Last Updated on September 21, 2022
Last Updated on September 21, 2022
If you’re based in North Carolina and are searching for quick and easy day trips from Fayetteville, we’ve created this guide just for you. While the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Outer Banks are a little further away, we still think you have plenty of options within two hours for your next getaway!
Our guide features outdoor favorites (including state parks sites), vibrant cities, and beloved small towns near Fayetteville. Because there are so many great places to share, here’s how we’ve organized this guide:
- 3 Cumberland County Day Trips from Fayetteville
- 17 Outdoor Day Trips
- 7 Cities
- 32 Small Towns
You can scroll ahead to any of these sections and even visually plan your next trip through our North Carolina Travel Map. Of course, you can just keep on reading for some quick getaways within Cumberland County!
Day Trips from Fayetteville
For this article, all Cumberland County day trips, outdoor places, cities, and towns in each section are grouped by the time it takes to reach them from Fayetteville, from closest to farthest away in time.
If two or more places take the same amount of time to reach, we will use distance in miles as a tiebreaker before moving on to our ABC skills.
Read More: The Best Day Trips in North Carolina
Cumberland County Day Trips from Fayetteville
There is plenty of adventure to be had without even leaving Cumberland County! You’ll likely visit Cape Fear Botanical Garden and the US Army Airborne and Special Operations Museum, but more than a dozen additional towns, townships, and communities accompany Fayetteville.
We’d love to dig into each one (stay tuned!) but until then, here are two great places to explore without leaving the county lines!
7 miles | 15 minutes
Historically, Hope Mills was an industrial town filled with gristmills, sawmills, and potters along Little Rockfish Creek in the 1700s. Today, Hope Mills makes for an excellent day trip from Fayetteville.
One of the best things to do in Hope Mills is to stop by Dirt Bag Ales, one of our favorite North Carolina breweries! The kid-friendly space paired with the on-site Napkins Restaurant keeps Hope Mills on the must-visit list for us!
If you’re looking for more fun in Hope Mills check out these things to do:
Read more: Veteran-Owned Fayetteville Breweries
10 miles | 16 minutes
Along with Hope Mills, Spring Lake is one of many I-95 day trips from Fayetteville.
This is an excellent location for those looking for outdoor adventure, largely thanks to Carvers Creek State Park‘s Sandhills Access. Keep reading for more about Carvers Creek.
Spring Lake Outpost is a great location to explore Cumberland County on the water! Bring your own kayak or rent one and enjoy a three or six-mile float down the Lower Little River.
Spring Lake is also home to Noble Meats, an excellent place to grab Southern barbecue and meats in Cumberland County!
Read More: Mouth-watering Restaurants in Fayetteville
Carvers Creek State Park
13 miles | 22 minutes (Long Valley Farm Access)
10 miles | 20 minutes (Sandhills Access)
Carver’s Creek State Park is located in both Cumberland County and Harnett and is an excellent outdoor activity in Fayetteville! The state park has 4,530 acres and two locations to explore.
The Long Valley Farm access is one of the most popular, but we break down each location and why we love them both in this article on Carvers Creek State Park!
Outdoor Day Trips from Fayetteville
Day trips from Fayetteville start for many of us with the outdoors, whether for fishing, hiking, or getting out on the water! Here are more than a dozen state parks sites or national forests that are within 2 hours.
Jones Lake State Park
35 miles | 42 minutes
Jones Lake State Park is the first of a few Carolina Bays (or Meteor Lakes) that make great day trips from Fayetteville. The Bladen County park allows fishing, swimming, and boating in its shallow waters.
You can also enjoy a scenic picnic by the water.
There are a few trails here, too, which include the 4-mile Bay Trail that loops around Jones Lake. You can extend your hike by connecting to the mile-long Salters Lake Trail.
Read More: Winter Hikes in North Carolina
Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve
38 miles | 50 minutes
Its many trails interweave with one another around the Weymouth Tract. This is where you’ll find the Visitor Center.
