Posted by: rcieri | November 15, 2009

Find your ideal fall break getaway

October 13, 2009

By Rachel Cieri

Let’s face it — fall break is that awkward time  when students are never sure what to do. For out-of-state students, it’s not always worth the hassle of the day-long drive home and back, but sticking around a deserted campus isn’t the most fun way to spend a few days off.

Instead, try one of these quick, fun roadtrips to get just far enough away.


Blue Ridge Parkway (Photo courtesy of

Blue Ridge Parkway
Western North Carolina
Distance from Elon: 160 miles
Approximate drive time: 3 hours

Called America’s original scenic drive, the Blue Ridge Parkway is a winding road along the edge of North Carolina’s Appalachian Mountains. The stunning mountain views are dotted with points of interest like Linville Falls, a craggy, multi-tiered waterfall, and Chimney Rock, a unique rock formation that overlooks a gorge and lake.

For an extra treat, head to Boone, N.C., and take the parkway South to Asheville. On the trip back, stop by Black Mountain, a popular historic and resort community.


The Outer Banks (Photo courtesy of

The Outer Banks (Photo courtesy of

The Outer Banks
Kill Devil Hills and Cape Hatteras, N.C.
Distance from Elon: 265 miles
Approximate drive time: 5 hours

It might not be 80 degrees and sunny, but North Carolina’s Outer Banks can be just as fun in the offseason as they are in the summer. Start with a visit to Kill Devil Hills (near Kitty Hawk) and see the Wright Brothers National Memorial where the first airplane was flown in 1903. Then move down the coast to Cape Hatteras to see a classic black-and-white striped lighthouse, and be sure to make a stop at Ocracoke Island, a historic coastal town connected to Blackbeard the pirate.

Sunbathing might not be on the agenda for an October trip to the coast, but kite-flying, boat rides and scenic views are still in full swing.


W. Kerr Scott Dam and Reservoir (Photo courtesy U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)


W. Kerr Scott Dam and Reservoir
Wilkesboro, N.C.
Distance from Elon: 105 miles
Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

This U.S. Army-managed park has the right combination of activities for the active student who wants to get away from the daily hustle and bustle. With 14 different facilities and three campgrounds, the lakeside parks offer hiking and biking trails, beaches, boating, hunting and fishing. Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the area is the old stomping ground of the Cherokee tribe and explorers like Daniel Boone.

Not a fan of camping? Visitors can stay in the historic town of Wilkesboro, located just a few minutes east.


NASCAR Banking 500 (Photo courtesy of

NASCAR Banking 500
Concord, N.C.
Distance from Elon: 95 miles
Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Just in time for Fall Break, Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte will host the NASCAR Banking 500 race Saturday. Experience a Southern tradition complete with country music, hot dogs and screaming fans in cowboy hats while watching a pivotal race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series. Entertainment at the race will include Eric Church, MercyMe and TobyMac, as well as local high school bands and cheerleaders.

This race is home to Carolina CollegeFest, where participating students can play cornhole, listen to live music and watch college football from a special viewing area.


Colonial Williamsburg (Photo courtesy of

Colonial Williamsburg
Williamsburg, Va.
Distance from Elon: 230 miles
Approximate drive time: 3 hours, 45 minutes

Tri-cornered hats and petticoats bring the 18th century off the pages of a textbook and into reality with Colonial Williamsburg’s historical reenactments. With more than 30 historic buildings and sites open to tourists, visitors will be busy for days learning how the wealthy elite, common tradesmen and poor slaves once lived. Whether interested in politics, religion, nature or military, there is something for everyone.

Done with history and ready for a little modern fun? Visit Busch Gardens theme park just a few minutes down the road.


The Biltmore Estate (Photo courtesy of

The Biltmore Estate
Asheville, N.C.
Distance from Elon: 195 miles
Approximate drive time: 3 hours

Students don’t have to wait for their Winter Term trips to Europe to see a castle. As America’s largest home, the Biltmore Estate features 250 rooms, a banquet hall with 70-foot high ceilings, a 10,000-volume library and original masterpiece art. When done exploring the luxurious home, visitors can spend the day in the 8,000-acre “backyard” with carriage rides, horseback riding, river float trips and even Land Rover driving. Students of age can visit the estate’s winery.

This time of year is perfect for college students short on cash to visit. Biltmore is currently offering a $10 discount for tickets purchased online for any day except Saturday.


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