Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Cleveland County, NC

  • Published 2023/03/26

From its picturesque landscape to cultural activities and outdoor adventures, Cleveland County offers something for everyone.

Located in the western Piedmont portion of North Carolina near the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, it has been dubbed “the birthplace” of rock music from as early as the 1950s.

This legacy continues to attract tourists today.

Explore this vibrant county by interacting with its musical heritage and various recreational opportunities available!

Ready your suitcases, forget about your troubles and immerse yourself in this county’s unforgettable journey with fun destinations.

Discover the best things to do in Cleveland County, North Carolina:

Challenge Yourself at Crowders Mountain State Park

Scenic view from Crowders Mountain State Park's summit

Andy Fogelsonger /

Crowders Mountain State Park has two mountain summits providing breathtaking views of Piedmont.

It’s split between the Cleveland County neighborhood of Kings Mountain and Gaston County.

The park offers a range of challenging and moderate hiking paths and viewpoints with views of Charlotte on clear days and towering cliffs.

Its unique trail system connects Crowders Mountain State Park, Kings Mountain State Park, and Kings Mountain Military Park.

Hiking trail at Crowders Mountain State Park

Bob Pool /

You can appreciate the peaceful mountain air resonating with songbird notes in this lovely natural setting.

Challenge yourself and try rock climbing and bouldering in the rugged terrain of Crowders Mountain.

Paddle and fish on the park’s lake while taking in the leisurely pace of a long, languid afternoon.

You can also spend the night and camp on its designated sites.

A lake at Crowders Mountain State Park

Bob Pool /

Have a Cozy Glamping Experience at Broad River Campground

Are you searching for a serene getaway with breathtaking views from the comfort of your luxury glamping dome window?

You can escape at the iconic 90-acre Broad River Campground in Cleveland County’s Mooresboro neighborhood.

You can stay at a quiet cabin, a glamping dome with a full hookup and plenty of space between each site, or an RV site with a full hookup, a fire ring, and a golf cart upgrade.

You can cuddle up and watch Netflix if you book a lovely cabin that sleeps six to eight people.

You can take a break at the bathhouse with a hot tub and let all your cares drift away under the stars.

The 400-square-foot Glamping Dome offers a complete bed, sofa, mini-fridge, coffee machine, and a private deck to enjoy views of the nearby wildlife if you prefer a more lavish stay.

Your family will find a range of exciting activities at Broad River Campground.

Whether you prefer trekking, horseback riding, or canoeing through North Carolina’s majestic mountains and the languid waters of the Broad River, there is something here for everyone!

Grill up some tasty skewers and marshmallows over a fire pit before snuggling with hot chocolate under star-laden night skies to wrap up this unforgettable adventure.

Feel the Thrill at Kings Mountain Patriots Park

Kings Mountain Patriots Park is the perfect place for a fun day for the family.

The park was named after Kings Mountain High School’s Holly Melton Class of 2000, honoring the soldiers who fought during the Revolutionary War.

Since 2000, the Kings Mountain Patriots Park has been the focal point of the yearly events hosted in Cleveland County.

Around the corner, you can find a wide variety of amusement attractions, delectable street food and snacks, and fantastic performances from near and far you will ever see.

Your kids can enjoy the park’s amusement playground with water splash pads.

Watching breathtaking adrenaline live music performances on the amphitheater stage will entertain you.

Set aside your worries and vibe it all out with great music.

Spend the Day at Shelby City Park

The Rotary Miniature Train and the vintage carousel are highlights of the 155-acre Shelby City Park.

Your children will enjoy the restored, antique wooden 1919 Herschell Spillman Carousel.

Pick your favorite horse from 32 adorable hand-carved horses.

The Miniature Train Company’s G-16 Diesel Streamliner is one of the most well-liked amusement park attractions for towns and cities all over America.

It will take you on a park tour while evoking memories of the heyday of American rail.

In addition to the carousel and train in the park, your kids can have fun at the well-kept ball fields, the aboard playground, and the aquatics attractions.

Adults can enjoy enjoyable outdoor activities, including horseshoes, a nine-hole golf course, tennis courts, outdoor volleyball, and croquet courts.

