Looking for unique things to do in Hickory NC? Look no further! Hickory, located in Catawba County in West Central North Carolina, offers a variety of activities for visitors to enjoy. If you’re planning a road trip to this historic town, there are plenty of options to explore. One of the main attractions is the town’s rich history, which is preserved in places such as the Henry River Mill Village, Harper House, Hickory History Center, the Bunker Hill Covered Bridge, and Historic Murray’s Mill.
Catawba Science Center, Hickory Art Museum, and Hickory Community Theatre offer unique experiences for those interested in science and art. In addition to its cultural attractions, Hickory is renowned for its natural beauty and outdoor sports. There are several parks and gardens to visit near Lake Hickory, a popular spot for outdoor activities such as fishing.
The food scene in the town is fantastic as well, with many restaurants offering local cuisine. Whether you’re traveling with friends, family, or a special someone, Hickory has something for everyone. With its vibrant culture and stunning scenery, it’s definitely worth a visit. Interested to know more about this city?
Here are the 30 most unique things to do in Hickory NC:
1. Hike the Bakers Mountain Park
Discover unique things to do in Hickory NC by exploring Bakers Mountain Park, which boasts the highest mountain in Catawba County. This 189-acre park features almost 6 miles of paths and dense chestnut oak woodland, where visitors can encounter various native North Carolina mountain animals and vegetation.
Another must-visit attraction is the Carolina Thread Trail, a mile-long section that runs along the yellow and red routes up to Knoll Spur at 1280 feet. Along the way, hikers can admire breathtaking vistas of the western part of the North Carolina foothills. Don’t forget to check with the on-site park ranger, who can provide a more fascinating history about the park.
2. A Unique Concept at Cafe Pedal Works
Hickory, NC and its surrounding area are popular among mountain bikers due to the region’s foothill terrain, and several stores provide bike services to cater to this. One such store is Carolina Pedal Works, which stands out with its unique setup that offers a special experience in Hickory.
Alongside full-service bike sales, servicing, and accessories, this store features a charming coffee shop and bar on its property, called Cafe Pedal Works. Visitors can enjoy a mid-ride cappuccino or a local craft beer from one of its five taps after their biking adventure. This combination of a bike store, coffee shop, and bar makes for a truly unique thing to do in Hickory NC.
3. Leisure Time at Henry Fork River Regional Recreational Park
While primarily known as a soccer facility, Henry Fork River Regional Recreational Park in Hickory, NC offers a wide range of amenities for visitors to enjoy. With eight football fields, two playgrounds, an Alpine Tower ropes course, a concession canoe stand, a paved walking track, and horseshoe pits, there’s no shortage of things to do at this picnic area.
On a lazy afternoon, visitors can bring their takeout and watch a soccer match at one of the grounds, or even catch other athletic events like corn hole, field hockey, and archery. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing picnic or an active day out, Henry Fork River Regional Recreational Park is the perfect spot to enjoy a variety of activities in Hickory, NC.
4. Kiwanis Park for People of All Ages and Abilities
Explore unique things to do in Hickory NC at the well-known park system, which includes the Zahra Baker All Children’s Playground and the Treehouse in Kiwanis Park. These two attractions are highly recommended and provide a warm play area. Specifically, the Zahra Baker All Children’s Playground is a unique playground dedicated to Zahra Baker, with accessibility features for people with disabilities, making it one of the top things to do in Hickory, North Carolina.
In addition to the playground, Kiwanis Park offers a plethora of activities, including several ground games, educational and sensory components, and inclusive playthings. Moreover, visitors can enjoy the Charles D. Dixon Memorial Splash Pad, two playgrounds, a tennis court, an outdoor basketball court, four illuminated baseball fields, two batting cages, and a walking trail, making it a one-stop-shop for entertainment and outdoor activities in Hickory.
