Drive Time: These Road Trips are destinations you can cross-enjoy

We hope you’re ready for your fall or winter road trip. And you deserve mixed results.

That’s “mixed” meaning a great combination of the different and enjoyable – like mixed nuts or chocolates. Here’s why.

Studies continue to show that many of us don’t use all our vacation days, whether they’re squeezed for time, squeezed for money or simply aren’t sure where to go.

You need to take better advantage of one-, two- or three-day getaways – trips that don’t have to break the bank but allow you to escape the workday grind. Try something different where you go: There’s instant gratification... followed by co-worker envy after you’re back home.

So we built this edition of Road Trips about destinations you can cross-enjoy. We’ve profiled places you can stroll, shop, hike and/or bike. If you’re on your own, enlarge your world by doing something you may not have considered. Traveling with folks of other ages or interests? Our mash-up mixes can expand everyone’s horizons.

We’ve brought in our top-gun freelancers for this. Their names and reporting are familiar if you follow the Sunday Obserer’s Travel pages.

Jason Frye is author of three guidebooks published by Moon: “North Carolina Coast (Including the Outer Banks)” and “North Carolina” – both published in 2014 – and “Blue Ridge Parkway Road Trip: Including Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks,” out this year.

Randy Johnson is author of “Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway,” “Hiking North Carolina,” “Best Easy Day Hikes: Blue Ridge Parkway” and “Best Easy Day Hikes: Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” all published by Falcon. In 2016, a full-color edition of “Hiking North Carolina” will be issued, along with the new “Grandfather Mountain: The History and Guide to an Appalachian Icon” (UNC Press).

Lynn Seldon has written or co-written 10 travel books, many dealing with the Southeast. While touring this year for his first novel, “Virginia’s Ring,” he has been taking notes for travel articles.

As have Mark Alan Hudson and Gary McCullough, whose Southeast Excursion features have anchored the Observer’s Sunday Travel pages for more than a decade. They know the towns, attractions, state parks and preserves of the Carolinas, from Murphy in the mountains to Currituck on the Outer Banks to Callibogue Sound, a puddle-jump from Savannah, Ga.

Because your exertions may make you thirsty, suds scholar and author Daniel Hartis – whose Beer Here column appears Fridays in the Observer’s CLT section – picks this season’s gotta-go beer festivals.)

Read on; you’ll find more to surprise and interest you and widen your Southeastern horizons.

Grab your keys; let’s roll.

Related stories from Charlotte Observer