The small town of Statesville, in central North Carolina has a charming historic downtown, a rich history, ample outdoor adventures, local breweries, and most surprisingly, hot air balloon rides. It is the perfect weekend destination from Charlotte or Raleigh to relax and enjoy its small town charm. Here are the top 10 things do in Statesville this weekend with a family or romantic getaway.
1. Historic Fort Dobbs
Fort Dobbs, a fort built at the frontier edge of North Carolina in 1755 at the start of the French and Indian War was meant to protect settlers along the entire frontier in NC. The fort saw one unsuccessful attack in 1760 by the Cherokee. At the end of the war the railroad and settlers quickly pushed west leaving the fort in ruins by 1766. You can now see the reconstructed block house and take a guided tour inside to learn about the short history of Fort Dobbs.
2. Local Statesville Breweries and Live Music
Downtown Statesville has several local breweries to enjoy, whether you are looking to sip on an afternoon beer or catch some live music in the evening. After dinner we went on over to Red Buffalo Brewing to hear local band play and taste their famous sake cocktail, The Black & Blue, with coconut Red Bull, topped with Val’s Chocolate Stout.
If you are looking to try beers on tap from other breweries around North Carolina, head on over to Twisted Oak Bar and Grill.
3. Explore Downtown Statesville
Historic downtown Statesville offers several walkable blocks of historic facades with boutique shops to wander through and local coffee shops, restaurants and bars to enjoy no matter the time of day you visit.
4. Take a Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride Statesville
Wake up early for a sunrise hot air balloon ride over Statesville, known for being the Hot Air Balloon Capital of the East. (Side note: Albuquerque, NM is the Hot Air Balloon Capital of the World!) There are nearly a dozen different balloon companies in the area, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding a ride on your desired day.
We took a ride with pilot Daniel Sasser of A Flight Above Balloon Adventures. Come prepared dressed in layers for a cool morning before the sun rises and sneakers to maneuver with ease on the ground and in the air. Our favorite part of hot air balloon rides is the pilot can generally use an extra set of hands getting the balloon unpacked and put away at the end of the flight, it is a truly immersive experience.
Get ready for breathtaking views from the sky on an adventure wherever the wind may take you. Finish the flight with a champagne toast and recitation of the Balloonist’s Prayer.
5. Eat Bunch at The Bristol Café
Whether you chose to sleep in on the weekend or you worked up an appetite on a sunrise hot air balloon ride, do not miss out on brunch at The Bristol Café. The restaurant was packed on Sunday morning, so be prepared for a bit of a wait, but the delicious food is absolutely worth it. We enjoyed the prime rib benedict with a caramel apple mimosa. Make sure to keep an eye on the clock when planning your morning, as they close at 2PM.
6. Iredell Museums
The Iredell Museums is most famous for being home to a 3,000 year old Egyptian mummy in Statesville. This small museum hosts only a handful of exhibits at a time, which are generally focused with hands on children’s activities. It is worth a quick stop to read the history of how Statesville became the home of the only Egyptian mummy in North Carolina!
7. The Sharpe House
The historic Sharpe House was built in 1866 and was the home of Statesville’s first mayor. While the house is open for tour groups by special appointment only, they do offer a range of events to experience a bit of charming southern hospitality in a historic setting.
8. Sample Award Winning Spirits at Southern Distilling Company
An icon of Statesville modern growth, Southern Distilling Company is most well known for its Southern Star Straight Bourbon Whiskeys. They are building on a long history as the liquor capital of the world before prohibition, as the last railroad stop before heading out to the west, all local whiskey flowed through Statesville
Southern Distilling offers a guided tour of the 20,000 square foot facility to learn more about the history of the company, the distilling process, and the history of whiskey in the region. The tour costs $15 per person and includes a whiskey tasting.
9. Hike Around Lake Norman State Park
A 20 minutes drive south of Statesville is the start of Lake Norman State Park, the largest man-made body of fresh water in North Carolina, covering nearly 50 square miles. Here you can enjoy the beautiful landscape with 5 miles of Lake Shore Trail, fishing spots, swimming beach access and a public boat ramp with seasonal canoe and pedalboat rental. Start off your morning with an invigorating hike, and spend the afternoon relaxing on the calm waters.
10. Explore Bigleaf Slopes Park
Visiting Statesville in the autumn during peak foliage season is absolutely breathtaking. We had to take every opportunity to enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings during our weekend visit. We enjoyed a stroll through Bigleaf Slopes Park, and its namesake big leaf magnolias. The park offers a combined 4 miles of mountain biking and hiking trail, so stay alert while enjoying the trails.
Where To Stay in Statesville, NC?
In Statesville you will find a whole range of accommodations from intimate Bed & Breakfasts downtown, to more traditional hotels. We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn Statesville, 2 miles east of the historic downtown. It is located just off Interstate 77 making it a great hotel to explore the entire region.
We hope you enjoy your time explore these fun things to do in Statesville, NC. Please let us know your favorite hidden gems in the comments.