The quaint Southern town of Fayetteville combines all the best things that the great state of North Carolina has to offer, such as food, culture, history, and nature. It’s widely known as a haven of hospitality and is an amazing place to learn, with working farms, gardens, monuments, and museums in abundance. There’s a plethora of things to do in Fayetteville for those visiting!
The North Carolina city scene seamlessly combines a contemporary character with a charmingly classic feel. It’s set on the stunning Cape Fear River, creating plenty of picturesque places to explore. Soak up all the local heritage by shopping in the unique downtown, taste testing the creative cuisines, and learning about its rich past. Below are all the best bucket list items of things to do in Fayetteville.
The Best Things To Do In Fayetteville
Stroll Through the Cape Fear Botanical Garden
For a serene escape from the city center, the Cape Fear Botanical Garden offers a relaxing refuge for a day wandering among the flora. This scenic space is a total of 77 acres and includes educational exhibits, themed gardens, and artistic displays.
You’ll find everything here from pristine wilderness to carefully manicured landscapes. It’s a treat for the eyes, with beautiful flowers blooming all year-round. They host live demonstrations about how to harvest different crops native to North Carolina at the restored farmhouse on-site.
- Address: 536 N. Eastern Blvd Fayetteville, NC 28301 ( GPS )
- Hours: Monday- Saturday : 10:00 am -5:00 pm, Sunday – 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Sandhills Family Heritage Center
We love to learn as much as possible when in a new place, and there’s no better place than this. Sandhills Family Heritage Center is an impressive educational institution in Fayetteville focusing on the history of African Americans in North Carolina.
Exhibitions focus on the experiences and accomplishments of this community. It first opened all the way back in 1951 as a space for Black youth in the area. It has some of the most interesting and in-depth displays on the topic in the entire country.
- Address: 255 Vass Rd, Spring Lake, NC 28390 ( GPS )
Lake Rim Park
Lake Rim is a popular park for spending a little time in nature in Fayetteville. It’s only a short 20 minute trip from downtown. It’s an idyllic way to spend the day with plenty of hiking trails through forests, fields, and wetlands. There are plenty of shady, grassy picnic spots to kick back with a snack.
All the facilities are first come first serve, such as the soccer and volleyball fields. Cool off from the strong Carolina sunshine with a quick dip in the shimmering lake. People love to head out on the waters here. Go for a paddle on a kayak trip around the lake or grab your reel and rod to do some fishing on a boat. Lake Rim Aquatic Center even offers some waterslides and a pool to play in.
- Address: 2214 Tar Kiln Drive Fayetteville, NC 28304 ( GPS )
- Hours: Monday- Sunday : 7:00 am – 9:00 pm
Walk the Heritage Trails
Often overlooked, there are actually a lot of cultural heritage trails around town. It’s a walking (or driving) tour back in time, and it’s so fun to see how many of these hidden gems you can hit while in the area. Both unique and beautiful, this is one of the best things to do in Fayetteville.
There are 750 miles of themed paths throughout the county, including the American Independence Trail and the Civil War Trail. One of our favorites is the International Cuisine Trail, which goes through all kinds of global fares from Italian to Mexican. It’s a great way to get some special photo ops in the city as well.
Fayetteville Rose Garden
Be sure to stop and smell the roses in Fayetteville – literally! The landscape here is covered with enchanting blooms in all colors and sizes. It’s a magical space that has been around since 1970, complete with fountains, stone benches, and gazebos. Stroll the paths and get lost in the beauty here.
The best time of year to go is April to November. You can take a guided tour with an expert horticulturist to learn more about all the captivating flora. There are over 1,000 plant species inside, full of bright colors and intoxicating scents. It’s located on the Fayetteville Technical Community College campus.
- Address: 2201 Hull Rd, Fayetteville, NC 28303, ( GPS )
- Hours: Open 24 hours
1897 Poe House
Edgar Allen Poe actually lived in Fayetteville, but not the famous author that most are familiar with. He was a well-known businessman in the area who worked in brick making and still has a legacy in the city in the form of an impressive estate.
