Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Hickory, NC

  • Published 2022/09/30

Established in 1870, Hickory is a delightful city in North Carolina with a population of 41,067 at the 2020 consensus.

The city is most noted for its oldest furniture shops in the country, and it is an excellent place to buy artisan furniture.

Hickory is often called the “Birthplace of NASCAR Stars,” as the city is the birthplace of many NASCAR drivers.

Lying on the Blue Ridge Mountains, this city is pleasing, with sweeping views of the beautiful natural landscape.

Lake Hickory also flows through the town and is a hub for recreational activities, such as fishing.

Besides the scenic beauty, Hickory is also full of vibrant life and rich culture with several museums, art galleries, and so much more.

The food scene in the town is fantastic as well.

Interested to know more about this city?

Here are the 20 best things to do in Hickory, North Carolina:

Stroll around Hickory

The grounds of Hickory downtown

Nolichuckyjake /

Hickory is a beautiful city with stunning architecture and picturesque streets.

Stroll around the city to enjoy its scenic glory and explore new places!

People at Hickory town square

Nolichuckyjake /

Or try the city’s food from different cafes and restaurants!

Truly, the various streets while gazing at the city’s architecture will refresh your mind, body, and soul.

A park at Hickory

Nolichuckyjake /

See Fascinating and Wonderful Artwork at Hickory Museum of Art

Situated in Hickory’s downtown, Hickory Museum of Art is an art museum that features numerous eclectic exhibitions, displays, events, workshops, educational programs, and more.

Its permanent collection showcases the American works of art from the 19th century through the 21st century.

The museum also features a long-term exhibition displaying southern contemporary folk art from local self-taught artists.

Established in 1944 by Paul Whitener, this art museum is the second-oldest museum in North Carolina.

This museum’s collection contains over 2,000 art pieces, glass art, high-speed photography, sculptures, murals, paintings, art pottery, and several other works of local artists.

The art pieces are organized and displayed with care and thought.

Visit the Hickory Museum of Art to check out the fascinating and beautiful artwork of Hickory!

Take a Guided Tour of the Hickory History Center

Often called “Harper House,” Hickory History Center is a local history museum that showcases the town’s local history with various displays and exhibits in an architecturally stunning historic Victorian house.

You can see beautiful furniture, woodwork, and Victorian wallpaper all around the house, along with impressive artifacts in the kitchen.

Make sure to take a guided tour of this charming Victorian house.

Knowledgeable and enthusiastic tour guides will tell all about the Harper House’s history and significance and the lovely stories of the families that once lived in this magnificent house.

Buy Local Produce at Downtown Hickory Farmer’s Market

Hickory’s Farmer’s Market is a seasonal market where several vendors sell local produce of fruits, vegetables, flowers, eggs, cheese, meats, and so much more.

Although small, this market is trendy among locals and tourists alike.

It is the best place in the city to sample the wholesome organic local produce.

Besides the produce, you can also sample or eat delicious and fresh loaves of bread, preserves, chocolate teas, pies, bagels, and more mouth-watering treats while enjoying live music and other fun activities.

You can also buy gifts, accessories, pottery, handmade cosmetics, and more from this market.

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

Make sure to spend a morning stroll through the Hickory’s Farmer’s Market!

Dine and Shop at Union Square

Buildings at Union Square

Nolichuckyjake /

Located in Downtown Hickory, Union Square is the heart of Hickory, with several restaurants, cafes, retail shops, entertainment venues, and much more.

After eating your heart out, you can peruse through the several shops and outlets and treat yourself to retail therapy.

Visit Union Square and enjoy the Downtown experience by eating, drinking, and shopping!

Shops at Union Square

Nolichuckyjake /

Enjoy a Picnic and Feed Ducks at Glenn C. Hilton, Jr. Memorial Park

Glenn C. Hilton, Jr. Memorial Park is a lovely memorial garden and an excellent park, with playgrounds, multiple trailsa, a gazebo, canoe launch, horseshoe pits, and more.

This well-maintained park is where you can enjoy a nice picnic in any of the five picnic shelters.

If you are not interested in picnicking, you can just stroll around.

Or you can enjoy golfing in the 24-hole disc golf course.

