15 Best Things to Do in Burlington, NC

Burlington, NC
Nik Merkulov / shutterstock.com

The city of Burlington in North Carolina was founded as a necessity to find a place to repair, build, and maintain their railroad network back in the days.

Founded in 1857, the North Carolina Railroad Company named the town Burlington in the 1850s and served as its main repair and construction hub for its rail tracks.

Burlington was at its peak of development when the North Carolina Railroad Company abandoned the city in 1886.

The city then endured a huge setback due to the closure of the railroad company.

However, just like a phoenix, the people of Burlington rose from adversity and built the city to what it is today.

Located in Alamance County, Burlington is full of historical attractions, nature reserves, and parks that call for exciting outdoor recreation and leisure.

Burlington City today is thriving with major industry, growing business and retail, and developing residential communities that stood the test of time.

So, what it's like to visit Burlington City?

Well, its unassuming appeal won't likely attract business or cruise tourists.

Instead, this city is a haven for adventurers and backpackers who have a taste for history, heritage, and the outdoors.

Check out the 15 best things to do in Burlington, NC, to give you the best idea of what to do there.

Explore the Cedarock Park

View of Cedarock Park
Ildar Sagdejev (Specious), CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Cedarock Park is a vast nature park established in 1975 by Alamance County.

The park was once a farm established in the 1800s owned by Polly and John Garrett and covers 500 acres.

Cedarock Park is one of the most popular spots in Burlington for outdoor activities like hiking, horseback riding, and sports.

The park is also equipped with numerous disc golf courses and a footgolf course.

View of Cedarock Park
Ildar Sagdejev (Specious), CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Aside from sports and outdoor activities, the park is also a perfect place for picture taking.

Take your best photos at the picturesque ponds and waterfalls in the park while it's also equipped with picnic tables, kayak and canoe rentals, camping grounds, and other amenities.

This popular park in Burlington is located at 4242 R Dean Coleman Rd, Burlington, NC, and it's open daily from morning until afternoon.

View of Cedarock Park
Ildar Sagdejev (Specious), CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Dine at the Grill 584

To honor the city's history, a restaurant opened up and named itself "Grill 584," which serves delicious steaks, sushi, sashimi, tacos, and an all-you-can-eat salad bar.

The number "584" was used as the restaurant's name as it derives from an expression similar to "excellent" that was a common phrase in Burlington's railroad days.

It's also to honor the perseverance of the people of Burlington back in the days when the railroad company closed its doors in 1886.

Today, the restaurant is a popular place for food and social in Burlington.

The Grill 584 is located at 710 Huffman Mill Rd, Burlington, NC.

The restaurant's business hours differ, so it would be great to visit its website to book a reservation.

Camp at the Shallow Ford Natural Area

The Shallow Ford Natural Area in Burlington City is a popular camping ground for outdoor adventurers.

You can discover more than 200 acres of a natural area teeming with flora and fauna.

Hiking is the main outdoor activity in the Natural Area, wherein you can discover different natural attractions like the Haw River, Mountains to Sea Trail, and the Wildflower Meadow.

The nature area is near the Shallow Rod, a historic river crossing in North Carolina.

The crossing was a crucial part of Northern Alamance County's thoroughfare during the 1800s to early 1900s, wherein most travelers pass by.

The Shallow Ford Natural Area is located at 1955 Gerringer Mill Rd, Burlington, NC, and it's open from 8 am to 6 pm.

Witness a Home Run at the Burlington Athletic Stadium

The people of Burlington love baseball among all sports.

They built the Burlington Athletic Stadium as a testament to their passion for this sport.

This 3,500-seater stadium was originally built in Danville, Virginia, but was disassembled and relocated to Burlington.

It's where the Burlington Royals play in the minor league.

Burlington Athletic Stadium is a must-visit place in the city because of its authentic vintage baseball experience.

It's also where you can watch genuine minor league actions that are rare to see these days with the existence of the pro league.

The Burlington Athletic Stadium is located at 1450 Graham St, Burlington, NC.

Spot Large Cats at the Conservators Center

Lion in Conservators Center, Burlington, North Carolina
Rhododendrites, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Conservators Center is technically a zoo located in the forested area of Burlington, where you'll come across 70 species of wild cats, including tigers and lions.

