Looking for things to do in Morganton NC?
Are you looking for a relaxing and enjoyable vacation in North Carolina? Look no further than Morganton! This charming city is nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and offers a wide range of activities and attractions for visitors of all ages. Located in northwest North Carolina, just 75 miles outside of the bustling city of Charlotte.
A popular destination among bikers, campers, and other outdoor enthusiasts, the Morganton area is a great location to unplug and escape daily stresses with a weekend soaking up some fresh air in the great outdoors.
From outdoor adventures to historical landmarks, Morganton has something for everyone. Take a hike through the picturesque Lake James State Park or explore the Historic Burke County Courthouse to learn more about the area’s rich history. So pack your bags and get ready for a memorable trip to Morganton!
Things to do in Morganton NC
Whether looking for family-friendly activities, hiking trails, historical sites, or the best food and drink to refuel after a long day, Morganton offers a little something for everyone at some of these top destinations around Burke County.
1. Catawba Meadows Park
Address: 220 Catawba Meadows Dr. Morganton, NC 28655
Sprawling over an expansive 230 acres, this outdoor park in Morganton is a recreation lover’s dream that’s fun for the whole family!
The pet-friendly park features softball/baseball fields and leagues, batting cages, an 18-hole disc golf course, walking/biking trails, fishing, playground areas for the kids, and more. It’s the perfect outdoor activity for a warm day in Morganton.
2. Beanstalk Ziplines at Catawba Meadows Park
Address: 701 Sanford Dr Morganton, NC 28655
Adventure seekers will love Morganton’s premiere zipline experience at Beanstalk Ziplines. This family-friendly adventure park offers guests a full aerial experience complete with suspension bridges, cargo nets, climbing walls, a 40-foot treehouse, and ends with a 520-foot mega zipline at the end!
Prices start at $59 for the full zipline experience or just $19 for special attractions, and this activity is suitable for children four years of age and over.
3. History Museum of Burke County
Address: 201 W Meeting St Morganton, NC 28655
If you’re a history buff wanting to learn more about Morganton and other surrounding North Carolina cities, the History Museum of Burkey County is for you. First established in 2003, this museum features a variety of permanent exhibits as well as special events and temporary, rotating exhibits that highlight the area’s rich history.
Entrance to the museum is free with a suggested donation, and they are open to the public every Tuesday-Saturday.
4. Morganton Farmers Market
Address: 300 Beach St Morganton, NC 28655
If you’re looking for one of the most popular warm-weather activities in Morganton, head over to the Morganton Farmers Market, happening every Saturday and Wednesday between May 6th and October 28th. With dozens of vendors, this open-air market offers fresh, locally grown produce, eggs, homemade baked goods, artisan crafts, flowers, and more.
The majority of vendors are not set up to accept debit or credit cards, so make sure to bring plenty of cash to enjoy all that this farmers market has to offer.
5. Mimosa Hills Farm
Address: 671 Hopewell Rd Morganton, NC 28655
Whether you’re a seasoned equestrian or looking to try something new, Mimosa Hills Farm has plenty to offer horse lovers and enthusiasts of every age and skill level.
If you want to learn more about horseback riding, this farm offers horse training, riding lessons, birthday parties, and summer camps. For experienced riders, the team at this farm offers boarding services, horse sales, private events, and more.
6. The Old Burke County Courthouse
Address: 102 E Union St Morganton, NC 28655
The Old Burke County Courthouse is a must-see for history buffs visiting the Morganton area. This restored 1830s courthouse features several historical sites along the grounds, including a replica attorney office, heritage museum, cemetery, and more.
Tours of the courthouse are offered Monday through Friday with a suggested $5 donation per person, while tours of the other sites are scheduled by appointment only.
7. Catawba River Greenway
Address: 128 Greenlee Ford Rd Morganton, NC 28655
For visitors looking for the best way to spend the day outdoors in Morganton, the Catawba River Greenway offers 3.8 miles of paved trails ideal for walking, biking, fishing, and more.
The trail runs adjacent to the Catawba River, and visitors can enjoy four easy access points to the trail and amenities like observation platforms and accessible restrooms. The trail is pet-friendly and offers playgrounds to keep kids occupied along the way.
8. Martha’s Park
Address: 200 Collett St Morganton, NC 28655
For parents looking for a great outdoor activity for kids, Martha’s Park is a family favorite. Renovated in 2004, this 1.4-acre park boasts a large gated play area, multi-feature playground equipment, picnic shelters, swing sets, and a seasonal splash pad for use during the warmer months.
