Located close to Charlotte and Ashville, Hickory is a small, fun-filled town overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains. Hickory is known for its manufacturing of furniture and craftsmanship. There are so many best and top things to do in Hickory, North Carolina.
Hickory may be a small city but it offers so much fun, adventure, and recreational activities. Surrounded by Lakes, the city boasts of its natural attractions, parks, museums, and so much more.
For those who are not aware of this, the city has also featured in the Hunger Games movie and since then the visitor’s count annually has spiked up.
Locals are warm and very welcoming here and that’s why the city has a small-town charm as well as a big city’s drive. If you are looking for what to do in Hickory, don’t go anywhere, you are in the right place.
So, what are we waiting for? Let’ s go over the 36 Best & Top Things to do in Hickory (North Carolina).
Do you already know what you are looking for? Use the below links to go to that section without scrolling down and down.
Top Outdoor Fun for Nature Lovers
1. Lake Hickory Shoreline
One of the top things to do in Hickory, NC is to visit the magnificent lake called Lake Hickory.
The lake is full of recreational activities which means you have so many options to choose from, like fishing, swimming, jet skis, water skies, boating, and sailing.
The main feature of this lake is it possesses more than a hundred-mile long shoreline. The water is crystal clear, kind of bluish and the blue ridge mountains make the backdrop of the lake. This makes the lake a scenic beauty and must-visit place.
Because of so many recreational activities and the magnificent view, the lake is flocked by visitors during summers but even during such busy times, the lake holds on to its pristine beauty.
The lake is equally enjoyed by blue herons, bald eagles, ospreys, and a variety of ducks. You will see many of them relaxing and enjoying the lake.
Fishing is very popular here. The lake is populated with largemouth bass, striped bass, crappie, and channel catfishes. It is a heavenly place for fishing and therefore there are many fishing tournaments organized during summer months.
You can bring your boat and enjoy the lake or you can rent a boat through lakeside Marina Hickory. They have several options to choose from. You can go for a jet boat for waterboarding or a deck boat for skiing or a fishing boat for fishing or a party barge for a large group of people. Depending upon the kind of activity, you can rent boats for a full day or even half a day.
There are two lakefront restaurants with delicious menus and great views. You will also get plenty of options for lodging near the lake. There is an RV resort on the lake so if you are traveling with your RV, you can utilize their services.
Located 30 miles north of Hickory town, the lake brings together majestic views of blue ridge mountains, crystal clear waters, and lots of fun. Don’t miss the beauty while visiting Hickory or even any nearby cities. It’s worth your time and visit.
2. Geitner Rotary Park
Who does not like fun and adventure in life especially when you are on vacation? Geitner Rotary Park is one such beautiful park full of recreational activities and you can not go wrong with this park if you are a total fun and adventure lover.
A waterfront park with magnificent lake views welcomes you from all the corners. Those who are looking to get away from the city and spend some time in nature, come here to sit by the lake and enjoy the solitude.
There is a boat ramp, so people usually come with their boat to go deep in the lake and enjoy all the scenery and views from different angles. Don’t get disappointed if you don’t have a boat, you can still be so much close to the water as there is a viewing dock which gives you a full view of the lake.
Whether you are experienced or a beginner hiker, there are plenty of trails for different skill levels. Some trails have paved paths for walking, running, and cycling. You will see many people enjoying a bicycle ride on the trails. Some of the trails are dirt paths and you will see people enjoying mountain biking.
They have a 1.8-mile beginner flow trail, a 4-mile intermediate loop, a pump track for both advanced and beginner riders, and an advanced jump line for the experienced ones.
It is a perfect place for family picnic offering sheltered picnic tables, grilling system, gazebo with the stunning views of Lake Hickory.
Whatever state of the mind you are in while visiting this park, this is for sure that while leaving you will be much happier physically and mentally.
Address: 2035 12th St Dr. NW, Hickory, NC 28601
3. Lake Hickory Trails
Considering one of the most fun things to do in Hickory, Lake Hickory Trails entices all kinds of adventure and fun lovers.
Don’t get worried if you think you are not up for a challenge, there are several trails you can take starting from easy to hard and very hard. There is a beginner-friendly trail named Hickory Spring Loop comprising 1.5 miles. This is kid-friendly too so you can bring your younger ones to get a feel of this trail.
Their main highlight is the Broyhill trail offering magnificent views of Lake Hickory. It is around 4-6 miles of trail starting from the parking lot. It is a scenic trail but its challenging too so it keeps you on your toes. The trail goes deep in the woods, you will find plenty of shades to rest and cool breeze will accompany you throughout.
The other major trails are Skills Park and Rock n’ Road Pump Track. These trails are difficult ones and you should be an advanced trailblazer to complete these trails.