One great option is to create a 1.5-mile loop by combining Pine Barrens with Gum Swamp. Of course, there are more options to create longer hikes if you wish to do so.
Two additional tracts await at Weymouth Woods.
- Paint Hill: 1.3 miles of trails.
- Boyd Tract: The Round Timber Trail will take you to the oldest known living longleaf pine tree.
Read More: 100+ Hiking Trails in North Carolina
Raven Rock State Park
32 miles | 50 minutes
Raven Rock State Park sits on the Fall Line, creating some interesting and unique geographical features for Eastern NC.
For example, there’s the 150-foot tall Raven Rock, which sits along the Cape Fear River.
The Raven Rock Loop Trail will take you to excellent views of the river but also down to the rock. This trail is a 2.6-mile loop and one of the most trafficked in the park.
Read More: 100+ Unique Things to Do in North Carolina
Bladen Lakes State Forest
34 miles | 41 minutes
Bladen Lakes State Forest is the largest state-owned forest in North Carolina. It’s also one of the easiest day trips from Fayetteville!
The park covers 33,000 acres and is a popular spot for designated hunting.
Hunting licenses are required and available Monday, Wednesdays, and Saturdays while in season.
In addition to hunting, the Turnbull Creek Education State Forest is where you can find the best hiking trails in Bladen Lakes State Forest. There are over 30 miles of public roads for hiking, biking, or horseback riding.
Singletary Lake State Park
47 miles | 55 minutes
Singletary Lake is just down the road from Jones Lake and another of Bladen County’s Carolina Bays. This place is perfect for large groups to come and stay in the cabins near the lake.
Those cabins are one of the first things you’ll see upon entering this smaller state park site.
However, there are a few trailheads that lead to some fairly diverse terrain. The CCC Trail is a mile-long loop that’ll take you by the scenic pier, through the bay forest, and toward the park’s sandier edges.
Another interesting thing about Singletary Lake State Park is that it’s off a section of NC 242 known as the Meteor Lakes Byway. The scenic road will take you by Jones Lake, Singletary Lake, and also, White Lake.
Lumber River State Park
58 miles | 57 minutes
Protecting 115 miles of the only blackwater river designated as a National Wild and Scenic River, Lumber River State Park is an excellent day trip from Fayetteville. There are 24 boat launches along the river, but you’ll find that fishing is the most popular activity in this North Carolina State Park.
Jordan Lake State Recreation Area
60 miles | 1 hour 11 minutes
Jordan Lake State Recreation Area is home to excellent fishing, boating, and marvelous views throughout. Bald eagles are also known to flock here, so keep your eyes out for our national symbol!
You can also hike here on the New Hope Trail, one of the most popular and challenging paths. Hikers and trail runners will see incredible views of Jordan Lake while enjoying the shady hardwood forest.
We also like the Seaforth Pond Trail, which loops around two shores and a few interesting ponds.
Cliffs of the Neuse State Park
63 miles | 1 hour 16 minutes
The beautiful Cliffs of the Neuse State Park (near Goldsboro) offers wonderful scenery and a rare overlook of the Neuse River. You can also enjoy easy hiking trails here, rent a boat, go fishing, or swim in the pond!
The park’s fantastic primitive cabins are a great retreat if you’re looking to extend your day trips from Fayetteville.
William B Umstead State Park
75 miles | 1 hour 17 minutes
The 6,000-acre park has two access points (Crabtree Creek and Reedy Creek) and its biggest not-secret is the famed chainsaw art! To create this masterpiece, a 25-foot fallen oak was transformed into woodland creatures and forest scenes by an artist from Tennessee.
For directions to the chainsaw art, read here.
Read More: Free Things to Do in Raleigh
Lake Waccamaw State Park
68 miles | 1 hr 20 minutes
Lake Waccamaw State Park in Columbus County is named for the beautiful namesake Carolina Bay. It is the largest of all of North Carolina’s bays and has seven official trails.
