Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Hickory, NC

  • Published 2022/12/12

Hickory, North Carolina, is filled with many things, namely culture, community, and beautiful things to look at.

It’s hard not to appreciate this city in Catawba County with its natural beauty and strong community values.

It makes you feel at ease, making your life as easy as it needs to be.

There’s no great difficulty in getting to know the place, immersing yourself in the culture, and integrating into the community.

If you’re looking for some activities to get you started, here are a few free things to do in Hickory, North Carolina:

Have an Adventure at Lake Hickory

The waters of Lake Hickory

Scott Alan Ritchie /

Lake Hickory has one of the best views in the area and is a must-see for all nature lovers and adventurers.

It’s also a favorite for people looking for a great weekend loop across the wilderness to get the blood pumping with your friends and family after a week of work.

The area has three main sections: the Hickory Spring Loop, the Broyhills Trail, and the Skills Park.

Boat adventure on Lake Hickory

J K Laws /

The Hickory Springs Loop is a beginner-friendly loop perfect for people looking for an easygoing and relaxing time.

At the same time, the Broyhill’s Trail is the trail to pick if you’re an intermediate hiker looking for a bit of a challenge and a gorgeous view on your journey.

The Skills Park, on the other hand, is one of the biggest pump tracks in the region, with a jump line that’s not for the faint of heart.

There’s an endless amount of things to do in Lake Hickory that’s earned its spot at the top of your travel plans.

Join the Events at the Hickory Farmers Market

A trip to the Hickory Farmers Market is the perfect way to know the community.

You can still do many things if you’re not looking to buy from vendors.

Mingle with the locals and listen to their stories; there are even events hosted throughout the year to make it easier to have fun with the community.

Listen to music, watch the performances, and make new connections along the way.

The Hickory Farmer’s Market is where the culture and community of Hickory converge, so stop by if you want to know more about the area.

Take a Walk at the Glenn Hilton Park

The Glenn Hilton Park has a lighted and paved walking trail and a nature boardwalk, perfect for people who want a quiet walk alone with their thoughts.

Step away from all your responsibilities, deadlines, and pressure, and take time for yourself.

Admire nature and relax in the gentle atmosphere around you.

Sometimes, taking a walk at Glen Hilton Park is the only thing you need to get your head in order and figure out what you’re looking for.

Volunteer at the Hickory Soup Kitchen

Many people live in food-insecure situations, and it’s Hickory Soup Kitchen’s goal to help as many of them as possible.

They’re one of the only soup kitchens in the area, serving more than 200 families daily.

They’re always busy and always need some assistance from kind volunteers.

If you want to help out the less fortunate members of the community, then consider giving them a hand.

They’re always in need of people helping with the daily meals, whether prepping and cooking the dishes or serving food on the line or in the dining room.

You can also try helping with housekeeping or simply greeting the guests with a warm smile and kind words.

Help out with bagging groceries before they’re sent to the food pantry, or use your skills in one of the organization’s special events.

Whatever your skills or interests are, your services will be needed at the Hickory Soup Kitchen, so check them out and see how you can help.

Appreciate Nature at the Rotary-Geitner Park

The Rotary-Geitner Park features a paved bikeway, walking and nature trails, a boat launch ramp, and a fishing pier.

Visiting the park will give you an appreciation for the delicate beauty of nature.

You can spend hours sitting by the water to look around and savor the superb view.

It’ll leave its mark on you and make you fall in love with the world.

Stopping by Rotary-Geitner Park is a unique and breathtaking experience every traveler should try.

Give the place a shot whenever you’re in the area; it’s an experience you’ll never regret!

Let Your Kid Play at Cliff Teague Park

The playground at Cliff Teague Park is simple and easy to use, making it a great open space for kids to play and run around without many restrictions.

There’s a slide and some bars, but for the most part, everything is left to your child’s imagination.

Let them play pirates or superheroes; they can fight dragons, explore space, or be jungle explorers.

When it comes to this place, there’s no limit to what they can do!

Watch as they run wild and free, living out the best and most unforgettable years of their lives as they forge lifelong friendships with their playground friends.

Cliff Teague Park’s playground may not look like much, but sometimes a kid only needs to create new magical worlds to explore.

Help the Community at the Catawba County United Way Inc.

Catawba County United Way Inc has one mission: to mobilize the caring power of the community.

If you share the same goals, you may want to volunteer at their organization.

There’s always a lot to do there, and you’re sure to find some way to help the community through this organization.

You can help collect food, sort through and prepare donated clothing, or show up and assist in disaster times.

Likewise, you can do something as simple as sharing a smile and a warm story with people.

The Catawba County United Way Inc. also provides information on organizations requiring helping hands, such as food pantries, housing programs, soup kitchens, and domestic violence centers.

If you want to help, there are many opportunities to do so as long as you’re willing to seek it out and offer your services.

Visit the organization and see what you can do to improve the lives of the people within your community.

Sit Back and Relax at Winkler Park

Visit Winkle Park for a spot to wind down and hang out with your favorite people.

There’s a picnic shelter with a grill, playground, walking trails, and much more.