You can either walk the trails or go for mountain biking. Both are equally fun. Spend some time amidst nature and you will have a refreshed body and mind.
Address: 1515 12th St Dr. NW, Hickory, North Carolina 28601
4. Indian Springs Campground
You may not think that Hickory can also have a nice campground but that’s where Hickory makes you wrong. A nice and safe campground awaits you in Hickory. If you are looking for someplace to camp and enjoy in Hickory, you should visit Indian Springs Campground. However, please make reservations before visiting.
The park is secluded and quiet and the camping area is just by the river. So, you also get the opportunity to kayak and tube in the river. There is also a catch and release pond so you can enjoy fishing while there.
You also get access to free wifi so you are disconnected from the world but you are just a call away. It is a nice small RV park, visited by tourists from even far off places.
Bakers mountain view from the campground makes it one of the best setup for a campground you will ever see. If you are planning to camp in Hickory, this is the best and fun place to put your camp.
Cost: For $35 a night and $210 per week, this campground is reasonable and quite affordable.
Address: 4361 Whitener Dr, Hickory, NC 28602
5. Drive along Blue Ridge Parkway
This is again one of the top things to do while in Hickory. If you are in the neighborhood, keep aside one day to go for a long drive on the scenic and iconic route of North America.
Stretching from Virginia to Cherokee (North Carolina), connecting Shenandoah National Park (Virginia) and Great Smoky Mountains National Park (North Carolina), the Blue Ridge Parkway is a beauty in silence.
Whether you drive 10 miles or 50 miles on Blue Ridge Parkway, you will find yourself amidst nature. You will be treated with beautiful scenery throughout along with stunning waterfalls and breathtaking views of some of the highest peaks east of the Mississippi River.
There are plenty of hiking and mountain biking spots. So you can enjoy these fun activities. Also, no big trucks are allowed on the parkway and the speed limit is 45 so you get plenty of chance to see and admire the stunning beauty along the highway.
Many tourists visit North Carolina just to take the drive along the scenic route of the parkway.
Valuable Tip: You will get the most scenic views during the Fall season but that is the time when it is most crowded too. You need to plan accordingly to make the most of your visit.
6. Bakers Mountain park
A paradise for hikers, the Bakers Mountain Park offers great hiking trails to the top of the mountain where you are rewarded with the spectacular views of the Catawba County Forest and vegetation.
There are moderate and strenuous hikes you can choose from, depending upon your fitness level. The trails map is color-coded. However, the color-coding does not tell you about the intensity so better ask the park rangers. They are more than willing to help you out.
Some of the trails are steep and will be difficult for kids or older grandparents so it will be good that you take advice before zeroing down one of the trails.
The trails go through deep woods offering plenty of shades to rest. You will find several benches along the way so you can take a short break.
Pack some healthy snacks and plenty of water, bring your binoculars and your furry friend and enjoy the hike.
Address: 6680 Bakers Mountain Rd, Hickory, NC 28602
7. Glenn C Hilton Jr Memorial Park
Looking for a place to spend some time with kids and have fun for the family, the Glenn C Hilton Jr Memorial Park is one such place that offers a lot of fun, play, and tranquility.
It’s a nice beautiful park in the heart of the city but once you are there you feel that you are miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
There are nice walking trails you can take a walk on. Bring your bike and enjoy a ride as there is a bike path too.
There is a beautiful creek, and the area around the creek is peaceful. You will find many birds and ducks enjoying the sun along the creek. Plenty of benches to sit and relax and enjoy the wildlife.
There is a boardwalk above the creek which makes it a picturesque place. Also, you can bring your canoe here and paddle it out to Lake Hickory.
Enjoy Disc Golfing at the park with family as the park houses an amazing Disc Golf course. You will find many people enjoying the disc golf here.
Kids can enjoy the big playgrounds with swings, slides, and monkey bars. It is a perfect picnic place. Bring your food and drinks for a nice outing with your family.
Address: 2000 6th NW St, Hickory, NC 28601
8. Riverbend Park
Just 7 miles away from Hickory, sits the beautiful Riverbend Park. Located on the banks of Catawba River, this park has more than one mile of shoreline. Surrounded by wildlife and wetland area, this park is a natural heritage.
With so much to offer, from hiking, mountain biking, picnic areas, and fishing, the park is blessed with beautiful views of the sunset.
You get around 20 miles of hiking and biking trails. The trails are through the wooded areas and hence it’s quite scenic. The trails have shades from place to place so you can just relax under the shades when tired.
You can also spend some time fishing at the lake and relax with a drink. There is a boat launch platform so you enjoy the views of the lake paddling through the river.
Picnic areas are even great. Picnic tables and griller are available. The park is neat and clean. Anywhere along the river shoreline, you can put your picnic mat and relax and enjoy yourself with your family.
