27 Best Things to Do in Hickory, NC

27 Best Things to Do in Hickory, NC
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Welcome to Hickory, North Carolina!

Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this charming city brims with a unique blend of history, arts, cuisine, and adventure.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the following individuals for their invaluable contributions to this article: Donald Kirby, Murray Pennington, James Lyons, Isis Minter, Kyle Pena, James Fleming and Letitia Ford.

Stroll through History at Harper House/Hickory History Center

Exterior of the Harper House
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Have you ever wanted to step back in time?

That's exactly what you can do when you visit the Harper House/Hickory History Center.

Located in the heart of downtown Hickory this magnificent building stands as a testament to the region's rich history and architectural grandeur.

This isn't some ordinary old house - it's a journey into the past, where every room tells a unique story.

Built back in 1887 by Daniel Webster Shuler, the founder of Hickory's first bank, the Harper House is a vibrant piece of local history.

It's an architectural marvel, adorned with traditional Queen Anne elements - from the hipped roof with lower cross gables, to the scalloped wooden shingles and stained glass windows.

The North Carolina Department of Archives and History even recognizes it as boasting "the finest Queen Anne interior styling in the entire state."

The house got its name from the Harper family, who were the last family to occupy it, from 1923 all the way until December 21, 2000.

Today, it stands restored to its original glory, completely furnished with period pieces that give you a glimpse into a bygone era.

Visiting the Harper House is more than just a tour, it's an experience.

Front view of the Harper House
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The guided tour lasts around 45 minutes to an hour, and trust me, it's well worth your time.

The tour guides are incredibly knowledgeable and personable, making the history come alive as they walk you through the property.

But here's where it gets truly exciting - there's a chance you might not be the only 'visitor' at the Harper House.

Yes, you read that right.

The house is known for its occasional unexplained occurrences, and has even been investigated by paranormal groups.

But don't let that scare you off, it's all part of the Harper House's rich history and allure.

One of my favorite parts of the house is a room downstairs with a beautiful carved cherry wood fireplace mantel.

Hanging on the wall is a painting of Mrs. Shuler, the original and first "lady of the house", who was married three times.

Every piece in the house has a story waiting to be told, and the Harper House/Hickory History Center is a treasure trove of these stories, waiting to be discovered.

Solve Puzzles at Lake Hickory Escape

If you're ever in need of a thrilling experience to spice up your evening, then I couldn't recommend anything more than Lake Hickory Escape.

I've lived here for years and I thought I had seen it all, but this place took me by surprise.

It was a random weekend when I gathered a few friends and decided to visit the place.

I have to say, it was one of the most fun-filled evenings I've had in a while.

We picked 'CarnEvil', one of the escape rooms at Lake Hickory.

The room was impeccably clean and well-maintained, which is something I notice and appreciate.

Looking for keys and going through different locks was an exciting part of the game, although I did wish they incorporated more puzzles that needed solving, just to up the challenge a bit.

What truly stood out to me at Lake Hickory Escape was the staff.

They were extremely friendly and accommodating.

One of their guides, constantly in touch through a walkie talkie, was super helpful and added to our overall experience.

I must say, the operation ran smoothly.

Catch an Event at Brown Penn Recreation Center

There's never a dull moment at the Brown Penn Recreation Center.

It's one of the gems of our community in Hickory, North Carolina.

The center is not only immaculately clean but also has a welcoming atmosphere, clearly reflecting the community spirit that fills the air.

One of my most memorable experiences at this recreation center was the dedication of the gym in honor of our local hero, Michelle Dula.

What a beautiful day it was, hearing her daughter and my daughter, both high school graduates, sharing fond memories of Michelle.

It was a touching tribute to a wonderful woman and the gym named in her honor is a testament to her contributions to the community.

Brown Penn Recreation Center isn't just about dedications and memorials, it’s also a vibrant gathering spot.

I remember when we held a small gathering at the park after Clarence's funeral.

It was a soothing balm for our grieving hearts.

The park was surprisingly spacious, accommodating us all comfortably - it's always larger than you'd expect.

But what truly sets the Brown Penn Recreation Center apart are the events that make the community bond even stronger.

One such event was the balloon release we held for my adopted sister, Darsonja Connor, on her birthday.

