28 BEST Things to Do in Morganton, North Carolina

Searching for your next vacation in the NC mountains can be daunting and exhausting. But don’t worry, the perfect place in North Carolina is just waiting for you to be discovered. In Burke County, you will find the beautiful and peaceful city of Morganton, one of the best mountain towns in North Carolina. The city is in the Catawba River valley, in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.

Feel the nostalgic ambiance in this city and explore its beautiful scenic spots. Surround yourself with nature enjoy what the city of Morganton offers. Here are all the best things to do in Morganton, North Carolina.

The Best Things to Do in Morganton

Learn About the Past at the History Museum of Burke County

Burke County's History of Museum
Image by Burke County’s History of Museum / Best Things to Do in Morganton
  • Address: 201 W Meeting St, Morganton (GPS)
  • Hours: Tuesday – Friday: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm, Saturday: 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
    Sunday – Monday: Closed
  • Cost of Admission: Free.

Learning about any new place’s history deepens your connection with the place and its people. Things are just so much more interesting when you know the who, what and why! 

In Morganton, you can learn everything there is to know about the city and the rest of Burke County with a visit to the History Museum of Burke County. This spacious facility was started back in 2003 to draw interest to the fascinating history and culture of the region. Since that time, numerous artifacts, pictures and documents have been collected, preserved and exhibited for both residents and visitors to enjoy. 

You’ll need to put a bit of extra time aside to go through everything that’s displayed in the galleries on both floors because there’s a lot to take in! Admission to the museum is free of charge, and it’s open every day except Sunday and Monday.

Wine Tasting at Silver Fork Winery

Silver Fork Winery
Image by Silver Fork Winery
  • Address: 5000 State Rd 1133, Morganton (GPS)
  • Hours: Friday – Sunday: 12:00 pm -5:00, Monday – Thursday: Closed

When it comes to wineries in Morganton, Silver Fork Winery stands out from the rest with a selection of fine wines made with fresh, local ingredients. Sip on a glass of wine or enjoy a wine flight to sample a variety of the winery’s offerings. There are many delightful wines to choose from, but best try their Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc, their best wines.

You can enjoy your selection in a cozy, beautifully-decorated tasting room or on the outdoor patio when the weather allows. Live music is also hosted from time to time.

16 BEST North Carolina Wineries and Vineyards

Travel Back in Time to the Old Burke County Courthouse

the best things to do in morganton
  • Address: 201 S Green St, Morganton (GPS)
  • Hours: Monday – Friday: 8:00 am -5:00 pm, Saturday – Sunday: Closed

Constructed in the 1830s, the Old Burke County Courthouse is a historic landmark in Morganton that’s worth a visit just to admire the beautiful architecture. The two-story building features a striking clock tower and is surrounded by several memorials and pretty gardens. 

A visit to this old courthouse is a great way to spend an afternoon and a great way to step into Morganton’s past and get an idea of what things were like in those days.

 Sip a Cold One at the Catawba Brewing Company

Catawba Brewing Company

Morganton is only a small city but it has its fair share of watering holes including a selection of breweries. Catawba Brewing Company is one of the popular hang-out spots where locals and visitors mingle under one roof and over fine craft beer. One of the best things to do in Morganton is enjoy a cold one here.

Whether you enjoy white ales or IPAs, there’s something for you at this North Carolina brewery. If you like some grub with your beverages, a food truck is on-site and offers a variety of delicious options. Even the décor here is delightful so you can relax with good company in cozy surroundings. The brewery is open seven days a week. 

Explore the Beautiful Catawba Meadows Park

Catawba Meadows Park
Image by Morganton Parks & Recreation / Best Things to Do in Morganton
  • Address: 701 Sanford Dr, Morganton (GPS)
  • Hours: Monday – Friday: 8:00 am – 8:00 pm

The beautiful Catawba Meadows Park offers different outdoor activities perfect for those that want a day outside. The park is 230 acres wide and has a wide range of amenities to be enjoyed by friends and families. Enjoy the golf course, play softball or baseball, volleyball, zip line, and soccer.

The park also has 2.5 miles of walking space. Aside from playing sports, families can enjoy a great picnic here, and it also offers a playground for children with swings, ladders, and balance along the rock wall.

Taste the Finest Apples at Apple Hill Orchard and Cider Mill

Apple Hill Orchard & Cider Mill 
Image by Apple Hill Orchard & Cider Mill / Best Things to Do in Morgantonlina
  • Address: 2075 Pleasant Hill Ave, Morganton (GPS)
  • Hours: Monday – Saturday: 9:00 am -6:00 pm, Closed: Sunday

The Apple Hill Orchard & Cider Mill started its journey to what it is today back in 1955 when Harley Sr. purchased it and started the transformation to a beautiful orchard where visitors can pick fresh apples and peaches.  

