If there is a city that captures the essence of the American spirit, it is Fayetteville, North Carolina. Best known as the home of Fort Bragg, a major U.S. Army facility, its citizens take great pride in their town and hold the values of patriotism and freedom very close to their hearts. Military heroes are cherished and celebrated with honor here, and visitors are filled with the overwhelming emotion of those who truly love their country.
With an interesting offer of cultural activities, historic sites and natural beauty, Fayetteville opens its arms to all who want to hear the story of the brave and embrace the spirit of the free. Start this journey into the heart of the American nationalism with the list of the best things to do in town.
1. Airborne & Special Operations Museum
Located in the heart of historic downtown Fayetteville, the Airborne & Special Operations Museum is a space to honor the heroes of the airborne and special operations troops. The admission to the main gallery is free and provides self-guided access to a chronological tour, from 1940 to the present, with uniforms and equipment exhibits, life-size dioramas, audio and visual displays.
The museum also features beautiful gardens, the touching Parade Field, a walkway lined with monuments and flags, and the iconic Iron Mike statue, that stands in the front. The museum offers other additional activities and special events, like the popular 24 seat motion simulator, which has a fee. Visit this museum if you’re looking for one of the fun things to do near Fayetteville’s best downtown spots. Fayetteville Train Station on Hay Street is a two-minute walk from the museum.
Airborne & Special Operations Museum
Address: 100 Bragg Blvd, Fayetteville, NC 28301
Website: Airborne & Special Operations Museum
2. Cape Fear Botanical Garden
If you want to be delighted by natural beauty, Cape Fear Botanical Garden is the place to go. This impressive 80 acre (32 hectare) urban forest overlooks Cross Creek and the Cape Fear River and features stunning species of native and aquatic plants, wildflowers, majestic oaks and other exquisite flora varieties. The area includes a restored farmhouse from the 1800s, a tobacco barn, a natural amphitheater, trails, ponds, a pool and waterways.
It is a lovely opportunity to see some local birds and other animals attracted to the plants and can be visited with a fee. Photography enthusiasts will need to read the policy for pictures, available online, and general visitors are welcome to download the online map on their phones, to help the garden reduce their carbon footprint. This attraction is a 14-minute walk (0.6 mi/0.96 km), or a 2-minute drive, from McDonald’s on the intersection of Grove Street and North Eastern Boulevard
Cape Fear Botanical Garden
Address: 536 N. Eastern Blvd., Fayetteville, NC 28301
Website: Cape Fear Botanical Garden
3. Cape Fear River Trail
Another fantastic way to explore the region is the Cape Fear River Trail, a paved path that extends for nearly 5.3 miles (8.5 kilometers), through trees and offers a spectacular view of the river. The trail is a 4-minute drive from Fayetteville VA Medical Center (1 mi/1.6 km). It is the perfect site for walkers, joggers, or cyclists and there are interpretive signs that explain the area’s wildlife and plant life, as well as benches and tables, for resting. Since it is not a loop, you need to plan your walk ahead, so you have transportation waiting for you when you finish. One of the best things to do around Fayetteville is exploring this trail if you have great interest in outdoor adventures!
Cape Fear River Trail
Address: Sherman Drive, Fayetteville, NC 28301
Website: Cape Fear River Trail
4. Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
The history of southern North Carolina can be explored in the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex, a building with more than 400 years of history, displayed in a number of exhibits about Native Americans, European settlements, slavery and the Civil War, among other interesting subjects.
The facilities include the Arsenal Park, which features the remains of a factory that served both the Federal and Confederate governments and the 1897 Poe House. It’s a great way to sneak into the past, for free. From the famed Freedom Memorial Park, the museum is 0.5 miles (0.80 km) away and takes about 2 minutes by car.
Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex
Address: 801 Arsenal Ave., Fayetteville, NC 28305
5. Westover Recreation Center
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
Playing an important role in the Fayetteville community, the Westover Recreation Center is a facility with a gymnasium and a pool. It has picnic shelters and tables that allow for a great family day, and meeting and banquet rooms that house different events. The center has lots of programs, many focused on seniors, like walking groups, classes and other activities. This place is a one-minute drive from Fayetteville Fire Station 9 along Bonanza Drive.
Westover Recreation Center
Address: 267 Bonanza Drive, Fayetteville, NC 28303
Website: Westover Recreation Center
6. North Carolina Veterans Park
Fayetteville is very proud of having America’s first state park, dedicated to honoring military veterans, from all branches of the armed services. The North Carolina Veterans Park is next to the Airborne & Special Operations Museum and pays homage to the veterans of the 100 North Carolinian counties.
