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23 Best & Fun Things To Do In Hickory (NC)

With a long furniture manufacturing history, Hickory is a city in Catawba County, North Carolina.

The tavern built out of logs under a hickory tree in the 1850s is where the moniker Hickory started.

It also earned the moniker “Birthplace of NASCAR Stars” since it was the birthplace of numerous legendary NASCAR drivers.

The city of Hickory is a well-liked destination for stunning outdoor exploration and lake experiences.

Additionally, the city has superb cuisine choices. From barbecue restaurants that sell mouthwatering grilled meat, and sandwich melts to burgers and steaks, you will be filled with delight.

Besides the furniture history and outdoor exploration, Hickory is also rich in historical architecture that sends it right back in time.

Indeed, hickory is a gem with so much to do.

Here are the top 23 things you should do in Hickory to enjoy all the city offers.

Things to do in Hickory

1. Hickory Art Museum

Hickory Art Museum

Hickory Art Museum

Located in downtown Hickory, the Hickory Art Museum is housed in an amazing and beautifully renovated old school building, with lots to do and see nearby.

The room is spacious and welcoming, and a circular staircase takes you upstairs to a fantastic collection of folk art.

In fact, this place itself is a work of beauty; it is spacious and well-lit, with numerous floors and locations to explore.

While any modern art museums exclusively display paintings; however, this one features a wide range of media, including glass, pottery, murals, sculptures, and more.

The exhibits in the Hickory museum are extremely well put together, and you could spend hours with their folk art collection.

The contemporary southern folk arts are on permanent display, while several changing exhibits are also throughout the year.

In addition, music is used in several portions of the show to improve it.

The majority of the artists at the gallery are from North Carolina, and as you move through the space, you’ll see that they all address a number of related subjects.

Every time you visit, you will easily see something new and unusual because the displays downstairs rotate.

Since it’s in downtown Hickory, it’s very convenient to restaurants and other attractions.

A trip to this museum is worth it and there are also many interesting items at the museum shop.

Parking is free, and admission is free too. So get ready to explore!

Address: 243 3rd Ave NE, Hickory, NC 28601, United States

2. Catawba Science Center

Catawba Science Center

Catawba Science Center

The Catawba science center is a place kids will enjoy a lot in Hickory.

The 35,000-square-foot Catawba Science Center is a non-profit science and technology museum in Hickory.

The museum features a cutting-edge digital planetarium, salt, and freshwater aquariums galleries, and changing hands-on displays.

You will gain knowledge about a wide range of topics, including physics, astronomy, technology, and many more.

The first room outside the ticket area is a touch/feel exhibit of stuffed animals, skeletons, and pull-out drawers for delightful discovery.

The downstairs has a lively interactive area that demonstrates physics, while a short walk away is a small aquarium and planetarium.

In addition, a variety of programs are available, including fun summer camps for kids in Pre-K through ninth grade, birthday parties, preschool science programs, homeschool classes, and even adult science programming.

Additionally, you’ll be interested in the art gallery down the hall.

In case you need to grab something, they also have a gift shop with some great gifts for all ages.

Address: 243 3rd Ave NE, Hickory, NC 28601, United States

3. Hickory Crawdads – L.P. Frans Stadium

Hickory Crawdads - L.P. Frans Stadium

Hickory Crawdads – L. P. Frans Stadium

The 1993-built L. P. Frans Stadium is home to the local minor league baseball team, the Hickory Crawdads.

Its name is a reference to a neighboring Pepsi manufacturer who helped pay for the stadium.

Over 4,000 seats and a few cafes and restaurants where you can get some snacks are available at the L. P. Frans Stadium.

The building of the Hickory Crawdads currently features a sizable LED scoreboard and enormous dugouts thanks to recent upgrades.

The stadium has hosted a lot of important baseball events over the years, including the South Atlantic League Finals.

Address: 2500 Clement Blvd NW, Hickory, NC 28601, United States

4. Backstreets Bar and Grill, Hickory

Backstreets Bar and Grill, Hickory

Backstreets Bar and Grill, Hickory

If you are looking for a date night, lunch, or dinner with family or friends in Hickory, this is the perfect spot.

In 1996, Backstreets Bar and Grill made its debut inside a former barbecue restaurant. Eventually, the business moved to a structure a short distance from its first site.