Spend quality time with your family in a sitting garden or picnic area at Shelby City Park.

Sip Fine Wine at Baker Buffalo Creek Vineyard and Winery

Baker Buffalo Creek Vineyard and Winery have been nestled within the rolling hills and farmland of the Baker family for more than a century.

Today, the Napa and Sonopa-inspired vineyards include a historic farmhouse and eight different grape varietals ready to harvest.

Step inside the original milking chamber and get a unique, behind-the-scenes look at how wine is made.

Sample an inspired selection of whites and reds, from dry chardonnay to sweet scuppernong; there’s something for everyone!

When you’re ready to sip wine in style, head outside surrounded by lush landscapes where you can raise a glass to good times with friends.

Bring your friends to the Baker Buffalo Creek Vineyard and Winery!

Roam the Earl Scruggs Center

Signage of the Earl Scruggs Center

Nolichuckyjake /

If you’ve ever wanted to explore South American music’s rich history and captivating stories, the Earl Scruggs Center is a must-visit.

Situated in a stunningly restored 1907 Cleveland County Courthouse, this renowned music museum offers an array of interactive exhibits.

They will delight even those who may not consider themselves music lovers.

Exterior of the Earl Scruggs Center

Nolichuckyjake /

Featuring fascinating displays with audio stories and more, the Earl Scruggs Center offers something for everyone!

The lush and well-maintained grounds make this the perfect spot for a nature escape with your friends, family, or four-legged pals.

What’s more? It’s conveniently located near restaurants, shops, and other outdoor cultural attractions to explore!

Join a DIY Activity at Workshop Vintage Market

The largest artisan and vintage market in Cleveland County is a must-stop on any shopping tour to Shelby.

Workshop Vintage Market houses 80 vendors with vintage furniture, home goods, and other trinkets items.

The Workshop Vintage Market appears relatively tiny from the outside, but you will discover it is surprisingly large once you enter.

Not only can you browse the stores here, but what’s more exciting is experiencing DIY workshops for artistic endeavors like macrame, watercolors, painting, and beyond.

Crafting unique presents for your friends and family or even products to treat yourself will be a unique and enjoyable experience!

Grab a Meal at Red Bridges Barbeque Lodge

When Red & Lyttle Bridges relocated to Uptown Shelby in 1949, they started Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge.

Since 1946, Cleveland County has savored the restaurant’s exquisite pit-cooked barbecue.

Their notorious BBQ is simmered over hickory logs all night to create a unique flavor unlike anything else you will experience.

When finished with Lexington-style red sauce, the succulent hand-chopped pork grilled in a pit with burning hickory and oak wood creates an unforgettable taste.

Feast on mouthwatering dishes like sandwiches, nachos, chips, pork rinds, and desserts that will tantalize your taste buds!

Fill your cravings at the Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge!

Follow the First Broad River Trail

Head to Shelby and take a 1.5-mile stroll along the First Broad River Trail.

The First Broad River Trail features stunning views of the train trestle and tracks.

You can stop and grab a great experience to watch the trains go by.

You’ll see breathtaking views as you traverse the incredible 170-foot-long suspension bridge over the First Broad River.

Besides, this trail is adorned with several other bridges making it a perfect spot for family bonding.

Walking here will surely make your kids giddy thanks to its easy trail, gravel path, and minimal elevation changes.

Visit the Cleveland County Art Council

Exterior of the Cleveland County Art Council

Nolichuckyjake /

In 1891, the Belk Building became the permanent home of the Cleveland County Art Council, which had been operating since 1985.

The Cleveland County Art Council gallery in uptown Shelby offers year-round special exhibits, courses, and occasionally performing arts.

Prepare to be amazed when you visit this art center; vibrant walls, nooks, and crannies tell exciting tales.

You can also appreciate performances and works of local artists displayed in the gallery, like handcrafted baskets, soaps, birdhouses, and more!

An additional highlight is the annual Real to Reel International Film Festival.

You can also check out the Art of Sound Music Festival, a renowned event sponsored by the Arts Center.