The park is free and open to the public seven days a week, making this an ideal budget-friendly activity for kids and families.
9. McDowell House
Address: 119 St Marys Church Rd Morganton, NC 28655
As part of the Historic Burke Foundation, Inc., the McDowell House is touted as the oldest surviving brick structure in Burke County.
First built in 1812, this restored home of Captain Charles McDowell, Jr offers visitors a chance to explore classic federal-style architecture while taking a glimpse into what life was like in the 19th century. This historic site is open for tours by appointment every Saturday from 10 am – 1 pm.
10. Bigfoot Climbing Gym
Address: 212 Avery Ave Morganton, NC 28655
Located in the heart of downtown Morganton, Bigfoot Climbing Gym has been voted the area’s #1 climbing gym for years. This climbing gym offers options for climbers of all skill levels with monthly memberships, day passes, special events, rental gear, field trips, birthday parties, and more.
Their bouldering walls are rearranged on a routine basis to offer climbers a new challenge at each visit, and the gym is open seven days a week with both morning and evening hours.
11. Stidham’s Ax Throwing
Address: 420 W Fleming Dr., Suite E Morganton, NC 28655
Since its rise to fame in recent years, ax throwing has become a popular weekend activity for many people looking to try out something new. At Stidham’s Ax Throwing in Morganton, visitors can try their hand at traditional ax throwing in a safe, professional environment.
Voted #1 for ax throwing in Burke County, this ax-throwing center and lounge is the perfect place to try out a new activity or enjoy their other onsite amenities like cornhole, pool tables, mechanical bull rides, an arcade, and a full-service bar seven days a week.
12. Pavilion Roller Skating
Address: 2147 S Sterling St Morganton, NC 28655
First opened in 1980, Pavilion Roller Skating has been a popular weekend spot for kids and teenagers for more than 42 years! Open every Thursday through Saturday, kids 18 years of age and under are welcome to come skate the night away, starting at just $7 for admission.
Pavilion Roller Skating is a “bully-free zone” for kids to play while giving parents peace of mind, knowing that their kids are having fun in a safe, secure space.
13. Railroad Depot Museum
Address: 624 S Green St Morganton, NC 28655
Operated by The History Museum of Burke County, this restored historic site offers visitors a glimpse into the history of the railway system that has serviced Burke County for more than 100 years.
The museum was restored to its original 1916 appearance in 2004 and features a variety of permanent exhibits and artifacts from private collections. This railroad museum is open to the public every Saturday between 1 pm – 3 pm for tours or by appointment on other days.
14. Martin Luther King Jr. Park
Address: 111 Alphabet Ln Morganton, NC 28655
Martin Luther King Jr. Park is an enclosed outdoor recreation area that’s perfect for families with children or groups looking for an outdoor space to hold their next gathering. Features at the park include playground areas with slides, a swing set, a zipline, picnic shelters, bathroom facilities, and a splash pad for the warmer months.
The park is open seven days a week from dawn to dusk for visitors of all ages to enjoy some fresh air, fun, and exercise.
15. West Union Art Studios
Address: 113 W Union St Morganton, NC 28655
If you’re looking for a new way to unleash your creative side, West Union Art Studios offers group classes in all kinds of different arts, including painting, pottery, fiber arts, music, and more. First opened in 2014, this art studio and gallery offers rental space to artisans who provide lessons and showcase their work on display in the gallery.
This art studio serves as a community fixture that shows its appreciation for the community through volunteer work, donations to local nonprofits, renovation projects, and more.
16. Morganton General Store
Address: 116 W Union St Morganton, NC 28655
First opened in 2017, Morganton General Store is a popular spot that features a large selection of local goods that change regularly to meet the demands of shoppers.
Their onsite restaurant, Swede’s Cafe, offers the best in affordable comfort foods with menu items like their grilled pimento cheese sandwich, pulled pork, chicken salad, scrambled eggs, and more. Open seven days a week, Morganton General Store is a must-see for locals and tourists alike!
Drinks and Restaurants in Morganton NC
You will find lots of amazing options for both food and drink in Morganton NC.
Here are just a few suggestions.
✅ Fonta Flora Brewery
Address: 317 N Green St Morganton, NC 28655
If you’re a beer lover looking for some of the best brews in North Carolina, this locally owned-and operated brewery is sure to check all the boxes when it comes to these libations. With three locations in North Carolina, Fonta Flora Brewery has something for everyone, with beers ranging from stouts and porters to double IPAs, witbiers, and non-alcoholic beers.