Take the 4-mile (one-way) Lakeshore Trail or enjoy some of the beautiful boardwalks that jut into the bay.
Falls Lake State Recreation Area
82 miles | 1 hour 24 minutes
We love coming to Falls Lake for a variety of reasons, starting with a moment of staring out at the beautiful water. Fishing, boating, and swimming are a few of many popular things to do here.
You can also hike and go mountain biking at Falls Lake.
Trails will challenge all who come, as they range from short and easy to lengthy and more difficult. The easy Rolling View Kids TRACK Trail (0.75 miles) is a great starting point. If you really want to push yourself, the Falls Lake Trail runs for 50 miles along the shore.
Mountain bikes can hop on one of the intermediate loops (Inner, Outer, and West) and more serious riders can test their mettle on the advanced South Loop.
Uwharrie National Forest
70 miles | 1 hr 30 minutes
Covering more than 50,000 acres, the Uwharrie Mountains are believed to be more than 585 million years old.
Uwharrie National Forest manages a large portion, including lands crossed by three rivers, including the Uwharrie, Yadkin, and Pee Dee rivers.
This collection of public lands is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. You can bring your bike and ride either the Uwharrie (20 miles) or Dutchman’s Creek (11.5 miles) trails.
There are also trails for ATVs and off-road vehicles (permits required).
Eno River State Park
99 miles | 1 hour 34 minutes
Among them, our favorites include Cox Mountain (3.75-mile loop), Fanny’s Ford (1-mile loop), Pump Station (1.5-mile loop), and Buckquarter Creek (1.5-mile loop).
Read More: Outdoor Things to Do in Durham
Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area
103 miles | 1 hour 39 minutes
In fact, the 350-foot change in elevation from the parking lot to the peak makes Occoneechee Mountain one of the only actual mountain peaks in the Triangle.
To reach the Overlook, you can follow the 2.2-mile Mountain Loop and connect from a couple of different points. We don’t think that the peak is the only highlight of this park.
You’ll agree as you meander through the forest and along the Eno River.
Pee Dee National Wildlife Refuge
80 miles | 1 hour 45 minutes
Those interested in diverse wildlife should take a day trip to Pee Dee National Wildlife Refuge. Within Pee Dee NWF’s 8,500 acres, there are more than 180 birds, 49 amphibians and reptiles, 28 mammals, and 20 fish species.
Take your car along Wildlife Drive around the wetlands and include a stop at Sullivan Pond. This backwater area is well-known for egret viewing.
Medoc Mountain State Park
116 miles | 1 hour 49 minutes
Halifax County straddles I-95 and is home to more than a few interesting places, including Medoc Mountain State Park. At this park, you’ll find a lovely collection of trails, including an interactive TRACK trail for your little ones.
Medoc Mountain offers plenty of open space, too, along with tables for picnics. Arrive early, though, as people are starting to learn about this sanctuary.
Carolina Beach State Park
102 miles | 1 hour 57 minutes
You can search for those carnivorous plants along the boardwalk section of the Flytrap Trail. Hikers will also enjoy the 3-mile Sugarloaf Trail, which takes you by the namesake dune and through diverse terrain found at Carolina Beach.
There are plenty of boat launches that get you access to the Cape Fear River and the Intracoastal Waterway.
Read More: 45+ Things to Do with Kids in Wilmington
Day Trips from Fayetteville (Cities)
These day trips from Fayetteville will take you to some of our busiest cities that are complemented by some of the aforementioned outdoor adventures.
65 miles | 1 hour
The capital city is just a short drive from Fayetteville and provides plenty of fun for everyone! Whether you’re checking out the museums in Raleigh, the city’s awesome breweries, or the beautiful sunflower fields in summer, there is so much to do here.
We love starting at the NC Museum of Art and either walking its trails or strolling the galleries.
72 miles | 1 hour 7 minutes
Cary is the third-largest city in the Research Triangle and one of the fastest-growing! If you’re a fan of sports, Cary is home to the WakeMed Soccer Park, home to the North Carolina FC and the North Carolina Courage.