It was a heartfelt tribute filled with love and remembrance.

Discover Airforce History at the Hickory Aviation Museum

There's nothing like a lazy Saturday spent at the Hickory Aviation Museum.

With a cup of hot coffee in hand, I often find myself walking down the open hangar, admiring the antique planes on display.

Each aircraft, standing tall and majestic, carries a unique piece of history waiting to be discovered.

What sets this place apart are the unusual decommissioned planes you don't get to see in typical museums.

I remember the first time I saw the submarine-seeking plane - it was a sight to behold!

The detailed placards in front of the planes are a treasure trove of information, spurring on my curiosity and making me appreciate the intricate engineering involved in aviation.

The war memorial is a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by brave servicemen and women.

It's a humbling experience to stand amidst the memorabilia from different eras, including significant moments like Pearl Harbor.

If you're lucky, you'll also get to see small planes taking off and landing on the functional runway.

Watching these modern marvels so close is quite thrilling.

One of my favorite experiences at Hickory Aviation Museum was when they hosted a car show called 'Snakes and Plane auto display.'

Antique cars parked amongst the planes was an exciting spectacle, and definitely a day to remember.

The cherry on top? Admission is free, and the staff is super friendly!

Don't forget to drop by the cute little cafe at the terminal's end.

Although it closes early, the delicious aroma of fresh pastries and coffee is worth experiencing.

Cheer on the Home Team at L. P. Frans Stadium

Exterior of L. P. Frans Stadium
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There's nothing quite like a baseball game at the L. P. Frans Stadium.

There's a certain magic to it, a sense of community, and an exhilarating anticipation that fills the air.

The stadium, home to the Crawdads, is always kept immaculate, something that I truly appreciate.

It's been a while since my last visit, and I was genuinely impressed by the cleanliness.

The game itself was a thrill ride!

There's a unique charm to minor league baseball that you just don't get in the bigger leagues.

And the food? Simply delectable!

Nothing beats the classic hotdog at a baseball game, and L. P. Frans Stadium does it just right.

The atmosphere is lively, invigorating even.

The roar of the crowd, the crack of the bat - it's a symphony of sounds that leaves you feeling alive.

It's also a fantastic place to bring kids.

They get a taste of the excitement of a big league game without the overwhelming crowds.

Spending time at Crawdads games with my son is an experience I wouldn't trade for anything.

The views are beautiful, and there's not a bad seat in the house.

It's the perfect recipe for wholesome family entertainment and an excellent value for money.

However, as much as I love this place, I believe there's always room for improvement.

For instance, I think it's time for a little update around the park.

A few new features could also add to the experience.

Maybe some fun and creative gimmicks to keep the crowd engaged during the breaks.

Hike the Bakers Mountain Park

There's something magical about the rustling leaves and the crisp, fresh air at Bakers Mountain Park.

Each time I lace up my boots and set off on the trails of this Catawba County gem, I discover something new.

It's the perfect balance of challenge and enjoyment, with only a few moderate elevation changes and a couple of rugged terrain spots.

Bakers Mountain Park is incredibly doable for new hikers, children, and even pets.

The journey to the top isn't just about reaching the summit; it's about reveling in the beauty of the surroundings too.

Along the way, you'll find a variety of fascinating plant species and even educational plaques that deepen your understanding of the surrounding flora.

One of my personal favorite surprises on this trail is a mini waterfall.

The sound of the water mingling with the rustling leaves and chirping birds is like music to my ears.

The trails stretch for about 2.75 miles, but don't be surprised if you clock over 3.

Some sections can be steep, so come prepared.

When you reach the top, there's a platform with a beautiful view.

Sure, it may not be as impressive as standing at the peak of a mountain, but it's certainly worth the walk.

There's also a splattering of benches dotting the trail, perfect for those moments when you need to catch your breath or simply want to savor the view.

You will also love the serene scenes along the way, with trees sheltering the trail and a creek running through a good part of it.

It's more than just a walk in the park; it's an adventure that changes with each visit.

Discover Local Artistry at the Hickory Museum

I still remember my first visit to the Hickory Museum of Art.

It was a sunny afternoon when I stumbled upon this hidden gem in our town, tucked away between the bustling library and the lively science center.

