Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Wake Forest, NC

  • Published 2022/02/24

North of North Carolina’s state capital, Raleigh, stands Wake Forest, a rapidly developing suburb.

The town began as a vast 615-acre forested property in Wake County, which New England’s Dr. Calvin Jones bought in 1832.

The land went by the name “Forest of Wake.”

Eventually, Dr. Jones sold the land to the North Carolina Baptist Convention. The sale amounted to $2,000.

Afterward, the convention established the Wake Forest Manual Labor Institute on the property.

This institute would later become Wake Forest College.

Thanks to the Raleigh & Gaston Railroad, early development began at the community, which moved their depot nearer to Wake Forest College in 1874.

The village retained the name “Wake Forest College” when they incorporated into a town six years later.

They removed “College” in 1909.

Today, Wake Forest boasts outdoor attractions, art venues, and historical sites for tourists and progress and growth for locals.

It’s a great place to satisfy many types of curiosities.

Do you want to know more about Wake Forest, NC?

Here’s a list of the best things to do in town.

Spend the Day at the E. Carroll Joyner Park

Landscape of E. Carroll Joyner Park.

Wileydoc /

Why not spend the day with family or friends at one of Wake County’s largest parks?

The E. Carroll Joyner Park makes good use of all the green space with a full set of amenities and activity options.

For example, you’ll find a restored log cabin, a pecan grove, and farm buildings.

Trees at E. Carroll Joyner Park.

Wileydoc /

You can also watch a live performance at the large amphitheater with 1,000 seats or hang out in the garden area.

You can follow the three miles of paved trails if you enjoy walking.

You can also ride your bikes or skate along these paths.

A 2,000-foot stone ribbon wall encloses the park as well.

A man walking his dog at E. Carroll Joyner Park.

Wileydoc /

Catch a Show at the Wake Forest Renaissance Centre

Wake Forest is home to a dynamic and growing arts scene downtown.

One of its main attractions is the Wake Forest Renaissance Centre, comprising 10,000 feet in total commercial space.

You’ll find the center at South Brooks Street, and you can go there to see a live performance, like a concert, a play, or a recital.

Sometimes, the center also hosts art exhibits.

The art center also offers the Grand Hall for event rentals so that you can hold corporate meetings and conventions there.

All in all, it’s a perfect venue for people to gather for a night’s entertainment or a day’s business.

Bring Your Kids to Hill Ridge Farms

Your kids will surely love visiting Hill Ridge Farms, located on Tarboro Road.

Just make sure to release your inner child, too, so you can share your little ones’ enjoyment.

You and your kids can take one of the many hayrides on the farm or ride the mini-trains.

These mini-trains are the main attraction for a venue that has a lot.

After riding the train, you can go to the farms to pet their goats and jump on the massive trampoline.

Your kids will love bouncing several feet into the air with every jump.

The farm also offers educational tours for the adults, showing their vintage farm equipment and machinery.

Meet the Town in Downtown Wake Forest

A man riding his bike at Downtown Wake Forest.

M T Bostic /

More than 48,000 people live in Wake Forest, but that doesn’t mean the town doesn’t have its small-town charm anymore.

If you explore downtown Wake Forest, you’ll see it for yourself.

Downtown teems with art galleries, coffee shops, boutiques, and specialty shops.

A street clock at Downtown Wake Forest.

Sharkshock /

It’s also got a lot of walkable space, so you don’t have to fight for space with cars.

After walking around and visiting the galleries and shops, you’d want to duck into the restaurants around the area.

Before you go anywhere else, make sure to reserve a day to explore downtown Wake Forest.

You’ll miss out on the town’s distinct flavor if you skip it.

Shops at Downtown Wake Forest.

Sharkshock /

Play Soccer at Smith Creek Soccer Park

Bring your family for a day of sports and recreation at the Smith Creek Soccer Park, where you can enjoy a friendly soccer game.

Many local teams go there to practice and prepare for matches during the weekends.

Likewise, Smith Creek has become a fixture of the Wake Forest Community because of its location and service to the youth.

If your kids are too young for soccer, just bring them outfitted with slides and swings to the playground.

The whole family will also love a picnic at the tables with nearby charcoal grilling areas.

After your walk, take a break at the free-to-use benches around the park.

Learn Local History at Wake Forest Museum

The small town of Wake Forest spills over with its rich history, and you can learn all about it at the Wake Forest Museum.

It’s easy to find, too.

Just head to the center of town, along North Main Street, and you’re there.

The museum also hosts events throughout the year, so you’ll never miss exciting events no matter when you visit.

The museum collects artifacts related to Wake Forest history, such as the items in the DuBois Collection gathered from the DuBois School.

Renamed after the great American writer and activist Dr. W.E.B. DuBois, the school admitted African American students from 1926 to 1970.

Some of the artifacts in the collection are copies of the DuBois School’s student newspaper, The Gazette.

Grab Fresh Produce at the Wake Forest Farmers Market

Go around to the back of the Wake Forest Town Hall, along South Taylor Street, to find the Wake Forest Farmers Market.

Start your healthy diet by grabbing fruits and vegetables taken straight from the farm.

Likewise, you can buy organic beef from pasture-raised cattle, poultry products, pork, free-range eggs, and herbs to spice up your cooking.

Snacks aren’t a problem because the Farmers Market also sells jams, fruit preserves, honey, and baked products.

You’ll also help protect the environment by buying the items at the Farmers Market.

