It is true, the Upstate is a wonderful place full of so many great things to do and experience. That being said, sometimes you just want to go somewhere new, somewhere different. We don’t blame you. We like to travel, too. Luckily, the Upstate is in a prime location to offer some spectacular day trips. Who doesn’t love a day trip? It has all of the excitement of a legit vacation, but at the end of the day you can come home and climb into your own comfy bed. Here are Five Day Trips worth the gas mileage.
Asheville, NC – Are you ready to get weird? Then you’ll want to head for the hills and make the trek to Asheville, NC. The locals are eclectic, the style is eclectic, and the food is fantastic. You can start your day off right with breakfast at Sunny Point Café, voted one of the best breakfasts in the city. Then you can tour the unique and literary Thomas Wolfe house. Spend your afternoon shopping at all of the wonderful and weird boutiques and taking in the Art Deco architecture of the city. Looking for an incredible view? Make the short drive to the Grove Park Inn and have a drink on the back patio. You can see the entire city of Asheville as well as the mountains in the distance. Once you’ve had your fill of the view, head back into the city for dinner at Curate. The Spanish and Mediterranean flair will add some spice to the end of your day trip.
Columbia, SC – Here’s a “capital” idea, visit the state capital, Columbia. If you love museums, then you will want to visit the State Museum. Start early as there is so much to see, you won’t want to feel rushed. The museum also houses a planetarium so you can go intergalactic during your visit. For lunch, soak up some local flavor at D’s Wings in Cayce, just outside of the city. Locals love their wings, and this is THE place to eat on game day. After you’ve had your fill of wings, visit Columbia’s Riverfront Park. The park is built around the city’s original waterworks, and you’ll see the remains of these structures as you explore the trails. If you are feeling official, plan ahead and schedule a tour of the State House. You can get an inside look at our state’s government. As the day winds down, hit Lincoln Street for some shopping (if you’re so inclined). It is also here where you will find Blue Marlin. Blue Marlin is serving up Low Country flavors to the midlands, and has been consistently hailed as one of Columbia’s best restaurants.
Hendersonville, NC – Looking for small town charm? Then look no further than Hendersonville, NC. While not small by any means, there is something about the slow pace and laidback attitude of Hendersonville that allow you to breathe a sigh of relief. Start your day by strolling along Main Street. There are plenty of shops and coffee houses to get lost in as you take in the fresh mountain air. As you make your way down the street, stop in at the Mineral and Lapidary Museum. This quaint museum features regional specimens of gems and minerals, as well as exhibits about dinosaurs and meteorites. For some vintage vibes, grab a quick lunch at Mike’s on Main Street. Set up like a soda shop, you can get a classic malt, ice cream soda, or egg cream. You can also get a delicious burger or hot grilled sandwich, perfect for a quick lunch. After lunch, take a short trip outside of town and head to Jump Off Rock. This outcropping gives panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and the town of Hendersonville. Pro tip: try and get there for the sunset. It may get a little crowded, but the view of the sunset will be so worth it.
York, SC – Looking to stay in the foothills? Then head east from the Upstate to York, SC. From Main Street you can see magnificent Kings Mountain. Start off by exploring the sun dappled streets of the surrounding neighborhoods. Take in the sights of the expertly manicured yards and gardens before you make your way to The Garden Café for a locally sourced and prepared lunch. After lunch, take the short drive to Kings Mountain where you can explore the myriad trails and experience the living history farm. The structures will make you feel as if you have been transported to a different time (and they make for a pretty good photo op). After you have had your fill of hiking, make your way back to N Congress Street in York. Here you’ll find the Sylvia Theater, a vintage theater that still shows movies and sometimes even hosts concerts. Cap off your day in York with Coca-Cola Brined Chicken or some succulent wings from the Jasmine Café.
Explore the Upstate – Ok, ok, I know we said these would be places outside of the Upstate, but we just couldn’t help ourselves. The Upstate literally has so much to do that we could plan an entire week of things to do. We won’t be that ambitious, for now we’ll stick to a day trip. Start your day off by heading to one of the Upstate’s gorgeous lakes (we recommend Jocassee). Don’t forget your bathing suit, because these lakes are perfect for swimming. You can even rent a boat and take it out on the water. After you’ve had your aquatic fun, take a trip to the dark corner. Grab a few tacos at 3 Amigos in Walhalla before continuing on your adventure at Stumphouse Tunnel. This tunnel is spooky, even in the daylight. It is a tunnel that was drilled into a mountain as part of a planned railroad, but as many good plans, this one was abandoned halfway through. While here, you can make the trek to Issaqueena Falls. For dinner, it is time to head back to the lake. The Lighthouse serves elevated American cuisine all with breathtaking views of Lake Keowee.
Just think, you now have your next five day trips planned for you. Whether you like shopping, culture, or the outdoors, we’ve got you covered. You even have some new restaurants to check out (which is always an important part of a trip). Gas up the car, and get ready to go. The trips may only last a day, but the memories you make will last a lifetime.