The unassuming exterior of the museum did little to prepare me for the breathtaking and colorful exhibits that awaited inside.

Once I stepped in, I found myself immersed in the stunning array of contemporary Southern folk art and other American art.

Hickory Museum of Art, which has been around since 1944, certainly knows how to leave a lasting impression with its fantastic collection.

I was particularly captivated by the Charles White exhibit.

The artist's unique perspective, beautifully brought to life on the canvas, was nothing short of inspiring.

And it wasn't only the adults who were entertained.

I noticed children, including my own, being enthralled by the student exhibit.

Remember, it's free to visit but they do appreciate donations.

I personally make sure to contribute each time I visit, as a token of my appreciation for the enriching experience they offer.

Have a Family Bonding at Kiwanis Park

It's Saturday afternoon and the sun is shining brightly over Kiwanis Park.

The laughter of children fills the air as they joyfully play on the Zahra Baker All Children’s Playground.

This isn't an ordinary playground, but a sanctuary for fun and adventure for all kids, regardless of their abilities.

The treehouse in the park is a favorite destination for many, boasting a bird’s eye view of the park that leaves children awestruck.

The slide, at an impressive 30-foot height, looks rather intimidating at first glance.

But, rest assured, it's as safe as it's thrilling.

The spongy rubber floor around the play area ensures that not even a tiny bruise spoils the fun.

Not too far from there, the splash pad is an oasis of refreshing delight.

On a hot, summer day, the cool water cascading from above is a pleasant treat.

It's a high-end waterpark-sized feature that you would not expect in a community park.

The park is also equipped with several picnic shelters, grills, and an ample amount of space for everyone to enjoy.

It's pleasantly surprising to see how clean and well-kept the restrooms are, given how often parks of this size can struggle with maintenance.

And what’s a park without sports facilities?

Well, Kiwanis Park doesn't disappoint.

With tennis and outdoor basketball courts, and four lighted baseball fields, it’s a haven for sports enthusiasts.

Walking trails weave through the park for those who prefer a tranquil stroll or a brisk walk.

Make a Splash at Lowes Foods City Park

Daytime view of Lowes Foods City Park
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Imagine a place where laughter fills the air, where water splashes merrily under the hot summer sun, and where kids can truly be kids.

That's what an average day looks like at Lowes Foods City Park.

I've seen it become a beloved part of our community since it first opened its doors.

For my own kids, it's become their favorite spot for playdates and birthday parties.

The padded, shaded area is perfect for picnics or simply relaxing after a long day of downtown shopping or dining.

And the water park? It's an absolute hit on those sweltering summer days.

My advice? Always keep a towel in your car.

Because the kids? They can't resist the allure of the spraying water and the chance to splash around with their friends.

The grounds of Lowes Foods City Park
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I mean, who can blame them?

There's also this hill with what feels like an Astro turf surface where the kids love to roll down.

The fact that it's completely fenced in gives a sense of security while the kids are at play.

And let's not forget the clean, well-maintained bathrooms with functional plumbing - a detail that certainly does not go unappreciated by visiting families.

I remember taking our 5-year-old nephew to this park when he came to visit us once.

It was an instant favorite.

While he was having a blast, the rest of us got to explore the nearby shops and even check out the local farmer's market.

It was truly an enjoyable day for everyone.

A sculpture at Lowes Foods City Park
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Have a Movie Night at Carolina Theater

Living in Hickory, I often find myself choosing the delightful and charming Carolina Theater for my movie nights.

This long-standing establishment, dating back to 1934, is more than just a movie theater; it's a piece of our town's history.

Located right in the heart of downtown Hickory, it brings a special character and charm to our community.

The theater's website is my go-to for checking showtimes and special events.

There's an undeniable enchantment in watching a film in this beautifully renovated, vintage theater.

It's cozy, with only two screens, unlike the over-crowded multiplexes, making it feel more like a private screening.

Plus, they offer second-run showings at unbeatable prices.

Tickets as low as $5 before 6pm and $7 after 6pm, where else could you find such a deal?

And let's not forget about the concessions.

The #1 Combo can feed two, with an XL popcorn, large drink and large candy, all for just $12!

But what makes Carolina Theater truly special is the staff.

They aren't just employees; they are some of the most accommodating, understanding folks around.