5. Power-Packed Concert at The Hum
The Hum, an outdoor recreational concert and event venue in Hickory, NC, came into being due to the shared passion of music lovers and civic-minded individuals. Conveniently located a short stroll away from downtown Hickory’s attractions, The Hum offers an unparalleled experience.
Their power-packed concerts are not to be missed, and visitors can easily check their event calendar and take a leisurely walk downtown. Moreover, The Hum’s revolving food and beverage vendors offer a wide variety of options for each event, including food trucks, brewers, wine, seltzers, and more, ensuring that guests have a unique and exclusive experience.
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6. Catch the Sunset at Lake Hickory
Explore unique things to do in Hickory NC by visiting Lake Hickory, which borders the northern part of the city. Upon completion of the Oxford Dam, the Catawba River was transformed into Lake Hickory, offering an array of fun activities.
Enjoy a variety of recreational experiences, including fishing cruises, holiday specialty cruises, public dinner cruises, and private charter cruises, provided by several recreational companies. Take a refreshing swim or a leisurely stroll along the shoreline, which will undoubtedly provide a memorable experience.
7. Learn About Local Artists at Hickory Museum of Art
Established in 1944 with the aim of gathering, promoting, and conserving American art, the museum has grown its collection from eight pieces purchased in its inaugural year to almost 1,500 art pieces today. Its mission extends beyond the preservation of art, as it also strives to encourage inventive innovation and build an inclusive community in the Unifour area.
Visitors can explore the museum’s rotating exhibits showcasing regional art, with details available on their website. On Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, visitors can enjoy free entry to the museum, making it a must-visit attraction for those seeking unique things to do in Hickory NC.
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8. Peek into the Past at Henry River Mill Village
Step back in time and discover the colorful history of western North Carolina’s mill towns at the Henry River Mill Village. From the early days of cotton yarn production to its more recent on-screen appearance as District 12 in the Hunger Games movies, visitors can immerse themselves in the past.
Conveniently located just 11 minutes away from Hickory, the village offers a family-friendly North Carolina vacation option complete with daily excursions, overnight accommodations, and seasonal special events. For an added thrill, visitors can also embark on an exciting guided Paranormal Tour, making it a unique and memorable thing to do near Hickory, NC.
9. Come see the Square Grand Pianos in Harper House
Experience a piece of history at the Daniel Webster-Adams House, constructed in 1887 and showcasing classic Queen Anne architectural features such as a pitched roof, scalloped wooden panels, and tinted glass panels. During the tour, visitors can learn about the economic growth of Hickory in the 1800s. Tours are available to the public from Thursday to Saturday.
While exploring the house, make sure to visit the Shops at Lyerly, located in one of the main level rooms. The one-of-a-kind bookshop and gift shop offer a variety of works by local writers and antiques from the Victorian era. Visitors can also explore the gardens and support the preservation of this stunning historic landmark by making a purchase at the shop.
10. Experience 19th Century Farmland at Maple Grove
Discover one of the unique things to do in Hickory NC by visiting Maple Grove, an elegant Italianate style farm home that has been transformed into a house museum open to the public. As you tour this historic structure, which is among the oldest still-standing buildings in the area, you’ll have the opportunity to view authentic family heirlooms and furniture from the mid-19th century. The 30 to 60 minute self-guided tours are free to visitors from Monday to Friday.
11. French Breakfast at Café Gouda
Café Gouda has been a beloved spot for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner in the Hickory area since its opening in November 2000. The cozy ambiance of the establishment makes it a welcoming space for guests. For breakfast, you can savor the taste of filled French toast or an egg wrap on a classic platter.
The lunch menu boasts an array of creative and delicious soups, sandwiches, and salads. The dinner menu includes the lunch menu as well as gourmet pasta and pizzas, with a special dish served every evening. Guests can also indulge in a selection of beer, spirits, and wine while dining. Be sure to check out other unique attractions in Hickory, NC after your meal.