All these products resulted from green sustainable agricultural practices.

Visit a Pioneer’s House at the Calvin Jones House

Exterior of Calvin Jones House.

Jenbilly, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Your history tour of Wake Forest would be incomplete without a visit to the town founder’s house.

The Calvin Jones House is located at 414 North Main Street.

Finished in 1820, the house is the oldest in town.

Likewise, it was the first home of Stealey Hall in the former Wake Forest College.

During your visit, you’ll find exhibits featuring the history of the town of Wake Forest and Wake Forest College.

The Wake Forest College Sports Hall of Fame is also inside the house.

Likewise, researchers can access historical archives in the museum but only by appointment.

In 2016, the National Register of Historic Places placed the house on its list.

Enjoy the Outdoors at the Falls Lake State Recreation Area

If you feel you’ve exhausted your outdoor options in Wake Forest, you haven’t.

Go to the Falls Lake State Recreation Area to experience the full scope of outdoor activities in the town.

You can do many things here, such as bike riding, camping, and hiking.

Moreover, the area is open all year, except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

If you have an RV, you can park it there for a few days’ camping.

The RV campground also has a complete set of amenities to help you get comfortable.

There are also 300 slots available for campers, so don’t worry about running out of space.

Sample Craft Beers at the White Street Brewing Company

Thanks to its delicious craft beers and deluxe service, white Street Brewing Company has become another fixture in the Wake Forest community.

After all, they remain committed to producing only the best beers.

They never cut corners on ingredients or brewing, and they don’t mind going overtime just to create great drinks.

Today, they produce a line of wonderful classic beers, known as the Main Street Series, plus modern classics in their Side Street Series.

During your visit, you’ll taste all of these selections in their taproom.

Just look for the White Street sign.

Do Everything at The Factory

Your one-stop shop for everything is The Factory, a complex filled with various specialty shops, restaurants, and play areas.

In short, the place lets you bring your kids there for soccer practice or music lessons while you pick up a birthday gift and buy dinner.

Don’t waste gas driving around the town and get everything you need all in one place.

For example, you can celebrate birthdays at The Polar Ice House, with twin ice sheets and a full snack bar.

Otherwise, you can bring your kids to The MVP Sports Soccerplex or The Factory Ballpark.

Then, you can get fit at O2 Fitness or buy clothes and accessories at So You Boutique.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Check Out Masterpieces at the North Carolina Museum of Art

Bronze statues at North Carolina Museum of Art.

Carolyne Parent /

Just 26 minutes away from Wake Forest is the state capital of North Carolina, the city of Raleigh.

You’ll find the North Carolina Museum of Art here, a product of the state’s initiative to establish an art collection for citizens.

In 1947, the North Carolina General Assembly earmarked $1 million to buy art, making it the first state legislature in the US to use state funds to buy art for the people.

Huge rings sculpture at North Carolina Museum of Art.

zimmytws /

The North Carolina Museum of Art is also unique because it’s the largest repository of the works of French master Auguste Rodin in the southeastern United States.

The museum got the honor after receiving 30 of Rodin’s works as a gift from Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation.

Likewise, the museum features important cultural artifacts, like ceremonial objects from the Jewish, African, and ancient American communities.

Water outside the North Carolina Museum of Art.

zimmytws /

Get Spooked at the Haunted Forest at Panic Point

Seven minutes away from Wake Forest is the town of Youngsville, where you can find one of the state’s scariest places, the Haunted Forest.

Visit the place during Halloween to get the biggest scares you’ve ever had.

The scream park has six main attractions for the interested traveler.

Since 2011, Panic Point has triggered many guests to pee themselves, so be prepared.

Their attractions include the Haunted Forest, the Haunted Hayride, the Menacing Corn Maze, and Killers in the Corn.

Each of these attractions also employs veteran haunters, so you’re in for an experience you’ll never forget.

Explore Nature at the Annie Louise Wilkerson, MD Nature Preserve Park

The first property designated as a nature preserve opened in February 2006, after the city received a generous donation of 157 acres along Falls Lake.

This donation came from the will of Dr. Annie Louise Wilkerson, who wanted the park to become a nature preserve park.

She was a famous doctor who’ve reached pioneering success in her 53-year medical career.

Likewise, this park should teach people about wildlife and protect animals and nature.

You can visit the park office to find hands-on natural history exhibits and a kids’ craft table.

Once you go outside, you can find the Nature Play Area, where your kids can play in the company of nature.

Otherwise, you can hike along the interpretive trails that lead you to fields and meadows home to mammals and grassland birds.

You can also check out the native plants at the gardens around the park office, education center, and comfort station.

Learn Art and History in One Place at the Little House Museum & Gallery

If you want to save time, why not check out a gallery and museum in one?

This place is the Little House Museum & Gallery, located at Rolesville, 12 minutes away from Wake Forest.

The house itself is a historic venue, and it features four rooms, divided into art galleries and history exhibits.

Visit the two gallery rooms to marvel at pieces of antique and contemporary art, where you’ll also learn a thing or two about the artistic process.

Then, head to the two history rooms to find artifacts, documents, photographs, and other objects related to the history of Rolesville.

Final Thoughts

Wake Forest is a center and a gateway to numerous fun and educational sites.

You can explore nature at the town’s parks and recreation areas.

Otherwise, you can expand your horizons by trying stuff you’ve never done, like going to a horror park.

What are you waiting for?

Book your Wake Forest trip today!

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