Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Catawba County, NC

  • Published 2023/03/16

Catawba County was founded in 1842 and was named after its first inhabitants, the Catawba Indians.

Catawba County, found in the western region of North Carolina, is well-known for its historical landmarks.

Catawba County has Newton as its county seat, Hickory as its largest city, and you can visit six other cities and towns.

Here are the best things to do in Catawba County, North Carolina.

Explore Various Exhibits at the Catawba County Museum of History

Exterior of the Catawba County Museum of History

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Catawba County Museum of History is a museum everyone can visit in Newton.

This museum is one of the four sites established by the Historical Association of Catawba County, which has been in service for over 80 years.

The museum’s preserved artifacts, stories, and culture will help visitors know Catawba County’s history.

These include agricultural tools, military uniforms, world-renowned furniture, a replica of a jail cell, and many more.

Catawba County Museum of History offers everyone six exhibits, including A Stitch in Time, Hyalyn Porcelain: Affordable to Collectible, and The Sounds of Catawba.

Signage of the Catawba County Museum of History

Nolichuckyjake /

Play Golf at Lake Hickory Country Club

Lake Hickory Country Club, located between Charlotte and the Blue Ridge Mountains, is a country club in Hickory.

This facility has been operating as a private country club since 1923, offering visitors the best experience in various sports, such as tennis and golf, and social amenities.

The Town Club’s course is an 18-hole course with 3806 yards and a par of 60, a multi-use practice facility, and a pro shop that sells golf apparel, equipment, and glassware.

Regarding tennis, the club has eight courts available for League and individual play, four pickleball courts, a clubhouse, and a pro shop with various merchandise.

A fitness center with aerobic machines, free weights, and a racquetball court is also at Lake Hickory Country Club.

Visitors will have a place to eat with two restaurants, especially if they want to eat steak, pasta, seafood, or a buffet.

Lake Hickory Country Club is also used for private events, with two clubhouses that provide banquet facilities that anyone can use for special occasions like weddings.

Watch a Show at the Newton Performing Arts Center

The Newton Performing Arts Center, formerly known as the Newton-Conover Auditorium, has been hosting shows and theater events in the city for many years.

Nestled in the heart of Newton-Conover City, this 504-person building with a Neo-classical architectural style was nearly demolished in 1991.

However, due to the immense support from citizens and alums members of the city school system, this facility has been saved and is open for everyone to enjoy!

It offers various activities ranging from theatrical performances to music classes or yoga sessions on special occasions.

It’s an ideal destination for those seeking entertainment and leisure.

The Newton Performing Arts Center is also available for rentals, especially for occasions requiring a large area, like pageants, holiday parties, birthday parties, weddings, and many more.

Expand Your Knowledge about Science at Catawba Science Center

Exterior of Catawba Science Center

Nolichuckyjake /

Catawba Science Center is a children’s museum established in Hickory in 1975 with the former name Creative Museum for Youth.

This 35,000-square-foot museum, which the local volunteer group founded, offers a variety of activities and exhibits in the field of science and arts.

The museum attracted several cultural organizations as time passed, allowing it to grow and eventually become a venue for various programs and classes.

The 65-seat Millholland Planetarium is a digital planetarium theater with a 30-foot dome, a giant screen, and surround sound, all of which are sufficient for you to explore the solar system.

The aquarium will let you see fresh and saltwater habitats featuring a variety of fish, eels, seahorses, sharks, and stingrays.

Catawba Science Center has various permanent interactive exhibits, including the Gross Labs, Hall of Astronomy, Nano, and the Tornado Simulator.

If you want a souvenir, they have a Science Shop where you can buy items like T-shirts, Books, Plush stuffed animals, and many more.

Learn about Firefighting at Catawba County Firefighters Museum

To honor the firefighters who served in Catawba County, the Catawba County Firefighters Museum was established in the city of Conover in 1994.