Bird watchers get a lot to see. You can easily spot bald eagles, blue herons, ducks, and geese. Along with that, you can also get to see deers roaming around.
All in all, this is a fun place for a family who is looking for a relaxing day or rearing to go for a hike.
Address: 6700 NC-16, Conover, NC 28613
9. Fairbrook Optimist Dog Park
Why should men have all the fun? Dogs in the family deserve it too. Fairbrook Optimist Dog Park is the best and fun place for all kinds of dogs.
There is lots of space for dogs to run. The park has tubes, obstacles, and various arrangements to climb on and play.
The play area is huge. However, the best part of the park is it has two different areas for large and small dogs which kind of makes it easy for smaller dogs to play freely without getting intimidated by the big ones.
The park is open from 7 am till dark. Just off the interstate, the park is so much fun for the pets. Let your dogs play and stretch their legs.
Address: 1560 4th Ave SE, Hickory, NC 28602
10. Conover City Park
Just about 7 miles away from Hickory, the Conover City Park attracts many tourists and locals every day.
The park is a delight for children as they get splash pads to enjoy. The splash pad is big enough to accommodate many kids at one time. Children play their hearts out here. Apart from that, the park has two big playgrounds in which kids can play and enjoy.
The park has a small walking track to take a stroll. There are picnic tables and plenty of green areas to put a blanket and sit and relax.
The park may be small but it has everything you can ask for from a city park.
Valuable Tip: The best part is it is in downtown so you can club it with a good meal at one of the fine restaurants as well and its just opposite to the public library so you can also visit the library.
Address: 361 5th Ave SE, Conover, NC 28613
11. Kiwanis Park
Just off Interstate 40, Kiwanis Park is a great park to take a break and stretch your legs.
There are two playgrounds for kids fitted with varieties of equipment. There is a nice splash pad, probably the best in nearby areas. Children do enjoy the shower, rain, mist, and shoot streams of water. The park is full of activities for kids to keep them busy playing for a few hours.
For elders, they have a basketball court, one tennis court, and 4 baseball fields. Those interested in a good game can enjoy at these courts. There are picnic tables and grillers are available for those who are interested in some relaxing time and fun with the family.
Address: 805 6th St SE, Hickory, NC 28602
Valuable Tip: As you can see, there are several beautiful parks you can visit and enjoy. Although each park is unique in itself, you can choose to visit any of the parks closer to your location if you are on a weekend trip or struggling to include to fit in all the attractions in your itinerary.
Top Fun & Adventurous activities in Town
12. Catawba Science Center
Ignite your brains and have all the fun at the same time. Sounds impossible? No, it’s not. Catawba Science Center makes you learn about Science but in a fun way.
It’s a children’s museum but it is great for the entire family. You learn a lot here. There is a lot to see and experience and yeah it’s not only a Science museum, but it’s also much more than you can imagine.
There is a fantastic digital planetarium with huge screens and mindblowing sound system which will transport you into another world. You will travel virtually to the center of a black hole, you will tour the surface of the Sun and will see the rings of Saturn. All of this is so great to see and know to add on to the unbelievable experiences.
There is a naturalist center where you will see live reptiles, amphibians, and inspects. You will also see and learn about their collection of preserved animals and more.
Their most attractive and loved up offering is Fresh and Saltwater aquarium where you, not only get a chance to touch baby sharks and stingrays but you also see how they are fed. This is very exciting for kids and they love this experience.
The best part of this place is most of their exhibits are hands-on so kids are occupied all the time, also it makes a great way for learning. Their interactive exhibits at gross labs are fun and humorous.
There is an outdoor science courtyard for kids where kids get to climb the wall and learn about fossils.
Cost: The charges are reasonable costing $10 for adults and $8 for kids. it is open Tuesday to Sunday for the public. Check their timings for different activities before visiting.
If you are looking for something to do with kids, this is your must-visit place. However, this is a fun place for all ages.
Address: 243 3rd Ave NE, Hickory, NC 28601
13. Emerald Hollow Mine
An unusual fun and adventure offered by this gem of a place called Emerald Hollow Mine. In true sense, this is a gem of a place because here you get a chance to hunt for rare gemstones.
Just 30 minutes away from Hickory, NC, the emerald mine is located in Hiddenite city. The mine has more than 60 types of naturally occurring gems and minerals which include some of the rare gems like Emerald, Sapphires, Topaz, and many more.
They offer various activities. You can choose to dig and find the gemstones or you can choose to sort through dirt and find gems or you can even choose to find gemstones through water flow in the river. You can even choose to do all three activities.
They also have bucket sifting activities wherein you will buy a bucket full of dirt and you sift it through to find any gemstones present in the bucket.