There are different installations that aim to capture the spirit of the service provided by brave men and women, like the 3,500-square-foot (325 square meters) chandelier, made from 33,500 identification tags. Other moving structures are the North Carolina Soils Wall, an iconic monument, built with soil collected from the state’s 100 counties, and the Story Garden, where you can listen to veterans’ military stories. From Fayetteville Train Station, it is a one-minute drive to the veterans’ park when you travel down Hillsboro Street.
North Carolina Veterans Park
Address: 300 Bragg Boulevard, Fayetteville, NC 28301
Website: Veterans Park
7. 82nd Airborne Division War Memorial
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
Fort Bragg is one of the largest military training areas in the world and home to the 82nd Airborne Division War Memorial, the second oldest U.S. Army museum. It is dedicated to the history of the division, an active-duty infantry that specializes in assault operations. You can tour the exhibits at your own pace and travel back in time to 1917, to the Division’s founding in World War I, and continue on to the present, learning about the events in which the 82nd participated.
The Museum grounds include the Airborne Airpark, which holds almost every aircraft Paratroopers have jumped from, since World War II, as well as the captured and used artillery pieces. It’s an amazing way to get a close-up look into this brave division. If you’re looking for the best things to do close to Fayetteville, head over to this historical museum in Fort Bragg. The memorial ground is 5 minutes by car (2.6 miles/4.18 km) from KFC on the cross streets of Gruber Road and Reilly Road.
82nd Airborne Division War Memorial
Address: 5108 Ardennes Street, Fort Bragg, NC 28310
Website: 82nd Airborne Division War Memorial
8. Gillis Hill Farm
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
One of the best ways to taste local products and learn about the history of the region at the same time is a visit to the Gillis Hill Farms, a working farm that has been operating since the 1700s. They have a wide range of products available, and they specialize in farming trees, corn, soybeans, tobacco, cotton and other essential vegetables. With the purchase of an ice cream, you can access the self-guided walking tour, for free. From Walmart Supercenter on the same Gillis Hill Road, the farm is a two-minute drive.
Gillis Hill Farm
Address: 2701 Gillis Hill Rd., Fayetteville, NC 28306
Website: Gillis Hill Farm
9. Market House
The focal point of downtown and the only National Landmark in Cumberland County, the Market House has a unique architectural beauty, as it is one of the few structures in the United States to use this English style town hall-market layout. It was built in 1832, on the site of the old State House, and used to serve as a market, where one could buy meat, produce and other household goods. Nowadays, it can be admired from the exterior only. From Fayetteville Train Station, Market House is 0.4 miles (0.64 km) away, which takes about 9 minutes of walking or 2 minutes by car.
Address: Person, Hay, Green, Gillespie Streets, Fayetteville, NC 28301
Website: Market House
10. 1897 Poe House
This building is not linked to the famous writer and master of horror, but instead to a local businessman with the same name. However, the 1897 Poe House holds an important historic legacy and is a magnificent place to learn about life and habits in the beginning of the 20th century. Under the orbit of the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex, the house keeps much of the original furniture and can be visited with a guided tour, from Tuesday to Sunday. Taking Hay Street and then Bradford Avenue from Fayetteville Train Station, this historic home is two minutes away by car.
1897 Poe House
Address: 206 Bradford Ave, Fayetteville, NC 28301
Website: 1897 Poe House
Explore the American spirit: History, heroes and a hometown feeling!
Fayetteville will greet you with American spirit and you can be sure that its people honor it, with every word and action. Join them in the celebration of national pride and get ready for a trip filled with emotion.
Frequently asked questions about the best things to do in Fayetteville, North Carolina
1. What are the top attractions to visit in Fayetteville?
Home to several museums and historical landmarks, Fayetteville boasts many attractions that will last you a day or two to visit all. But if you have a limited time here, make sure you see Cape Fear Botanical Garden and the 1897 Poe House..
2. What are the best outdoor activities in Fayetteville?
One of the best outdoor activities you can do in Fayetteville is to join the self-guided tour of Gillis Hill Farms. It is a working farm that specializes in farming cotton, tobacco, corn, and many more. Other outdoor things to do here include strolling in the Cape Fear Botanical Garden, cycling at the Cape Fear River Trail, and swimming at the Westover Recreation Center.
3. What are the most popular things to do in Fayetteville with kids?
If your kids are tagging along with you on your trip to Fayetteville, then you better bring them at the Westover Recreational Center, where they’ll have an amazing time swimming and picnicking.
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