A trip to Rocky Mount, North Carolina is a guaranteed rollicking good time. It’s located in the Eastern part of the Tarheel State in the Atlantic Coastal Plain. Some view this quaint NC Southern town as a pit stop of I-95, but there are so many more things to do in Rocky Mount than just drive by! A diverse abundance of attractions and activities is set in this charming hamlet, that is well worth a bit of exploration.
The scenic landscape makes for enjoyable outdoor adventures, and the arts community is alive and well here. Rocky Mount is only an hour from the capital city of Raleigh, making it one of the best day trips from the city.
There are several hip breweries and plenty of enticing eats to enjoy along the way as well. Get to know this gorgeous city with all of these amazing things to do in Rocky Mount, NC.
Best Things To Do In Rocky Mount
Rocky Mount Mills
- Address: 1151 Falls Rd (GPS)
Set along the stunning Tar River, the Rocky Mount Mills are an iconic fixture within the town. It’s a historic setting that was once a cotton mill and has since been repurposed into a residential, commercial, and cultural center. Often considered one of the coolest things to do in Rocky Mount this 82-acre campus, notably serves as a brewery incubator to help new brewers get set up and hone their craft (beer).
There are plenty of local dining spots to try as well as cozy cafes to spend some time in. We highly recommend Books and Beans for reading, relaxing, and a refuel of delicious java.
If you need a place to stay, the adorable tiny house hotel, River & Twine, should be at the top of your list. They host many events here, with an abundance of outdoor gathering space around.
The Imperial Centre for the Arts and Sciences
- Address: 270 Gay St (GPS)
Right in the middle of downtown Rocky Mount is the Imperial Centre for the Arts and Sciences. It’s one of the most renowned cultural centers around, and has been for over 50 years.
It’s home to a community performing arts theater and an arts education space. Both host exhibitions and shows throughout the year, and there’s always something exciting on view to enjoy.
Take a workshop to learn how to make a masterpiece, discover innovative works on art and technology, or take in a Broadway-worthy comedy, drama, or musical. There is also a children’s museum and planetarium here, both are fun for all ages. Learn more about the history and native nature of Rocky Mount with interactive installations like the Secrets of Bees or the Birth of Planet Earth.
Rocky Mount City Lake and Park
- Address: City Lake (GPS)
City Lake is a beloved landmark of Rocky Mount. This is where you’ll find picturesque scenery and a serene way to unwind in the city on the half mile loop around the sparkling waters. It’s a beautiful place to pack a picnic – we love to get our provisions from the sandwich shop NABS on Main Street or Smith’s Red and White Country Market.
The path is paved, and the landscape is forested with hardwoods and pines. Many bring food to give to the abundant waterfowl here as well.
There is so much beauty to explore with a pier, a gazebo, outdoor sculptures, and a bridge out to a small island, while a fountain sits in the middle and is a stunning sight to see day or night.
Rocky Mount Farmers Market
- Address: 1006 Peachtree St (GPS)
- Hours: Tuesday: 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm, Saturday: 8:00 am – 1:00 pm
The farmers market in Rocky Mount may be small, but it’s packed with high quality goods to go home with. Hosted every Saturday morning in the historic district and offering fresh produce, head here to support local farms and artisans.
Much of the community gathers here to browse or buy, and it’s such a warm and friendly atmosphere. This is a great place to get a sense of the real spirit and Southern hospitality in Rocky Mount.
Tar River Flea Market
- Address: 1820 S Wesleyan Blvd (GPS)
- Hours: Friday – Sunday: 9:00 am -5:00 pm, Closed: Tuesday – Thursday, Monday
This flea market is a special place in the city and not your average shopping spot, but an expansive indoor and outdoor area where you can buy, sell, or trade all kinds of things. There is a wide range of hidden gems to be found here, both new and vintage.