After you work hard picking that delicious fruit, be sure to check out the bakery where you can purchase some delicious baked goods including bread and pies. 

20 Amazing Apple Orchards in North Carolina (NC Apple Picking)

Zipline Adventures at Beanstalk Ziplines 

Beanstalk Ziplines 
Image by Beanstalk Ziplines
  • Address: 701 Sanford Dr, Morganton (GPS)
  • Hours: Saturday – Sunday: 9:00 am – 3:00 pm, Closed: Monday – Friday
  • Cost of Admission: Per adventure ticket prices, check here.

While Morganton is mostly a laid-back place to vacation, there’s no shortage of heart-pounding adventures to embark on! One of those adventures is soaring high over lush forest canopy at top speeds.  

I’m talking ziplining, of course, and at Beanstalk Ziplines, there’s a variety of exciting adventures to embark on including the thrilling zipline courses. On-site, you’ll also find some challenging rope courses that pass through tree houses and several swaying bridges.  

You don’t have to be in tip-top shape to participate because there are easy levels along with harder ones so you can choose which one is best for you. 

Try Something New and Different at Stidham’s Axe Throwing & Lounge

ax throwing morganton

If you’re looking for something really unique to do during your visit to Morganton, Stidham’s Ave Throwing & Lounge is the place to head to. And yes, as the name suggests, there’s axe throwing and it’s an underrated sport that you’ll fall in love with if you have any stress or frustrations you want to let go of!  

All ages and skill levels are invited to try their hands at throwing an axe at a target so even if you’ve never done this before, you don’t need to worry because the friendly and professional staff are experts who will safely guide you.

On-site, you’ll also find some outdoor games, an arcade, billiards tables and a lounge where you can enjoy some post-axe-throwing refreshments. Karaoke nights are hosted once a week.

Get a Ceramic Gift from Hamilton Williams Gallery and Studio

Hamilton Williams Gallery and Studio
Image by Hamilton Williams Gallery and Studio
  • Address: 403 E Union St, Morganton (GPS)
  • Hours: Tuesday – Friday: 10:00 am -6:00 pm, Saturday: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm,
    Closed: Sunday & Monday

One of the fantastic things to do while in North Carolina is to check out the beautiful handmade ceramic made by Hamilton William from the Hamilton Williams Gallery and Studio. Hamilton has created contemporary crafts out of clay for more than seven years.

If you wish to visit the studio, you can find unique handmade pieces like pots, bowls, jewelry, fiber, and metal. The store is located in Morganton and is easy to spot for its glass wood framed by redwood. Make sure to stop by and check out these fantastic pieces.

Enjoy a Delicious Meal at Treat

At Treat, there’s something for everyone! Enjoy a casual, relaxing environment and friendly service as you dine on both modern and traditional dishes. Pasta dishes, burgers, salads, empanadas and soups are just some of the options available on the menu and yes, there are also options for guests with special dietary needs. 

Enjoy a beverage with your meal from the extensive beer and cocktail menu.

Morganton Farmers Market

Morganton Farmers Market
  • Address: 300 Beach St, Morganton (GPS)
  • Hours: Saturday: 8:00 am -12:00 pm

On a summer weekend day, one of the best things to do in Morganton is head to the Farmers Market. You can find just about anything at this market including flowers, pottery, handmade soaps and lotions, fresh produce, jewelry, art, baked goods and crafts. It’s the perfect place to browse for souvenirs, a treat for yourself, or the perfect gift for someone back home. 

Shopping for us is a daily routine, and we ensure that we only get the freshest produce on the market. You need not worry if you want to go shopping in Morganton, for you might want to go shopping at Morganton Farmers Market. Morganton Farmers Market is located on Beach Street in Morganton and offers plenty to shoppers. This includes fresh and organic vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers. 

On-site, a kiosk sells coffee and live music is hosted so you have something to listen to while you browse. 

Learn History at the McDowell House

The McDowell House
Image by Captain Charles McDowell, Jr. House
  • Address: 119 St Marys Church Rd, Morganton (GPS)
  • Hours: Monday, Wednesday – Friday: 11:00 am – 3:00 pm,
    Tuesday: 9:00 am- 1:00 pm
  • Admission fee: $5 per adult, 12 yrs and under free.

The historic McDowell House is a two-century-old house and one of the oldest buildings in North Carolina. The McDowell house is also called Quaker Meadows about Joseph McDowell, a historical figure whose family moved in the 1970s to that part of the Piedmont region.

The McDowell House became part of the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. With its Federal-style architecture and vernacular features, vacationing here is worth it and enjoyable for the whole family.

Enjoy A Meal at Abele’s Family Restaurant

  • Price: $
  • Cuisine: American
  • Address: 2115 S Sterling St, Morganton (GPS)
  • Website: See menu

At Abeles Family Restaurant, you can be sure that you can enjoy both the food and the ambiance. Located in Downtown Morganton, Abele’s Family Restaurant will accommodate your plans. They cater to breakfast, lunch, dinner, and any other special occasion you want to celebrate.