The museum was established with the help of fire departments, organizations, and countless volunteers to provide a place for people to learn about firefighters.

As soon as you enter the museum hallways, you’ll see plaques honoring fallen heroes and historical documents and photographs showcasing their work.

You can also view six fascinating fire engines like the 1936 American LaFrance, said to be the oldest, plus a 1941 Ford pumper, 1952 Ford pumper & 1951 Dodge pumper.

Numerous items are displayed throughout the museum, including collections of communication devices like walkie-talkies, pagers, truck radios, firefighting gear, fire alarm boxes, breathing apparatus, and many other things.

Your family should enjoy visiting the Catawba County Firefighters Museum!

Learn about the Golden Age of Aviation at the Hickory Aviation Museum

The Hickory Aviation Museum was established as a local educational facility that would introduce military aviation, aviation heroes, and the nation’s veterans to the people.

The Hickory Aviation Museum features collections of artifacts and memorabilia that show how aviation changed over time, from WWII to the present.

These collections include the aircraft collection, various models of aircraft design, and NC Natives Bill and George Preddy.

The Wall of Honor is dedicated to honoring veterans who sacrificed their lives to serve the country.

On display are uniforms, photos, and other items the veterans used during the war, including WWII, Vietnam, and the Korean War.

Explore Murray’s Mill Historic Site

Exterior of Murray’s Mill

G Keith Hall, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Murray’s Mill Historic Site is a national historic district located in the rural area of Catawba County, tucked away on the banks of Balls Creek.

Due to its preserved mill, built in 1813 and owned by the Murray family, this historic site quickly gained popularity as a tourist destination.

Visitors can also explore the historic Wheathouse, constructed in the 1880s and filled with exquisite artifacts from ancient days.

The 1890s-era Murray & Minges General Store offers a chance to purchase novelty items, candies, and wooden toys for an immersive experience into olden times.

Last but not least is the John Murray House, erected in 1913, allowing guests to glimpse what life was like for this notable family!

The Murray’s Mill Historic Site is also ideal for picnicking with family and friends.

Appreciate Visual Arts at the Hickory Museum of Art

Regarding promoting education, collaboration, and the visual arts, the Hickory Museum of Art stands for Catawba, Burke, Caldwell, and Alexander counties.

Paul Austin Whitener established this museum in 1944 to foster culture, creativity, and innovation while bringing people closer to diverse art forms.

Over 1,500 pieces from diverse preserved collections of American art are in the museum.

These collections are divided into six categories: American Art Pottery, North Carolina Artists, Southern Contemporary Folk Art, Hudson River School Paintings, Studio Art Glass, and High-Speed Photography.

Aside from its exhibitions, the Hickory Museum of Art welcomes visitors of all ages to try art classes, workshops, and summer camps.

Hike around Glenn C. Hilton, Jr. Memorial Park

Glenn C. Hilton, Jr. Memorial Park is a conservation and athletic park with a 3.2-kilometer loop trail open to the public near Hickory.

This park is widely renowned as an ideal destination for outdoor activities such as hiking and biking, making it perfect for adventures with family and friends.

It features two playgrounds, five picnic shelters with grills and tables, a gazebo, plus restrooms.

Moreover, its stunning memorial garden is the perfect spot for quality time with family.

For visitors looking to stay active on their visit, this athletic park also offers amenities like its 24-hole disc golf course, paved walking trail, canoe launch, and horseshoe pits, among other leisurely pursuits.

Glenn C. Hilton, Jr. Memorial Park is the perfect destination for all ages and even your pet dogs.

Why not unite everyone to explore this beautiful park and its many attractions?

Try the Walking Trail at Bunker Hill Covered Bridge

Entrance to the Bunker Hill Covered Bridge

JNix /

One of the two covered bridges in North Carolina is Bunker Hill Covered Bridge, which might be the last wooden bridge in the United States.

