Kannapolis Train Station Mural Downtown

23+ Great Things to do in Kannapolis NC

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Kannapolis, NC, is a highly underrated town northeast of Charlotte in Cabarrus & Rowan County. Kannapolis makes for a great weekend trip, a family vacation, or just a simple day trip from Charlotte. The mid-sized town has more activities and things to see than you could imagine!

Kannapolis was founded in 1906 by Cannon Mills, the world’s largest producer of sheets and towels. Through the 20th century, Kannapolis was a bustling city until the textile industry collapsed between 1973 and 1996. The city lost much of its muse until the mid-2000s. 

It has taken some time, but Kannapolis has very recently become completely revitalized and filled with life. Downtown buildings have been renovated and filled with new shops, and the town’s parks and outdoor activities get better and better every day. 

The new Kannapolis is lovely and walkable and has so much to do! The town features many historical sites and attractions, lots of new and exciting restaurants, and of course, many nods to the auto racing industry in North Carolina. The selection of activities is quite impressive. Let’s dive into the things to do in Kannapolis.

Where is Kannapolis, NC?

Kannapolis is in central North Carolina, thirty minutes northeast of Charlotte’s city center and just 15 minutes northwest of Concord. Other cities nearby include Salisbury, Mooresville, Cornelius, and Huntersville

Things to do in Kannapolis NC

If you are thinking about spending one day or three in Kannapolis, you may want to check out this guide to help you through the vibrant city. We have all the best activities, places to go, restaurants, and more. 

1. Explore Downtown Kannapolis

Very recently, in the past few years, Kannapolis’s downtown has been completely revitalized and energized. What was once a drab place to walk around has become an inviting and exciting area to explore.

Dozens of new shops, family activities, fantastic restaurants,  pedestrian-friendly areas, and more have recreated Kannapolis’s downtown into what it is today. You must explore it yourself! 

Kannapolis Train Station Mural Downtown

📌 Gem Theatre
Address: 111 W 1st St, Kannapolis, NC 28081

The Gem Theatre is one of Kannapolis’s gems and a must-see on any trip to the town. The single-screen theater was built in 1948 with nearly one thousand seats, including balcony seating (one of the few theaters left that do so). The Gem Theatre is also one of the oldest single-screen movie theaters running today. 

You can catch any of the newest film releases and sit in the beautiful historical building while munching on delicious snacks and drinks. It is a marvelous and unique experience. 

Gem Theatre

📌 Atrium Health Ballpark | Kannapolis Cannon Ballers
Address: 1 Cannon Baller Way, Kannapolis, NC 28081

Atrium Health Ballpark is a 4,700-seat stadium, home to the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers, a Single-A minor league baseball team. Catch a game or visit daily and bring the kids to play on the playground. 

Atrium Health Ballpark

📌 The Shops on West Ave.
Address: Downtown Kannapolis

West Ave is a beautiful street in downtown Kannapolis. The street is the first social district of Kannapolis, and the shops are the leaders of change for the small town. There are dozens of boutique shops, hip restaurants, bars, duckpin bowling, a coffee shop and more. 

West Ave Shops

📌 Chophouse 101
Address: 101 West Ave, Kannapolis, NC 28081

Chophouse 101 is the first full-service restaurant in downtown Kannapolis since the revitalization of the area. They have a variety of culinary delights such as chops, seafood dishes, burgers, salads, and more. 

Chophouse 101

📌 James’ Sweet Spot
Address: 133 West Ave, Kannapolis, NC 28081

Let your inner child shine at James’ Sweet Spot! They have the yummiest selection of candy (both current and nostalgic options) and other sweet treats, along with board games and puzzles. 

Candy Shop

📌 Old Armor Beer Company
Address: 211 West Ave, Kannapolis, NC 28081

Old Armor Beer Company is owned and operated by veterans who have fought hard for the country and now have settled down to serve delicious beers. 

Old Armor Beer Company

📌 Tipsy Hare Ciderworks
Address: 211 West Ave, Kannapolis, NC 28081

The 2nd cidery to open in the greater Charlotte area. They serve great fresh ciders, feature guest taps, and can often be found at the Kannapolis farmers market on Saturdays. 

