Traveling by car offers a lot of advantages. First, one has a vehicle to drive when and where they want. Second, one has the flexibility to stop and see various sites along the way. Third, it is most likely more economical compared to commercial carriers.
Rental cars are available in Raleigh. Economy cars start at $14/day; standard cars are $17/day; SUVs start at $52 and mini-vans at $108/day. All the major car rental agencies are represented in Raleigh. There are many websites that can help one reserve a car such as Travelocity.com; Hotwire.com; Expedia.com and others.
Regardless of whether one rents a car or drives their own personal car, the route options will be the same.
One of the most direct routes is to take I-40 West and I-85 South. This route will take approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes. As of this writing there is road construction on I-85 between Salisbury and Concord. Google Maps has an excellent map which details where the road construction is taking place. These highways feature four lanes at a minimum and expand to eight lanes in around large metropolitan areas.
I-40 and I-85 has been signified a Blue Star Highway. Blue Star Highways are designated throughout the United States to honour the military forces. Blue Star Memorials are located at specific points.
The JC Raulston Arboretum is an attraction of note. Located near the I-40 and I-440 intersection just off of Hillsborough Street in Raleigh, the gardens are located on the campus of the North Carolina State University. These gardens have been ranked #13 in the nation for best public gardens. Admission is free. Hours of operation are April–October, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and November–March, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The garden is host to many special events throughout the year. Children’s program and other educational programs are also available.
I-40 takes off northwest out of Raleigh toward Burlington. It runs south of Durham. If one wanted to travel through Durham to enjoy the sights, take I-85 through the metro area. Northwest of Durham I-85 converges with I-40 and shares the route until Greensboro. Just east of Greensboro I-85 takes off southwest. Take Exit 228 to bypass Greensboro. To travel through Greensboro, stay on I-40/I-85 to Exit 220 and follow I-85 south.
As I-85 approaches the Yadkin River, there is a family campground – Cross Winds Family Campground just off of Exit 84. This is a full-service campground with a swimming pool, recreation room, fishing pond and more.
Just a few miles east of I-85 on Hwy. 152 one will find Tiger World Endangered Wildlife Preserve. Use Exit 68 onto Hwy. 29. Turn left onto Hwy. 152. Open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., ticket prices are $15/adult and $12/child. Senior discounts are also available. During the week there are educational guided tours at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. This site is closed on Wednesdays. Tiger World is a non-profit conservation devoted to preserving endangered exotic animals.
As I-85 approaches I-485, the SeaLife Charlotte-Concord Aquarium is just off of Exit 49. Tickets start at $14.95 for adults and $9.95 for children (purchased on-line). Hours of operation are Mon.-Sat. from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Featuring thousands of aquatic creatures and an underwater tunnel, what better way to spend some time with family and friends and learn about the world’s oceanic life and habitat.
One should be aware that a large portion of I-85 is within Charlotte city limits. Therefore, exits may not be marked “Charlotte” but will only signify the exit number.
Charlotte has many attractions and lodging options. Charlotte is home to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, US National Whitewater Centre, Historic Rosedale Plantation, Billy Graham Library and a host of other sensational places to visit.
Along the I-85 corridor and near the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport there are plenty of lodging options from which to choose.