There are collectibles, memorabilia, fresh produce, music, jewelry, technology, books, furniture, antiques, toys, and even a snack bar if you need a bite. It’s such a fun way to spend a day searching for that perfect souvenir. There are over 200 vendors spread out over 15 acres. It’s one of the most unique things to do in Rocky Mount.
Enjoy the Restaurants
There are some absolutely incredible eats in Rocky Mount. It might not be the first place you think of for fine dining in North Carolina, but they have everything from classic comfort foods to gourmet grub. The Tipsy Tomato offers elevated pizza pies that are baked in a wood fired oven.
The atmosphere is cute and casual, and the traditional Italian fares are fantastic. Make your own with their list of extensive fresh ingredients or order one of their creative concoctions.
Tap@1918 is a favorite of locals and visitors alike. They’re a modern gastropub cooking up Southern dishes with a fancy twist while using beloved low country ingredients. It’s set in a century-old restored cotton mill home, both rustic and refined. Everything is made from scratch and all the smoking, brining, pickling, and curing, is done in-house. Every plate is perfect, from the Duck Leg Jambalaya to the Pork Belly Curry.
- Address: 1331 Stone Wall Lane (GPS)
Stonewall Manor is a historic home from the antebellum era of Southern America, and a fascinating attraction for any and all history buffs. Famous for its stunning scenery and architecture, you can head here to learn about the heritage of the area and what life may have been like on a farm in the 19th century. Visit the grounds any time or get a guided tour by appointment.
Its name comes from the heavy granite wall surrounding the estate, set on the banks of the Tar River, in 1830 was used as a plantation. The scale and sophistication at Stonewall Manor create an elegant example of this era and it’s now on the National Register of Historic Places.
Bel Air Arts Center
- Address: 115 S Church St (GPS)
- Hours: Tuesday – Friday: 11:00 am-4:00 pm, Saturday: 10:00 am – 3:00 pm, Closed: Sunday & Monday
The Bel Air Arts Center is set in a historic building that was constructed in 1924. A large gallery here exhibits an array of local works made in many mediums, from paintings to sculptures to jewelry. Many of the beautiful pieces are available for purchase as well.
There are several working studios where you can observe the process of art creation. It also offers a space for yoga, in case you need to do some centering and stretching on your trip. Bel Air Arts Center is a wonderful place to appreciate the creative culture and thriving community of art in Rocky Mount.
Drink at the Breweries
Several fantastic North Carolina breweries are making some of the best beers in the state in Rocky Mount. HopFly Brewing strives to offer a stress-free experience for relaxing and unwinding in the city. Consistent quality is the name of the game here, with always innovative and delicious drafts.
It’s a chic industrial atmosphere, and as the name implies, it helps to be a big fan of hops with mostly IPAs dominating their taps. The Jalapeno Saison is a notable exception, and our favorite pour was the Flower Tops IPA.
Koi Pond Brewing Company, affectionately called the pond by those in the know, was the first creative craft brewery in Rocky Mount and they focus on making mostly Belgian beers. They often utilize local ingredients to celebrate the culture of the city. There is plenty of gorgeous outdoor space for gathering with friends, even furry ones, and sipping some cold pints in the Carolina sunshine.
The Event Center
- Address: 285 NE Main St (GPS)
For a day full of festive fun, the Event Center really does have it all. There’s something for all ages and interests here. Inside Game Day Adventure and Arcade offers a state-of-the-art video games center. There are new and classic games to play, as well as a climbing area, an aerial ropes course, and a ball city soft play area for the little ones.
They host many events and private parties here as well. The Event Center puts on sports games and concerts, so be sure to check their schedule to see what exciting endeavor is on deck next. There are eight basketball courts and sixteen volleyball courts for many elaborate tournaments. It’s an expansive multipurpose facility that acts as a hub for community activity in the area and is set in the heart of downtown Rocky Mount.