Make sure to walk on the nature boardwalk paved with woods and feed the little ducks in the Lake Hickory, located nearby.

You can also buy food to feed the ducks at the feeding stations.

Visit Glenn C. Hilton, Jr. Memorial Park to spend a nice picnic!

Go Hiking or Biking at Bakers Mountain Park

Located at the highest elevation point in Catawba County at 1,780 feet, Bakers Mountain Park is the perfect place to go hiking or biking amid the abundant wildlife and plants.

This park covers an area of about 200 acres of land, which comprises of Mountain Laurel, mature Chestnut Oak, and hardwood forest.

There are multiple trails for you to enjoy hiking or biking while being surrounded by scenic greenery all around.

Aside from biking or hiking, you can enjoy a picnic in the designated picnic areas.

Do not forget to climb to the top and see the breathtakingly beautiful views of Catawba County from the observational platform.

Spend an afternoon at the Bakers Mountain Park while gazing at lush nature all around you.

Learn All about Planes at Hickory Aviation Museum

Situated at the Hickory Regional Airport, Hickory Aviation Museum is an aerospace museum that showcases the history of the golden age of aviation.

The museum is kept up to date by regularly adding artifacts and exhibits, ranging from World War II to the present day.

The displays and exhibits include NC natives Bill and George Preddy’s display.

Besides displays, the museum also has models to showcase how the aircraft’s designs changed from Wright Flyer to the F-18 Hornet.

The visitors can learn all about the science behind aeroplanes, step inside old engines, and see the old aviation uniforms.

You can take guided tours as well to learn all about the museum and its displays.

Visit the Hickory Aviation Museum to learn about planes and see them up-close!

Go Furniture Shopping at Hickory Furniture Mart

Welcome sign of Hickory Farmer’s Market

Nolichuckyjake /

Hickory Furniture Mart is a popular place to buy renowned furniture with trademark craftsmanship of North Carolina.

This shopping mart is the go-to place to buy quality furniture without breaking the bank!

You will find some fantastic pieces from the expert craftsmen at a reasonable cost.

Even if you cannot buy furniture, you may visit the Hickory Furniture Mart to look around and see the beautiful furniture that North Carolina is famous for.

Eat Sandwiches at Hatch Sandwich Bar

Hatch Sandwich Bar is the best place in Hickory to savor sandwich!

It was opened in 2012 and became an instant hit.

The restaurant serves excellent food made with fresh ingredients with excellent service.

Make sure to try their pulled pork sandwich, grilled cheese sandwich, and local heirloom BLT when you dine at Hatch Sandwich Bar.

Eat Burgers at Olde Hickory Tap Room

Olde Hickory Tap Room is a brewpub that serves authentic American grub and locally brewed beer with live music and bar.

They also have vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options for the guests to cater to vegetarians!

If you also love beer, this is the perfect place!

This eatery serves delicious food with excellent service.

Do not forget to try the burgers and blackened grilled chicken caesar salad.

Grab a Beer at Blowing Rock Draft House & Brewery

Blowing Rock Draft House & Brewery is a boutique microbrewery in Hickory that offers delicious craft beers, appetizers, pub food, and wood-fired pizza.

This brewery has some of the best equipment to brew beer in the world!

You can take guided tours of the brewery to learn about the process of brewing with some of the best fermenters and kettles.

After the tour, make sure to grab your favorite chilled beer and enjoy it with delicious food.

Stay at the Hampton Inn

Hampton Inn is the number one choice of all the travellers to stay in Hickory.

This lovely hotel provides various amenities such as outdoor pools, breakfast buffets, fitness center, business center, and much more to make your stay as worthwhile and comfortable as possible.

Stay at the Hampton Inn to treat yourself with a wide array of amenities and beautiful spacious suites.

Catch a Movie with Friends at Carolina Theater

Are you looking for a place to bond with friends?

Catch a movie at the Carolina Theater!

Since 1935, movies have been shown at Carolina Theater.

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

With a capacity of more than 700, including 460 on the main floor and 243 on the balcony, the venue featured cutting-edge sound projectors.

Before entering the theater, stop by the concession stand and purchase some popcorn, hotdogs, candies, and beverages.