Tipsey hare Ciderworks

📌 Editions – Coffee and Bookstore
Address: 217 S Main St, Kannapolis, NC 28081

The idea for Editions is simple- a place where book lovers could drink great coffee and read and talk about good books. The store is cozy, has a great selection, and smells divine right when you walk through the door. 

Editions Coffee and Books

📌 The Spice & Tea Exchange 
Address: 102 S Main St, Kannapolis, NC 28081

One of the cutest and best-smelling shops in downtown Kannapolis is the Spice & Tea Exchange. This store has a huge variety of loose-leaf teas, handcrafted spices, sugars, and so much more. There are over 85 handcrafted seasonings that they mix in-store daily. 

Spice & Tea Shop

📌 Veterans Park
Address: 119 N Main St, Kannapolis, NC 28081

A 90-acre park with brick walkways, concert/event space, a playground, and grassy lawns. The park also features the Ring of Honor, a granite wall displaying over 1,700 names of veterans from Rowan and Cabarrus counties. 

Veterans Park

📌 Dale Earnhardt Tribute Plaza | The Dale Trail
Address: 109 West A St, Kannapolis, NC 28081

A tribute to the late great Dale Earnhardt in a 9-foot, 900-pound bronze statue. This NASCAR legend was born in Kannapolis in 1951. The plaza has branches and symbolic details representing Earnhardt’s championships.

Dale Earnhardt Statue

📌 Kannapolis Farmers Market 
Address: 401 Laureate Way, Kannapolis, NC 28081

Kannapolis Farmers Market is open seasonally from May-September. Every Thursday and Saturday, vendors gather to sell fresh, local produce, homemade foods, baked goods, treats, and more. 

📌 Kannapolis Train Station
Address: 201 S Main St, Kannapolis, NC 28081

Kannapolis Train Station is the Amtrak train station within walking distance of Atrium Ballpark and the North Carolina Research Campus. The station serves eight trains a day that goes to Charlotte and Raleigh

Amtrack Station in Downtown Kannapolis

2. Village Park

Address: 700 W C St, Kannapolis, NC 28081

Kannapolis’s Village Park is one of the most exciting parks for children in the area.

Discover of Health Statue at Village Park

Activities include a rotary express train that runs on weekends, a splash pad open on summer weekends, and a charming carousel that has over 1,800 lights. Village Park also has the county’s largest amphitheater, where many special events are held. 

Amphitheater at Village Park

3. Curb Motorsports Museum for Music & Motorsports

Address: 600 Dale Earnhardt Blvd, Kannapolis, NC 28081

A museum reflecting owner Mike Curb’s passions: music and auto racing. Visitors can gaze upon 700 wall displays that share tributes to racing and music history, along with fascinating car displays and historical information. 

Curb Museum Entrance

4. North Carolina Music Hall of Fame

Address: 600 Dale Earnhardt Blvd, Kannapolis, NC 28081

The North Carolina Music Hall of Fame is another must-see on your trip to Kannapolis or the Charlotte area. The museum is a non-profit dedicated to honoring musicians who have strong ties with North Carolina. You’ll find interactive exhibits, live events, and more throughout the museum; make sure to add this to your things to do in Kannapolis.

Music Hall of Fame

5. Baker’s Creek Park

Address: 1275 W A St, Kannapolis, NC 28081

A 40-acre park that welcomes families and pets. There are walking paths, a playground, sports courts, mini golf, picnic areas, and grills. 

Bakers Creek Park Playground

6. Loop the Loop

Address: 401 Laureate Way, Kannapolis, NC 

Loop the Loop is a fun, interactive way to track the distance you bike, walk, or run. Routes are set up around the city with designated colors. As part of an initiative between Kannapolis and Cabarrus County, you can even win prizes for achieving mileage goals for both yourself or your dog.

Loop-the-Loop Sign

7. Skateland

Address: 311 Brookdale St, Kannapolis, NC 28083

Skateland is Kannapolis’s premier indoor roller skating rink that has been serving the community since 1974. The 1700-foot ring welcomes skaters of all ages, and after a good skate, visitors can get food from the concession stand or try out some of the arcade games. Rentals are available for kids and adults. 


