Blake Walsh

16 Best Things to Do in Graham, NC

  • Published 2023/02/26

The best things to do in Graham, North Carolina level up the experience of a trip to Alamance County.

Graham is the county’s seat, and its development as a city is closely tied to the history and growth of Alamance.

Graham was laid out in 1849 when Alamance County was formed that year, incorporated as a town in 1851, and eventually became a city in 1961.

History, arts, and culture are thus woven among the various points of interest in Graham.

The city also features many natural attractions, as it is located in the charming piedmont region of North Carolina.

Browse the list below for more on the best things to do in Graham.

Take the Kids to South Graham Park

Aerial view of South Graham Park

Wirestock Creators /

Its kid-friendly facilities make South Graham Park on Rogers Road a favorite among families.

The park’s facilities include a playground with separate sections for kids aged two to five and five to 12.

After enjoying the playground’s swings and swinging benches, the children can visit the park’s Little Free Library for some fun learning.

Kids can have a similarly enjoyable experience at the park’s nature trail, an ecoEXPLORE HotSpot.

This feature dovetails with a program at the North Carolina Arboretum to promote a fun learning environment for kids while exploring the outdoors.

For adults, the South Graham Municipal Park offers two lighted tennis courts and two outdoor basketball courts.

It also provides two sand volleyball courts, a sandstone trail, and three open-air picnic shelters.

Take the Kids to the Children’s Museum of Alamance County

The Children’s Museum of Alamance County on South Main Street is a wonderful stop for families with kids on a visit to Graham.

This museum has assembled exhibits that help educate children as well as adults.

It features 14,000 square feet of space for eight entertaining and interactive exhibits.

A hands-on and fun experience awaits at the museum’s Building Zone and Artist’s Workshop.

Similar delights are available at the Science Adventure, Health Center, Then and Now, and Wobble & Roll.

Themed monthly events further enliven a visit to the Children’s Museum of Alamance County.

Kayak the Haw River via the Graham Paddle Access

The Haw River Paddle Trail offers 14 entry points, one of which is the Graham Paddle Access on Cooper Road.

Kayaking on this paddling trail is enjoyable both for expert and novice paddlers.

Paddling along the Haw River allows you to see natural and historical points of interest in Graham.

Experienced paddlers can take on the challenge of the river’s whitewater rapids.

Those who still lack the experience can practice on the river’s stretch between NC 5 and Swepsonville, which they can take from the Graham Paddle Access.

About a half-mile from this point, Class I rapids pose an immediate thrill with 40-yard gaps, allowing paddlers to build up skills and confidence in tackling the river.

Lace up Your Hiking Boots at Longmeadow Trailhead

The Haw River Trail, which complements the river’s paddling trail, can be accessed at the Longmeadow Trailhead on Valley Drive in Graham.

Longmeadow Trailhead opened in 2017, unlocking nearly two miles of new trail along the Haw River banks in Graham.

The new pathway traverses the Challenge Golf Club and passes between Sellars Falls in the north and Swepsonville River Park in the south.

The Haw River Trail extends over 70 miles between Haw River State Park and the Jordan Lake State Recreation Area.

Along this trail, hikers will appreciate the importance of Haw River as a long-time energy source for the textile mills on its banks, including those in Graham.

Cast Fishing Lines at Swepsonville River Park

Anglers looking for great fishing spots in Alamance County along the Haw River typically wind up at Swepsonville River Park.

This county park is located on Boywood Road, wedged on Graham’s southern boundary with the town of Swepsonville.

Opened in 2006, the park spreads over 30 acres and offers a great fishing spot near its upper entrance that serves visitors from Graham.

There is a remnant of an old dam just downstream from the parking lot on this upper entrance.

Fishing is typically more productive below such dam structures along the river, especially for anglers after largemouth bass, beam, and crappie.

Besides fishing, Swepsonville Park is also an ideal place for hiking and picnics.

Appreciate Art at Alamance Arts

Draw creative inspiration from the exhibits at the Alamance Arts, the South Main Street gallery of the Alamance County Arts Council.

This non-profit council holds various themed exhibits in this gallery year-round.

It also hosts lecture presentations of outstanding artists as well as writers.

The council’s gallery and headquarters on South Main Street is a Graham attraction itself.

On the grounds of the Alamance Arts, you’ll find one of the bronze sculptures of Arty, the gallery’s mascot.

Ten other replicas of this sculpture have been installed in several locations around Graham’s downtown.

Equally charming is the White House, a vintage residence built in 1873 that’s home to the gallery and the council.

A local cotton textile mill owner, Edwin Michael Holt, had it built for his daughter Emma Virginia Holt and her husband Captain James W. White of the Confederate Army.

Visit Graham Historical Museum

The Graham Historical Museum is located in the circa 1914 Graham Fire House on West Elm Street.

Since it was built in the early 1900s, this building has been used as Graham’s city hall, headquarters of the police and fire department, and even a courtroom.

One of the museum’s eye-catching artifacts is a 1930 Seagrave fire engine masterfully restored behind a set of bright red double doors.

The museum’s displays of intricate copper and brass machine parts lying on a marble tabletop are as impressive.

A number 37 red box which was once part of the Gamewell Fire Telegraph system previously set across the town is another interesting item in the Graham Historical Museum.

Go on a Mural Tour in Graham

The downtown area of Graham offers a self-guided Mural Tour typical of many places in Alamance County.

One popular mural in the city is the “Love, Graham” artwork on the wall of HiFi Records on Main Street.