The bridge has an “Improved Lattice Truss” design, and every visitor will be impressed by its overall appearance.

Historic plaque of Bunker Hill Covered Bridge

JNix /

Visitors love its walking trail, which is enough for at least 45 minutes of exploring this historical landmark.

Bunker Hill Covered Bridge was designated in 2001 as a National Civil Engineering Landmark.

Interior of Bunker Hill Covered Bridge

William Keener, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Enjoy Water Activities with Aquaventure Boat Club

Are you looking for a spot in Catawba County where you can spend time with your family and friends in the water?

Aquaventure Boat Club is a Lake Norman boat club that provides guests with a great water experience by allowing them to test various water equipment for different water activities.

This boat club has two locations on the lake, one in Mooresville and the other in the unincorporated community of Sherrills Ford.

They provide unlimited access to boats of various categories, such as pontoons, slide pontoons, tri-toons, and many more.

Aquaventure Boat Club also provides kayaks, jet skis, and other water sports equipment for everyone to enjoy.

Play Bingo at Back In Time Amusements LLC

Do you want to make your trip a little bit more thrilling?

Visit Back In Time Amusements LLC, an amusement center established in 2012 in Conover.

This center is in the industry of amusement parks, event management, gaming and betting operations, and entertainment activities.

Many play games like beach bingo and try their snack bar to eat tasty food like their best-selling hotdogs.

Locals also admire this place for having a fantastic, enjoyable, and lively atmosphere, which you shouldn’t miss.

Shop ‘Til You Drop at Valley Hills Mall

Exterior of Valley Hills Mall

Nolichuckyjake /

Valley Hills Mall is a two-story, enclosed shopping mall established in Hickory and owned by General Growth Properties.

This regional mall, which opened to the public in 1978, is the only enclosed mall within a 40-mile radius and covers a six-county area.

Visitors will undoubtedly find cosmetics, electronics, fitness equipment, houseware, and apparel at Valley Hills Mall.

Dillard's storefront at Valley Hills Mall

Nolichuckyjake /

The mall provides a wide range of amenities and items from prominent national brands such as American Eagle Outfitters, Aéropostale, Hollister, Gymboree, and Victoria’s Secret.

If you’re looking for a place to shop, eat, and have fun, check out this Catawba County mall.

JCPenny store at Valley Hills Mall

Nolichuckyjake /

Roll a Strike at Pin Station

Pin Station is a bowling alley in Newton owned by Wayne Dellinger, established in 1996.

This sports facility, which has been in business for over 27 years, has ample space for one of the best bowling experiences in the city.

Like the other bowling facilities, Pin Station gives its visitors numerous leagues where everyone may participate.

Aside from bowling, the facility is open for mini golf, putt-putt, assorted arcade games, and many more.

Pin Station also ensures everyone has a safe and fun environment for kids of all ages, which is why they are also open for special occasions like birthday parties.

Catch a Movie at Carolina Movie Theaters

Are you looking for a great movie theater?

Check out Carolina Movie Theaters in Hickory!

Carl V. Cline built this movie theater in 1934 with sound art projectors, a 746,460 seating capacity on the main floor, 243 on the balcony, and 43 seats for black patrons then.

Like any other establishment, the theater also underwent several renovations in 2011.

They added 1,975 rocking chairs, hardwood floors, and overhead lights to make it a modern theater.

Many people prefer this movie theater because it offers cheap movie tickets, refillable popcorn, drinks, and a comfortable ambiance.

It is also open for rent on special occasions like birthday parties.

Carolina Movie Theaters always ensure that all families and friends will have a great time at the movies.

Final Thoughts

Visiting Catawba County will undoubtedly be a good decision as it offers various attractions that people of all ages will surely enjoy.

This county is indeed home to several historical facilities that will help you learn about Catawba’s history and appreciate the people who lived there.

Try the best things to do in Catawba County, North Carolina, for an unforgettable trip!

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