I remember one instance when they went above and beyond to cater to a family with an autistic child, making sure he had a drink that suited his taste.

It's these small, meaningful gestures that embody the heart of our town.

Whether it's a solo trip or a family outing, the Carolina Theater is the perfect local spot to indulge in the magic of cinema without breaking the bank.

From the affordable tickets to the warm atmosphere, nothing about this place falls short of wonderful.

I guarantee you, there's no other place in Hickory where you can experience affordable, cozy, and nostalgic movie nights like the ones at Carolina Theater.

A Bite of Happiness at Hatch Sandwich Bar

Ever had one of those days when you're just craving a sandwich? Not just any sandwich, but one that's perfectly crafted and bursting with flavor.

That's when I head over to Hatch Sandwich Bar. It's a vibrant counter-serve corner in our town where you can find some truly unique sandwiches.

Parking is usually a breeze and then it's straight into the lively atmosphere of Hatch.

You can place your order at the counter and while you wait, take a seat in their eclectic dining area.

The communal tables, high tops, and low tops offer a variety of seating options. Plus, they might even have a wifi connection.

Every visit to Hatch is an adventure in taste. One time, I indulged in their scrumptious "Club" sandwich, a hearty mix of ham, turkey, and bacon with all the right fixings.

And let me tell you, it was deliciously messy and ridiculously yummy. But the culinary journey doesn't end here.

Their menu isn't just limited to delicious sandwiches; they have a wide range of sides too, like the broccoli with miso and sumac roasted carrots.

And if you're lucky enough to visit when they have their charred eggplant with cashew-cilantro cream on special, do yourself a favor and order it.

It's an explosion of flavor not to be missed.

So if you're in the mood for excellent food without any pretentious frills, you need to give Hatch Sandwich Bar a try. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.

Pamper Yourself at the Hampton Inn Hickory

If you're looking for a cozy place to retreat after a long day, the Hampton Inn Hickory is your refuge.

Nestled in the heart of my beloved town, this modern hotel has become my go-to spot for a quick, refreshing dip in their indoor pool.

After a hectic day at work, a few laps in the pool followed by a warm, rejuvenating shower in their clean and comfortable restroom is all it takes to wash away the fatigue.

If work commitments call, the hotel's business center is equipped with everything needed for a productive session.

And guess what - they offer free Wi-Fi!

Meaning, I can catch up on my favorite podcasts while wrapping up my projects.

One of the things I love the most about Hampton Inn Hickory is the mornings.

They serve a complimentary breakfast that can only be described as a feast for the senses.

The whiff of freshly brewed coffee, the sight of fluffy pancakes, and the taste of crispy bacon - it's a gastronomic delight that's hard to resist.

Especially when it's served with a side of genuine hospitality from the staff.

This is where people like Justin and Chef Will shine, their friendly and professional service is nothing short of exceptional.

What's more, they have these little touches that make my stay even more enjoyable - bottled water, cookies, and a snack bag at checkout.

It's these thoughtful gestures that make me feel welcome and appreciated.

So, whether I am in need of a quick rest or a longer stay, Hampton Inn Hickory is where I find my comfort and joy in Hickory.

Learn Local History with Hickory Landmarks Society

Maple grove house at Hickory Landmarks Society
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Digging deep into the roots of my town at the Hickory Landmarks Society, I unearthed a whole new level of appreciation for Hickory's rich history and culture.

I found the Maple Grove House to be particularly fascinating, it was like stepping into a time machine and being transported back to the olden days.

There's something really special about being able to touch and sit on the furniture, it makes the whole experience more immersive and personal.

Just remember to be respectful and avoid the wicker!

One of the things I love the most is how each room tells a different story.

Armed with a pamphlet, I learned about hidden places around the house and discovered where old toys got thrown.

I spent a solid two hours just touring the house and soaking in all the history, and I truly believe it was time well spent.

Besides the Maple Grove House, the Hickory Landmarks Society also boasts an incredibly moving and educational polio exhibit.

I found myself deeply touched by the stories and information displayed there.

The staff are genuinely passionate about their roles and go above and beyond to make your visit enjoyable.

I remember one tour guide in particular - she was wearing a red shirt in support of our troops and was a wealth of knowledge about the museum and the Harper House.

