Plan a Road Trip from Charlotte to Atlantic Beach, NC

North Carolina is a truly beautiful state with a little something for everyone. Depending on where you are, you can enjoy the busy city, escape to the solitude of the mountains, or relax on the white sands of the beach. With a road trip to Atlantic Beach, you can see so much of North Carolina all on one trip! Heading from Charlotte to our Atlantic Beach vacation rentals is a quicker trip than you might think, and there’s plenty to see and do along the way. 

feet on the dash during a road trip to atlantic beach

How Far is the Drive from Charlotte to Atlantic Beach?

Driving from Charlotte to Atlantic Beach takes just under 5 hours with no stops. However, if you take the time to experience some of the incredible destinations on the journey, you can spend an entire day discovering this beautiful state without feeling like you’re stuck in the car all day! Thankfully, it’s pretty easy to get to Atlantic Beach

Heading from Charlotte to our Atlantic Beach rentals is a quicker trip than you might think, and there’s plenty to see and do along the way! 

Leaving from Charlotte, you’ll make your way to I-77 N before getting onto I-85 N toward Greensboro (which will be your first stop!). Your overall journey on I-85 N will last about 70 miles before you make your way to I-40 E. This road will lead you into Raleigh after about 60 miles. 

After that, head to US-70 E toward Smithfield/Goldsboro, then continue onto US-70 E. You’ll have a few twists and turns along the way but will ultimately stay on US-70 E for around 130 miles. This will take you right to the Atlantic Beach Bridge, bringing you to Atlantic Beach itself!

Things to Do in Charlotte

Before you start your road trip from Charlotte, NC, it’s worth it to spend some extra time in the city and explore the nearby attractions before you hit the road. There’s a little something for everyone here, so you might want more than one day to see the city to its fullest! Nature lovers will enjoy a trip to the U.S. National Whitewater Center and the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, while those interested in history will find plenty of it in attractions like the Carolinas Aviation Museum, the Levine Museum of the New South, and the Charlotte Museum of History.

Traveling with kids? Bring them down to the Carowinds theme park, let them experience science firsthand at Discovery Place Science, or let their imaginations run wild at the Joe & Joan Martin Center. Other popular attractions in the area include the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the Mint Museum, the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, and the Billy Graham Library. 

What to Do In Between

Once you’ve left Charlotte, your first major stop will be in Greensboro. At this point, you’ll have been driving for about an hour and a half, so it’s a great opportunity to stretch your legs and explore an attraction or two. Get outside and walk around Guilford Courthouse National Military Park for a bit of a history lesson, or experience history inside the Greensboro History Museum. Kids are sure to love attractions like the Greensboro Children’s Museum or the Greensboro Science Center. Your family might also enjoy the Wet’n Wild Emerald Pointe Water Park, the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, the Greensboro Arboretum, and the Greensboro Botanical Gardens. 

Bridge at Pullen Park in Raleigh

Get back in the car for about another hour to reach the city of Durham, best known as the home of Duke University. There are tons of beautiful outdoor sites to discover in Durham, including the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, Eno River State Park, the Falls Lake State Recreational Area, and Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area. The Museum of Life and Science is a great place to learn about, well, life and science in a hands-on environment, or if you’re looking for a great indoor activity, visit the Nasher Museum of Art for more than 10,000 pieces to admire. Finally, if you’re looking for a bit of a thrill, make your way to Frankie’s for go-karts, laser tag, bumper boats, and more!

If you didn’t stop to grab lunch in Durham, you only have to travel 30 more minutes to reach Raleigh. Get something to eat before discovering all the possibilities in this gorgeous capital city. Of course, there are tons of fascinating museums here, such as the North Carolina Museum of Art, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, the Marbles Kids Museum, and the City of Raleigh Museum. If you haven’t gotten enough of the outdoors, you can explore William B. Umstead State Park, Pullen Park, Dorothea Dix Park, or the JC Raulston Arboretum. This is your last stop before Atlantic Beach, so take all the time you need to discover the attractions here!

aerial view of atlantic beach rentals

Things to Do in Atlantic Beach

Finally, you’ll hop back in your car for the longest stretch of your trip. After about 2.5 hours of driving, you’ll find yourself in the welcoming community of Atlantic Beach! This city is a staple of the Crystal Coast and offers plenty to see and do, starting with, of course, the beach. The stretches of shoreline in Atlantic Beach are calm and relaxing, perfect for unwinding after a day in the car with your family. Fort Macon State Park is one of the best places to spend some time in the sand, and you can also explore the Civil War fort while you’re here.

The Rachel Carson Reserve and the Hoop Pole Creek Nature Trail are a few more popular spots for those who enjoy being outside. You can also stroll down Ocean Ridge Street to see the beautiful properties along “Millionaire’s Row.” If your kids really need to burn off some energy at this point, take them to Atlantic Beach Town Park, where they can hit the splash pad or skate park, or you can get competitive at mini-golf!

Other Places to See Nearby

Your trip to Atlantic Beach doesn’t have to be limited to just Atlantic Beach. It’s easy to reach several other communities along the Crystal Coast for even more to do! In Morehead City, you can enjoy the exhibits at the North Carolina Maritime Museum or the History Museum of Carteret, or make your way to Shevans Park or Jaycee Park for a picnic lunch or an afternoon at the playground. 

In nearby Beaufort, get your souvenir shopping done as you stroll down Front Street, then head to the Old Burying Ground for a hands-on history lesson. You also won’t want to miss a trip to the Cape Lookout National Seashore, where you can climb up into the lighthouse for a simply unmatched view of the waters! And if this isn’t enough, you can also extend your trip to nearby destinations like Swansboro and Harkers Island

Tall ships in Beaufort NC

Where to Stay

There’s so much to do and see along the Crystal Coast that a one-day road trip simply won’t cut it. To see Atlantic Beach and the surrounding cities to their fullest, you’re going to want to stick around for a night or two. Luckily, Spectrum has plenty of Atlantic Beach condo rentals that can suit families of any size! Whether you’re just staying overnight or want to plan a week-long vacation, we’ve got you covered. Our condos are luxurious yet comfortable and will never break the bank. If you’re not quite sure which of our properties would be best for your trip, just contact our helpful staff and we’ll recommend a space just for you. Contact us today to learn more!