Kids love playing in the dirt and have fun playing in the water. So what are you waiting for? Roll up your sleeves and get ready to play with dirt and hunt for your precious gemstone.
If you are looking for an adventurous day without spending a fortune, this is your place. Here you stand a chance to be rewarded with a fortune without spending a whole lot.
Cost: For as low as 12 bucks, you get a chance to experience miner’s work and you also get a chance to find your gemstone.
Valuable Tip: The mine is open all 7 days from 8:30 am to 8:30 pm. However, check their timings or call them before visiting as the may be closed in case of bad weather or snow.
Address: 484 Emerald Hollow Mine Dr., Hiddenite, NC 28636
14. Hickory Crawdads
Looking for a great night out with family or friends, Hickory Crawdads is your best bet.
Hosted in L.P. Fran Stadium, Hickory Crawdads is your best minor league baseball club. You will see some great players in action who may be the future MLBers.
The ballpark is beautiful and offers a great sunset view in the evening. The park is small and that means you can see the games and players closely and you are so much close to the action.
It is a perfect place to catch a baseball game and see the young players playing their hearts out. The crowd usually is cheerful and energetic which makes the games edgier and more enjoyable. Fireworks at the end of the games bring a lot of fun to the visit.
The staff is friendly and accommodating. All the seats offer a great view of the park. You won’t find a bad sitting.
The ballpark food is outstanding. Tuesdays, there is dollar dog night where you get a hot dog for a dollar and a craft beer for $2.
The charges are reasonable for a baseball game. They offer individual tickets as wells seasonal tickets and they also have promotional offers. A great game and a great evening await you and it’s worth your time and money.
Address: 2500 Clement Blvd NW, Hickory, NC 28601
15. Hickory Motor Speedway
Known as the “Birthplace of the NASCAR Stars”, the short track Hickory Motor Speedway is a delight for race lovers.
They have historic tracks which offer good races. The atmosphere is always enthusiastic and cheerful. You will feel the old city charm.
The races offer excitement and thrill which you can not compare to any other event or activity. All the race lovers would second to that feeling.
Valuable Tip: Hands down, their Tour of Destruction is the best event to attend. However, they have some other great, amazing races too. Check their official website before visiting there.
If you are one of them whose heartbeats go funky and blood starts pumping, then you can’t afford to miss this fun place.
Address: 3130 US-70, Newton, NC 28658
16. Get Spooked at Lake Hickory Haunts
For the one whose tagline is “Be prepared to get Scared”, is something all the daring ones out there would want to experience.
Lake Hickory Haunts is one of the top haunted house attraction in North Carolina. Visitors like this place and come for a scary, thrilling, and fun-filled adventure.
Laced with different scary themes and a set of well trained professional actors with spooky costumes, this place certainly demands a visit.
Whether it is a 100feet long underground cave with ghosts lurking around or a fishing village sunken deep in the waters or other scary themes, everything is so spooky and set to scare you to the core.
The sets, props, actors, and special VFX and the sound system everything has been put together in such a way that you will have the scariest night of your life.
Visitors drive here from far off places just to experience this Haunted house vibes.
Come here to get spooked!
Cost: For a charge of around $20-$30, this place may be costly for a big family but the experience it offers is worth every penny. The place is kid-friendly so you can also bring your younger ones.
Address: 520 Carolina Ave, Hickory, NC 28601
17. Golfing at Rock Barn Country Club and Spa
There are few golf courses in Hickory but if you just drive 20 minutes out of Hickory to Conover, you will find the outstanding Rock Barn Country Club and Spa located in the foothills of Blue Ridge mountains.
If you want to experience luxury while playing golf, this is the best place to do so.
The golf courses are great here. They have two courses. Out of which, Tom Jackson Course is open for the public. With 18 holes and super fast greens, the golf course offers great playing satisfaction to golfers.
All skill levels can enjoy golfing here. They also give private lessons if you are looking to learn some quick tricks to play golf. Charges are pretty reasonable for such a nice course.
The best part is they also have a nice spa and a grill restaurant. Those who are not interested in golfing can pamper themselves at their world-class spa.
They have some great packages wherein you can stay at their lodge and play golf. You may want to check that out.
Address: 3791 Club House Drive Northeast, Conover, NC 28613
18. Xscape Escape Room
If you have never been to an escape room or looking for a fun and adventure experience, Xscape Escape Room is something you should try.
There are theme-based rooms and the rooms have props, clues, and puzzles which you will have to solve in an hour to come out of the room. Those who welcome challenges are going to love this immersive experience.
Come with your family or group of friends to make the most of this game. This is a good game for family bonding and fun with friends.
Valuable Tip: Try Curse of Mummy as it is most recommended and most favorite among folks visiting there.