Embrace Nature at Glenn C. Hilton, Jr. Memorial Park

Just the other day, I took my kids to our beloved stomping ground, the Glenn C. Hilton, Jr. Memorial Park.

We've been frequenting this park for as long as my little ones can remember.

Every visit always brings joy to their faces, and mine too.

This park has everything you can ask for - shelters, playgrounds, restrooms, trails, and even a canoe launch.

Our family gatherings and birthdays are often celebrated at this park.

Such a beautiful place to gather and create memories together.

Glenn C. Hilton, Jr. Memorial Park is studded with new grills now, bigger and much nicer than the old ones.

It's good to see the park authorities spending money on these improvements.

One of my favorite things about the park is the walkway winding through the park down to the lake.

The children’s play area is another spot we frequent.

There's always plenty of parking available, so it's never a hassle to find a spot.

However, there's always room for improvement.

The bridge walking path leading into the trees could use some love.

It's heavily worn down and needs a complete renovation.

Also, the walking paths could be better maintained as the tree roots are becoming visible.

And, let's not forget BIG signs about NOT FEEDING THE ANIMALS BREAD!

But overall, we've enjoyed this park and we will continue to do so for many more years to come.

The bathrooms are always super clean and the park's serene beauty always captivates us.

Go Mountain Biking at Geitner Park

From the serenity of the waterfront to the thrill of the mountain biking trails, Geitner Park is the kind of place that invites you to make memories.

Located in Hickory it's a place my family and I have enjoyed countless times.

The park overlooks the stunning Lake Hickory, offering an idyllic setting for picnics and lazy afternoons spent fishing at the pier.

As for the more adventurous among us, the mountain biking trails are nothing short of exhilarating.

With a 1.8-mile beginner flow trail, a 4-mile intermediate loop, a pump track for both advanced and beginner riders, and an advanced jump line, it's a paradise for cycling enthusiasts.

Geitner Park isn't just about its natural beauty and thrilling activities.

It's also about the convenience it offers.

Nestled in what feels like our very own "back yard", it's a mere 10 to 15-minute drive from home.

This accessibility makes it a perfect spot for unplanned outings and spontaneous adventures.

Recently, the park has seen the opening of a new portion of the River Walk.

This scenic trail stretches for about 2 miles, making it perfect for both casual strolls and invigorating hikes.

One of my fondest memories is the walk I took with my grandchildren, Connor and Aria, along this trail.

The anticipation of the entire route opening up is quite thrilling!

For people with limited mobility, the park offers spacious walkways fit for motorized scooters.

It makes it a great place to enjoy the serenity of the woods and the river views.

However, do note that there are a few steep inclines and declines, so caution is advised.

Peruse the Offerings at Hickory Farmers Market

Every time I visit the Hickory Farmers Market, I'm greeted with the same vibrant bustle, from the friendly staff at the entrance tent to the hum of live music filling the air.

The variety of fresh produce is something you wouldn't want to miss, from the juiciest peaches in the summer to the crispest apples in the fall.

The market also offers an impressive selection of fresh baked goods, so good, that you might have to brave a long line to get some!

Parking can be a tad hectic, but once you're in, the market is a joy to explore.

With a little patience, you can find a spot to leave your car.

It's a small price to pay for the treasure trove of goodies you'll find inside.

What's more, unlike many other farmers markets, this one has a bathroom - a definite plus when you're spending the day exploring.

But the market is more than just food and flowers.

It's the ambiance that pulls me in every time.

The "sails" provide a great shade, and the whole area has such a good vibe to it.

Surrounded by quaint shops and eateries downtown, the market makes for a lovely weekend destination.

If you want to beat the crowd, I'd recommend visiting on a Wednesday.

It's slightly less packed, but still brims with a fantastic selection of vendors.

However, if it's variety you're after, Saturdays are your best bet.

That's when the market truly comes to life, with even more vendors and products to choose from.

Whether you're after fresh produce, lovely flowers, or just want to soak in the atmosphere, the Hickory Farmers Market never disappoints.

It's a slice of our community that brings people together, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Unleash Your Curiosity at Catawba Science Center

Exterior of the Catawba Science Center
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You know the saying, "Curiosity led the cat to Catawba"? Well, it might not be the regular adage, but it holds true for me.