12. Family Time at Bruce Meisner Park
Discover some unique things to do in Hickory NC by visiting the impressive 73-acre Bruce Meisner Park, situated at the intersection of Cloninger Mill Road and North Carolina 127. This exceptional destination boasts breathtaking panoramic vistas of Lake Hickory and boasts over half a mile of Falling Creek. With its convenient location, the park draws many families seeking an enjoyable outing in Hickory, NC.
Once at the park, you can explore its wonders through a paved walking path or pier, indulge in a picnic in the shelter, cook up a feast using the outdoor grills, or take a break in the restroom. These top-notch facilities make the park a go-to attraction for people looking to enjoy the unique recreational activities and breathtaking natural beauty the area has to offer.
13. Unique Cocktails at Fourk
Fourk, a contemporary neighborhood restaurant in Hickory NC, offers a range of unique things to do for those seeking a distinctive and exciting ambiance. With its fresh American cuisine, the restaurant serves traditional dishes like steak, fish, chicken, and salads, but with a twist – unique flavors and sauces that make each dish stand out.
To ensure the utmost quality, Fourk uses premium meats, high-quality seafood, and fresh veggies. Moreover, their bar offers a unique experience where bartenders prepare your drink right in front of you, using fresh fruits, spices, and herbs for their signature touch.
14. Spooky Evening with Lake Hickory Haunts
If you’re looking for a frightful night, then a visit to a haunted house is just what you need, and in Hickory, NC, Lake Hickory Haunts stands out as the best option. This haunted house offers a thrilling experience that includes outdoor and indoor attractions, providing a range of creepy things to do in Hickory, NC.
During the main tour, visitors will come across a variety of spine-tingling attractions, such as Big Top Circus in 3D, Slaughterhouse, Aquaphobia, Mangler, Extinction, Aftermath, and Nightmare Factory. The tour typically takes between forty-five minutes to an hour to complete, not counting the time you may spend on the Midway of Mayhem.
15. Try Craft Beer at Olde Hickory Brewery
Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Olde Hickory Brewery in Hickory, NC, has been brewing distinctive traditional ales and lagers with great care. They follow a meticulous brewing process, using only premium grains and cultured yeast, and without the use of any harmful chemicals.
The brewery’s tap room exudes a laid-back and leisurely vibe, making it an ideal spot for groups to relax and catch up, particularly on weekends. And while traveling, visitors can take in the ethereal aromas of North Carolina, adding to the overall experience.
16. Live the Thrilling Air of Hickory Motor Speedway
If you’re looking for unique things to do in Hickory NC, consider visiting the Hickory Motor Speedway near Downtown. This historic track, which debuted as a 0.80-kilometer dirt track in 1951, is known as the Birthplace of the NASCAR Stars and is a must-see attraction in Hickory.
It’s one of the most legendary locations for stock car racing and is home to the Whelen All-American Series, which continues to hold its races in Hickory. Additionally, the track hosts the CARS Tour, which features touring series cars from the Late Model and Super Late Model at the same event. Make sure to add this exciting event to your list of unique things to do when visiting Hickory.
17. Get Your Hands Dirty at Mud Mama’s Studio
Mud Mamas is a community pottery workshop located in Hickory, North Carolina, that provides a welcoming environment for women, men, and children who are interested in ceramics. Whether you’re a beginner looking to learn or an experienced potter in need of a workspace, Mud Mamas offers workshops and a community space to accommodate all levels.
They even have fun activities for kids in Hickory, NC scheduled regularly. If you’re interested in ceramics, be sure to check their schedule and attend their open studio hours to connect with other locals who share your passion.
18. Walk Your Dog at Civitan Park
Civitan Park in Hickory, NC, is a fully equipped attraction built for the benefit of the city’s residents. Families often visit in the afternoon or evening to relax and unwind, enjoying the ample space for activities such as strolling, running, yoga, or simply reading a book in the shade.
