Our Suggestions for Inexpensive Day Trips from the Triangle - Part 1

Lisa Sullivan

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Published on 06-25-2015

Categories: Articles

boardwalk at a beach

With the average price of gas at $2.54 per gallon in and around the Triangle, a day trip from our community this summer would make for an inexpensive one. So, we thought we’d gather together some of our favorite options that involve a variety of interests from beaches to historical landmarks to adventure and everything in between. We’ve also included admission prices (when applicable). You might want to factor in your food costs for snacks, a picnic, and/or dining out too.

Let’s start with the most popular one – beaches.

Put Your Toes in the Sand

One of THE most popular destinations for a day or weekend trip from the Triangle is the North Carolina coast, specifically the southern coast – Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Atlantic Beach, Emerald Isle, etc. For the purposes of this post, we’ll concentrate on Kure Beach, the home of Ft. Fisher State Park because it has more than just beach to offer.

At Ft. Fisher, you can tour the North Carolina Aquarium in the morning, the civil war site at lunch and then hit the beach for the afternoon, or partake in all of those activities in any order. The kids will enjoy the aquarium and all it offers, the adults tend to enjoy the civil war site and all its history while both enjoy sinking their toes in the six miles of beach that borders them both. It’s a win-win for everyone.

COST: The beach is FREE. The Aquarium – Adults (16-61), $10.95; Seniors (62+) and Military, $9.95; Children (3-12), $8.95. Ages 2 and younger – FREE.

Tap Into Your Inner Historian

For those of you that like to soak up history (instead of the sun) during the summer months, head two hours west of Raleigh to Old Salem OR two and a half hours east of the Capital City to Tryon Palace in the coastal town of New Bern. Both destinations offer quite a bit for history buffs.

In Old Salem, visitors can watch historical re-enactors partake in several of the trades (i.e. shoemaking, pottery creation, gunsmithing, etc.), as well as try your hands at some of the hands-on activities – like writing with a quill pen, for instance. Just make note that hands-on activities are only offered Wednesdays and Thursdays during certain hours.

Visitors can also stroll through the gardens and shop too!

COST: There are several options, but we recommend the “All-In-One” ticket at $23 per adult, $11 per child. With it, you can explore the on-site museum, the gardens, trade shops and hands-on activities as well as any of the other structures on site.

If you’d rather head east, make your way down S.R. 70 to New Bern and tour both the town (by foot) and its most popular attraction, Tryon Palace, the first permanent state capitol (Yes, Raleigh is not the only North Carolina city to have a state capitol building!). New Bern is the home of Pepsi , so be sure to stop by the original store as you meander through the streets of this small city along the Neuse River. From there, head a few steps over to Tryon Palace to explore the history and grounds of this beautiful museum, which is really MORE THAN a museum. We’d describe it but we invite you to go and see for yourself!

COST: Stroll through New Bern – FREE. Tryon Palace – just like with Old Salem there are many options, but we recommend the “One Day Pass” at $20 per adult, $10 per child. It gets you into the Governor’s Palace, historic homes, museum galleries and the gardens. There’s A LOT to see!

Lions, Tigers, and Bears – Oh My!

We’ve got two different options for those that love to be near and around our furry little…and not so little…friends – the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro OR Carolina Tiger Rescuejust west of the Triangle in Pittsboro, NC.

The North Carolina Zoo offers everything a typical zoo-lover would want. From exhibits and attractions that lead you past grazing elephants, antelope, and gazelles as well as harbor seals (also viewable via the underwater viewing area) and black bears to special exhibits like Dino World (open daily until October), you and the family could easily spend a whole day at the zoo!

COST: While admission is reasonable at $15 per adult, $13 per Senior (62+) and $11 per child (2-12), we recommend the “FUN Pass” for just a few dollars more at $21 per adult, $19 per Senior and $17.00 per child. With the Pass you get not only regular admission, but also six FUN tickets in which you and your children can visit the Dino World exhibit, ride the Endangered Species Carousel, and/or check out the 4-D theatre featuring SpongeBob SquarePants. It’s a better value!

Another interesting option for the animal-lover in you is partaking in a tour at the Carolina Tiger Rescue organization. Carolina Tiger Rescue is a “sanctuary whose mission is saving and protecting wild cats in captivity and in the wild.” (via the Carolina Tiger Rescue website)

Public tours take you through a half-mile guided walk to see some of the tigers, lions, bobcats, and more that they have rescued. You will hear stories of those you see too!

COST: $18 per adult, $11 per youth (4-12), and children 3 and under are FREE.

These are just some of our economical ideas for day trips from the Triangle. Stay tuned next week for Part 2 as we reveal a few more!

Tell us what you think!