The extensive menu at this bar and grill features burgers, salads, hand-cut steaks, fresh pasta, and also pizza.

Furthermore, the bar is furnished with a wide selection of beers and wines for diners’ enjoyment.

In addition to its menu and drinks, Backstreets Bar and Grill’s walls are covered in a distinctive collection of sports and bar memorabilia.

They have both indoor and outdoor seating.

Lots of TVs are also available, so you don’t miss games.

On Fridays, the wait time can be long, but it is worth it.

The Hickory’s bar and grill is one place you want to be.

Address: 246 14th Ave NE, Hickory, NC 28601, United States

5. Henry River Mill Village

Henry River Mill Village

Denise Worden Photography / Henry River Mill Village

Henry River Mill Village provides a great opportunity to experience history and travel back in time.

The Henry River Mill Village is only a short trip halfway between Charlotte and Asheville.

It gives a look into the past and an insight into the rich history of western North Carolina mill towns, from its beginnings as a place to make cotton yarn to its more recent interpretation as District 12 in the Hunger Games movie.

The formerly bustling community seems lost, abandoned, and beyond repair at first glance.

The community has a long past that dates back to its creation in 1905, and its most recent appearance as District 12 in the Hunger Games movies is only one example.

Come on one of the various trips offered for people of all ages and interests.

As you go through the grounds, you can observe the vacant buildings and hear about the individuals who formerly called this place home and place of employment. There are still more than 20 buildings on the property.

The 1905 mill house, which has been painstakingly renovated, is also available for overnight stays.

6. Hickory Aviation Museum

Hickory Aviation Museum

C. Nolan Huizenga / Flickr

If you are interested in post-WW2 Naval Aviation, this is a great place to visit in Hickory.

The Hickory Aviation’s interior is filled with items and memorabilia from WWII to the present.

In fact, photos, outfits, helmets, and other items flown in WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam, Desert Storm, and Kuwait, are on display.

Displayed models illustrate the evolution of aircraft design from the Wright Flyer to the F-18 Hornet.

Examine and have a close-up look at the flight suits and ejection seats closely.

There is also a Wall of Honor inside, which honors local soldiers as well as members of their organization, while the Memorial Wall at the museum honors the deceased.

Furthermore, there are changing collections of displays at the Hickory aviation museum.

Connected to the terminal is a small cafe that serves an absolutely delicious hamburger.

You can explore ancient engines, witness vintage aviation outfits, and learn everything there is to know about the science behind airplanes.

You can also opt-in for guided tours if you feel the need to understand everything there is to know about the museum.

It’s free to enter and open from Tuesday through Saturday.

Address: 3101 9th Ave Dr NW, Hickory, NC 28601, United States

7. Henry Fork River Park

Henry Fork River Park

Henry Fork River Park

One of the best places you can go to in Hickory, whether you are into soccer or just want to have a nice time, Henry fork river park is the place to go.

A canoe launch, paved walking path, soccer fields, playgrounds, a concession stand, and horseshoe pits are all included in Henry Fork River Park.

The sports field here is well groomed and maintained, so you would like it.

The other features include an 8,000-square-foot picnic pavilion with a catering kitchen, restrooms, tables, and grills.

In addition, on one side of the park, there’s a trail that runs parallel to the Henry Fork River, which is very smooth.

There is also a playground area for smaller children, horseshoe pits, and picnic tables at various locations around the trail.

This park is among the best places to host an outdoor party or celebration with picnic tables and a catering service.

You may get to see deer, hawks, or other wildlife on the back side of the park.

Address: 5655 Sweet Bay Ln, Hickory, NC 28602, United States

8. Blowing Rock Brewery, Hickory

Blowing Rock Brewery, Hickory

Jennifer Walczyk / lowing Rock Brewery, Hickory

Located about 1.5 miles from Interstate 40, blowing Rock brewery is a brewpub in Hickory that has one of the finest beers in Hickory.

The House serves 20 locally brewed beers, delectable small plates, pub fare, and wood-fired pizzas.

This artisanal brewery is equipped with some of the best fermentors and kettles available anywhere in the world.

They also serve delectable meals, and their bison burger is a standout as well as the pizza. You should try them out.

In addition, there are available guided tours of the plant, along with tastings of the best beers the brewery has to offer, which are renowned for their inventive pairings.

The Blowing Rock Brewery also functions as an inn with a few charming rooms that visitors can reserve.