Cost: It will cost you 25 bucks per game which is pretty much okay considering all the fun you are going to have. However, it might be a little expensive for a large family.
Address: 3318 Hickory Blvd, Hudson, NC 28638
19. Hickory Furniture Mart
Since Hickory is known for its woodwork and furniture production, it becomes almost mandatory to visit Hickory Furniture Mart if you are visiting Hickory. Even if you are just passing through Hickory, make a pitstop and visit the amazing furniture destination.
You will see people from all nearby cities like Charlotte and Ashville driving the extra miles just to visit and shop at furniture mart.
The marketplace is huge. 4 stories are dedicated to different furniture and decor shops offering a large collection of woodwork designs and furniture. You can just walk on and on and you won’t finish visiting all the stores. People usually take around 7-8 hours to cover the marketplace.
The best thing is you get a free shopper who will assist you with your shopping. They are very good at their work and help you throughout with your shopping experience deciding what you exactly fits your need and budget.
Valuable Tip: This place is good for people living in Hickory or nearby cities as the home delivery is not free and they charge by weight. However, if you are in the area, it surely asks for a visit.
Address: 2220 US Hwy 70 SE, Hickory, NC 28602
20. Hickory Antiques Mall
If you are interested in collecting unique items and antiques, you should surely visit Hickory Antiques Mall as it is one of the largest antique shops in the area.
Featuring more than 80 booths and shops, this mall is a paradise for collectors. They have a great variety of antiques, chinaware, glassware, pottery, crystals, jewelry, and hard to find books and coins and many more items.
You can browse different booths and buy if you like anything. This is a good one to two hours of time pass. If you are in the area and you love collectibles, do visit this place.
Address: 348 US Highway 70 SW, Hickory, NC 28602-5029
21. Union Square
Union Square is a landmark in Hickory downtown consisting of historical sites, monuments, shops and fun places to hang out.
There is so much to do at Union Square. Take a stroll on the sidewalks and explore the interesting shops and restaurants. Learn about the history of Hickory and roam around.
You will get to enjoy live music and band on Friday nights during Summer. Most of the restaurants have outside sittings. Grab your meal from one of the finest restaurants in the area and sit outside and enjoy live music on Fridays.
If you are visiting on Sunday or Wednesday, you can visit the farmer’s market to relish a variety of fresh fruits and salads.
At the end of the street, there is Lowes Food City Park which is a nice small kids park with Splashpad. The play area is big enough for small kids as it has swings, slides, and many things to climb on and play. Kids love the play area and the Splashpad.
This is the hub of entertainment in Hickory town and there is something for everyone in the family.
Address: Union Sq., Hickory, NC 28601
Best Places for Perfect Date Night
22. Shadow Line Vineyard
All the wine lovers will be amazed to know that they can experience some good wine tasting just outside of Hickory. Drive for 15 minutes outside of Hickory and you will come across a relatively new but impressive vineyard in Granite Falls.
The Shadow Line Vineyard is an absolute hidden gem. The property itself is very beautiful. With large vineyard fields, a great tasting room, and a nice patio in the woods with a view of a well maintained, beautiful farm pond, this place offers you a relaxing atmosphere.
They have a large and impressive wine collection. From the homegrown grapes for Chardonnay to other classy wines such as Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Malbec and many more, the place offers you a lot for your taste buds.
They usually organize some fun events or live band music which makes the visit fun and makes the evening more eventful and enjoyable.
Bring your date or come with your family to enjoy this place. This is a must-visit for all the wine lovers.
Address: 2550 Shadow Line Ln, Granite Falls, NC 28630
23. Lake Hickory Adventures
Looking for a romantic dinner place, Don’t go any further. Lake Hickory Adventures offer you the evening of the lifetime.
Lake Hickory Adventures runs Public Dinner cruises and Private Charters. Their dinner cruise is very famous in the town and nobody leaves the town without taking their cruise. Yeah, it’s that famous and it’s that good.
While aboard, you will be served with delicious food and drinks. You can bring your drinks too, so if you want, take along your favorite wine. Hand in hand with your partner, looking at the gorgeous sunset and gazing sky full of stars sets the right tone for the perfect evening.
A vocalist and a guitarist add on to the romance, the cruise serves. Sit on top and enjoy the changing views of the Lake Hickory.
The captain and crew are great and friendly. They are knowledgeable and will tell you about the history of the lake. The cruise is relaxing as well as fun.
For locals, it is their first choice for a celebration joint. Whether it is someone’s anniversary or birthday or graduation party, they choose this place for celebration.
It is a perfect place to create a long-lasting memory.