With a pull towards exploration and a thirst for knowledge, the Catawba Science Center has been my sanctuary.

It's a place where I can unleash my inner scientist and step into a world of dynamic exhibits and captivating displays.

A quick drive across town leads me to this science wonderland.

Right off I'm welcomed by their hands-on displays.

It's amazing how you can touch, manipulate, and interact with the exhibits.

And here's the kicker, they have an aquarium with sharks!

Yes, you heard it right! Sharks in our little town.

One of my absolute favorites is the dinosaur exhibit.

The details are so intricate and precise, it almost feels like stepping into a Jurassic World.

And what's even more fascinating? They move!

Yes, you get to experience a piece of the Mesozoic era right here in our town.

Then there's the planetarium.

A chance to gaze into the cosmos without leaving the comfort of your chair.

It's an immersive experience that transports you across galaxies.

The staff? Oh, they're amazing!

Always a friendly face in every corner, ready to answer your questions, and spark that curiosity even more.

One could say they're the backbone of the center.

Oh, and let's not forget the art museum across the road.

Your ticket to the Catawba Science Center includes admission there as well.

It's like a two-for-one deal.

Play Ball at Henry Fork River Park

It's hard to resist the charm of Henry Fork River Park, with its wide-open space and easy access to nature.

The small playground is a favorite spot for my kids to release their energy while I indulge in some much-needed peace and quiet.

The larger playground isn't far off either, appealing to older kids and even us adults who don't mind getting our hands dirty in the name of fun.

What I love most about the park is the long walking track that circles the expansive soccer field.

Paved and easy on the feet, it's ideal for my morning jogs or leisurely strolls in the evening.

One side of the track runs alongside the scenic river, making for a spectacular sight.

The park also provides restroom facilities, which are always clean and well-maintained.

There's ample parking space too, all paved and conveniently located.

On warm sunny days, my family and I often bring our picnic basket, choose a picnic table under the soothing shade of a tree, and enjoy a good meal amidst the beauty of nature.

For fellow outdoor enthusiasts, Henry Fork River Park offers a launch area for canoes and kayaks.

It's always a thrill to paddle down the river and soak in the tranquil surroundings.

And if you're a soccer fan, the massive field at the center of the park is a godsend.

Experience Spooky Fun at Lake Hickory Haunts

As the autumn crispness fills the air, the thrill of the spook season comes alive at my favorite place - Lake Hickory Haunts.

Nestled amidst the tranquil surroundings of the Lake Hickory, this Halloween extravaganza is the highlight of my fall season every year!

My friends and I make it a point to visit this haunt each year, and let me tell you, it never disappoints.

The creative brilliance behind each haunted house is simply wonderful.

With twelve different themes, each one is an adventure in itself.

The special effects, lighting, props, and concepts are so well executed, it's like stepping into another world!

And let's not forget the fantastic actors who perform their roles with such enthusiasm.

They're so cooperative when it comes to taking pictures and making the whole experience even more memorable.

But what makes Lake Hickory Haunts stand out is its effective crowd management.

Even when it's packed with visitors, it never feels overcrowded or rushed.

We get ample time to admire each haunted house and soak in the experience.

The flow-through design of the houses definitely helps in this aspect.

Have a Retail Therapy in Union Square

Buildings at Union Square
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Have you ever strolled down a street that transports you back in time?

Union Square in Hickory does just that.

The moment I step onto the cobblestone road, it's like I've opened a door into a bygone era.

The charming brick buildings, cozy boutiques, and aromatic smell of fresh coffee beans from the nearby cafe make you feel right at home.

Around each corner, you'll find a new treasure - be it a vintage bookstore with dog-eared classics or an art gallery showcasing local artists.

The heart of the square is the iconic Union Square Park.

I've spent countless afternoons here, lounging under the shade of the towering trees, watching the kids chase after their frisbees, while the older folks engage in a friendly game of chess.

Shops at Union Square
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If you're in the mood for some retail therapy, the bustling local shops will not disappoint.

From stylish clothing boutiques to a unique antique store, there's something for everyone.

And when hunger strikes, you've got a plethora of options.

Whether it’s the mouthwatering smell of barbecue from the local joint or the sweet temptation of a bakery, every craving is catered for.

