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A day trip...

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Sometimes, on sunny/warm Saturday or Sunday mornings, when the wife and I don't have any plans, we'll grab the dog and drive to a new city/town to walk around. I'm an urban geek so I love to check out the architecture and planning, and she likes arts and mom and pop kind of stuff.

So how about some suggestions for what part of your city/town would be the best for walking around and exploring?

We'll usually spend about 4/5 hours once we get to the city, so nothing real in depth. And since the dog is with us, no museums or malls or anything like that.

We've already done Winston Salem, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Asheville, and the Charlotte area.

How about Greensboro, Durham, Fayetteville, Greenville (NC or SC), Spartanburg, Columbia, etc. Midsize towns can be fun too...

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Greenville, SC is a great day trip. There is a variety of architecture, lots of shops and restaurants and Falls Park, which is unique since most cities don't have waterfalls downtown with a ped-bridge wrapping around it. I won't go into extensive detail here. Everything is pretty well concentrated on Main Street, but when you get there you'll see there's tons to do. Main Street, the West End, the Reedy River, Falls Park will all fill your day. If you want specific destination or recommendations, head over to the Greenville Forum here on UrbanPlanet. The folks over there are very knowledgeable about their town and will be glad to tell you anything you want to know.

Spartanburg doesn't have the "explore" factor that Greenville does, but it would be worth checking out how a city that formed with out a planned grid has come to be, and just check out the core of downtown around Morgan Square. One problem is that the economy has hit the downtown businesses pretty hard. My personal issue with my hometown is that its not easy to explore as a pedestrian because the cool places to go are not well signed for people. I recommend going there during one of the many festivals. Spring Fling is always an interesting one. They block off downtown and set up a fair.

Check out Landrum, SC, Tryon, NC and Saluda, NC. Collectively, these small historic railroad towns are known as the "String of Pearls" and each one is with spending some time in. They have shops, restaurants, and short hikes to nearby waterfalls in between.

Columbia is awesome. You can explore the historic USC campus, the Five Points area has over a hundred restaurants, bars, and shops, the Vista is a burgeoning arts, shopping and restaurant district. The recently redesigned Lady Street is starting to attract more and more 'stuff.' Main Street is, ironically, not the center of the nightlife... its much more 9-5, but its still worth wandering around to explore. There's plenty of art and architecture to enjoy there including some of SC's oldest highrises. The capitol grounds are an obvious destination. There's also Finlay Park, the Canalside Esplanade, the Riverwalk along the old Canal... I can go on and on here, but there's plenty to do.

'll also suggest Newberry, SC and Camden, SC. They both have a cool downtown area. Camden is the oldest inland city in SC.

Another cool town is Waynesville, NC. I haven't been back there in a long time but there's plenty to do/see there.

I don't know much about Morganton, Statesville, or Salisbury first hand, but I've heard good things.

Charleston is an obvious trip. It might be more than a day trip for some, but its a great weekend destination. Or week. You'll get your urban exploration needs here in the Carolinas' most urban city. I won't go into the list of things to do/see here but the options are extensive.

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I think Greensboro is worth a day trip as well. Take a stroll down Elm Street, relax at Center City Park, take in a ballgame at the downtown ballpark, etc.

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When warmer weather hits, I'd give Wilmington a go. They have a nice walkable downtown...with a beautiful historic neighborhood adjacent to it. (Very antebellum-like.) The downtown is a tad like Asheville in that it's historic and somewhat now geared towards tourists (shops, restaurants, etc), but definitely more compact (and less hippy-ish...LOL!). But the upside is that the waterfront is gorgeous and you're 20 minutes from the beach. And nearby Fort Fisher has a great state aquarium.

If you've already done Raleigh and Chapel Hill then might as well complete the Triangle and do Durham sometime. Their downtown is especially notable if you like a little "industrial grit" feeling to your urban landscapes. The renovated tobacco warehouses & factories at Brightleaf Square and American Tobacco Complex are definitely a neat way to do some downtown eating, drinking and shopping. The central downtown streets have been beautifully renovated recently. Additionally, entertainment options at both the historic Carolina Theatre and the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC) are a bonus. West of downtown is Ninth Street which is probably the nicest "college row" in NC, IMO. Lots of great cafes, bookstores, bars, shops, etc. Other interesting things to see would be Duke Gardens & Chapel and the Museum of Life & Science. Eno River State Park is also a local gem.

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'll also suggest Newberry, SC and Camden, SC. They both have a cool downtown area. Camden is the oldest inland city in SC.

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