Located in downtown Morganton, their tasting room encompasses a traditional pub feel combined with modern amenities, including 14+ beers on tap, local snacks, and more in an inviting atmosphere.
✅ Silver Fork Winery
Address: 5000 State Rd 1133 Morganton, NC 28655
Nestled in the mountains of Western North Carolina, this locally owned and operated boutique winery is the ideal location to enjoy unique, high-quality wines made with a unique Southern flair.
Open every Friday through Sunday, Silver Fork Winery offers a spacious patio where guests can enjoy sipping on their choice of wine while enjoying picturesque views of the valley below and listening to live music on select weekends. Their tasting room offers wine flights, wine by the glass, light snacks, and bottles for purchase.
✅ Sidetracked Brewery
Address: 609 S. Green St., Ste 100 Morganton, NC
First opened in 2017, Sidetracked Brewery is a local brewery offering handcrafted artisanal beers featuring sustainably sourced ingredients. Located just across from the Railroad Depot Museum, their tasting room is open seven days a week and offers visitors a cozy, inviting space with an old industrial feel.
In addition to craft beer, this brewery also offers cider, mead, wine, non-alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, kombucha, and free popcorn to snack on.
✅ Brown Mountain Bottleworks
Address: 115 E Union St #344 Morganton, NC 28655
Originally opened by North Carolina brother duo Kory and Collin Suttle, this local tap room recently changed hands to customers turned owners Mike and Lynn Brown.
Open seven days a week, this brewery is devoted to creating an atmosphere centered around engaging the local community while showcasing craft beers from around the country. Brown Mountain Bottleworks has over 12 beers on tap with non-alcoholic offerings, weekly special events, beer releases, live music, and more to enjoy.
✅ Root & Vine
Address: 139 W Union St Morganton, NC 28655
If you’re looking for the perfect spot for a date night or a nice dinner with a glass of wine, Root & Vine is the perfect place for a refined night out on the town. Open every Wednesday through Saturday, this contemporary dining room offers a full menu of high-quality options like ribeye steak, wood-fired pizzas, seafood, and more.
For more than ten years, guests have raved about the delicious food, exemplary customer service, and numerous options for libations with 42 taps as well as plenty of wine options.
Address: 100 W Union St Morganton, NC 28655
Treat is a popular eatery in Morganton specializing in intimate seating that offers a contemporary menu paired with a fanciful cocktail menu as well as a selection of specialty beer and wine.
Their menu features items like seafood, burgers, chicken, and vegetarian options as well as a selection of delectable desserts to choose from. Open Wednesday through Saturday, Treat is the perfect spot for a nice evening dinner, weekend date night, or when you just don’t feel like cooking!
✅ Abele’s Family Restaurant
Address: 2115 S Sterling St Morganton, NC 28655
Centrally located in Morganton, this family-friendly restaurant features a large menu with classic American comfort food items served in classic diner digs.
Kids at this popular spot can enjoy browsing the shelves of the restaurant’s onsite candy shop or enjoying a sweet treat at the ice cream parlor, while guests with dogs can enjoy a pet-friendly dining experience on their outdoor patio.
✅ Homer’s Soda Shop
Address: 113 E Union St #344 Morganton, NC 28655
This popular Morganton brunch spot is a locally owned bar and restaurant serving a variety of favorites in a hip, colorful setting.
Known locally as one of the best cocktail bars in town, diners can enjoy fan favorites like their creative cocktails, bloody marys, biscuits and gravy, breakfast tacos, mac & cheese pancakes, and more.
✅ Blue 42’s Burger Bar
Address: 831 W Union St Morganton, NC 28655
If you’re looking for the best spot to catch the game, head over to Blue 42’s Burger Bar in Morganton! Open seven days a week, this popular sports bar serves up some of the best burgers, wings, and Philly cheesesteak sandwiches in a lively, family-friendly atmosphere.
Their bar features a vast selection of beers, wines, and more, along with plenty of televisions showing the most popular games of the day.
✅ Apple Hill Orchard & Cider Mill (seasonal)
Address: 2075 Pleasant Hill Ave, Morganton, NC 28655
If you’re looking for a great family-friendly activity this fall, apple picking at Apple Hill Orchard & Cider Mill is a must! Enjoy picking your own apples and getting your fill of apple cider donuts and fresh cider made onsite with the apples from the orchard.
Their apple picking season typically starts in mid-August and runs as long as the crop permits with operating hours every Monday through Saturday from 9 am – 6 pm.