As the sun sets, Union Square comes alive with twinkling fairy lights, and there’s an infectious buzz in the air as the crowd gathers for live music performances.

It's a place that truly celebrates community, bringing together people from all walks of life.

Grab a Bottle of Beer at Olde Hickory Tap Room

If there's one place in Hickory that has withstood the test of time and still continues to be a crowd favorite, it's the Olde Hickory Tap Room.

It's not just a brewpub, it's a place full of memories for me.

I've been frequenting this place for over two decades and it never seems to lose its charm.

Whether you are craving for a chilled pint of local beer or just want a cozy place to enjoy some comfort food, Olde Hickory Tap Room has it all.

What I particularly enjoy is sitting at the bar with a beer or two, ordering the Blue Burger or Chicken Sandwich, and simply soaking in the warm, inviting ambiance.

The Rueben with pub chips is another favorite of mine and I highly recommend it.

One of the things that sets this place apart is their quick service.

The bartenders here are always attentive, ensuring your glass is never empty and you are well taken care of.

The wooden backdrop gives it a unique, rustic feel, which adds to the overall experience.

But what I truly love about Olde Hickory Tap Room is its location.

With Hickory now having a social district, you can grab your drink and take a leisurely stroll around the area, or simply find a spot outside to sit and relax.

It truly gives you a sense of being part of the local community.

When it comes to their brewery, I must confess, it's not my favorite.

However, they have been improving over the years and there's a good variety of beer styles to choose from.

I recently tried the blueberry sour and was pleasantly surprised by its taste.

Play Pool at Randolph Billiards

You know, there's something about the sound of a billiards ball hitting the pocket that just resonates with me.

It's a sound that promises a good night out, a chill atmosphere, and some friendly competition.

That's exactly what I found at Randolph Billiards.

The moment I walked in, I was greeted by the clinking of the balls on the pool tables and the murmur of easy conversation.

I left the hustle and bustle at the door and felt immediately at home in the inviting, laid-back environment.

The pool tables, shiny with clean green felt, beckoned me.

I've always had an affinity for playing pool, and Randolph Billiards has plenty of tables, so there's rarely a wait to play.

The food at Randolph's is another thing that keeps me coming back.

The menu is full of pub-style comfort food and the portions are generous.

One bite of their juicy burgers or crispy fries and you'll understand why I rave about it.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Stepp Back in Time at Catawba County Museum of History

Exterior of Catawba County Museum of History
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You know how the walls of old buildings feel like they're whispering stories from the past?

That's exactly how it feels when I step into the Catawba County Museum of History.

Nestled inside a dignified 1924 courthouse, this museum weaves the story of our nation and how it has maintained its freedom over the centuries.

From the moment I walk in, I am greeted by a labyrinth of exhibits spread across three floors.

Each corner is a treasure trove.

I find myself marveling at the craftsmanship of pottery pieces, strumming my fingers over the strings of age-old musical instruments, and exploring the grandeur of the courthouse.

For those interested, the museum's website offers more information.

One of my favorite parts of the museum is the commissioners floor.

Signage of Catawba County Museum of History
Nolichuckyjake / Shutterstock.com

It's a unique experience, allowing me to walk on the same floor where decisions that shaped our county were made.

And if you have little ones, they'll be thrilled with the kids room.

It's packed with dress-up items and activities that will spark their imagination and make history come alive for them.

And the best part?

Admission to this historical gem is free.

They do appreciate donations, so if you enjoy your time there, it's a wonderful way to give back and help preserve our local history.

I love being able to immerse myself in the past, right in the heart of our city.

It's a reminder that history is not just a collection of dates and events, but a tapestry of stories waiting to be discovered.

Journey through Time at Southeastern Narrow Gauge & Shortline Museum

Every time I have a free Friday or Saturday, you'll find me absorbing the history and beauty at the Southeastern Narrow Gauge & Shortline Museum, a treasure nestled in my hometown.

The serenity of the place always feels refreshing.

You don't need to be a train enthusiast to appreciate the intricate detailing of the model trains, capturing the attention of both young and old visitors alike.

Walking into the museum is like stepping into a time capsule, with every exhibit narrating a unique story about local and regional railroad history.

The restored engine and cars transport me back to an era when these majestic machines ruled the transport world.