The park offers several other notable features, including a playground, a community garden, restrooms, a concession stand, an outdoor basketball court, a lit softball field, two tennis courts, and a picnic pavilion with seating and grills. Visitors are even welcome to bring their furry friends for a stroll on a leash. Civitan Park is the perfect destination for anyone seeking fun and relaxation in Hickory, NC.
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19. Emerson’s Café and 3 Little Chicks Bakery for Sweet Treats
If you’re looking for unique things to do in Hickory NC, why not check out Emerson’s Café and 3 Little Chicks Bakery? This family-run coffee and bakery spot offers freshly baked goods, gourmet coffee, and sweet treats, as well as live music on the terrace, cold treats, a cocktail, and even an 18-hole putt-putt course. But that’s not all – for a truly unique experience, you can also join them for a distinctive yoga hour on their patio, paired with their freshly brewed coffee (which you’ll need to order in advance).
And don’t miss their popular cupcakes, frappes, oatmeal crème pies, and cold brews, which are beautifully decorated and delicious. With something for everyone, Emerson’s Café and 3 Little Chicks Bakery is a must-visit spot for anyone looking for a unique and tasty experience in Hickory NC.
20. Try Local Delicacies at Downtown Hickory Farmers’ Market
The farmer’s market is a place where vintage charm and contemporary merriment blend together to create a welcoming atmosphere. It’s a great opportunity to mingle with new people, connect with local farmers, groove to the music, and savor dishes prepared by talented chefs using fresh produce sourced from nearby farms.
With a plethora of offerings, including fine harvest produce, meats, honey, dairy, baked goods, marinades, and pickles, the market promises to delight your taste buds. In addition to the delicious food, the market also features fresh flowers, potted plants, transplants, fresh and dried herbs, heritage and artisan crafts, street delicacies, and more.
These offerings give visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the cultural experience of Hickory. Plus, throughout the year, the market hosts various unique events that provide visitors with plenty of interesting things to do in Hickory, NC. And with seasonal specials and discounts, a trip to the farmers’ market is sure to create lasting memories.
21. Divine Feeling at Houk’s Chapel
Among the list of unique things to do in Hickory NC, is a visit to Houk’s Chapel, which happens to be the oldest place of worship in the area. The chapel boasts of distinctive German architecture and was constructed by a group of volunteers in 1893.
It has since been restored and preserved as a historical monument for the public to enjoy. Visitors can admire the period hall’s original furniture and antiquities, as well as experience the divine atmosphere of the chapel. Make sure to add this gem to your travel itinerary.
22. Classic Date Night at The Vintage House
One of the unique things to do in Hickory NC is to visit The Vintage House, which is the premier fine-dining restaurant in the region. Located in Hickory’s historic Abernathy home, which dates back to 1915, this restaurant serves elevated versions of traditional American bistro cuisine. To add to its charm, The Vintage House has preserved vintage artifacts, and its decor elevates the overall mood.
It’s essential to note that this fine-dining restaurant only accepts reservations, so be sure to book a table for two to enjoy a classic date. The carefully chosen wine list complements the ideal Italian cuisine, and their small plates are the perfect way to start your meal. Then end your romantic evening on a sweet note by trying their homemade Italian sweets.
23. Fun Crafts at Bisque ‘N Beads
Bisque ‘N Beads is a unique studio in Hickory, NC that offers various fun activities, including painting your ceramics or beading a bracelet. Additionally, the studio offers services like jewelry repair, glass fusing, hand-building with clay, and life-casting. There are no fees or prerequisites, and the studio is open for all to enjoy.
It’s a charming store that provides a peaceful escape for visitors of all ages and is a haven for craft lovers. Whether you want to spend time with friends, watch your kids have fun, or even have some quiet time, this retreat for crafters is the perfect place to go.
24. Attend a Concert at Western Piedmont Symphony
If you’re looking for fun things to do in Hickory, NC, the Western Piedmont Symphony (WPS) is a must-visit destination. The WPS has a rich history, as it was previously known as the Hickory Symphony and was renamed in February 1972. This organization has taken care of the legacy of organized music in the region.