Address: 6707 Limbaugh Lane, Hickory, NC
24. Wine & Design
The Wine & Design is essentially a painting studio where you learn painting luxuriously sipping your glass of wine. It is a perfect place for a date night or a fun night out with your girl gang.
Looking to unwind, relax and have fun, this is your place. They provide you everything from Canvass to paints and paintbrushes, you just have to show up with your bottle of wine.
With a 2 hour session and a local artist guides you at every step, you create your masterpiece even if you are a terrible artist. And the good part is you can take your masterpiece home along with your memories of the fun night.
Valuable Tip: You need to bring your wine, they don’t serve it. However, they will help you with plates, glasses, and everything else.
Cost: With 35 bucks per person, the charges are pretty reasonable considering you get 2 hours of fun and place to show your creative side.
Address: 2440 N Center St, Hickory, NC 28601
Love for Art & Architecture
25. Hickory Aviation Museum
Hickory Aviation Museum is an amazing aerospace museum located at Hickory Regional Airport. This is one of the best and unique places to visit in Hickory if you want your kid to learn about airplanes and their role in American history.
The collection of planes and their display is great. Military artifacts displayed inside while military warplanes displayed outside along with a wealth of historical information shared by the staff there makes for a great visiting experience and a pride moment knowing your military.
Unique stories about the airplanes, the fights, and personal experiences shared by staff give you enough reasons to feel proud of the military and overwhelmed by their achievements.
The staff is very informative and knowledgeable. Many of them have served the military and are retired. Don’t mess with them, they know their stuff. They will answer all your questions. As you speak with the staff, you will see many planes taking off and landing in the background as it is an airport also. That makes for a great view.
This is run by a nonprofit organization and hence the visit is free. This is a kid-friendly space and kids love this experience. There is an onsite cafe that is reasonably priced. You can grab some snacks and coffee for refreshments as you tour the museum.
Even if you are not into airplanes, you are going to enjoy this place and conversations. There is so much to learn and know about and that too absolutely free, it asks for a visit.
Address: 3101 9th Ave Dr. NW, Hickory, NC 28601
26. Henry River Mill Village
Famous for its appearance in “District 12” in Hunger Games movie, the Henry River Mill Village is flocked by tourists to soak in the real experience of Hunger Games.
Once a vibrant industrial town, the village is old and abandoned now. You will have to drive for about an hour to see this village and before visiting you need to book the day tour.
Holding the ruins of the village and wealth of history, the village is great historical sightseeing.
The tour takes you through the lives of workers living here in the heyday of the village, some houses still have some furniture, you may spot some walls with paintings or the colorful wall itself with paint peeling off. So many things to feel connected with those homes and yet feel abandoned.
The tour guide is very engaging and his stories transport you into that era. It’s a relaxing tour where you won’t have to hurry up.
Take out some time and visit this place to soak in the experience of history, nature, and movies altogether.
Address: 4255 Henry River Rd, Hickory, NC 28602-8541
27. Hickory Museum of Arts
Displaying a permanent collection of American art ranging from the 19th century to the 21st century, the Hickory Museum of Arts entices everyone whether you have an eye for art or not.
Located in downtown Hickory, the Art museum boasts of modern folk art displaying hundreds of paintings, a variety of sculptures, different forms of glass art, pottery art, and whatnot. Yeah, they have a huge collection of folk art!
Their temporary exhibits are equally good emphasizing the artwork of local and regional artists. They have exhibitions year around. So, you can go at any time and you will always find something new, something worth admiring.
Visitors swear by their blown glass artwork, it is that mind-blowing. Starting from the historic building to the display of a variety of permanent and temporary exhibits, the art museum offers something for all age groups.
This is a great way to introduce kids to American art and the work of local artists. The surprising part of all this is it is free so you can spend your entire afternoon with such amazing work without any cost.
They also have a gift shop if you would like to buy something artistic to display at your home or to gift to your loved ones.
Art lovers are going to love this place but those who are not interested in art, the museum is so engaging, you would not even realize the time.
The museum is closed on Monday but make sure to check their official website before paying a visit.
Address: 243 THIRD AVE NE, HICKORY, NC 28601
28. Harper House
A jewel in the heart of Hickory town, the Harper House gets all the love from visitors and locals. It’s a beautiful Victorian-styled home with stunning architecture.
The house was built in 1880. There is a lot of history behind the house and also about the families who owned it and lived here.
The tour guide does justice to the house while explaining the nooks and corners of the house. Each detail of the house is pretty impressive. The tour guide is friendly and very informative. You will get to listen to some great stories of the families and will travel back in time.
The house has been gloriously preserved and restored. Rooms with beautiful wallpapers and the impressive woodwork in the house are awe-inspiring. The house still has some furniture from the old times, which makes you stop and admire the work.