Take the kids to Sunset Park
- Address: 1550 River Dr (GPS)
- Hours: 1:00pm -7:00 pm
Sunset Park is the perfect place for outdoor adventure, and one of the best things to do in Rocky Mount with kids. There’s a splash park for the summer months when that North Carolina heat creeps in as well as a charming carousel and train to ride around the area. Expect to find a a playground, basketball courts, tennis courts, and a skate park, so pick your pastime and get to playing.
The disc golf course is very popular here, odds are there will be a game going on to join if you stop by. It’s more akin to a mini amusement park than anything else and offers endless possibilities for fun all with a beautiful backdrop of the lovely local landscape.
Stroll Through Battle Park
Battle Park is the best spot in Rocky Mount for a scenic stroll filled with history. There are plenty of wooded trails to trek, offering stunning vistas of the Tar River. Its main claim to fame is a cemetery that dates back to the Civil War and is where you can learn about that period of American conflict. The name even comes from a battle fought on the grounds in 1863.
There’s plenty of shaded space here, so it’s ideal for hikers and bikers. It’s also known as the site for Rocky Mount’s first ever post office and theater.
Battle Park is also home to the rocky mounds that gave this quaint city its name originally, so see if you can spot them.
As you can see, there’s plenty to love about Battle Park. At present, it houses one of the largest wooden suspension bridges in the United States.
Hike the Tar River Trail
The Tar River Trail is almost four miles long and follows alongside with the spectacular waterway it’s named after. It goes from Sunset Park to Battle Park to MLK Jr. Park, offering several historic landmarks on the way.
The boardwalk covers a section of the trail that goes over some stunning marshland, so we recommend taking breaks to wade in the water and cool off from your journey. Keep your eyes out for spotting local wildlife here.
It also provides access to the 20-mile section of the river and Stoney Creek that allows kayaking and canoeing. Tar River Life is a wonderful local outfitter that can help you plan your wet and wild adventure and rent any equipment you may need. Like the pros, you can even enjoy a guided tour and learn how to paddle in Rocky Mount.
There are ten different access points for launching your vessel of choice. Try tubing as well, a popular pick for many visitors to the area.
Rocky Mount Reservoir
Another great way to get out on the water while in Rocky Mount is head to the Rocky Mount Reservoir. There’s opportunities for boating, fishing, and other water sports like water skiing and wakeboarding.
Sitting at an elevation of 100 feet, this expansive body of water covers an area of 1,800 acres. It boasts a considerable depth of 25 feet and is a fundamental lowland reservoir formed by impounding the waters of the Tar River and its tributary, Saponi Creek.
It often boasts ideal conditions for enjoying a day out on the clear, sparkling waters. For any amateur or expert anglers, the most common fish caught here are largemouth bass, black crappie, channel catfish, and American shad. It’s best to bring all your own supplies for reeling in your catches here and there are several launch ramps for pleasure boats, pontoons, and fishing boats.
There are nearby primitive campgrounds to rent as well if you want to embrace the wilderness and stay overnight, some even include platforms.
- Address: 13734 US Hwy 64 Alt W (GPS)
- Hours: Friday and Saturday 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Open on Fridays and Saturday nights only, one of the best things to do in Rocky Mount with the family is head to a roller skating rink! What you didn’t think all those were closed down now, did you? Even in today’s modern era, Sky-Vue Skateland continues to seek opportunities to enjoy safe, wholesome, and fun moments with our family and friends.
Sky-Vue Skateland has been proudly offering recreational experiences to the Rocky Mount, community since 1958! If it’s a rainy day, or you are looking for an attraction the kids will love, don’t hesitate to head here.
Best Things To Do In Rocky Mount Map
Plan For Your Trip to the South!
- We like to use VRBO when searching for vacation apartment rentals and Booking.com when searching for hotels.
- See our favorite cooler for the road!
- Get Around: We suggest renting a car for traveling the Carolinas. Check Prices on RentalCars.com
- Our Favorite Travel Shoes: Our answer to this question is always Allbirds.
- Check out our favorite North Carolina Souvenir!
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