The WPS regularly hosts concerts, featuring both local talents and well-known performers, and they are strongly supported. To have a lovely evening, all you need to do is purchase your ticket for one of the WPS concerts.
25. A Unique Date at Nailed It DIY Studio
One of the unique things to do in Hickory NC is to visit the Nailed It DIY Studio which opened its doors to the public on September 9, 2014. The studio’s inaugural class was an instant hit, and since then, they have been providing a perfect DIY experience for everyone who wants to join in on the fun.
Whether you come alone or with a group, the studio offers inclusive activities where they will instruct and guide you in creating memorable souvenirs. You can indulge in this fun activity in Hickory, NC with friends, family, or even on an exciting date, as they provide all the necessary components for your project. Just show up, and have a great time!
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26. Sip Your Favorite Wine and Paint at Wine & Design
One enjoyable way to celebrate a fun day with friends is by visiting Wine & Design, a creative destination where you can make lasting memories and stunning works of art. Gather your friends or loved ones and attend one of their two-hour sessions, where you can sip on your favorite wine or beverage that you bring along.
Throughout the session, you will be provided with glasses, paintbrushes, and canvases, while a local artist guides you step-by-step through the strokes and techniques needed to create your own unique masterpiece. By the end of the session, you will have completed your very own take-home artwork. So, whether you prefer wine, beer, or a soft drink, bring your beverage of choice and enjoy this artistic experience with your friends at Wine & Design.
27. Aircraft Geeks Must Visit Hickory Aviation Museum
One of the top attractions in Hickory, NC is the Hickory Aviation Museum, which offers free admission to visitors. Inside the museum, you will find a vast collection of antiques, memorabilia, and relics from World War II to the present day. The displayed aircraft models provide an in-depth look at the evolution of the design process, showcasing the transition from the Wright Flier to the F-18 Hornet.
Additionally, you can examine the flying suits and ejection seats up close. For a more detailed tour, the museum also has an outdoor aircraft collection. Inside, the Wall of Honor pays tribute to local soldiers and their families, while the Memorial Wall commemorates the deceased. The Hickory Aviation Museum is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in aviation and military history.
28. Reserve the Chef’s Table Experience at Cafe Rule & Wine Bar
Cafe Rule & Wine Bar provides a wonderful opportunity to create an unforgettable evening for your loved one. Their exceptional culinary skills and modern innovations promise to take you on a thrilling culinary adventure. During your visit, the chefs will walk you through the recipes, provide commentary, and even offer samples of their cooking.
To start your evening, indulge in snacks and unique beverages after exploring all the exciting things to do in Hickory NC. Their three-course menus are carefully designed with something to suit every taste and budget. Each visitor will receive a salad, entree, and dessert customized to their liking.
If you wish to add more appetizers, they offer refills. Plus, you can choose from their distinguished wine collection to complement your meal perfectly. At Cafe Rule & Wine Bar, you are guaranteed a unique and memorable dining experience.
29. Catawba Science Center for Curious Minds
The Catawba Science Center is a must-visit destination in Hickory, NC, offering a 35,000-square-foot children’s science and technology museum with interactive exhibits, freshwater and saltwater aquarium galleries, and a state-of-the-art digital planetarium theater.
The museum’s permanent displays include Gross Labs, Nano, Energy Avenue, Outdoor Science Courtyard, Naturalist Center, Treehouse Adventure, and Velocity exhibits, providing hours of fun and educational entertainment for both kids and adults. You and your family can enjoy a fun-filled day exploring these fascinating exhibits at a very affordable entry cost on weekends. Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to discover the wonders of science and technology at the Catawba Science Center.