If you love touring old architectural buildings, then this is a must-visit place for you. Those who are not interested in architecture or so can enjoy the interesting stories of the families.
Valuable tip: This is very close to downtown so you can squeeze in an hour to visit the property. For just 5 bucks, the trip is unmissable.
Address: 310 N. Center St, Hickory, NC
29. Love for old architecture at Maple Grove
Those who love visiting old houses and farms, can’t resist visiting Maple Grove (also known as Shuford House) especially when it’s so close to the Hickory downtown and the amazing Harper House.
For a historical architecture enthusiast, this is the best way to spend a sunny afternoon admiring the old victorian style architecture.
The house has been preserved and restored to give you the feel of the 1890s. The house still has some furniture from old times on display. The rooms are decorated with antiques. while walking through the house, you will see and experience that old era which is amazing.
They have a self-guided tour but that should not be a worry as they also provide you a pamphlet that has all the information about the house and its belongings. You can finish touring the house in about an hour.
The house is open Monday through Friday from 9 am to 4 pm.
Valuable tip: Couple it with a visit to Harper House and a nice lunch in one of the finest restaurants of downtown and this will be an afternoon well spent for you.
Address:42 Second Street, NE, Hickory, NC 28601
30. Hickory Community theatre
With a population of just more than 40,000, Hickory may seem a small town but it does not fail to surprise you with the quantity and quality of entertainment it has to offer. Hickory Community Theatre in the heart of Hickory is one such entertaining place.
It is performing art theatre having wonderful shows year-round. People visit this theatre to catch one of their shows and the good thing is all of their shows are great.
They have great actors and great backstage artists who deliver great performances. Whether you want to catch an intense drama or just some light comedy, the community theatre has it all.
The theatre itself is beautiful. It’s small, cozy and all the seatings have excellent viewing.
Go in to catch one of their amazing show and have a magical experience.
Address: 30 3rd St NW, Hickory, NC 28601
31. Catawba County Firefighter’s Museum
Interested in knowing about firefighting and the history behind it, the Catawba County Firefighter’s Museum may be small in size but packs a pride punch.
The museum displays a variety of firefighting artifacts, some of them are from the 1900s. The six firefighting trucks from old times stand there with pride but there is one in particular which was used sometime in 1936 and is the main attraction of the museum.
It is a small museum so you can be in and out of the museum in an hour. However, the information tour of the museum will provide you so much information about the firefighting and firefighters’ work that you will feel utmost respect and pride for them.
Great place to educate children and yourself too!
Address: 3597 Herman Sipe Rd., Conover, NC 28613
Best Restaurants in Town
32. Olde Hickory Tap Room
Located in downtown Hickory, the Olde Hickory Tap Room is hands down the best restaurant in the town. It is favorite among locals and the tourists who visit here want to come back again. That makes it one of the top things to do in Hickory.
They have a great selection of food and drinks and they never go wrong with any of them. You want fast food, you can get it here. You want to eat something healthy, you get it here and you order anything from their menu, you are going to love it.
They have the best crab cakes in town. They have the tasty Reuben to try, also don’t forget to try their lemon caper tuna. Hold on, their pizzas, burgers, and chicken fingers are delicious too. Try anything and you won’t be disappointed.
The look and feel of the pub are superb. They have wall to wall taps with a different selection of beers. The beer mugs suspended from the ceilings, gives you a great pub vibe.
Weekends are special because they treat you with some really good music. Jazz music on Sunday night and Live band on Saturday night along with amazing food and great beer is a cool way to wind up the hectic week.
If you are in Hickory or on a road trip passing by Hickory, make a pitstop and try this restaurant. The taste will linger on for a while in your mouth and mind as well.
Address: 222 Union Square NW, Hickory, NC 28601
33. Blowing Rock Draft House & Brewery
Undoubtedly the best place in Hickory to try out deep dish pizza along with the in house brew. If you are looking for one of the best places to enjoy your meal, Blowing Rock Draft House & Brewery is one such place.
They have a limited menu but each selection is awesomely delicious and goes well with the beer. Their deep dish pizza and bison burger are to die for. They are so delicious and mouth-watering.
Outside sitting is available so you can sit outside during the summer months and enjoy a game of corn hole while waiting for your order.
Live music and the playing band keeps you entertained. Even if you are visiting alone, you won’t get bored here.
The place itself is beautiful. The view of the distillery adds on to its charm.
Prices are reasonable. Visit this place for high-quality craft beer and amazing food.
Address: 883 Highland Ave SE, Hickory, NC 28602
34. Carolina Vines Wine Bar
Just 20 minutes drive from Hickory, the Carolina Vines Wine bar is one fun place to try some really good wines and beer.
They have a great selection of wines from all around the world going from cheap to more pricey. Their on-tap craft beers from around the country are equally good. They have a limited menu but its quite delicious and goes very well with the drinks.
