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John Bordsen

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Drive Time

By Travel Editor

Some things never change: After years of hitting the highways, you still haven’t seen all the places and had all the fun you’ve itemized on your Southeastern bucket list.

To help you check off some of those choices – and offer new options – we pulled in some serious road warriors to help you frame two-day trips to some of the most popular places in our region: Oak Island-based Lynn Seldon and Boone-based Randy Johnson. The three of us offer quick, by-the-hour looks at what to see and do in Wilmington, Raleigh, Winston-Salem, Asheville, Boone/Blowing Rock, Charleston, Columbia, the S.C. Lowcountry, Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg and Atlanta.

Johnson is the author of guidebooks about hiking Western North Carolina (including “Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway”); we draw on his expertise and that of other authors to shine a flashlight on some of the most compelling and easy-to-reach destinations. We have tips and advice from folklorist Fred Fussell (“Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina”), hiker Danny Bernstein (“The Mountains-to-Sea Trail Across North Carolina”), Philip Gerard (“Down the Wild Cape Fear”), and brewer and suds sage Erik Lars Myers (“North Carolina Craft Beer & Breweries”).

Rounding out our roster of guest experts are Raleigh News & Observer music writer David Menconi, who lists some choice Triangle venues, and Becky Billingsley – the Grand Strand restaurant writer and founder/editor of MyrtleBeachRestaurantNews.com.

This year’s Road Trips should give you a host of getaway options.

And there’s plenty new to see and do in 2013. The historic Grove Park Inn in Asheville celebrates its centennial. A new spa with Cherokee treatments and Balinese-style therapies just debuted at the ever-expanding Harrah’s Cherokee Casino. Myrtle Beach is getting ready to open its latest attraction – Encounters: UFO Experience – at Broadway at the Beach.

And keep your eyes peeled for fun events in places that may not readily come to mind as destinations.

The Southeast Travel Society, for example, is putting its spotlight on these celebrations taking place between now and July: the Wine & Food Weekend ( www.beaufortwineandfood.com) in Beaufort, N.C.; the Carthage Buggy Festival ( www.thebuggyfestival.com); the North Carolina Blueberry Festival in Burgaw ( www.blueberryfestival.com), and the Freedom Weekend Aloft hot-air balloon extravaganza ( www.freedomweekend.org) in Simpsonville, S.C.

We’ll be keeping you up to speed throughout the year in The Observer’s Sunday Travel pages and at charlotteobserver.com/travel.

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