Instead of the usual cages, these huge cats freely roam inside an outdoor and special enclosure.

The place opened in 2007 to the public as a shelter for abandoned and abused wild animals.

It's a wonderful place for visitors to explore, especially if you have your kids with you.

They have a wide array of big cats like lions, tigers, jaguars, mountain lions, lynxes, cougars, etc.

They have well-educated guides who gamely tour you around the entire facility.

The Conservators Center is open during weekends from 9 am to 5 pm.

It is located at 676 E. Hughes Mill Rd, Burlington, NC.

Have Fun at the Burlington City Park Amusement Area

The Burlington City Park Amusement Area is a popular place in Burlington's 76-acre City Park.

Its main centerpiece is the century-old Dentzel Menagerie Carousel installed in the city in 1910.

The government of Burlington has restored the famous carousel.

It is to preserve and value the carousel's historical significance in the community.

Aside from the carousel, the park has other attractions you can visit, such as the aquatic center, amusement rides, sports facilities, picnic grounds, amphitheater, gazebo, and a children's playground.

This park in Burlington is open on weekends, and it's located at 1338 S. Main St. Burlington, NC.

Be One with Nature at the Great Bend Park

The Great Bend Park is nestled along the Haw River.

It has 30 acres of wooded land that locals consider their recreational gem near the Glencoe Dam.

The Great Bend Park is where you'll find nice trails that you can explore.

If you want a relaxing and scenic hike, you can traverse the one-mile Highland Trail that leads you to picturesque wooded areas and the riverfront.

Further down, Great Bend Park's trail will lead you to the Haw riverfront, a nice spot for fishing.

If you have more energy for a longer hike, the Great Bend Park's trail stretches along the Haw River, covering a grueling 80-mile distance leading hikers to the Rockingham-Guilford County.

This park in Burlington is best accessed at 350 Greenwood Dr, Burlington, NC.

The park lets everyone in from 8 am and closes at 6 pm.

Uncover Rich History at the Alamance County Historical Museum

The Alamance County Historical Museum in Burlington is a unique place to uncover the history and interesting stories back in the day.

This Burlington museum isn't the typical type of museum housed in a building.

Instead, the Alamance County Historical Museum is part of a 19th-century grain plantation that spans more than 1700 acres.

However, most exhibits and artifact collections are kept in the two-story plantation house built in 1790.

Aside from the usual museum stuff, the Alamance County Historical Museum features a music room, a parlor, a dining room, and well-preserved bedrooms that date back to the early 1900s.

Furthermore, you can go outside and roam around the old grain plantation, where a garden, a granary, a carriage house, a corn crib, and the family cemetery of the original owners.

The Alamance County Historical Museum is 4777 South, NC-62, Burlington, NC.

Visit Alamance Battleground State Historic Site

View of Alamance Battleground State Historic Site
5minutes, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This historic site in Burlington City commemorates the Battle of Alamance on May 16, 1771, between a group of locals and the British Imperial Army.

Many historians believed that the Battle of Alamance triggered the American Revolution.

For history buffs, it's a wonderful chance to explore the area that commemorates the pivotal battle that helped shape the history of the United States.

One of the battleground's focal points is the Allen House.

This log cabin has been preserved to showcase how the rebels, the majority of them backcountry farmers lived their life in North Carolina back then.

If you're planning to visit this historical site in Burlington, NC, it's located at 5803 NC-62, Burlington.

This historical site is open daily from morning to afternoon.

Watch Movies and Stage Plays at the Paramount Theater

The Paramount Theater started providing top-notch entertainment to Burlington and Alamance County's locals in 1929.

It was the former Grand Theater, which was later renamed Paramount Theater when it went into a major renovation by the city government of Burlington.

After the extensive renovation, Paramount Theater reopened to the public in 1998.

Fast forward to 2021, Paramount Theater is already considered an institution and an important entertainment landmark in Alamance County.

It has hosted hundreds of stage plays, concerts, musicals, religious events, community activities, and movies.

It has 398 seats perfectly positioned near the stage, with musicians applauding the facility for its warm acoustic environment.

