Jan 28, 2023 - Things to Do

3 must-do weekend trips within 5 hours of Richmond

Downtown Wilmington. Photo: Brianna Crane/Axios

Whether you're looking for an urban getaway or adventurous retreat, here are three destinations to consider for your next weekend trip.

1. Durham

Photo: Symphony Webber/Axios

Home to North Carolina Central University and Duke University, Durham is one of North Carolina's urban gems. Here's how to spend a weekend there.

Stay: A tiny farmhouse Airbnb near downtown for $96+ per night.


  • Vibe out with J. Cole, Ari Lennox, J.I.D and more musical acts during Dreamville Festival in Raleigh (about 20 miles away), April 1–2. Details.
  • Take a gallery tour at the 21c Museum Hotel. Admission is free.
  • Watch a Durham Bulls baseball game. They're pretty good too, the Bulls have won five Triple-A league titles in the past ten seasons.


  • Try a shrimp burger at The Dankery.
  • Satisfy your chicken and waffle fix at Dame's.
  • Grab Mexican street food at La Mala, which just opened in December in Downtown Durham.

Full Durham guide here.

2. Wilmington

benny's big time pizza
Benny's Big Time. Photo: Bri Crane/Axios

This Carolina coastal crown jewel is about four hours from Richmond.

  • Here's how to spend a weekend in Wilmington.

Stay: At Dreamers Welcome, a renovated Victorian home was converted into a boutique bed and breakfast. It starts around $200 per night.


  • Check out the NC Azalea Festival from April 12–16. This five-day affair welcomes 200,000 visitors to the Wilmington area each year.
  • Spend the day at Wrightsville Beach. If you want to be walking distance from tourist attractions like the pier or Wings, look for parking somewhere between accesses 15 and 30. If you prefer a quieter beach day, park near access eight.
  • Take a self-guided film and TV location tour. If you were a big "Dawson's Creek" or "One Tree Hill" fan, you can follow this map to see some of the shows' iconic filming locations.


  • Get a pizza from Benny's Big Time. Celebrity chef Vivian Howard's family-friendly pizzeria has delicious cocktails and pizzas, and a signature hot honey sauce I'd drizzle on anything.
  • Try a spiked slushie from Jimmy's. Go here if you want to drink with the locals.
  • Get a burger (or double with bacon) from The Original Salt Works.
  • Get an iced coffee from Port City Java. This classic coffee spot has been around since 1995. And it’s reliably delicious.

Full Wilmington guide here.

3. Virginia Creeper Trail

Photo: Brianna Crane/Axios

The 34.3-mile Virginia Creeper Trail is worth the five-hour drive from Richmond.

How it works: You rent a bike (or bring your own) and ride from the top of the mountain all the way down.

  • It's a family-friendly trail that's mostly downhill, though some stretches require a little extra peddling.

Stay: At any number of Airbnbs if you want to make it a weekend.


  • Rent a bike from Sundog Outfitters. They'll cart you and your bike to the top of the trail. You can find all of the rental options here.
  • Stop for a picnic. The trail has a couple of concessions along the way, but we always pack our food so we can pull over in less crowded spots.


  • Grab a drink and sit outside at Wicked Chicken. They have 40+ flavors of wings to choose from too if you work up an appetite.

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