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WEB EXCLUSIVE Spring is in the air—as is hope. Thousands of people are getting the COVID-19 vaccination every day; a multitude of events have already been scheduled for later this year in Raleigh (Brewgaloo! Veg Fest! The State Fair!); and Gov. Roy Cooper has begun easing restrictions (hope to never see you again, stay-at-home order). It almost feels as though things are starting to—dare we say it—get back to normal? After a year that seems like just a blip on the radar, people are ready to get out of their homes and do something—anything—that’s not watching Netflix or baking banana bread. The following destinations are safe, affordable and full of fun activities that will give you something to look forward to this season.
Asheville offers the perfect blend of city life and outdoor recreation—a perfect weekend getaway for anyone who wants to escape from reality but still has a number of fun things to do (plus, it’s less than a four-hour drive from Raleigh). Intersperse hiking and sightseeing with break at one of Asheville’s many award-winning breweries for a beer or two, followed by a decadent meal (the hip mountain town also boasts a ton of great restaurants from which to choose). Plan out your full mountain getaway with our guide to some of Asheville’s best eats, drinks, stays and activities.
South Carolina is in pretty much the same boat as North Carolina. SC’s governor eased restrictions this week, including lifting the alcohol ban after 11pm, a rule that was set in place in July. Masks are still required, however, so remember to bring yours! Just a four-hour drive from Raleigh, Charleston boasts mild temps in a coastal location with a plethora of activities—especially as the weather starts to warm up (we’ve been dreaming of a nice tan). Nationally recognized restaurants and bars, unique historical attractions, and one-of-a-kind shops make the small city an even bigger draw—not to mention the delightful boutique hotels. Book a room at The Spectator Hotel, French Quarter Inn or HarbourView Inn for a relaxing stay that you most definitely deserve.
Fort Worth, Texas
Never been to Texas? Well, why not go now? It already feels like spring in Fort Worth, with average temps around 60 to 70 degrees (yes, please!), making for the perfect weather to explore the fun-filled locale. Visit the Stockyards National Historic District for a taste of the Wild West; get some grub in Near Southside; tour a museum in the Cultural District; and/or paddle down the river along Panther Island. With so much to see and do (and for a less-than-$300 plane ticket), you might never return.
Upstate New York is lauded as a beautiful area for outdoor lovers—the Catskills are just one of the many amazing attractions. Not hard to imagine why… a deep breath of fresh mountain air let’s all your troubles just melt away—and the breathtaking views don’t hurt either. Go now to take advantage of ski season before it ends, or wait until the weather warms up a bit more to enjoy a hike or bike ride through the many trails offered in the area. The closest airport to the Catskills is Albany, an average $250 flight from RDU and about a 40-mile drive from the mountains. Rent a car to make traveling around to various activities a breeze!
St. Petersburg, Florida
An often overlooked Florida destination, St. Petersburg (St. Pete for short) is a beautiful city between the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay. It holds the title of “most consecutive days with sunshine,” something we Raleighites can all get behind after weeks of straight rain and gloom. Along with stunning beaches, St. Pete boasts great shopping, restaurants, bars, art galleries and cultural attractions in its downtown area, plus in-person events!. Just remember to mask up and stay socially distanced from others. Flights from Raleigh to St. Pete are as low as $180—sweet sunshine, here we come!
Did you know you can get a flight to the Bahamas for under $400 from RDU? (Don’t all book your plane tickets at once!) A (safe) getaway to a tropical paradise seems like a dream come true right now. Soak up the sun on Nassau’s miles of beaches; enjoy a spa day, yoga class or round of golf; and treat yourself to elaborate meals and all the frozen drinks you can get your hands on (cheers!). Keep in mind that the Bahamas requires everyone traveling into the country to obtain a negative COVID-19 test no more than five days prior to the date of arrival.
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