15 Best Things to Do in Morganton, NC

Morganton, NC
Reggi3jr / shutterstock.com

In the foothills of North Carolina's the Blue Ridge Mountains sits Burke County's Morganton, a county seat offering incredible views from any vantage point.

Founded in 1784, Morganton used to be called Morgansborough in honor of the American Revolutionary War hero Brigadier General Daniel Morgan.

Then it became Morgantown, and finally, it settled with its current name.

Morganton has almost 20 miles within its boundaries and boasts over 16 thousand inhabitants.

It would seem that Morganton wonderfully sits on ground that's very conducive towards various activities.

The town even earned the nickname "Nature's Playground" thanks to all that surrounds it.

If you're ever looking for a scenic, quaint small-town experience for your next vacation, try spending some time discovering what Morganton has to offer!

Check out these 15 best things to do in Morganton, NC:

Visit the History Museum of Burke County

The History Museum of Burke County began collecting and displaying rare, valuable history about the beautiful town of Morganton in 2003.

There are 10,000 sq. ft. of complimentary exhibit space covering two floors, which features hundreds of artifacts displayed in open rooms, giving each spectator a personal experience.

You can see authentic artifacts from Morganton's past—from Native American arrowheads and Civil War bullets to family heirlooms and documents dating back centuries.

You won't find any canned audio or digitized displays here; it's old-fashioned learning with museum guides interpreting exhibits for guests at their own pace.

Admission is always free, and they invite everyone who loves history to explore their little treasure trove, where you'll discover something new every single time!

The History Museum of Burke County is truly one of the things to do in Morganton, NC, if you want to travel back in time.

Experience the Delights of Morganto's Top-Rated Wine at Silver Fork Winery

At Silver Fork Winery, you get to sample delightful wines that are sure to impress even the most discerning of wine critics.

While choosing which bottle to purchase (they're all quite good), you won't regret trying any of their dry red blends or crisp white varietals.

You've got to try their Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay.

Silver Fork Winery has an expansive outdoor patio that's perfect for enjoying dinner or relaxing with friends on a warm summer evening.

Located at Patton Road, Morganton, the Silver Fork Winery is also the perfect location for corporate gatherings and special events.

Don't forget your camera - there are picturesque sights everywhere!

Go on a Journey to the Past at the Old Burke County Courthouse

Outside View of Old Burke County Courthouse
Warren LeMay, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In 102 E Union St, Morganton, North Carolina rests the beautiful Old Burke County Courthouse.

Built in 1833 by Scottish builder James Binnie, the historic courthouse is two-story with a prominent clock tower.

There have been so many changes made to Old Burke County Courthouse since its inception.

And if you visit in the springtime, you'll enjoy the sweet fragrance of the flowers at the memorial rose garden on the Square.

Outside View of Old Burke County Courthouse
Upstateherd, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You might even be able to take some pictures with your loved ones, as many new couples do on such warm days!

The inside will also bring back memories for those who lived during colonial times as it brings about feelings of nostalgia as if you had traveled back, as rumored.

Whether or not that's true is up for debate, but this beautiful courthouse puts forward an idea that history can still be great no matter what era you're living in today!

Experience the Flavor of Carolina’s Craft Beer at Catawba Brewing Company

North Carolina is known for many things; beautiful scenery, excellent golf courses, and outstanding cuisine.

However, one area has been on a steady rise over recent years and is starting to catch on with both locals and visitors alike - Craft beer.

One of the best craft beers happens to be brewed right here in Morganton, North Carolina, by Catawba Brewing Company.

Catawba’s evolution can be traced back two decades, spearheaded by the Pyatt brothers – Billy and Scott – who thought up the idea to start a brewery in their garage.

In honor of their roots on the Catabwa River, they named their brand to its current name.

Now located at 212 South Green Street, this unique establishment has become a hugely popular focus for the community, bringing locals and visitors together each day through a range of craft beer options from amazing white ales to the incredible IPAs for both drinkers and casual drinkers alike.

Explore the Natural Beauty of Catawba Meadows Park

When you're in the mood for a fun day out with family and friends, there is no better place to start than Catawba Meadows Parks!

The Catawba Meadows Park is a masterpiece of the City of Morganton and sits where the lush greenway meets the flowing river.