You can always extend your day trips from Fayetteville into a weekend. One way is to stay at The Mayton in Cary!
That way, you can explore more of Cary, Raleigh, and these nearby Wake County towns:
- Fuquay-Varina (58 minutes)
- Apex (1 hour 14 minutes)
- Wake Forest (1 hour 25 minutes)
Read More: The Best Day Trips from Raleigh
89 miles | 1 hour 22 minutes
Durham is our hometown, so we might be a little biased, but there is so much to do in this North Carolina city! Soak up the beautiful Sarah P. Duke Gardens, spend an entire day at the Museum of Life and Science, and don’t you dare miss the trails at Eno River State Park!
While you’re there and building up an appetite, know that Durham probably has the best food scene in the Triangle.
Read more: Free Things to Do in Durham
90 miles | 1 hour 30 minutes
Chapel Hill is famously known for being the home to the University of North Carolina.
Beyond the campus, (which is beautiful and deserves a walk around even if you bleed a different color blue), Franklin Street is filled with locally-owned restaurants and shops to browse. Enjoy great burgers at Al’s Burger Shack or the most authentic Southern eats from Mama Dips!
92 miles | 1 hour 40 minutes
The historic downtown of Wilmington and charming riverfront make for an excellent romantic day trip from Fayetteville!
Check out some history at Battleship North Carolina and more kid-friendly activities, including the Wilmington Railroad Museum! Do some shopping at The Cotton Exchange and don’t leave town without stopping at The Peppered Cupcake!
97 miles | 1 hour 53 minutes
Known as the base for Camp Lejeune and seeing lots of marines, Jacksonville is one of the fastest-growing small cities in the US.
Hammock’s Beach State Park (location of the beautiful Bear Island) is also within a short drive from Jacksonville.
Read More: 20+ Great Things to Do in Swansboro
110 miles | 1 hour 47 minutes
Beyond the college town, Greenville is also known for its historic North Carolina barbecue joints! B’s is one of the biggest in North Carolina, so do yourself a favor and get in line.
After having some whole hog ‘cue, make sure to wash it down with a pint from some of the awesome Greenville breweries.
Read more: Where to Eat in Greenville
Day Trips from Fayetteville (Small Towns)
Along with outdoor stops, small towns are more relaxing day trips from Fayetteville. Of course, each of these places is packed with at least a few fun highlights.
25 miles | 28 minutes
Dunn is another great I-95 spot near Fayetteville.
Here, you’ll find the General William C Lee Airborne Museum, which honors the “Father of the Airborne” in his former home. Exhibits detail his story and the evolution of the US Army Airborne, especially during World War II.
Walkers, runners, and cyclists are invited to hop on the 5-mile Dunn-Erwin Rail Trail. Farmlands, wetlands, and cotton fields await along the way.
The Averasboro Civil War Battlefield is another trail highlight. Of course, you can skip the walk and access this historic spot by driving yourself.
32 miles | 34 minutes
As a child, I once visited Benson for the annual Mule Days, usually held on the fourth Saturday weekend in September. The Mule Days Parade alone is a great introduction to this awesome town, with hundreds of horses, mules, buggies, and more.
34 miles | 37 minutes
I-95 travelers might recognize Lumberton as the midway point between New York and Florida. This is the first or last major town that you’ll see before or after crossing the South Carolina border, depending on which way you’re headed.
The town is named for the Lumber River, which today is home to a state park we mentioned.
People traveling with kids will want to stop at Exploration Station. There, a variety of hands-on activities await.
42 miles | 46 minutes
Pembroke is another Robeson County town and more importantly, the seat of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. They are one of our state’s seven recognized tribal communities.
46 miles | 46 minutes
Smithfield is the county seat of Johnston County and a place that is really starting to be up and coming. Home to the Ava Gardner Museum, visitors can learn about the Hollywood starlet’s life as well as see personal artifacts.
