Atlanta and Charlotte are considered to be similar big cities in the South with suburban sprawl and funky neighborhoods. But you can experience their differences and similarities by seeing both.
The drive from Atlanta to Charlotte takes around four hours and is fairly straightforward. It’s easily accessible by taking I-85 north to I-77. Get off the main roads to see funky landmarks.
Did you know that you can visit a winery within a short drive of Atlanta? Chateau Elan in Braselton is a French-inspired winery and resort with a spa, restaurants, and tasting room. They also offer cooking classes and afternoon tea. Stop by for a glass or fill up on award-winning bottles to enjoy back home.
Take the Jefferson exit on I-75 and you’re met with one of Georgia’s rural communities. It’s home to Pendergrass Market, one of the region’s largest flea markets. The town also has the Crawford Long Museum, named for the surgeon to first use anesthesia.
If you keep driving, you’ll be in the college town of Athens, home to the University of Georgia. See works by regional artists at the Georgia Museum of Art, tour antebellum homes, or explore The State Botanical Garden of Georgia.
You can also join an Athens Food Tour or Georgia Horseback Ride with Wine Tasting.
Greenville is the perfect place to stretch your legs on the trek north. Detour to the BMW Zentrum in nearby Greer, which has a production facility and a small museum showcasing some of the company’s most unique automobiles, the only in North America.
The Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum is another fun stop, set in his former home where he lived and died. Only open on Saturdays, plan your day around it. It’s located next to the city’s minor league baseball stadium and is free to visit.
Travelers Rest is a cute town nearby, home to Furman University and the other end of the 20-mile Swamp Rabbit Trail. You can walk or bike it in its entirety from Falls Park on the Reedy in downtown Greenville.
If you have time, go on a Greenville: 2-Hour Beer, Wine, and Cocktail Tour or Sunset Swamp Rabbit Ride on the bike trail.
Spartanburg is another 30 or so minutes beyond Greenville and is home to the training facility for the Carolina Panthers. It’s a great place to spend some time in the great outdoors like at Milliken Arboretum or Croft State Park.
RJ Rockers Brewery is a longtime local brewery, joining newer ones like Ciclops Cyderi & Brewery. And if you’re in need of a good meal, look no further than the Beacon Drive-In, a longtime favorite roadside eatery.
If you’ve ever driven the stretch of I-85 as it crosses into North Carolina, you’ve likely seen the Peach water tower, often called the “Peachoid.” It even had a mention on House of Cards. Snap a photo as you drive past or park at the Fatz’s Restaurant to get up close.
While you’re in the area, you can browse the shops at the Gaffney Outlet Marketplace or detour to the Cowpens National Battlefield. It was the site of the 1791 Revolutionary War battle and includes over 800 acres.
Right before getting into Charlotte, you can stop in the town of Belmont, home to the Belmont Abbey and its namesake college. You can tour the 1892 basilica while you’re there.
Nearby, you can also see the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden or go on a paddling excursion on the Catawba River.
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