They can also accommodate up to 40 people for any specially booked parties and have an outdoor patio for a more intimate ambiance. Abele’s Family Restaurant will make sure that you do not just enjoy the food but your whole vacation in North Carolina.

Rock Climbing at Bigfoot Climbing Gym

Bigfoot Climbing Gym
Image by Bigfoot Climbing Gym / Best Things to Do in Morganton
  • Address: 212 Avery Ave, Morganton (GPS)
  • Hours: Monday – Thursday: 11:00 am -9:00 pm, Friday: 11:00 am – 8:00 pm,
    Saturday: 10:00 am – 8:00 pm, Sunday: 1:00 pm – 7:00 pm
  • Cost of Admission: For ticket information, click here.

Get that adrenaline pumping and rush at Bigfoot Climbing Gym. Bigfoot Climbing Gym can be found on Avery Avenue in Morganton and offers a variety of climbing experiences. Don’t hesitate to join, for they provide classes and meaningful experiences, especially if you are new to the sport.

Bigfoot Climbing gym has different rock angles for your family to choose from and enjoy climbing and is one of the best things to do in Morganton for the family. You will be in awe of their humungous structures, and their variety of routes ranging from easy to challenging.

Bigfoot Climbing Gym also offers a place for birthdays and hosts field trips for an excellent experience.

Ride a horse at Mimosa Hills Farm

Mimosa Hills Farm
Image by Mimosa Hills Farm / Best Things to Do in Morganton
  • Address: 671 Hopewell Rd, Morganton (GPS)
  • Hours: Monday -Sunday: 9:00 am to 7:30 pm

The area that borders Morganton is full of wide open space, foothills and pristine nature areas suitable for all types of outdoor activities. At the foothills, a multi-breed and professionally managed facility can be found.

Ted Crosby, a lifelong equestrian, owns the Mimosa Hills Farm and personally trained their horses. The Mimosa Hills Farm offers a variety of programs. This includes riding and driving lessons, summer horse camps, farm tours, boarding, and equine agent services. 

They also offer birthday parties and event hosting. Make sure to plan out a cowboy-themed birthday party for your kid. You don’t have to worry about your safety in riding horses because all of their staff are professionally trained and USEF professionals. The team will ensure you can enjoy and be safe while learning to ride a horse.

Score a valuable Item at Back Porch Antiques

Back Porch Antiques
Image by Back Porch Antiques / Best Things to Do in Morganton, North Carolina
  • Address: 1112 Carbon City Rd, Morganton (GPS)
  • Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 11:00 am -5:00 pm, Sunday – Monday: Closed

Are you one of these people who loves to have second-hand items? Be sure not to roam afar, for Morganton has the best place for you. Back Porch Antiques is located at Carbon City Road, Morganton, and has a collection of impressive antiques.

There is plenty to choose from vintage items to retro-inspired and more kinds of stuff for your antique experience. What’s cool about this place is they offer laser etching services for pet tags and other wood products like your placemats. 

If you are at Back Porch Antiques, you will notice the eclectic mix of rare vendors you cannot see in your regular market. You can even enjoy a refreshing beverage from a classic Coca-Cola Machine.

Delve into the Water Trail at Catawba River Greenway

Catawba River Greenway
Walkway bridge across Catawba River Falls trail
  • Address: Catawba River Greenway (GPS)

Whether you want to catch up on your fitness routine or take a stroll in a peaceful area with views of the scenic Catawba River, The Catawba River Greenway is a great place to spend a morning or afternoon outdoors enjoying some fresh air. 

The well-maintained trail is almost seven kilometers long and is popular with runners, walkers and cyclists. Time spent here is time well spent away from the noise and crowds of the city and you can take your dog along too!

Choose a Drink from Brown Mountain Bottleworks

Brown Mountain Bottleworks
Image by Brown Mountain Bottleworks / Best Things to Do in Morganton
  • Cuisine: Beer store
  • Address: 115 E Union St #3447, Morganton(GPS)
  • Hours: Sunday: 2:00 pm -7:00 pm, Monday: 2:00 pm – 9:00 pm,
    Tuesday – Saturday: 12:00 pm – 10:00 pm

North Carolina is famous for its breweries, but this one is amazing. The Brown Mountain Bottleworks is located on Union St. and has quite a cozy ambiance, and is famous for its select and regional beers on tap. They also offer quite an extensive list of wines that can be paired with a snack or meal. 

Snap a photo at Morganton Murals

Morganton Murals
Image by Burke Arts Councils

Taking a picture is a sure way to store fond and memorable moments. And to highlight your activity on visiting Morganton, remember to pose for a photo at the beautiful murals of Morganton. The Morganton Murals are the newest project of the city.