Listen to live music, relax with loved ones, and just have fun.

Address: 883 Highland Ave SE, Hickory, NC 28602, United States

9. Herper house, Hickory History Center

Herper house, Hickory History Center

Herper house, Hickory History Center

If you are into visiting old houses, this is one place to go in Hickory.

The Hickory History Center is located in the Harper House, which formerly belonged to a distinguished family.

The residence transports visitors to the 1800s with its lovely exhibit of Queen Anne-style architecture.

Such a fantastic mansion, especially when it is decked out for Christmas.

You will see stained glass windows, winding staircases, and even a tower carved into the roof of the house while you’re here.

The house also features a few displays that house things like antique jewelry, silverware, and apparel.

From Thursday through Saturday, the facility is open and gives a few guided tours during the day.

The Harper Mansion’s history and significance, as well as the charming tales of the family who once resided in this magnificent house, will all be covered by knowledgeable and enthusiastic tour guides.

Anyone interested in historic architecture must visit this mansion.

Come spend a few hours here.

Address: 310 N Center St, Hickory, NC 28601, United States

10. Carolina Theater

Carolina Theater, hickory

Carolina Theater, Hickory

Hickory is endowed with some historic structures and landmarks among which the Carolina Theater is a part of.

This theater, built in 1934, will take you back in time as soon as you pull up.

It’s a great history lesson and experience for all ages.

Enjoy your movie while sitting in the updated rocking seats and on the newly finished, gorgeous hardwood floors of the cinema.

Before entering the theater to watch your movie, stop by the concession stand and get your popcorn, hotdogs, candies, and beverages.

Address: 222 1st Ave NW, Hickory, NC 28601, United States

Planning a road trip outside of Hickory? Why not check out our list of things to do in Little Switzerland, Blowing Rock, Fayetteville, Cherokee, and Waynesville?

11. Hickory Furniture Mart

Hickory Furniture Mart

Hickory Furniture Mart

Having four stories of showroom, Hickory Furniture Mart is a high-end and beautiful furniture retailer.

The mart showcases the exquisite artisanship of Hickory and North Carolina with its beautifully designed furniture and it’s a place you’d like to go.

Furthermore, the furniture industry is home to some of the most reputable producers, artists, and designers.

Many locals frequent this shopping center to get their high-quality furnishings without breaking the bank.

Similarly, beautiful furniture made by master craftsmen is available for a fair price.

Visit the Hickory Furniture Mart even if you cannot purchase any furniture to take a look around and admire the exquisite pieces North Carolina is renowned for producing.

Open six days a week, Monday through Saturday, from 9 am to 6 pm.

Address: 2220 US Hwy 70 SE, Hickory, NC 28602, United States

12. Hart Square

hart square hickory

Reggie Thomas / Hart square hickory

Are you ready to learn a thing or two?

The largest group of authentic, historical log structures can be seen at Hart Square.

The structures date from 1782 to 1823 and is located just south of Hickory.

With more than 100 log cabins from the 1800s, Hart Square Village is one of Catawba County’s hidden beauties.

You will undoubtedly be astounded by the scope of history condensed in one location when visiting the world’s greatest collection of log cabins.

Dr. Robert W. Hart III, who served as a second lieutenant marine fighter pilot, founded the village.

In addition, a tobacco barn, a tavern, a water well, a doctor’s office, and a post office are all located on the site.

You will also find a moonshine still, a cotton gin, a church, a print shop, and a general store here.

In October, the village comes to life and is open to visitors on the fourth Friday.

Address: 5055 Hope Rd, Vale, NC 28168, United States

13. Hickory Farmer’s Market

Hickory Farmer’s Market

Hickory Farmer’s Market

Do you need a place to get some fresh and organic produce? Then, the hickory farmer’s market is the place to be.

Though not spectacularly big, but the market always gets the work done.

A variety of merchants sell seasonal local goods at the Hickory’s Farmer’s Market, including fruits, vegetables, flowers, eggs, cheese, meats, and much more.

Despite its size, the market is quite well-liked by both residents and visitors.

In fact, the Hickory farmer’s market is the ideal location in town to experience the fresh, organic food that is grown nearby.

While enjoying live music and other enjoyable activities, you can also sample or eat delectable and fresh loaves of bread, preserves, chocolate teas, pies, bagels, and other mouthwatering goodies in addition to the fruit.