Afterward, enjoy a delicious pint at Double Barley Brewing and then hop over to Selma and visit the soon-to-be-opening Old North State Food Hall.
Don’t forget about the tasty food at White Swan, with multiple locations in Johnston County!
36 miles | 49 minutes
Sanford is a small town that offers some great outdoor adventures!
Check out Ole Gilliam Mill Park or the wildlife at the White Pines Nature Preserve. The latter is managed by Triangle Lands Conservancy which works hard to preserve land in the Triangle and its surroundings.
But one place you must not miss while in Sanford is Fonda Lupita, a Mexican restaurant that is nationally recognized as one of the best new restaurants in the country!
40 miles | 51 minutes
Southern Pines is easily one of the most popular day trips from Fayetteville! This North Carolina small town is charming and filled with locally-owned restaurants and shops centered around the train depot.
Don’t forget about Weymouth Woods, already mentioned in our “Outdoor” section and absolutely worth a visit!
43 miles | 51 minutes
We visit Bladen County for White Lake, which is a town that surrounds a beautiful freshwater lake. You can visit at any time of the year.
However, during summer, this place gets pretty packed, so be prepared if you’re planning a summer trip this way.
41 miles | 1 hour
While in Laurinburg, make a stop at the historic John Blue House and Heritage Center. Built in 1895, the house is an excellent example of Steamboat Gothic Architecture and tells a story of rural Carolina history.
Laurinburg also has an interesting history with Scottish Roots.
The Scottish Heritage Center offers experiences in Scottish piping, drumming, and Highland dance lessons. There are also archives of rare materials that help visitors trace their roots.
44 miles | 1 hour
Pinehurst is just a skip and a hop away from Southern Pines and is known for its world famous golf courses. Whether you’re teeing off or enjoying the amenities at the Pinehurst Resort, a walk around the village is a must.
Also don’t skip the Sandhills Horticultural Gardens! It’s curated by the students at the Sandhills Community College and one of the best botanical gardens in North Carolina!
60 miles | 1 hour 11 minutes
Like Fayetteville, Goldsboro is also a military town and you’ll find a charming downtown and very involved local community there, too. After checking out downtown, make sure to get a milkshake at Heritage Farms!
Read more: Fantastic Restaurants in Goldsboro
Duplin County Day Trips from Fayetteville
Duplin County hosts more than a few candidates for day trips from Fayetteville. Duplin Winery in Rose Hill (1 hour 11 minutes), the oldest operating winery in North Carolina, is one of the most popular reasons to visit.
The World’s Largest Frying Pan in Rose Hill is another quirky reason to day trip out here!
Beulaville (1 hour 20 minutes) is also in Duplin County and home to Mike’s Farm, a wonderful agro-tourism spot on the Onslow County side of the line.
Read More: Christmas Light Displays in North Carolina
76 miles | 1 hour 16 minutes
Wilson is probably my favorite day trip to recommend, simply because the Whirligig Park is just fascinating!
At the center of this small town is the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park, a kinetic sculpture garden that was built but a former farm machine repairman.
He took extra parts and make these “whirligigs” to represent parts of his life.
67 miles | 1 hour 28 minutes
Seagrove is the Handmade Pottery Capital of the US! With more than 100 potters in a concentrated area, you are sure to find some creativity on these winding roads.
Start your journey at the NC Pottery Center and then drive down the NC Pottery Highway. Some of our favorite potters are Eck McCanless, Bobbi Thomas, and Jugtown Pottery!
Read more: Scenic North Carolina Road Trips
75 miles | 1 hour 29 minutes
Burgaw is a wonderful stop along I-40 before Wilmington if you’re heading east from Fayetteville. This town is worth visiting throughout the year, but especially when the NC Blueberry Festival in June.
Don’t forget to grab some delicious grub from MeMa’s Chik’n and Ribs. You won’t be sorry!
Read More: Things to Do on Topsail Island
92 miles | 1 hour 30 minutes
The newly renovated Rocky Mount Mills is a beer incubation for several breweries and houses in a former mill. We recommend basing your day trip around Rocky Mount Mills, as the 82-acre campus has a lot to offer!