8. Foxfire Lanes

Address: 225 Security St, Kannapolis, NC 28083

Foxfire Lanes is a family-owned and operated, 24-lane bowling alley in Kannapolis. They have exciting themed nights like light/sound shows on Fridays and Saturdays, leagues for all ages, and they host excellent birthday parties. They also have a tasty snack bar and game room. 

Foxfire Bowling

9. Stewart-Haas Racing and Haas F1

Address: 6001 Haas Way, Kannapolis, NC 28081

Stewart-Haas is a NASCAR and F1 auto-racing team based in Kannapolis. Co-owned by Tony Stewart, a 3-time Cup Series Champion and NASCAR Hall of Famer, Stewart-Haas Racing is one of the biggest names in auto-racing.

Visitors are welcome to explore their headquarters, see some of the race cars, and visit the exciting gift shop for merchandise, souvenirs, clothes, and other NASCAR-related items. 

Stewart Haas Racing

10. Explore the Public Art 

As part of the revamp of Kannapolis’s downtown, the city displays six amazing sculptures that reflect the city’s history, the Kannapolis community, and the future of Kannapolis. It’s a great thing to add to your list of things to do in Kannapolis.

  • The Dancers (West Avenue)
  • Relever (West Avenue)
  • Smiley (West Avenue)
  • Complex It (West Avenue)
  • Discover a Healthy Life (Village Park)
  • LOVE (Kannapolis Train Station)

You can also find many murals as you walk throughout the revitalized downtown area.

Art Downtown

Additional Bars & Restaurants in Kannapolis NC

Kannapolis, NC, has a lot of fantastic restaurants, so many, in fact, that we can’t list them all here. However, here are some places you definitely don’t want to miss. 

✅ Lee’s Sandwich Shop
Address: 902 Central Dr, Kannapolis, NC 28083

Lee’s Sandwich Shop has been the go-to burger stop by locals and visitors for over three generations. They also have a wonderful breakfast and excellent daily specials. 

Lee's Sandwiches

✅ Park Road Soda Shoppe
Address: 800 Rogers Lake Rd, Kannapolis, NC 28081

Park Road Soda Shoppe is filled with nostalgia, being a true, classic 1950s-style diner. Everything from their decor to their tasty meals will bring you back. Their Kannapolis restaurant has a great selection of classic burgers, sandwiches, homemade desserts, and so much more. 

The Soda Shoppe

✅ Grounds & Vine
Address: 6001 Gateway Center Dr, Kannapolis, NC 28081

A unique restaurant that serves not just great coffee but also a wonderful variety of local wines and beers.

Grounds & Vine

Grounds & Vine is a promising place with a warm atmosphere, lovely service, and a large breakfast and lunch menu. Visitors can enjoy their patio as well with a delightful meal.

Veggie Flatbread at Grounds & Vine

✅ Flying Buffalo
Address: 802 Sloop Ave, Kannapolis, NC 28083

Flying Buffalo, nicknamed “The King of Wings,” serves divine wings and other delights in a fun, family-friendly environment. Flying Buffalo also serves classic Southern dishes and sides, hand-tossed pizzas, and more.

Flyin Buffalo

✅ North 29 Grill
Address: 2800 N Cannon Blvd, Kannapolis, NC 28083

A simple Greek-inspired restaurant with fast service and great food. They have a variety of sandwiches, burgers, and all your favorite sides. 

North 29 Grill

✅ What-A-Burger #1
Address: 1510 N Cannon Blvd, Kannapolis, NC 28083

What-A-Burger #1, nestled in the heart of Kannapolis, North Carolina, has been a favorite local burger joint for decades. Founded in 1956 by E.L. “Eb” Bost and C.W. Bost, this establishment holds a special place in the community’s heart. With its mouthwatering burgers, friendly atmosphere, and curb service, What-A-Burger #1 continues to delight residents and visitors alike.

