Welcome to North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, the epitome of small town America. This beautiful town and surrounding Wilkes county, are just a joy to visit. Furthermore they offer many things to do for solo, families and group travelers alike. This post will highlight fun things to do in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. I assure you there is something for everyone.
North Wilkesboro has a long deep history and a rather rambunctious past. Established in 1891, North Wilkesboro became known as the key to the Blue Ridge, due to it being 30 minutes east of Boone and 45 minutes west of Winston-Salem. Many well known businesses began in North Wilkesboro, like Lowe’s Hardware, Lowe’s Foods, Holly Farms Chicken, currently known as Tyson’s Chicken, and NASCAR.
Moonshine Capital of America
North Wilkesboro, was also deemed the “Moonshine Capital of America”, by the head of the ATF, in the 1950’s due to multiple raids. As a result, some of the most infamous Moonshiners of the time resided in Wilkes County. Most of us who are from North Carolina have moonshine outlaws in our family line. After the Great Depression, local economies hit rock bottom and people had to find a way to feed their families. Those corn fields could make a lot more money producing whiskey than corn.
Birthplace of NASCAR
As it turns out, all those high speed car chases due to moonshine bootlegging, made folks in Wilkes County pretty talented at car racing. They decided to make a sport of it, and the rest as they say is history. In 1949, the North Wilkesboro Raceway became the first NASCAR race track of its kind in the state. It was built by moonshiners in 1946 and from 1949 to 1996 it was one of the premier NASCAR race tracks in the country. Though the track is no longer in use, it still stands and is worth a visit if you’re a racing fan. You can find it right off US 421, just a short drive out of town.
Points of Interest & Things to Do
You can learn all about the history of the area in greater detail at the Wilkes Heritage Museum. The cost for a self-guided tour of the Museum, the Old Wilkes Jail and the Robert Cleveland Log Home, is just $6 per person
Downtown North Wilkesboro – Antiques and a little Quirkiness
If you are staying anywhere near downtown North Wilkesboro, you must visit the The Record. You are in for a treat if you love antiques. That being said, the building that houses the Record newspaper and Thursday Printing, is more a museum than a store. We have been visiting for years and we have never had an opportunity to purchase anything. Ken Welborn, the owner, has been kind enough to share a small trinket with us in the past. If you are lucky Ken will come out to say hello and comment on a few of his pieces and share his perspective on the history of the area. He is a native and quite a lively character, so you will be entertained for sure. To me, Ken and The Record are a North Wilkesboro treasure.
Art Galleries are also on our Points of Interest and things to do radar. The Wilkes Art Gallery is located at 913 C Street and the Taupe Gallery is on 10th Street. You can also find many murals by local artists located in the downtown area. I had a little fun taking a picture with one by Andrea Baldwin.
Key City Antiques – if you are in the market for antiques, crafts and unique gifts, then Key City Antiques probably has something for you. Located in the former home of Key City Furniture, it is a co-op of antique retailers and crafters.
You can even enjoy a movie at the old Liberty Movie Theatre to add a little nostalgia to your trip
Brushy Mountain Apple Festival is held every October in North Wilkesboro and brings in large crowds for fun, food, and entertainment.
Parks & Recreation
Yadkin Valley Greenway runs along the Yadkin River and is all around North Wilkesboro. It offers walking and biking trails that are paved and easy to navigate.
Smoot Park is the perfect outing for families and offers access to playgrounds, basketball courts, skateboard park and a swimming pool during the summer season.
Memorial Park is equipped with baseball and softball fields, as well as tennis courts.
There are many restaurants, eateries, and fast food joints in North Wilkesboro, and there is something for most everyone’s taste. A few local favorites you may want to consider are :
Branciforte’s Brick Oven – Enjoy a lovely Italian dinner and a nice glass of fine or enjoy a wonderful pizza freshly baked in their authentic brick oven.
Brushy Mountain Smokehouse & Creamery – Local North Carolina favorites and homemade ice cream. This place is a must!
Dom Bakeries – Open all day for fresh pastries, baked bread, sandwiches and pizza.
Come Again and Come Often
North Wilkesboro will greet you with a warm welcome and invite to return and return again. If you go, I hope you enjoy all these points of interest and things to do. Small towns are wonderful in that you can see everything they have to offer. Of Course, you can also just sit back on the porch swing and enjoy the tranquility.
If you would like more ideas for things to do in the area, take at look at Cheers to North Carolina Wine.
Thanks for visiting and Happy Travels!