Address: 108 W Union St, Morganton, NC 28655
Located in downtown Morganton, this inventive spot isn’t something you’ll find every day! Craft’d is the area’s one and only wine, beer, and artisan craft store featuring plenty of crafts and libations for sale as well as onsite wine tasting, crafting classes, special events, and more.
The shop offers wine tastings six days a week, and their selection of wine is focused on small-batch “craft” wines, while their beer offerings are mostly from areas east of Winston-Salem.
✅ Boulevard Barbeque
Address: 810 S College St., Morganton, NC 28655
First opened in February 2020, this straightforward barbeque joint has really made a name for itself in just a few short years of operations.
The owners of this restaurant, both North Carolina natives, have a combined 17 years of experience in the restaurant industry and are passionate about what they bring to the table. Their menu features a variety of slow-smoked meats, regional hot sauces, sides and appetizers, and homemade dessert options.
If we missed your favorite restaurant, know we can only fit in so much during our visit! Please let us know, and we’ll add it to our list to explore next time!
Hiking near Morganton NC
Nestled in the heartland of the Blue Ridge Mountains, there are 85 named mountains in Burke County alone. Located just outside of Pisgah National Forest and with close proximity to dozens of other state parks and wilderness areas, Morganton is the perfect hotspot for outdoor enthusiasts looking to hit the trails.
Check out some popular hiking trails offering views of waterfalls, wildlife, and breathtaking panoramic views of mountains, hills, and valleys.
👟 South Mountains State Park
📍 High Shoals Falls
Located approximately 30 minutes south of Morganton, High Shoals Falls is an impressive waterfall located in South Mountains State Park. To reach this waterfall, you will have a moderate 2.4-mile hike on the High Shoals Falls Loop.
This waterfall along Jacob’s Fork River cascades over an 80’ sheer cliff. Be sure to stick to the trail and keep in mind that there is absolutely no swimming allowed for your safety.
👟 Lake James State Park
📍 Fonta Flora Trail Loop
Located just under 30 minutes outside of Morganton, the Fonta Flora Trail Loop is a well-marked hiking trail that takes adventurers along the shore of Lake James through forests and over sloping terrain.
Although the path itself is relatively easygoing, the 3.7-mile trail length makes it popular among those looking for a more moderate hike or a good workout. Hikers report that this trail is well maintained with very few tree roots and flat walkways, making it perfect for hiking with dogs or mountain biking along the paths.
👟 Linville Gorge Wilderness
📍 Shortoff Mountain
Just over an hour outside of Morganton, Linville Gorge wilderness offers tons of trail options for hikers of all skill levels. At Shortoff Mountain, avid hikers and adventure seekers are sure to find what they’re looking for with this strenuous 4.5-mile loop.
During the first part of this trail, hikers can test their endurance with high elevation gains and rough, rocky terrain with a lot of switchbacks heading up the mountain. Along the trail, you will gain 1,321 feet in elevation, bringing you along the top of the mountain range, featuring panoramic views of the gorge below and an open-air trail with plenty of sunshine at the top.
📍 Hawksbill Mountain
Although this hike is relatively short at just a 1.5-mile round trip, the climb in elevation is not for the faint of heart on this Linville Gorge trail. At the peak of this trail, hikers can find themselves at an elevation of just over 4,000 feet while taking in the views of the gorge below.
Although this hike offers some of the best 360-degree views of the Linville Gorge Wilderness, it can be dangerous, and hikers should take care to keep dogs leashed and be mindful of sharp drop-offs and steep ledges, especially when posing for a photo op.
📍 Linville Falls
As the namesake of this wilderness area, Linville Falls is a popular three-tiered 90-foot waterfall accessible by a handful of trails within the park. The easiest way to access the falls is via the two trails just off the parking lot at the Linville Falls Visitor Center, although seasoned hikers may prefer the more strenuous four-mile excursion for access to all five vantage points for the falls.
A second parking area for the falls can be found near the village of Linville Falls in Pisgah National Forest. The visitors center is open seasonally to offer restrooms, picnic areas, maps, and more. This popular hike can be found at Milepost 316.2 along the Blue Ridge Parkway, about 66 miles north of Asheville, NC, and 45 minutes from Morganton. Check out Linville Falls Winery while you are in the area too!
📍 Wiseman’s View
If you’re looking for a leisurely stroll with gorgeous views of the expansive mountain range, Wiseman’s View is just the spot for you! This approximately 0.4 mile out and back paved walking trail is located about an hour outside of Morganton and is a lightly trafficked trail that’s perfect for an afternoon stroll, bird watching, and exercising dogs.
The trail is open year-round, but the roads leading to the trailhead can be difficult to navigate due to poor conditions and potholes. If you travel here, have a high-clearance vehicle, preferably a 4×4.