On-site there’s a museum about what life was like in North Carolina back in that bygone era. The historic home is filled with memorabilia and antique furniture preserved from the 20th century. It’s an integral part of the Cape Fear Historical Complex.
- Address: 206 Bradford Ave, Fayetteville, NC 28305 ( GPS )
- Hours: Tuesday-Friday : 11:00 am – 5:00 pm, Saturday :10:00 am -4:00 pm , Sunday : 1:00 pm -4:00 pm
Try the Fayetteville Restaurants
One of the best things to do in Fayetteville is enjoy a night out at the restaurants. Luigi’s Italian Chophouse and Bar has been a long-standing institution in the cuisine scene of this city. It opened in the 1950s and many dishes are still made from family recipes that have been passed down over generations. It’s an upscale eatery known for dry-aged steaks and its wine list that has over 300 varietals.
Fowler’s Southern Gourmet started as a food truck many moons ago and is now a beloved brick and mortar. Everything is made from scratch on-site right down to the ketchup. They focus on refined takes of Southern culinary classics in the form of North Carolina barbecue.
Blue Moon Cafe is a hip setting offering a variety of healthy and tasty fares in Fayetteville. Art and music are a big part of the space here and we love to stop by for a shareable brunch board on the weekends, as well as for a light lunch when running around town.
Sweet Tea Shakespeare
Sweet Tea Shakespeare is a local performance group brings to life some of the greatest literary works ever right on stage here in Fayetteville. They work to recreate shows the way that they would have been in the time that these beloved plays were written.
This means there are many traditional methods used, like doubling and universal lighting. It’s an important part of the Fayetteville arts scene and a wonderful way to enjoy an engaging, high-quality, drama-filled production.
- Address: 206 Bradford Ave, Fayetteville, NC 28305 ( GPS )
- Hours: 4:00 pm -10:00 pm
walk Downtown Fayetteville
Fayetteville has a charming and happening downtown area. Hay Street is the main drag, full of cute cafes and unique boutiques. It offers specialty shops galore that make for one great day of browsing. Pop into Turner Lane to find that perfect local handmade souvenir. City Center and Gallery Books have one of the most well curated collections of reads around.
Pressed has a bit of everything, and each item is adorable, from the home decor to the clothing to the accessories. One of the coolest spots, especially if you love candles as we do, is the Hummingbird Candle Co. where you can make your own or simply buy one of their divine creations.
Visit Carter Blueberry Farm
Picking fruit is a time honored pastime in the state of North Carolina. Fayetteville is known as a strong farming community, and what better way to embrace the true spirit of the area than by visiting a real live working farm to search for your own fresh produce.
Bright colorful berries cover the landscape here, grown by the two hands of Mama and Papa Carter. It’s one of the agricultural highlights of the city, and a great way to get outside in the summer, explore nature, and enjoy a tasty snack all at the same time.
- Address: 4120 Clinton Rd, Fayetteville, NC 28312 ( GPS )
- Hours: 7:00 am – 12: 00 pm
- Cost of Admission: $1.7 per lb , 10% off for Military and First Responders
Cape Fear River Trail
One of the best ways to soak up the stunning surroundings of the flowing Cape Fear River is trekking the trail of the same name. The natural path is plenty wide, so there’s room for everyone to hike it or bike it. It’s even a designated part of the East Coast Greenway. It’s also the only river in North Carolina that goes directly into the ocean.
There’s a lot of native wildlife that lives in the area, including over 150 species of birds. There are information signs about the flora and fauna along the way. Quite a long journey, it’s 10 miles out and back so be sure to prepare accordingly with water, snacks, sunscreen, and good walking shoes.