They also have a wine shop from where you can buy a nice bottle of wine for your home or gifting.
A great relaxing place after a long day of travel or work. On some days, they also have live music. It’s a great place to unwind and enjoy a good conversation.
Address: 19 N College Ave, Newton, NC 28658
35. Shukin’ Shack Oyster Bar
Good music, nice vibes, and mouthwatering seafood with your favorite cocktail, who would not like it? If you are looking to try some locally grown seafood in a relaxed atmosphere, Shukin’ Shack Oyster Bar offers you both.
They serve a variety of seafood including oysters, shrimps, lobsters, crab dishes, calamari, and many more. Whether you want it as raw, chargrilled, steamed, boiled, or fried, they have it all. You just need to order it.
It is relatively a newly opened restaurant but packs a surprise punch. While there, order Lobster rolls, Oyster basket, scallops, and shrimp. It’s all worth trying. Enjoy your meal while watching baseball on their big screens.
If you want your seafood to taste exactly like what you get on a beach shack, you can’t afford to miss this place. Everything here tastes heavenly.
Address: 2117 US Hwy 70 SE, Hickory, NC 28602
36. Bootleggers’ Whiskey Bar
For the best whiskey and single malt in Hickory, make sure you visit Bootleggers Whiskey Bar if you are in the town or neighborhood area.
Located on Highway 137, the restaurant is easily accessible and is known for its weekly specials.
So, while we are talking about weekly specials, they have special offers every day after 4 pm. So, they have pint Monday where get a pint beer for just $2 or Taco Tuesday where you get Tacos for as low as $2 or whiskey Wednesday where you get 20% on all whiskeys and similarly they have offers on other days too.
They have added two shuffleboards and a Golden Tee Golf video game for visitors to enjoy and have fun. The bar is open till late at night about 1 pm Monday to Saturday so if you are passing through Hickory late at night then this is a good option to take a break and have late-night snacks with a glass of nice smooth whiskey.
Valuable Tip: While there, don’t forget to try their wood-fired pizzas as they are freaking awesome.
Address: 2039 N Center St suite b, Hickory, NC 28601
Best Places to Stay
If you are looking for a secluded stay with stunning and peaceful lake views, go for Rustic Lake Cabin. Situated in Hickory on the banks on the Catawba River, this place is perfect for people looking for privacy and a relaxed atmosphere.
The air BnB house is just off Interstate 40 and not far off from the city. The cabin has a beautiful wooden interior and the glass windows provide panoramic views of the lake. The house has a fully functional kitchen and the owner also provides kayak/ canoe for rent. So, bring your book and spend some me-time on the beautiful lake.
The cabin can accommodate 4 persons. Charges are on a bit higher side but considering you get to spend all your time on the lake, its a good offer.
Another beautiful Lakefront house on Lake Hickory providing all the basic amenities like fully functional kitchen, wifi, television, washer, and dryer, etc. along with the beautiful lake views.
It’s a big house, accommodates 7 people. Just next to Marina and minutes away from the golf course, the house is ideal for big families looking to have fun at lake Hickory.
Looking to stay in the heart of Hickory so that you can experience all the best and fun things Hickory has to offer? Hampton Inn is your place. Trusted by visitors and offering quality service, this is the first choice of visitors planning to stay close to Hickory Downtown.
They have free breakfast, free parking, free wifi along with a fitness center, and a nice pool. It’s very close to restaurants and many Hickory attractions.
If you are on budget travel and looking for cheaper but good accommodation, then Sleep Inn is your place. Located just off Interstate 40, the main features of the hotel are clean rooms, free breakfast, and free wifi.
Close to many restaurants and Hickory attractions and reasonable charges, the hotel gives you little to complain of.
How to get there
Hickory is very close to the two big cities of North Carolina Charlotte and Ashville. Charlotte is 60miles while Ashville is approx 80 miles from Hickory. If you are coming from far off states, then better take a flight to Charlotte and then rent a car and drive to Hickory.
If you are in the neighboring cities, then the best option is to drive your car or you can take a bus or a taxi.
Start Planning your trip to Hickory, NC
Hickory is an exciting city. Packed with all the fun and catering to visitors of all ages, Hickory provides you a lot to explore.
The best part of the city is its location which is in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains which provides you access to stunning views of mountains and beautiful lakes.
Even the nearby areas of Hickory has a lot to offer. Being close to major cities and the iconic Blue Ridge Parkway, the city is a treasure for all the fun and adventure lovers.
Even if you are in the nearby area, make sure you make a stop in the city to enjoy the best of the Hickory.
If you are a traveler by heart and interested in exploring Southern cities, have you tried Valdosta, Georgia yet?