Local artists provide unique things and lovely gifts to the gift shop.

Pick up some fantastic artwork, exquisite pottery, adorable handcrafted scarves, journals, books, necklaces, and other handmade products as souvenirs.

Try Outdoor Activities at the Lake Houser Adventures Off-Road Park

The Lake Houser Adventures Off-Road Park is one of the biggest outdoor spots in Cleveland County.

The Lake Houser Adventures Off-Road Park is in the Mooresboro neighborhood.

A spacious adventure area for ATV, UTV, SxS, stock trucks, mud trucks, and rock rigs is available on the 660-acre site.

The entire family will enjoy this all-out and off-road mile of wood trail experience open to adventure seekers of all ages.

After all the excitement, you can relax with your loved ones at the camping site near the entrance or take in the gorgeous view of the creek river’s running water.

Get ready to cast off!

You have several options: try fishing from land or even head on an adventurous boat trip while enjoying nature’s beauty.

Of course, don’t forget that a valid fishing license is required to fish in these waters.

Witness Artists in Action at A. Griffin Pottery

A. Griffin Pottery, located in Shelby, Cleveland County, has delighted locals and visitors with its excellent crafts.

The studio’s gallery showcases the creations of several brilliant artists.

You will love seeing what these artists have worked on since it is an open studio.

Whether you’re looking for a unique gift to surprise your loved ones or an eye-catching accent piece for your kitchen, A. Griffin Pottery offers custom-crafted mugs, honey pots, and trays!

Every item is individually crafted in its kiln, glazed, and fired with the utmost care.

Take home a Cleveland County-themed keepsake that will add flair to your home decor.

A. Griffin Pottery should make every sip of coffee special with one of their signature ceramic creations!

Stroll along the Kings Mountain Gateway Trail

Do you want to stroll outside and breathe in the fresh air?

The Kings Mountain Gateway Trail is ideal for a quick, leisurely hike or exciting bike ride.

If you want to spend some time outside and in the great outdoors without traveling too far from town, this is the place to go.

You can take the Plateau Loop, a left-side paved trail that circles a lovely butterfly garden with a gravel footpath.

You will enjoy the overlooking view at the top of the hill.

Head to Cardio Hill and enjoy a stunning view of Kings Mountain and the surrounding area.

You can take the Foote Trail, which offers a variety of terrain types, and enjoy a challenging hike with a peaceful river view.

Don’t miss the stunning view of the bamboo forest, an excellent spot to unwind and relax.

The trail flattens out and offers spectacular scenery after crossing I-85 on a bridge.

After a pleasant stroll around the quarry, you can enjoy lunch at the end of the trail.

Celebrate a Night of Nostalgia at John H Moss Lake

Spend the night at John H Moss Lake.

Enjoy a clean bathhouse, where you can find your camping spaces and enjoy a beautiful lake view.

You can take a short stroll to the lake’s landing area and watch your children play at the lovely playground.

John H Moss Lake is a popular recreational location for boaters, fishermen, and aquatic activities.

Use one of the ten public boat ramps and explore the lake’s average depth of 50 feet.

Bring food for a picnic, or stop by the snack bar for cheese fries, ice cream, and buckets of fresh popcorn.

See Old Toys at Kings Mountain Historical Museum

Exterior of Kings Mountain Historical Museum

Nolichuckyjake /

Experience an unforgettable journey back in time when you visit the Kings Mountain Historical Museum.

Constructed during the Great Depression as a Colonial Revival structure, generations of Americans used this building before transforming it into a museum in 2000.

Explore its historical artifacts and learn about the county’s culture from those who lived it through interactive exhibits and educational programs.

Discover incredible antique collections, including an old toy train!

It remains one of the most popular attractions here at Kings Mountain Historical Museum.

Final Thoughts

From the breathtaking views of Crowders Mountain to the fascinating historical artifacts at Kings Mountain Historical Museum, Cleveland County has so much to explore.

This list of the best things to do in Cleveland County, North Carolina, is your invitation to a memorable experience.

Discover various outdoor activities, unique attractions, delicious local eateries, and more!

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