This market also sells homemade cosmetics, pottery, gifts, and other items.

The Hickory farmer’s market is only open on Wednesdays and Saturdays from early morning to early noon from mid-April through the end of October.

Spend a morning visiting the Hickory’s Farmer’s Market, mingling with the populace, and enjoying the delectable fare.

Address: Union Square NW, Hickory, NC 28601, United States

14. Glenn C. Hilton, Jr. Memorial Park

Glenn C. Hilton, Jr. Memorial Park

Glenn C. Hilton, Jr. Memorial Park

How about a picnic or a date with nature in Hickory?

Featuring an 18-hole gold, gazebo, horseshoe pits, and 5 picnic shelters, Glenn C. Hilton, Jr. Memorial Park is a wonderful place to spend some time.

On average, you can see a vast diversity of birds and other species. Turtles, beautiful Cranes, Ducks, and Geese are some of the animals you’ll get to see.

There is a boardwalk that takes you on a tour through the wetlands area and is a great place to learn to fish.

In addition, the park provides food to feed the ducks and geese, so bring quarters for the kids and have fun watching all the birds flock to you.

Similarly, the park is also great for exercise, the biggest loop around totals 1.7 Miles and includes some awesome terrain and elevation change that makes it feel like you are hiking.

Overall, the Glenn memorial park is a great place to spend an afternoon, especially if you are with your family.

Address: 2000 6th St NW, Hickory, NC 28601, United States

15. Kiwanis Park

Kiwanis park hickory

Kiwanis park hickory

Another awesome park you can go to in Hickory is Kiwanis park. Kiwanis Park is an awesome park.

Kiwanis is fully loaded with four lighted baseball fields, two batting cages, a walking trail, a splash pad, and two playgrounds, including the Zahra Baker All Children’s Playground.

The playground is very large and has plenty of climbing and slides for the kids to enjoy.

In addition, the splash pad has all kinds of fun water tunnels to run under, and there’s a giant bucket that fills up with water and dumps it on you!

The Zahra Baker all children’s playground and tree house at Kiwanis park, Hickory, provides a good playground for people of all ages and disabilities.

In memory of Zahra Baker, this well-liked playground has features that are accommodating to people with disabilities, such as wheelchair-accessible ramps and rides, several activities at ground level, educational and sensory components, and inclusive play items.

If you go here, just be prepared to wrestle your kids away from the park when it’s time to leave.

Address: 805 6th St SE, Hickory, NC 28602, United States

16. Maple Grove, Hickory

Maple Grove, Hickory

Maple Grove, Hickory

Whether you are interested in ancient architecture or just searching for a free, educational way to spend an hour in Hickory, Maple Grove is just the right place.

The Shuford family, who contributed to the founding of Hickory, lived in Maple Grove, a farmhouse constructed in 1883.

The house, which is among the oldest in the neighborhood, has been meticulously restored to maintain its original appearance from the 1800s.

Visitors at Maple Grove are welcome to explore the house’s many rooms, which include the kitchen, parlor, and bedrooms. However, the basement is closed.

Additionally, each room is filled with furniture and clothing that are considered family heirlooms.

The house is accessible from Monday through Friday.

Although self-led tours are not charged, you can also arrange for a guided visit.

Address: Hickory, United States

17. Hickory Landmarks Society

hickory landmarks society

Hickory landmarks society

If you are someone who has a thing for old architecture and historical buildings, you will enjoy hickory.

The Hickory landmark Society’s mission is to lead in the protection of distinctive landmarks, communities, and customs that are historically or architecturally significant in the Hickory area.

The iconic J. Summie Propst House has come to represent the growth of Hickory’s historic preservation movement.

This Propst House is a stunning Second French Empire Style residence that has undergone restoration and been made available to the public as a house museum.

Similarly, the house was built in 1882.

John Summie Propst (1853–1940) and his wife Nancy Jane Abernethy Propst lived there first.

“Summie” Propst built some of Hickory’s best homes in the early 20th century while working as a carpenter, home builder, and woodcarver.

The renovated mansion has been preserved for tourists to see and experience as it did in the late 19th century. In addition, it is the only surviving specimen of this architectural design in Hickory.

Among the displays in the rooms are actual family heirlooms and furniture.