What-A-Burger #1

✅ Jordan’s Grill
Address: 1503 W A St, Kannapolis, NC 28081

Jordan’s Grill is a family-style restaurant with some of the best breakfasts around. They also have a large lunch menu with burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs, and more. 

Jordan's Grill

Wineries in Kannapolis NC

🍷 Douglas Vineyards
Address: 7696 Freeze Rd, Kannapolis, NC 28081

Douglas Vineyards is a small, family-owned, and operated winery/vineyard that has over a dozen beautiful wine selections. Everyone will find something they love in their choice of wine, and each glass can be enjoyed on their beautiful outdoor lawn/patio. 

The atmosphere is relaxing and charming, and the staff is friendly and very helpful. They often hold events like Pain & Sip nights and have the option to purchase a bucket to pick your own grapes. 

Wine at Douglas Vineyards

Annual Events in Kannapolis, NC 

Here are some of Kannapolis’s best community-building annual events and festivals. 

✅ Jiggy with Piggy Festival (May 3 – May 4, 2024)
Address: Downtown Kannapolis

Jiggy with Piggy is Kannapolis’s premier BBQ festival and cook-off featuring over 50 barbecue competitors from across the US. On top of that, there will be over 100 vendors selling arts & crafts, kids’ games, homemade goods, and more. Come witness the fantastic firework show, join the 5K run/walk, and chow down on some of the best BBQ you’ll ever try. 

✅ Summer Concert and Movie Series (Not announced yet: May-August 2024)
Address: Village Park

Held at the county’s largest amphitheater in Village Park, the town puts on concerts every Saturday through June and July and plays movies on Friday nights. The complete list of concerts and movie times can be found online. 

Village Park

✅ Kannapolis Fall Festival (TBD October 2024)
Address: Village Park

Kannapolis’s annual fall festival at Village Park. It will be an afternoon of costumes, games, treats, crafts, vendors, and more! After sunset, join as the crowd gathers to watch Scooby Doo. 

✅ Kannapolis Christmas Lights (November 19 – December 30, 2023)
Address: Village Park

Starting in December, Village Park is transformed into a winter wonderland with thousands of lights, a Winterland Express, handpainted murals, a 12 Days of Christmas countdown, and more. There is no better way to get into the Christmas spirit! 

​​Where To Stay in Kannapolis NC

📍The Sage at Mill Ridge – If you want to splurge a little or have a large family or group, the Sage at Mill Ridge should be your number one choice. The large two-story house sleeps up to eight guests and is fully decorated. You’ll find everything you need, including downtown Kannapolis within walking distance to make your vacation easy and hassle-free. 

The Sage Vacation Rental Home

📍Kannapolis Sleep Experience – This three-bedroom duplex, located in downtown Kannapolis, is the perfect house for your family vacation. There is plenty of space, clean, very comfortable, fully decorated rooms, and a cute backyard/patio. 

📍Hampton Inn Concord/Kannapolis – The Hampton Inn is just 3.2 miles from the heart of Kannapolis, making it a perfect option for those looking to really get to know the city. The Hampton Inn offers a selection of amenities, including an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness center, and continental breakfast, and is just minutes away from popular Kannapolis attractions. 

Kannapolis, NC: FAQs

📌 How far is Kannapolis from downtown Charlotte?
Kannapolis is 30 minutes from the city center of Charlotte or roughly 26 miles. 

📌 How far is Concord from Kannapolis?
Concord is 14 minutes from downtown Kannapolis or about 6.5 miles.

📌 What does Kannapolis mean?
Kannapolis combines the Greek words “Canna,” meaning reeds or looms, and “Polis,” which means city. 

📌 What is Kannapolis, NC, known for?
Kannapolis was once known for being a busy textile town. More recently, Kannapolis is known for undergoing major renovations to be a popping music, restaurant, and social town. 

Final Thoughts

What was once a lost city, Kannapolis, has become an exciting, relaxing, and inviting place for friends and family to enjoy. Whether you are looking for a nice town to explore on a day trip or you are searching for a quiet place to visit with the family for the weekend, Kannapolis is the perfect spot. While it might not be as big and grand as Charlotte, Kannapolis has a quaint Southern charm that brings its own kind of adventure. 

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