Here, you'll find more than 230 acres of fun things to do in Morganton, NC.

Whether you're looking to play golf, softball, soccer, volleyball, or baseball, they have facilities available along with 2.5 miles of space for walking.

If private events are your preference, there are picnic areas throughout the park where you can get the ultimate level of privacy.

Kids will love it here, as there is a great playground where they can do so many different things.

They can swing on the swings, climb the ladders, balance along the little rock walls, find their way down the slides, and more.

Taste the Apple Hill Orchard & Cider Mill’s Finest Apple

Apple Hill Orchard & Cider Mill is one of several orchards that offer amazing pick-your-own experiences.

Apple Hill is mainly well known for its delicious apples and peaches and food made out of them.

The story of Apple Hill Orchard & Cider Mill is an American family tradition passed down through the generations.

It's still standing strong despite the new technology that came along.

Spencer Prewitt started the orchard with farming roots traced back to the 18th century, long before modern conveniences were invented, using only natural farming methods.

In 1955, his son, Harley Sr., bought an existing orchard and turned it into what we know today as Apple Hill Orchard & Cider Mill.

Over time, the family bought more land for growing apples to sell on the estate, eventually increasing demand.

In the 1970s, Harley and other local growers built the South Mountain Packing House that supplied over 200 state stores with fresh apple cider every year!

In the early 2000s, they expanded some of their crops until they offered u-pick apples that same year.

It wasn't long after that they opened their farm market for guests to shop at year-round!

It’s hard to resist tasting any of these when you’re here, so make sure to stop by their store when you visit.

They also have their own bakery, which sells some delicious pies, bread, and other treats!

Enjoy Amazing Zipline Adventures at Beanstalk Ziplines

Every day is an adventure with Beanstalk Ziplines.

From zip-lines that will have you soaring above the forest canopy to rappelling towers that allow you to test your inner daredevil, Beanstalk Ziplines has plenty of thrilling adventures to keep adrenaline junkies buzzing for hours on end.

They have five interconnected swaying suspension bridges 35 feet high above the ground that will have you bouncin' in the breeze through an enormous area in the forest while ending in their 520' mega zip.

If you're feeling athletic, test your inner Marine while you go on a commando-like rappel that safely lowers you to the ground instead of hiking down.

And the kids will love being able to zip-line solo or being placed on a tandem with you.

At Beanstalk Zipline, get high with your kids on their 40+ feet climbing tower where they can find their inner spider abilities.

Should you choose, even try out The QUICKjump, where you can leap off our 40-foot treehouse!

If you're looking for more outdoor activities, sky hammocks and low ropes course elements are also available at the Beanstalk Playground.

Another cool thing to do in Morganton, NC, is visiting Hamilton Williams Gallery & Studio for unique handmade ceramics by Hamilton Williams.

Since graduating in 1994, Hamilton Williams has handcrafted contemporary ceramic pieces that pay attention to form and function and their surfaces and glazes.

Throughout the years, the porcelain and stoneware work has developed into distinct collections.

Located in the quaint city of Morganton among the Blue Ridge Mountains, you can find his studio in the middle of downtown - easy to spot with its glass door framed by bold redwood.

So, if you’re looking for unique handmade ceramics from one of North Carolina’s most charming towns, be sure to stop by!

Shop at Morganton Farmers Market

Open on Saturdays year-round, farmers markets are a great way to get out and enjoy some fresh air while supporting local farmers.

Located at Beach Street, Morganton, the Morganton Farmers Market has plenty of offerings for shoppers, including fresh organic vegetables, flowers, herbs, and homemade goods like soaps, pieces of bread, blended oils, goat milk products, lotions, and more!

It's also an excellent place to purchase one-of-a-kind gifts for people back home—handmade jewelry, pottery, or other artisan items.

There's a delightful coffee kiosk, and you get to enjoy live music while browsing the various wares on display.

Be sure to bring cash; many of these vendors only accept cash at their stands.

Revisit History at the Historic McDowell House

Also called Quaker Meadows, The 2-century-old McDowell House is among the oldest standing buildings in North Carolina.

The name "Quaker Meadows" comes from a local historical figure, Joseph McDowell (1715-1771), whose family moved to this part of the Piedmont region in the 1760s.