Address: 542 2nd St NE, Hickory, NC 28601, United States

18. Bakers Mountain Park

Bakers mountain

Bakers mountain

How about a panoramic view of Hickory and Catawba valley?

Baker’s mountain park is situated at a height of 1780 feet, which is the highest point in Catawba County and is a good place to hike.

The park’s paths total 4.5 miles. While some of the paths might be extremely challenging, most are moderate.

The trek also includes two smaller waterfalls, remains from two abandoned homesites, and a boulder protrusion as additional attractions.

Since Bakers Mountain Park opened in June 2002, more than 110 different bird species have been spotted there.

Check the bird feeders near the kiosk for Brown Creeper, American Goldfinch, Pine Siskin, White-breasted Nuthatch, and the sporadic Pine Warbler, especially in the winter.

Similarly, watch the sky occasionally to spot Golden Eagles flying over the mountain throughout the year, not only during the migration.

In the daytime, from Friday through Monday, Bakers Mountain Park is accessible.

Near the mountain’s summit, there is an observation deck with a great view of Hickory and the surroundings. Along with restrooms, the park also has a variety of picnic shelters.

Address: Hickory, United States

See also things to do in Corolla!

19. Hatch Sandwich Bar


The Hatch Sandwich Bar

Hatch Sandwich Bar is a little specialized eatery in the heart of Hickory.

It was established in 2012 and provides a laid-back ambiance where you can enjoy your mouthwatering sandwiches.

Excellent food created with high-quality, fresh ingredients is served at the restaurant.

Make sure to try the legendary maple syrup Brussel sprouts while you are there. Hatch also provides a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.

Address: 268 1st Ave NW, Hickory, NC 28601, United States

20. Putt-Putt Fun Center

Putt-Putt Fun Center, hickory

Putt-Putt Fun Center, Hickory

When it comes to miniature golfing in Hickory, the putt-putt fun center is the place to be.

Constructed in the 1970s, this Hickory fun center is one of two four-course putt-putt facilities and has numerous renowned holes.

The putt-putt fun center is quite an interesting location with signage, lights, a clubhouse, and other features.

This fun center’s four distinct courses, which may be played at a reasonable price if you want to play them all, are one of its best features.

In short, if you enjoy golf and are visiting Hickory, the putt-putt fun center is the ideal option.

Address: 533 7th Ave Pl SW, Hickory, NC 28602, United States

21. Hampton Inn Hickory

Hampton inn, hickory

Hampton inn, Hickory

If you need a place to lodge, Hampton Inn is a sure bet if you’re in or around Hickory, especially if you are a visitor.

Since the inn is located just off the highway and close to different dining, shopping, and entertainment options, it is an ideal place to be.

In addition, the hotel has free guest laundry facilities, a fitness center, an indoor pool, a meeting room, and a business center to give you that fine convenience.

Staying at the Hampton Inn will allow you to spoil yourself with a variety of conveniences and lovely, roomy apartments.

This Hickory beauty has more than enough to give you the impression that you are in a wonderful location.

Address: 1956 13th Ave Dr SE, Hickory, NC 28602, United States

22. Geitner-Rotary Park

geitner-rotary park

Geitner-rotary park

Take a trip to Geitner-Rotary Park and spend the day relaxing all by yourself or with anyone.

Geitner-Rotary Park in Hickory, has a boat ramp, a fishing pier, picnic tables with grills, and more.

Bicycling and hiking are some of the cool things you can do here.

This park is also an ideal place to enjoy serenity and nature because it is located in a nice residential neighborhood close to the lake and woods.

Address: 2035 12th St Dr NW, Hickory, NC 28601, United States

23. AMC Hickory 15

Amc hickory 15

Amc hickory 15

Grab some popcorn and it’s time to watch some movies right here in Hickory.

Just as the saying goes; “whole of life is just like watching a film. Only it’s as though you always get in ten minutes after the big picture has started”. Only that you don’t have to be 10 minutes late for this one.

You can choose from IMAX, Dolby Cinema, and Prime for your favorite cinematic experience.

Come immerse yourself and forget the bustles of the city.

Address: 2000 Catawba Valley Blvd SE, Hickory, NC 28602, United States

Final Remarks

Whether you want to experience outdoor exploration, lake experiences, and superb cuisine choices, you won’t go wrong coming here.

Besides the exploration, you will also get to enjoy the beautiful old architecture.