Have a Drink at the Breweries
Bright Light Brewing Company is a laid back neighborhood joint and a great brewery in North Carolina. They have an array of flagship and seasonal taps to try and food trucks on-site. There is often live music outside on the lawn, and it’s a fun and relaxed environment to kick back with a cold one. Mash House Brewery uses traditional methods to make old world beers on-site.
They are serving up some incredible fares to pair with these pints as well. It’s casual gourmet fusion food using all local ingredients. The Hoppy Hour IPA is one of many standout drafts here.
Huske Hardware House Brewery aims to make flavorful and drinkable beer using scientific principles and passion. It’s Fayetteville’s oldest brewery set in a renovated hardware store building, hence the name, that’s over a century old. The ambiance is rustic and warm, with the state-of-the-art stainless steel system right at the heart of the space, so you can watch the grain to glass magic happen before your eyes.
Cameo Art House Theater
Cameo Art House Theater is an alternative experience for moviegoers and cinephiles, as well as an architectural marvel. In recent years it has been restored to its former glory, back when it first opened in the 1920s. They play art house films, as the name suggests, alongside bigger blockbuster pictures as well.
It feels like a step back in time to the original era of movies. They also host amazing concerts occasionally, for a full entertainment venue experience. You can even indulge in some fine local gourmet snacks from the concession stand, like Chad’s Carolina Corn and Bissinger’s Handcrafted Chocolates.
- Address: 225 Hay Street Fayetteville NC 28301 ( GPS )
Stop in Leclair’s General Store
Leclair’s is often talked about as an impossibly cool destination in Fayetteville. It’s a must visit in town that deserves to be on any itinerary. They have one-of-a-kind wares for collectors, vintage lovers, and oddity aficionados.
It’s an Americana haven, where you can get cozy and relax or endlessly browse the specialty goods. They offer a carefully curated beverage list, with wines, beers, and cold brew along with freshly baked pastries. It’s like walking into a real life Etsy store, and it’s all around adorable.
- Address: 1212 Fort Bragg Rd, Fayetteville, NC 28305 ( GPS )
- Hours: Monday – Saturday : 8:00 am – 7:00 pm, Sunday: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Market House is considered a focal point of Fayetteville. It’s one of just 50 national landmarks in North Carolina. Its location was where the historic State House once stood, where the constitution was ratified until it burned down in the Great Fire of 1831. It’s an exciting example of the architecture of the time.
On the upper level, there is a small museum that has interesting displays about the cultural heritage of the city. When originally built it was used for both town halls and as a market to buy everyday goods in the city.
- Address: Gillespie St, Fayetteville, NC 28301, (GPS)
- Hours: 24 hours
Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum
The Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum is a small, but super cool museum, is set in a restored and once functional railroad depot from 1890. It provides a peek into the past of the city that was a prominent trading post at a time. Two floors are filled with artifacts collected from hundreds of years ago through to the early 20th century.
It has interactive exhibits such as a model train room, steam pump engine, vintage cars, and even a retro gas station. There is so much to learn about this little hamlet whether you’re a history buff or not, and exploring this museum is a great way to do it.
- Address: 325 Franklin St, Fayetteville, NC 28301 ( GPS )
- Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10:00 am- 4:00 pm; Closed: Sunday and Monday
ZipQuest is a place for the thrill seekers, and easily one of the most fun and unique things to do in Fayetteville! It’s a waterfall and treetop adventure park and the best zipline facility in the entire state. Soar high over a giant scenic cascade and fly through the sky among the tall, towering forest.
For the real daredevils, there is also NightQuest, gliding above the landscape with helmets all aglow under the starry night sky. The Swing Shot is one of the best attractions here, which sends you flying with a shock seven stories over Carver’s Creek. It’s super safe and entirely exhilarating. You’re sure to walk away with some amazing photos of this experience as well.
Address: 533 Carvers Falls Rd, Fayetteville, NC 28311 ( GPS )
Hours: Monday – Friday : 9: 00 am -5:00 pm