Photo credit Nicholas A. Tanelli via CC 2.0
Hickory, North Carolina, is a town shaped by a rich history of community and craft. The creative people of Hickory’s past took advantage of local resources and pooled knowledge to make a thriving industry hub out of a small town. This spirit of cooperation has carried on through recent decades, earning Hickory three All-America City Awards in less than 50 years.
The town got its name from its original attraction – a tavern Henry Robinson built under a massive hickory tree. But Hickory today offers so much more than a humble tavern. Whether you’re a local native or just passing through, be sure to stop and enjoy these fun things to do in Hickory, NC.
Sports, Parks, and Recreation
Support the Hickory Crawdads at L.P. Frans Stadium
No All-American City would be complete without a baseball team. Hickory is no exception, hosting the Hickory Crawdads for over 20 years. They may be minor league, but the ‘Dads feed into the Texas Rangers and boast a dedicated fan base that’ll make you feel like part of the team.
Spring and summer are perfect for attending a ‘Dads game at the newly updated L.P. Frans Stadium. Bring the kids to crunch peanuts and Cracker Jacks as you cheer on baseball’s hometown heroes. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch an up-and-coming baseball star. After all, a number of greats got their start with the ‘Dads, including two-time Hank Aaron Award-winner and four-time All Star Jose Bautista.
Rev your engines at Hickory Motor Speedway
Experience the rush and fanfare of one of America’s most storied short tracks at Hickory Motor Speedway. Bring your earplugs and feel the good vibrations as you watch adrenaline-pumping races.
The short track hosts a variety of race types including Late Model stock cars and super trucks. Entrance for adults is just $11 and $9 for teens and seniors. Kids 12 and under get in free, making the Hickory Motor Speedway a destination for your whole family.
Relieve stress at Rock Barn Golf & Spa
No matter how you like to relax, Rock Barn Golf & Spa is sure to suit your needs. The highlight, of course, is Rock Barn’s acclaimed golf courses: the demanding Robert Trent Jones Jr. Course and the somewhat shorter though still challenging Tom Jackson Course. Both courses are longstanding staples in the PGA Tour, offering championship-level play for amateurs and pros alike.
If golf isn’t your cup of tea, you might enjoy some serious pampering from Rock Barn’s world-class spa. Spend a few hours or your entire day relaxing with a combination of facials, mud baths, massage, and other spa luxuries.
Science and Culture
Learn hands-on at the Catawba Science Center
Plumb the depths of human knowledge as you and your family explore over 18000 square feet of exhibit space at the Catawba Science Center. The CSC features a variety of interactive learning spaces in natural and physical sciences.
Permanent exhibits include:
- Salt and freshwater aquariums where you can touch and feel sharks, stingrays, and other forms of aquatic life
- The Hall of Astronomy featuring Hubble images of our solar system and interactive models of alien weather
- Energy Avenue, where kids can learn about physics while they build rockets and conduct live experiments
- Infectious Diseases exhibit, exploring the passage of human illness, from the common to the fatal, and the challenges facing modern medical research
- The Millholland Planetarium, good for both kids and adults, where you’ll travel the universe in a stunning visual show
Play it right at the Hickory Community Theatre
The local arts are alive and well in the Hickory Community Theatre. Whether you’re looking for a quiet date night or an evening of classic entertainment for your family, the HCT has something to offer.
This season, Hickory’s community actors are delving into well-loved stage classics like Les Miserables and On Golden Pond, as well as modern comedy with their production of Monty Python’s Spamalot. If Victory Hugo is a little dense for your younger children, the Hickory Community Theatre keeps kid-friendly shows on rotation.
Explore the Hickory Museum of Art
Catawba County’s mountain nestling belies a first-class art museum. Museum director Lise Swensson’s contagious enthusiasm for the arts echoes through every exhibit. Though the HMA isn’t the most expansive you’re likely to encounter, staff and curators work hard to bring in varying styles of creative work.
You don’t have to be an aesthete to appreciate the variety of visual media on rotation at the HMA. Popular exhibits explore Carolina’s history through folk art, the use and qualities of light and exposure, and even local modern, contemporary, and provocative artists. Don’t miss out on an enriching visit to Hickory’s best-kept secret.
Chisel the Hickory Furniture Mart into your plans
Hickory has been a mecca for the furniture industry for almost a century and is home to one of the longest-running furniture makers in America – Hickory White. The industry isn’t quite as strong as it was in past decades, given the rise in high-tech jobs in Hickory, but furniture shopping is still alive and well at the Hickory Furniture Mart.
The Hickory Furniture Mart isn’t a typical discount furniture store; it’s a national destination that brings in hundreds of thousands of shoppers every year. Book their interior design and decorating services to learn about the latest trends in home décor, or snag a personal shopper to guide you through the vast number of showrooms. You can make a full day out of your visit, stopping for a sandwich at the Mart’s Wooden Spoon Café, or taking a few minutes to browse your phone in their Wi-Fi coffee bar.
Still have time to kill? The Mart holds the Catawba County Furniture Museum, where you can explore Hickory’s industry history and see some of the first pieces of furniture ever crafted in the area.
Drink in Hickory’s culture at the WoodMill Winery
Enjoy North Carolina’s foggy foothills while you test local libations at WoodMill Winery. WoodMill’s vineyard specializes in sweet NC native grape varieties including Muscadine and Schuppernong. Their wines make excellent table reds or accompaniments for a happy hour on your front porch.
The winery and vineyard are open for tours and tastings, both private and public. Be sure to drop by in August, when WoodMill hosts their annual Grape Stomp featuring limited-release wines, games, activities, music, and art.
Brew something new at Olde Hickory Brewery
Twenty years ago, the Olde Hickory Brewery set up shop with the idea of producing all-natural beer brewed from the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Three years later, OHB renovated and moved into a Historic Landmark property from 1880, converting it into the 25-barrel brew house it is today.
You can enjoy Olde Hickory Brewing’s beers at a number of locations around town and in North Carolina, but you can also stop by the brew house for tours, tastings, and special events.
There’s no shortage of fun things to do in Hickory, NC, making it a wonderful place to live or visit. These are our favorites, but what are yours?