Participate in Outdoor Fun at Henry Fork River Park

Spending some time in the Henry Fork River Park in Hickory, North Carolina, is one of the nicest things to do, whether you want to play soccer or just have a picnic.

Henry Fork River Park features a canoe launch, paved walking route, soccer fields, playgrounds, a concession stand, and horseshoe pits.

Other amenities include an 8,000-square-foot picnic pavilion with a catering kitchen, bathrooms, tables, and grills.

It is among the best location for an outdoor party or celebration; this park comes with picnic tables and a catering service.

Go to the park’s canoe launch, start up your boat, or visit the horseshoe pits and try your luck.

Explore the Planetarium at Catawba Science Center

Exterior of the Catawba Science Center

Nolichuckyjake /

Are you in search of entertaining and instructive activities in Hickory?

The Catawba Science Center is a 35,000-square-foot science and tech children’s museum that has interactive exhibits, galleries for salt and freshwater aquariums, and a cutting-edge digital planetarium.

Explore the 65-seat full-dome planetarium while viewing space shows with breathtaking laser light displays.

For children, the Catawba Science Center provides entertaining summer programs in addition to participatory and instructional school field excursions.

Birthday celebrations, science programs, and education seminars are among the many services they provide.

Watch a Baseball Game at L.P. Frans Stadium

Exterior of L.P. Frans Stadium

Nolichuckyjake /

A stadium named L.P. Frans Stadium is located in Hickory, North Carolina.

It is mostly used for baseball and serves as the Hickory Crawdads’ home field in the High-A East Minor League Baseball division.

It has a seating capacity of around 4,000 people and was constructed in 1993.

This stadium is the ideal location for spending a Hickory Crawdads baseball night out along with friends and relatives.

It has entertaining theme evenings, fantastic fireworks, and additional netting to protect spectators.

Enjoy the fireworks on Friday night while eating hot dogs, burgers, crackers, and popcorn!

Have Lunch with a Lively Ambiance at Fourk

A contemporary neighborhood restaurant providing fresh American dishes, Fourk has a pleasant and lively ambiance for its patrons.

Even while Fourk provides classic dishes like steak, seafood, poultry, and salads, everything is made with inventive flavors and sauces.

To guarantee that each meal is distinctive and delectable, they only use premium meats, high-quality fish, and fresh veggies.

The bar at Fourk has a twist for its customers!

Take a seat at their curving bar while they make one of their signature drinks.

Fresh fruits, herbs, and flavors are incorporated into each cocktail and utilized as garnish.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Revisit the 1800s at Henry River Mill Village

Houses at Henry River Mill Village

Nolichuckyjake /

Located only an 11-minute drive away from Hickory, Henry River Mill Village is a quaint and charming textile village in Burke County.

The village is more or less unaltered and shows the true craftsmanship of the industrial area of the 1800s.

Back in the day, this village used waterpower to power the pieces of machinery.

Unfortunately, some parts of the village were burned in a fire in 1977.

The road of Henry River Mill Village

Nolichuckyjake /

However, there are still many original and authentic structures, such as a general store and country houses that can be seen today.

You can walk around by yourself or take guided tours from well-informed guides that will tell you all about the history of this historic textile village and its surrounding area.

Visit the Henry River Mill Village to revisit the 1800s and imagine what life must have been like if you lived in this 19th-century village.

Find Gems at Emerald Hollow Mine

The Emerald Hollow Mine is the sole emerald mine in the whole world that is open for the public to mine.

This literal gem of a place allows visitors to explore the mine and search for their very own precious gems and stones.

The visitors can choose from over 60 varieties of naturally occurring minerals and gemstones, including hiddenite, a very rare gemstone.

You can spend hours in this fascinating treasure trove to find gems to take home.

Final Thoughts

Hickory is packed with historical landmarks, educational facilities, theaters, stadiums, dining options, and tourist attractions that will surprise you.

Some of the oldest furniture stores in the country may be found in this city.

With so many options for activities, attractions, and places to go, this is one of the top tourist destinations.

Once you’ve been to Hickory, you will undoubtedly want to return!

More North Carolina

Best Things to Do in Asheboro, North Carolina

© All rights reserved.