I still remember the first time I saw a caboose in mid-restoration; witnessing the sheer amount of work it takes to restore these pieces to their former glory gave me a newfound respect for the preservation of our history.

And for those with kids or grandkids - I've seen firsthand the amazement in their eyes as they watch the three train layouts designed especially for them.

When I'm not marvelling at the trains, I can be found browsing through the museum's gift shop.

Their selection is more extensive than you'd expect and the prices are surprisingly reasonable.

I've picked up a few gifts for family members who share my love for train history.

And if you're looking for a unique location to host a small event, look no further.

I attended a private party there once and the combination of the historic interior and the view of trains outside was something memorable.

Hit a Strike at Pin Station

There's no better place to spend an enjoyable evening than at Pin Station, where family fun meets budget-friendly prices.

The place is buzzing with energy, mostly from families laughing and groups of friends cheering each other on.

The lanes are impeccable, reflecting the care and attention given to the maintenance of the facility.

Here's a little heads up, though.

This place has a charming old-school vibe and accepts only cash payments.

It may seem inconvenient at first, but it's just one of those things that make Pin Station unique, allowing them to keep their prices lower than most bowling alleys.

So, be sure to stop at an ATM on your way.

Saturday nights at Pin Station can get pretty busy, with people waiting for an hour or even two to get a lane.

But, frankly, even the waiting is part of the fun.

There's a palpable sense of excitement and camaraderie that fills the air.

Go Off the Beaten Path at Murray's Mill Historic Site

Whenever I want to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, I often find myself heading to the serene Murray's Mill Historic District.

It's not your typical go-to place, but the charm it emits is undeniably irresistible.

Let me paint you a picture.

The focal point is an operational grain mill, powered by a large water wheel turning gently with the flow of the picturesque pond.

The sound of cascading water from the dam feeding the mill never fails to soothe my senses.

It's a beautifully choreographed dance of nature and technology that takes you back in time, offering a glimpse of our history.

But it's not just about the mill.

Adjacent to it, there's a general store that seems to have popped straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting.

It has a nostalgic atmosphere, filled with candies and foods that bring back the memories of my childhood.

The enthusiastic staff members always make it a point to share fascinating stories about the work done to the mill and other associated buildings—incredibly passionate about the history and operation of the mill.

As for the kids, they absolutely love the self-guided tour.

Every corner of the site offers a new discovery for their curious minds.

And of course, the shop with all its old-fashioned goodies and bottled sodas never fails to excite them.

Aside from the historical features, it's the nature that draws me to Murray's Mill Historic District.

The melodious chirping of birds, the graceful fluttering of butterflies, and the calming sound of the water create a symphony that always leaves me centered and grounded.

Have an Exercise at Southside Park

One of my favorite places to unwind is Southside Park in Newton.

It's much more than just a park, it's my sanctuary, my escape from the city's hustle and bustle.

I've been visiting this park for years, and it's also my favorite running spot.

There's a track that's just perfect for a quick jog or an intense sprint session.

A lap around the park equates to a mile, which is great for keeping track of your workout.

Southside Park isn't just for runners though, it's also the perfect spot for a day out with the family.

The park is very well maintained, with plenty of picnic tables for a weekend lunch in the sun.

If you're into sports, you'll be glad to know the park has a volleyball court, a soccer field, and even a tennis court.

It's the perfect place to get active and enjoy the day.

But Southside Park isn't just about fun and games.

There have been times when the park has been affected by extreme weather.

I remember in June 2019, there was major flooding which disrupted many of the park's amenities.

One thing that's worth mentioning though is the playground.

While it provides a fun space for children, it could use some updates with safety in mind.

During one of our visits, my kids pointed out that there were several open spots on the climbing area leading up to the slides with no handles, creating a potential falling hazard.

I even had an instance where one of the handles broke and I had to fix it myself.

As a parent, I hope the city addresses this issue soon to make the playground safer for our little ones.

Final Thoughts

In the end, this list barely scratches the surface of all there is to see and do in Hickory, North Carolina.

Hickory is a city that's steeped in history, filled with natural beauty, and buzzing with vibrant culture and life.

It's a place that I am proud to call home, and I'm sure that anyone who visits will leave with a little piece of Hickory in their heart.

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