His descendant, Charles McDowell, decided to build the McDowell House here during the early 19th century for his own use and that of his bride-to-be, Anna McDowell of Pleasant Gardens.

The house stands out with its combination of Federal-style architecture and vernacular features.

In 1973, the McDowell House became one of the places added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Besides being a part of American history, it's also an affordable vacation destination that's fun for everyone!

Have a Memorable Meal at Abele's Family Restaurant

Located in downtown Morganton, Avele's Family Restaurant has a unique and inviting décor that will make anyone feel right at home.

Whether you're looking to enjoy an intimate dinner with your sweetie or celebrate a special occasion in style, they have you covered!

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are on the menu at Abele's Family Restaurant, which serves seafood, burgers, sandwiches, and more.

The restaurant can accommodate groups of up to 40 people for private events.

In the spirit of tradition, their banquets table brings back memories of simpler times from the past century without sacrificing exquisite elegance that will suit today's taste.

Their diner counter offers eight stools for any guests who'd rather sit while they dine during regular hours.

They also have an outdoor patio with additional seating.

There are items in the restaurant perfect for your kids too!

Experience Rock Climbing at Bigfoot Climbing Gym

Located at Avery Avenue in Morganton, Bigfoot Climbing Gym is an excellent place that caters to every type of climber and offers a unique and total climbing experience.

If you're interested in bouldering or just getting into climbing, Bigfoot offers awesome classes and lots of fantastic opportunities for people who are new to the sport.

Bigfoot Climbing Gym has exciting angles for climbing that are fun for the whole family.

You'll love the giant structures, varied routes, and challenging route settings.

You can also bring your kids here to celebrate their birthdays because Bigfoot also host field trips and birthday parties that can best be described as "mountain-top" entertainment!

They also host competitions that you will love to participate in or just watch, so be on the lookout because there are great prizes!

It's a great way for kids and adults to get their blood pumping and work out while having fun.

Saddle Up and Ride a Horse With Mimosa Hills Farm

In the foothills of Western North Carolina lies a premier facility that offers a variety of services.

Mimosa Hills Farm offers horse riding and driving lessons, sales, summer horse camps, event hosting, boarding, birthday parties, and farm tours.

This gorgeous horse ranch offers everything you need for an unforgettable equestrian vacation.

Here, you will find the incredible horses and the dedicated Appalachian State University Western Equestrian team members.

Mimosa Hills Farm is also home to many other hope stars - having showed numerous graded shows, including hunters and jumpers.

Find Your Dream Item From Back Porch Antiques

Located at the Carbon City Road in Morganton, Back Porch Antiques is all about selling antiques, primitive, vintage, retro-inspired furniture, and more.

They carry various items inside and out, split between the two levels of the shop.

They also provide laser etching services for pet tags and other wood products like placemats, for example!

When you take a look around the Back Porch Antiques, you'll notice an eclectic mix of vendors who sell a variety of things that many people might not see every day.

The place has booths open for consignment and display items in cabinets, each with locks on them to prevent theft which adds a friendly feel to the whole environment.

Back Porch Antiques also features a snack bar where patrons can enjoy refreshments from classic water-cooled Coca-Cola machines.

When you stop by at Back Porch Antiques, you'll find more than just a lot of products on display.

It's a forum where people can come together and exchange thoughts and stories about the past and the present.

Explore the Water Trail on Catawba River Greenway

One of Morganton's famous greenway destinations is the water trail on Catawba River Greenway.

Here, you'll find excellent scenery and activities for all ages.

With a length of only 6.8 kilometers, this route is ideal for beginning runners or walkers looking to build endurance and confidence before they begin longer trips.

The out and back loop that the trail offers makes it a pretty straightforward one which will give you an uninterrupted view of the Catawba River Water Gap National Recreation Area on both sides of the river banks at all time points of your walk.

If you're going to bring your dog along for any of the trails here, keep it on a leash at all times.

Final Thoughts

Morganton, NC, is an excellent place for families who want a fun yet peaceful vacation.

From the 230 acres of fun at Catawba Meadows Park to the fantastic rock climbing experience at Bigfoot Climbing Gym, Morganton offers a unique blend of scenic rural landscapes, rich natural resources, and majestic views in a picturesque Carolina setting that will definitely take your breath away.

So if you’re planning to make your international getaway here, check out this list if your travels bring you here.