📍 Table Rock Mountain (Table Rock Summit Trail)
Table Rock Mountain’s distinctive summit above Linville Gorge can be seen easily from many parts of the North Carolina mountains and foothills. The rocky summit is fun (and safe) to explore. The 2.2-mile roundtrip has some steep climbs, so it’s a bit strenuous. The views of Linville Gorge are spectacular from the 3,930-ft. peak. The road to the summit is open April-December.
👟 McGalliard Falls
Located just 15 minutes from Morganton in the town of Valdese, McGalliard Falls is a popular park offering hiking, outdoor recreation, amenities, and breathing views of the natural 45-foot McGalliard Falls. Enjoy a brisk walk along their nature trail for unparalleled views of the waterfall as well as the lush, natural landscape that’s ideal for birdwatching or an afternoon stroll.
Annual Events in Morganton NC
If you’re looking for special events in Morganton, it’s no surprise that this North Carolina county, rich in history and culture, has plenty of special events that take place throughout the year.
Whether you’re looking to celebrate the great outdoors, sample some of the best craft beers, or experience local life, these special events in Morganton are a must-see when visiting NC!
✅ Discover Burke Trails Day
Happening this year on March 11, 2023, Discover Burke Trails Day is a free public event celebrating the beauty of the outdoors in Burke County, North Carolina. From 12 pm – 5 pm, visitors can enjoy local food trucks and vendors, presentations and speeches from outdoor enthusiasts, and kid-friendly activities, including an inflatable obstacle course, all in the name of exploring and preserving wilderness areas.
✅ Morganton Festival – Sept 6-7 2024
Every year for more than 40 years, this annual event has been a highlight for locals and tourists alike. On September 8th and 9th, the 41st annual Morganton Festival will take over the streets of downtown Morganton to bring live entertainment to the community.
The event features three entertainment stages that feature musical performances as well as dancers, acrobats, and theatrical performances, as well as kid-friendly play zones, beauty pageants, local vendors, carnival rides, and more. This family-friendly event is free and open to the public, so don’t miss out on one of the most highly sought-after events in Morganton!
✅ State of Origin – Craft Brew Festival
For its 8th consecutive year, the State of Origin – Craft Brew Festival draws a crowd of beer enthusiasts from across the globe to their festival, showcasing the finest alcoholic beverages from over 25 breweries, wineries, distilleries, cideries, and kombucha experts from across the country.
Although the date is not yet set for their 2023 celebration, visitors can look forward to sampling some of the best brews around. In the past, tickets to the festival have been $60 for entry or $25 for designated drivers to enjoy all the amenities of the festival without all the booze.
Where To Stay in Morganton NC
Your list of things to do in Morganton NC is adding up; here are some great places to stay while you visit for a few days
📍Best Option for Budget-Friendly Lodging in Morganton | Cozy Victorian Apartment
If you’re looking for the best budget-friendly accommodation in Morganton, this Cozy Victorian Apartment is directly in the heart of downtown Morganton! This dog-friendly apartment offers a touch of old-world charm in a quiet, private space that’s close to everything the area has to offer.
📍Best Option for Cozy Lodging in Morganton | Charming Morganton Hideaway
If you’re looking for a private hideaway that encompasses a cozy mountain vibe, this Charming Morganton Hideaway is the perfect place for you! This cozy holiday home offers guests plenty of space for the whole family with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a full-size kitchen and living room, and all the other amenities that make this feel like a home away from home.
Morganton NC: FAQs
📌 What is Morganton NC known for?
Sometimes referred to as “nature’s playground,” Morganton, North Carolina, is known for its many outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, fishing, camping, and more.
📌 Are there mountain views in Morganton NC?
Yes! Nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Morganton offers visitors all the amenities and necessities of daily life in their downtown area while also offering close proximity to plenty of wilderness areas and surrounded by mountains on most sides.
📌 What beach is closest to Morganton NC?
Although North Carolina is often known for their beaches like the famous Outer Banks, Nags Head, Wilmington, etc. Morganton is located in the interior northwest part of the state, several hours from the ocean.
Although the nearest ocean is quite far away, there are plenty of opportunities for freshwater swimming in and around Morganton at places like Paddy’s Creek Area and Lake James Beach.
Whether you’re a North Carolina native or traveling from out of state, Morganton is the perfect place to experience life at a slower pace or reconnect with nature. With plenty of family and pet-friendly activities, this North Carolina county will surely be the ideal spot for creating memories that will last a lifetime.