering doing one of the best NC road trips, from Raleigh to Asheville or Asheville to Raleigh, you likely still have a few questions.
How far is it from Raleigh to Asheville?
The most direct route from Raleigh to Asheville is 247.4 miles. It takes you directly across i40 through Greensboro and Winston-Salem.
How long is the drive from Raleigh to Asheville?
If you’re on a tight timeline, the direct drive from Raleigh to Asheville will take 3 hours and 45 minutes. This of course depends on traffic along the way.
What is the best time of year to visit Asheville, NC?
Asheville is a beautiful destination year round, but the best time to visit Asheville is in the fall to see the leaves changing in the surrounding mountains. This typically happens in October but the leaf-peeping season is longer due to the varying elevations in the area.
Other great times to visit Asheville include spring, from March to May and all of fall lasting from September to November. You’ll find the weather is ideal, hovering between the upper 50s and high 70s. Perfect weather for hiking or sipping a craft beer outside!
What’s the best way to get from Raleigh to Asheville?
There are multiple ways to get from Raleigh to Asheville, but the best option is to drive Raleigh to Asheville. It’s the quickest and most affordable option as well as you’ll want to have a car once you arrive in Asheville so that you can explore the surrounding mountains. That being said, you can also take a bus or flight to travel from Raleigh to Asheville.
How much does it cost to take a bus from Raleigh to Asheville?
Buses from Raleigh to Asheville start around $36 but will take over 7 hours to make the journey. They often go down and through Charlotte on their way from Raleigh to Asheville.
Can you take the train from Raleigh to Asheville?
Unfortunately, Asheville does not have an Amtrak station, so you cannot take a train from Raleigh to Asheville. You can however take a train from Raleigh to Charlotte and then catch the bus or fly from Charlotte to Asheville. This will elongate the journey quite a bit, taking at least 6 hours.
Can you fly from Raleigh to Asheville?
Another option for getting from Raleigh to Asheville is to take a flight. Unfortunately, there are no direct flights from Raleigh to Asheville meaning it will take you at least 3 hours to fly with a layover. When you add in getting to the airport early, it’s much more time and cost effective to drive from Raleigh to Asheville.
Raleigh’s airport code is RDU, and Asheville’s is AVL if you want to try searching flights!
Prepare for Your Road Trip across North Carolina
A road trip from Raleigh to Asheville takes you through some of the best cities and sights in North Carolina giving you the chance to explore many of the central and western parts of the state. It’s definitely one of the best road trips in North Carolina!
Dive further into your North Carolina exploration with these helpful posts:
- 20 Amazing Things to Do in Downtown Raleigh, NC
- Where to Stay in Raleigh: Top Areas and Hotels
- The 10 Best Bars in Downtown Raleigh, NC
- How to Spend One Perfect Weekend in Asheville, North Carolina
- 10 Things to See in the Outer Banks for a Perfect Vacation
- Everything You Need to Know about Visiting Jockey’s Ridge State Park in the Outer Banks
And if planning and taking road trips is new to you, I’ve got you covered! You’ll be on the road traveling like a pro in no time:
- How to Plan a Road Trip: A Step-by-Step Guide
- Road Trip Packing List for Expert Travelers: 60 Road Trip Essentials + More Tips!
- 80+ Good Road Trip Snacks: The Key to Any Successful Road Trip!
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