This mural was created in 2018 during the inaugural holding of the city’s Love, Graham Festival.

A piece on a similar theme, “Love Always Wins,” is rendered in the northeast corner of Court Square.

The outside wall of Farm Services also brightens its side of East Elm Street with the colorful mural “Always Be Cool” by an unknown artist.

Check out other amazing artworks by taking the Mural Tour.

Strike a Pose at the Alamance County Historic Courthouse

Exterior of the Alamance County Historic Courthouse

Warren LeMay, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The memory of a visit to Graham gets well preserved with a selfie with the impressive façade of Alamance County Historic Courthouse as your backdrop.

This historic building dominates Court Square at the center of the city’s commercial district.

The courthouse was built during the early 1920s, rich in detail and sophisticated in its neo-classic revival architecture.

Welcome sign of the Alamance County Historic Courthouse

Warren LeMay from Cullowhee, NC, United States, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Its style, scale, and materials meld perfectly with its neighboring commercial buildings.

The architect of the Alamance County Historic Courthouse, Harry Barton, was also notably behind the design of many North Carolina structures listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Play Ball at Bill Cooke Park

Aficionados of ball games will feel at home on the various ballfields of Bill Cooke Park on Townbranch Road.

This park boasts six tennis courts and three baseball diamonds, all lighted for nighttime play.

The park’s tennis courts also feature a backboard-hitting wall for practicing your strokes.

Pick-up games are also popular in the outdoor basketball court of the park.

In addition, visitors can take a walk on the park’s mile-long mixed-use trail and the quarter-mile Bluebird Trail.

The latter features 10 nest boxes to help conserve the region’s Eastern Bluebird population.

The covered grills in the open-air shelters of the park make it popular for picnics.

Other endearing features at Bill Cooke Park include a playground, a historic farmhouse, and a dog park.

Join in the Fun at Thursdays at Seven Concert Series

Downtown Graham comes alive with Thursdays at Seven Concert Series from May to September every year.

This series is held every fourth Thursday of those months at West Elm Street.

A wide variety of music genres, ranging from country to beach and top 40 favorites, are featured during the series.

Local and regional bands of North Carolina are among the performers during this summer music extravaganza in Graham.

Food vendors are onsite to offer snacks at the Thursdays at Seven Concert Series.

Watch a Classic Film at the Graham Cinema

Located on North Main Street, Graham Cinema is an old-school movie house showing classic and contemporary film productions.

This family-owned movie theater opened in 1928 with a capacity of 250 seats.

It was rebuilt and expanded to 777 seats after a fire hit the movie house in 1935.

Since then, Graham Cinema offered affordable movie entertainment to the public.

Besides movies, this theater also screens coverages of major sports events like the Superbowl.

Tee Off at The Challenge Golf Club

The Challenge Golf Club offers a scenic 18-hole course ideal for novice golfers.

Its layout, accessible from Challenge Drive, provides players with eight tee placements to choose from including three for lady golfers.

Opened in 1997, the course plays at par 72 over 6,828 yards from the longest tees, with its par 5 final holes providing the toughest challenge.

A round of play on this layout traverses greens and fairways amid rolling farmland on the west banks of the Haw River.

The Challenge Golf Club is open to daily fee play and provides other amenities including a clubhouse and a swimming pool.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Enjoy the Waters of Graham-Mebane Lake

Many water-based recreational activities can be enjoyed at Graham-Mebane Lake in Mebane.

This municipal reservoir is accessible from Bason Road stretching on Graham’s northeast border with the city of Mebane.

The lake covers 650 acres and is the primary source of drinking water not only for residents of Graham and Mebane.

It also supplies water to those living in Graham’s neighboring towns of Green Level and Swepsonville.

For recreation, the lake offers boating, paddleboarding, skiing, and fishing.

Its facilities include a seven-lane boat ramp, two docks, a kayak launch, and two fishing piers.

Picnic tables and a shelter are also available at Graham-Mebane Lake where fishing tournaments and family programs are hosted throughout the year.

Enjoy the Amenities of Graham Regional Park

The Graham Regional Park is accessible from North Jim Minor Road, wedged on the city’s southeast border with the town of Haw River.

This park opened in 2017, with its 18-acre first phase offering amazing amenities for adventurous visitors.

These facilities include a zipline, a youth challenge course, climbing boulders, workout equipment, and a paved mixed-use trail.

The park also offers a landscaped water feature and wide green spaces suitable for various types of recreational activities.

Families visiting Graham Regional Park can enjoy its open-air picnic shelter while their kids have fun at the nearby playground.

This facility is a playUNITED Inclusive Playground with a slew of fabulous features, such as multiple slides and swings.

Shop at Granddaddy’s Antique Mall

Hunters of collectible vintage items visiting Graham will certainly be drawn to Granddaddy’s Antique Mall.

This antique lovers’ destination is located on Maple Avenue in the city of Burlington, two miles west of Graham.

More than 230 booths offer a wide selection of antiques in this two-hectare mall which opened in 1997.

Inside the mall, a Mom & Pop General Store displays a wonderful selection of goods that takes shoppers back to a timeless country road.

Treasured finds at Granddaddy’s Antique Mall include old gas pumps, country store items, advertising signs, and mid-century clothing, art, and toys.

Final Thoughts

These best things to do in Graham, North Carolina, are more than enough to boost visitor interest in Alamance County.

As the county seat, this city holds many amazing points of interest that molded an endearing character for Alamance.

Keep a Graham itinerary in mind when planning a trip to North Carolina’s cities.

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