You won’t find many frills, meaning the atmosphere is relaxing and unhurried.

You don’t have to do much.

Just sit back and relax with your family and friends, have a hearty meal, and take a break from whatever chaos is happening around you.

Winkler Park is a simple and easy place to visit, so bring your family or friends and hang out.

Check Out the Artworks of the Hickory Museum of Art

Exhibit in the Hickory Museum of Art

Ser Amantio di Nicolao, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Hickory Museum of Art brings people together and inspires creativity through the power of art.

The Unifour region has always sat at the center of creative minds, a place that celebrates its accomplishments.

Their collection was founded in 1994 and sought to foster and preserve American art.

Some of the things you can find there are Hudson River School Paintings, Southern Contemporary Folk art, High-Speed Photography, and so much more.

The Hickory Museum of Art is where any art enthusiast will feel at home, and their exhibits are something you definitely won’t want to miss out on.

Learn Aviation History at the Hickory Aviation Museum

The golden age of aviation interests many people, and the Hickory Aviation Museum preserves and celebrates this historical period.

They host memorabilia from the second world war to the present day.

There are also models on display, so visitors can see how great and unique these planes are.

You can also find a Wall of Honor inside the museum, commemorating veterans and their organization’s members.

Not everyone can learn how to fly a plane.

However, the Hickory Aviation Museum will give you a new appreciation for its history and the amazing feats the airplane has accomplished since its invention.

Take Your Child to Kiwanis Park

Kiwanis Park and the Zahra Baker All Children’s Playground and Treehouse are top destinations for people looking for a place where their kids can play around and have adventures in a safe environment.

It offers a welcoming space for all kids to run around, which is what every parent wants in a playground.

They can meet other kids there and make new friends while they burn off their energy for the day.

The playground at Kiwanis Park also has facilities that accommodate people with disabilities.

It has wheelchair-accessible rides, ramps, and inclusive play products, so you can be sure that there’s space for your kid, no matter their needs.

Serve the Community at Safe Harbor

Safe Harbor is a Christ-centered community for rebuilding, renewing, and recovery.

They seek to inspire everyone they encounter to live a thriving and purposeful life through the power of Christ.

They provide many vital services to their community that is essential in keeping people happy and living good lives.

And, if you want to help their organization do that, there are many opportunities to do so.

Just head to their offices to see what they need a hand with.

You can work as a meal provider, event coordinator, administrative volunteer, and so much more.

As long as you have a generous heart, a caring disposition, and a love for your community, there’s a place for you in this organization.

Check out Safe Harbor and see how you can help others better themselves and improve their lives.

Play Tennis at Hickory City Park

If you’ve never played tennis, Hickory City Park is the perfect place to get into the sport.

The place features eight lighted tennis courts, making it the perfect spot to learn, practice, and play with your friends and family.

You may not know much about the sport, but don’t let that stop you.

There’s always room to discover new interests, no matter your age.

You can even have a mini-competition with your companions and see who comes out on top.

After all, a little competitiveness will get everyone’s blood pumping and the adrenaline rushing, whether you’re a beginner or a pro.

Tennis matches are always more fun if there’s a slight risk.

See for yourself at Hickory City Park.

Take Your Dog to the Fairbrook Optimist Dog Park

Spending the day with your favorite animal companion at the Fairbrook Optimist Dog Park is every animal lover’s dream.

There are fenced areas for small and large dogs to ensure everyone’s safety and countless amenities for your furry friend.

They can play on obstacle courses, pet stations, dog water fountains, and more.

It is the perfect spot for all dog lovers, so check it out if you’re looking for a travel destination with your pet.

You can take a maximum of two dogs with you and let them run around unleashed once you’re safely inside the park.

Make it a day for the entire family.

Enjoy a picnic with them and play with your animals the whole time.

You can even take the kids if you ensure that responsible adults supervise them.

However, remember that Fairbrook Optimist Dog Park is unsupervised.

Keep an eye out for your animals and take the appropriate precautions to ensure everyone’s safety.

Learn Local History at the Lyerly House

The Lyerly House serves as the home of the Hickory History Center, offering rich and varied exhibits to show off the long and storied history of Hickory.

The house is filled with Tudor motifs and stepping into it feels like you’re taking a step into the distant past.

It was remodeled in the 1930s to further capitalize on its beautiful architecture.

Nowadays, you can see overhanging eaves on the exterior alongside exposed rafters and half-timbered and stuccoed Tudor revival gables.

You can also find stylish historic fixtures in the interior, particularly in the bracketed mantle and the coffered ashlar of the living room fireplace.

History is, after all, not just something you read about in books or watch documentaries about.

It’s something you live, similar to how people in the past lived and shared.

When you go through their exhibits and look at their displays, it’s almost as if you’ve been transported into the lives of the people who once lived there.

Check out the Lyerly House, see what they have on display, and imagine yourself living in that little pocket of history.

Final Thoughts

It’s easy enough to fall in love with Hickory, North Carolina.

There’s a lot to love, from the culture to the people to the beautiful sights you’ll encounter everywhere you turn.

Explore the free things to do in Hickory, North Carolina!

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