In fact, if you want to extend your day into an overnight (or longer), Rocky Mount Mills is home to River and Twine, the world’s largest tiny home hotel! We’ve stayed there and found it absolutely delightful!
Read more: I-95 Exits in North Carolina
82 miles | 1 hour 37 minutes
Kinston is most well-known for being the home of celebrity chef and restaurant owner, Vivian Howard. Her restaurant in downtown Kinston, Chef and the Farmer, is well worth the day trip from Fayetteville.
Beyond the culinary feasts in Kinston, the community is a thriving hot spot for artists. You’ll find a plethora of public art dotting the streets and a stop at Mother Earth Brewing is also a must.
Read more: Crave-worthy Restaurants in Kinston
84 miles | 1 hour 40 minutes
Visit the zoo, enjoy an incredible fresh breakfast at The Table, and amazing fried chicken at Magnolia 23. At night, make sure to stop by Leo’s Whiskey Bar and scope out their incredible collection of whiskeys and whiskey-based cocktails.
102 miles | 1 hour 42 minutes
It’s not hard to fall in love with Hillsborough.
The adorable Churton Street is filled with locally-owned restaurants and the Riverwalk is one of our favorite weekend activities. In fact, if it’s a beautiful morning you’ll probably find us walking towards Gold Park.
Beyond downtown are some additional fun things to do.
Brunswick County Towns
Brunswick County will easily become your favorite collection of day trips from Fayetteville. All the way down on the southeast corner of North Carolina is Calabash (1 hour 48 minutes). Calabash seafood is a signature style of lightly breading and frying fresh seafood that every Carolinian has to experience.
Whether you’re heading to Southport (2 hours) for the North Carolina Fourth of July Festival or just a random Tuesday, you’ll find it a charming little town. The waterfront is dotted with benches and rocking chairs for a peaceful afternoon by the water.
Southport is also the ferry destination for Bald Head Island, so if you’re looking for a weekend away at one of North Carolina’s most luxurious islands, Southport is where you’ll head first.
Brunswick County is also home to some of the best North Carolina beaches. Here’s a quick mention of each one and how far they are from Fayetteville:
- Holden Beach (1 hour 50 minutes)
- Sunset Beach (1 hour 52 minutes)
- Oak Island (1 hour 53 minutes)
- Ocean Isle Beach (1 hour 53 minutes)
104 miles | 1 hour 50 minutes
Ayden is home to the best (and yes I’ll go on record here) Eastern North Carolina barbecue.
Both the famed Skylight Inn and Bum’s Barbecue are located in Ayden and we encourage you to take the day trip just to try both of these incredible whole-hog pitmasters. Just don’t leave Bum’s without some of their banana pudding!
121 miles | 1 hour 51 minutes
We mentioned Medoc Mountain State Park in Halifax County but think you should also know about Halifax, the town. The Halifax Resolves State Historic Site is the town’s most important landmark, as it highlights North Carolina’s Declaration of Independence.
There’s even a sign commemorating the Underground Railroad, which operated in Halifax County.
Read More: The Best Day Trips from Durham
103 miles | 1 hour 58 minutes
Sun, sand, and a boardwalk! Carolina Beach is one of North Carolina’s busiest beach towns. In the summer you’ll often find this stretch of sand dotted with Shibumi shades and brightly colored umbrellas.
While in Carolina Beach make sure to grab a fresh hot donut at Britts and gas station grub from Island Burgers and Bites. There are even more Carolina Beach restaurants to explore!
Read More: The NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher
Ready for These Day Trips from Fayetteville?
We hope you enjoy at least a few of these wonderful day trips from Fayetteville. If you’ve been living there for a while or have just arrived, this guide should help you find something new.
If you have a place to add, you can kindly do that in the comments section or by email. Before you do that, here are some more things to do in Fayetteville beyond day trips away from it.