Admire Local Art at West Union Art Studios

For a small NC city, there are many great artists in Morganton and you can see some of their work and even meet some of the artists with a visit to West Union Art Studios. This group studio doubles as a work area for local artists and a gallery to showcase their work to visitors who want to check it out. 

The doors are open to anyone who wants to see some beautiful artwork and learn more about the art scene in the city. While there, you may even get to watch some of the artists at work as they create paintings, pottery and more.

Hike the Fonta Flora State Trail

Lake James
Lake James

When the Fonta Flora State Trail is complete, it will be 62 miles long and will connect the towns of Morganton and Asheville. As of this writing, only 20 miles of the trail is ready for hiking and biking but that’s plenty of trail to enjoy! 

Along the way, you’ll see pretty views of the area and pass along parts of Lake James.  Heading out on this trail is a great way to get some fresh air and exercise and experience the more natural part of the city.

Check Out The Waldensian Museum 

The Waldensian Museum is located in the nearby town of Valdese and is where you’ll learn about the Waldenses. These Christians from northern Italy were persecuted for hundreds of years.  

Although some were executed, many managed to escape that fate and ended up in the Burke County region in the late 1800s. In this fascinating museum, you can relive their journey and learn about their lives before and after their arrival in North America.  

The exhibits feature many items including clothing, photos and tools so you get an idea of what their daily lives were like.

Take a Day Trip to the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area

Table Rock In North Carolina
Image by Patrick Mueller via Flickr

You’ll need to drive 45 minutes from Morganton to reach the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area, but the trip is worth it! This is another place that makes for a great day trip from the city and while you’re there, you’ll enjoy beautiful trails, spectacular views and must-see attractions including Linville Falls.  

This North Carolina waterfall can be accessed in two ways. The first way to get to the falls is via the Erwin View Trail which is less than two miles return. The second way is via the Plunge Basin Trail, also less than two miles long. 

This wilderness area is part of the Pisgah National Forest and has received protected status, so you’ll enjoy a pristine environment that’s about as untouched as you can get in the region. 

Guide to Visiting Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina

Catch a Live Show at the COMMA Performing Arts Center

COMMA Performing Arts Center

When in Morganton, a good thing to do is check the events’ schedule at the COMMA Performing Arts Center. You just never know, there might be something playing that you’ll really enjoy!  

Throughout the year the facility, also known as The City of Morganton Municipal Auditorium, hosts a variety of live performances including Broadway shows, dance performances, concerts, musicals, plays and more.

Take your place in one of the comfortable seats in the auditorium that features a state-of-the-art sound system and enjoy the show!

Spend a Day in South Mountains State Park

South Mountains State Park

If you don’t mind a little bit of a drive, South Mountains State Park is a place you should definitely check out. Situated about 30 minutes away from Morganton, it’s a perfect day trip destination from the city.  

Besides the spectacular scenery, the park is also home to the stunning 80-foot High Shoal Falls, many trails for hikers, horseback riders and cyclists and many picnic areas. As you explore the park, you’ll come across many scenic areas with forests, mountains and streams.

Visit the Piedmont & Western Railroad Museum

At the Piedmont & Western Railroad Museum, you’ll learn about the history of the railroad in the area and see many artifacts and photos related to that history. Some of the most fascinating items on display include models of a train depot, railway and motor car.

Explore Henry River Mill Village 

Henry River Mill Village 
photo courtesy of Henry River Mill Village

If you’ve ever watched The Hunger Games, the site of the Henry River Mill Village may be familiar to you. If you’ve never watched it, you don’t need to know the storyline to enjoy a visit to this historic place in nearby Hildebran because its story actually goes back to when it was a bustling mill town, long before it was used as a film location.  

You can see this area not far from Morganton, in the small town of Hickory. As you explore the grounds, you’ll get a feel for what it is like in those days and learn about the history of the village. Admission is $20 and includes a guided tour.

On-site, you’ll also find overnight accommodations and various events hosted throughout the year.

Head to McGalliard Falls

McGalliard Falls

Of all the parks in and around Morganton, McGalliard Falls in Valdese just might be the most beautiful of them all and is one of the best things to do in Morganton and in the entire area.

You only have to walk a short distance from the parking area to reach this spectacular natural wonder with water cascading 40 feet into a pool. This is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic surrounded by nature.

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About Natasha

Natasha moved to North Carolina for college years ago (but she's not trying to age herself here). Her days were spent reading a book on the beach and enjoying a cold glass of sweet tea in between classes at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Upon graduation, she met her partner, Cameron, and they traveled the world together crossing 85 countries and seven continents. After, many years of international travel they settled down a bit and launched Lost in the Carolinas to share their experiences about and travel tips on South Carolina and North Carolina.

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