The Paramount Theater is at 128 E Front St, Burlington, NC, and it's open on weekends from noon to 3 pm.

Visit the Best-Preserved Cotton Mill in the United States (Glencoe Mill Village)

History buff or not, visiting the Glencoe Mill Village in Burlington City is a wonderful attraction where you'll learn tons of history.

It's considered the best-preserved cotton mill complex in the entire United States.

It has more than 50 structures and buildings built back in 1880, mostly comprised of textile complexes and cotton mills.

There is also a residential area where the mills' employees once lived.

The entire area covers 105 acres along the Haw River.

You can tour the entire place on foot to get a closer look at the old buildings, or perhaps tour comfortably in your car.

To complete your experience, you can proceed to the Textile Heritage Museum to view the exhibits featuring remnants of the place's past.

This historic district in Burlington is located at 2320 River Rd, Burlington, NC.

Taste the Mouthwatering Zack's Hotdogs

This hotdog joint in Burlington is owned by Zack Touloupas, a Greek Immigrant who has been treating locals with delicious hotdogs since 1928.

Originally the Alamance Hot Wienie Lunch, it featured only four desks and eight barstools in its early days but eventually grew to an iconic restaurant in Burlington today.

Zack's Hotdogs is well-known for its hotdogs, but they have also served delicious breakfast meals, sandwiches, and hamburgers for over 90 years.

This famous hotdog joint in Burlington is located at 201 W Davis St, Burlington, NC, and it serves from 6:30 in the morning to 9 pm daily.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Your travel adventure doesn't stop in Burlington because North Carolina has tons of attractions and tourist spots near the city.

Here are a few of the best things to do nearby Burlington, NC, for your reference.

Watch Daredevils Race at the Ace Speedway

View of Ace Speedway
Mike Kalasnik from Charlotte, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you're a racing fan, visit the Ace Speedway in Elon, North Carolina, which is 10 miles north of Burlington.

The Ace Speedway holds short track racing every week featuring local and prominent racers in North Carolina.

Ace Speedway offers racers a quarter-mile paved oval racecourse, which is home to numerous competitions from stock, late models, modifieds, mini stocks, limited late models, up to the UCAR division.

It can accommodate more than a thousand spectators around the speedway and will surely offer you an exhilarating experience you've never seen before.

Aside from the usual race, side events feature unusual vehicles such as tractor pulls, go-karts, and car shows.

It's also the home of some well-known NASCAR drivers.

The Ace Speedway is located at 3401 Altamahaw Racetrack Rd, Elon, NC.

Pay Tribute to Charlotte Hawkins Brown

The Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum offers you a unique historical experience and to learn how this prominent black woman helped transform thousands of African American youngsters during her time.

The Museum is located inside the Palmer Memorial Institute and was founded in 1902 by Hawkins Brown.

The museum and campus provide you with a unique place to explore for history, heritage, and charity.

The museum has a vast collection of African-American historical artifacts, documents, photographs, and memorabilia.

Most of this collection provides you with information about women's history, education, social history, and the great contributions of African-Americans in the region.

The Charlotte Hawkins Brown is a 10-minute drive west of Burlington City in Sedalia, NC.

The Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday from morning until afternoon.

Let Kids Have Fun at the Children's Museum of Alamance

A nine-minute drive east of Burlington City takes you to a wonderful place where kids can have fun and learn.

The Children's Museum of Alamance County in Graham, North Carolina, is the perfect place to bring your kids to encourage them to let out their creativity, imagination, and curiosity.

The museum has a unique environment where kids and parents can play and interact with their themed exhibits and activities.

There are tons of activities kids can engage in, like arts, science, history, reading, and more.

The Children's Museum of Alamance is located at 217 S Main St, Graham, NC.

Final Thoughts

Burlington has something that other cities don't have; its rich history combined with natural beauty makes it unique and a worthy place for a short excursion.

With just roughly a two-hour drive to Charlotte, you can easily access this city alone or with your entire family.

So, which of the attractions in Burlington will you visit first?

Make sure to bookmark this post about the 15 best things to do in Burlington, NC, to have an excellent itinerary for your visit there.

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