5 Top Scenic Drives Near Raleigh
The state of North Carolina designated 54 areas as scenic byways and no matter what your favorite type of scenery – mountains, seascapes, or meandering roads – there’s a scenic drive that can get you there in this state. Grab your tunes, jump in your car, and let’s explore the beauty of the Tar Heel State and the Raleigh area.
Sandy Seashores and Wild Horses
About four hours to the east from Raleigh is the Outer Banks Scenic Byway. From Whalebone Junction to Beaufort, this stretch of road offers stunning views of easternmost North Carolina’s barrier islands. NC Highway 12 takes you along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, past the Bodie Island Lighthouse, the Oregon Inlet, and the Bonner Bridge among other examples of seaside beauty. The drive is a picturesque one and is best enjoyed outside summer’s prime tourist time.
Historic Battlefield and Sherman’s March
Take 40 south from Raleigh to I-95 south. Just two miles from 95, off exit 65, NC 82 West will lead you through the town of Goodwin. On the other side of Goodwin, the Averasboro Battlefield Scenic Byway follows the route of William T. Sherman’s march through the Cape Fear River Valley. The Union leader considered his march through North Carolina as one of his greatest military feats.
The southernmost point of the Pottery Road in Eagle Springs is not too far from the famous golf course of Pinehurst. If you’re traveling the backroads of this area, it’s only a short drive. Pottery Road begins between Eagle Springs and Elberta. Take 705 north. Here you have the option of catching NC 24/27, which will take you to North Carolina’s Pottery Capital, Sandhills. If you continue on 705, you can catch the Devil’s Stompin’ Ground Road, which runs through the heart of North Carolina. It’s rumored this seemingly endless stretch of farmland and deep, lush forests are the backdrop to where the devil devises his schemes.
Plantations and Lafayette
On Lafayette’s Tour, thus named because it’s the route the French marquis followed when he came to visit this country, drivers will enjoy southern architecture and plantations. Fayetteville was the first city in the United States named for Lafayette. The stops of his tour are marked with bronze plaques. Also of note on this four-hour trip is Medoc Mountain State Park where there is ample opportunity to enjoy the trails and picnic areas.
Reenactments and Encampments
Another path of the Civil War, the Blue-Gray Scenic Byway, starts right in Raleigh and goes to Apex, North Carolina about 80 miles away. Along the way, visit the Bentonville Battleground, the last major offensive of the Confederate Army. On the outskirts of Kenley, you can stop by the Tobacco Farm Life Museum, which illustrates the life and livelihood of early settlers in the Tar Heel State.
North Carolina offers varying landscapes all within a few hours’ drive from Raleigh. From steep winding paths through the mountains to meandering backroads of the Piedmont, to the sandy shores of NC 12, there are many paths to explore so get out there.