30. Trampoline Time at Defy Gravity
Discover some of the unique things to do in Hickory, NC at Defy Gravity, an indoor trampoline park with a one-of-a-kind infrastructure that promises unlimited adventures. Spread across a 40,000 square foot space, this park features around 35 trampolines, including the famous angled wall trampolines, as well as a variety of extreme air sports, launching decks, and other surprises to ensure your enjoyment.
Defy Gravity offers an array of exciting activities for visitors to enjoy, including basketball, battle beams, extreme dodgeball, high-end air track, kid jump, ninja course, open jump, parkour, stunt fall, trapeze and aerial skills, wall tramp, and zipline. These unique zones are sure to get your heart racing and provide you with the best hours of entertainment in Hickory, NC.
How to Plan for a Trip to Hickory NC
If you’re planning a trip to Hickory, North Carolina, there are a few things you can do to make the most of your visit. Whether you’re traveling with family, friends, or solo, Hickory has something to offer for everyone. Here’s how to plan for a trip to Hickory NC:
Research the area: Before visiting Hickory, it’s a good idea to do some research on the area. You can learn about the history, attractions, food scene, and more through online travel resources.
Determine the length of your trip: Depending on how much time you have, you can plan for a day trip or a weekend getaway in Hickory. This will help you decide which attractions to visit and what activities to plan.
Plan your itinerary: Based on your research, you can create an itinerary that includes the top attractions and activities you want to experience. You can visit historic sites such as the Henry River Mill Village, Harper House, and Bunker Hill Covered Bridge, explore cultural attractions like the Catawba Science Center and Hickory Art Museum, or enjoy outdoor activities like fishing on Lake Hickory and visiting parks and gardens.
Book accommodations: Depending on the length of your stay, you’ll need to book accommodations in advance. Hickory has a range of lodging options, including hotels, motels, and vacation rentals.
Explore the food scene: Hickory is known for its fantastic food scene, so be sure to try some of the local cuisine during your visit. You can find southern-style comfort food, BBQ, and other delicious dishes at many of the town’s restaurants.
Check for events and festivals: If you’re planning a trip to Hickory, it’s worth checking the calendar for upcoming events and festivals. The town hosts many events throughout the year.
By following these tips, you can plan a memorable trip to Hickory, NC. With its rich history, cultural attractions, outdoor activities, and fantastic food scene, Hickory is a great place to visit and explore.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is Hickory NC located?
Hickory is located in Catawba County in West Central North Carolina.
What are some of the main attractions in Hickory NC?
Hickory offers a variety of attractions to visitors, including historic sites such as the Henry River Mill Village, Harper House, Hickory History Center, the Bunker Hill Covered Bridge, and Historic Murray’s Mill. The town also has cultural attractions such as the Catawba Science Center, Hickory Art Museum, and the Hickory Community Theatre. Additionally, there are many outdoor activities to enjoy, such as fishing on Lake Hickory, visiting parks, and exploring gardens.
What kind of outdoor activities are available in Hickory NC?
Hickory is known for its beautiful natural landscapes and outdoor activities. Visitors can enjoy recreational activities such as fishing on Lake Hickory, visiting parks, and exploring gardens.
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What kind of cuisine can visitors expect to find in Hickory NC?
Hickory has a fantastic food scene with many restaurants offering local cuisine. Visitors can expect to find a variety of delicious dishes, including BBQ, southern-style comfort food, and more.
Is Hickory NC a good destination for a road trip?
Yes, Hickory is a great destination for a road trip. The town has a rich history, cultural attractions, outdoor activities, and a fantastic food scene, making it a great place to explore and experience something new.
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Hickory, NC offers a unique and unforgettable travel experience for visitors. From its rich history and cultural attractions to its stunning natural landscapes and outdoor activities, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you’re a history buff, an art enthusiast, a foodie, or an outdoor adventurer, Hickory has something to offer. So, if you’re looking for a perfect destination that offers a mix of culture, history, and adventure, look no further than Hickory, NC. Plan your visit today and experience all the unique things to do in Hickory NC.