12 Best Things To Do In And Around Shelby, North Carolina - Updated 2022

things to do in shelby north carolina

Shelby, in North Carolina, is known affectionately as the “City of Pleasant Living” and was incorporated in the year 1843. It was named after Colonel Isaac Shelby, who was a Revolutionary War hero at the Battle of Kings Mountain. Shelby’s large sidewalks are known for their signature large oak trees, which provide shade for one to take a leisurely walk.

The world acclaimed Don Gibson Theatre has a full calendar of music and entertainment and there are beautiful city parks and museums and galleries here, which will leave you inspired and more educated about Shelby. Start planning your journey to this scenic destination. Read on to learn more about the interesting things to do in and around Shelby, North Carolina.

1. Visit the town's cultural hub that is Earl Scruggs Center

Old Cleveland County Courthouse 2009
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user OptimumPx used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Earl Scruggs Center is a cultural center and venue for local exhibits and special events located in the refurbished Cleveland County Courthouse. It is named after Earl Scruggs, a Cleveland County native known as a legendary five-string banjo master, and explores his innovative banjo career. The center highly celebrates the musical career of Scruggs and how he crossed musical boundaries while adapting to the changing times.

Aside from having engaging exhibits and being an event space, its state-of-the-art technology and rich programming provide a memorable experience for visitors. Documentation about the pioneers of Bluegrass, the roots of the banjo, and more can be enjoyed through a giant iPad.

Earl Scruggs Center

Address: Earl Scruggs Center, 103 S. Lafayette St., Shelby, NC 28150

Website: Earl Scruggs Center

Opening hours: Tue: 10am - 4pm; Wed: 10am - 6pm; Thu - Sat: 10am - 4pm (closed on Sun & Mon)

2. Discover more about Uptown Shelby's local treasures

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

This city’s avenues for fun and businesses are made convenient by Uptown Shelby. It is a North Carolina Main Street Community, a non-profit organization designed to administer the creation of high-quality local places and the building of stronger local communities to spur economic development. Think of tourism but instead of sites and attractions, it focuses on local business, events, and the economy.

How do I then discover and support Uptown Shelby, you ask? By simply celebrating with friends, unwinding after work, jogging in the parks, watching an artist exhibit, touring a loft, and more, you are showing support to Uptown Shelby’s local treasures. It promotes the city in three acts: unique food establishments, rich musical roots, and a thriving arts scene.

Uptown Shelby

Address: 211 South Trade Street, Shelby, North Carolina 28150

Website: Uptown Shelby

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 9am - 5pm (closed on Sat & Sun)

3. Taste the great meat servings of Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Take a bite from the barbecue meat servings of Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge, a celebrated restaurant along Highway 74. Pit-cooked barbecue has been the constant star of the menu of this family-owned restaurant that opened in 1946. Its secret lies in how the pork is slow-cooked over hickory overnight to achieve the old fashion flavor of a true barbecue. Apart from barbecues, the restaurant also serves sandwiches, platters, salads, and classic sides. Get in the store, and find yourself making a big decision of whether to have a sandwich or platter.

The restaurant was founded by Red and Lyttle Bridges and is currently being run and operated by their daughter and grandchildren. Keep the now 74-year tradition alive and delight yourself with a great barbecue.

Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge

Address: 2000 East Dixon Blvd. Shelby, NC 28152

Website: Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge

Opening hours: Wed - Sat: 11am - 7pm; Sun: 11am - 3pm (closed on Mon & Tue)

4. Unwind with a pint at Newgrass Brewing Co.

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Stop by Newgrass Brewing Co and treat yourself to a pint of artisan-crafted beer. As the first micro-brewery in Cleveland County, Newgrass is decidedly a staple in the Shelby community. It provides a wide variety of exceptional and handcrafted brews from unparalleled ingredients sourced both internationally and locally. With a casual and family-friendly setting, its stage for live music, an outdoor beer garden, and equally great food set the mood for good times.

The staff knows their way around beers and if you share the same or are building interest in crafted beers, you’re in for a treat.

Newgrass Brewing Co.

Address: 213 S Lafayette St., Shelby, NC 28150

Website: Newgrass Brewing Co.

Opening hours: Tue - Thu: 4pm - 10pm; Fri:4pm - 12am; Sat: 11am - 12am; Sun: 12pm - 6pm (closed on Mon)

5. Shop some fresh produce at Foothills Farmers Market

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Foothills Farmers' Market on Monday, July 25, 2022

Shop the freshest goods in Cleveland County at Foothills Farmers’ Market. It provides easy access to the local produce and showcases the family-owned farms and small businesses in the region. You will find a generous assortment of products such as locally raised meat, eggs, cheese, bread, and honey. The list gets even more interesting as there are even herb and ornamental plants, artisan crafts, goat milk soaps, and more good finds in the market.

Cleveland County’s dynamic local food system enabled the farmers and local food advocates to create a charitable non-profit association in 2010 that unites producers and consumers. Foothills Farmers’ Market paved way for farmers to thrive and consumers to have access high quality, healthy, locally grown food.

Foothills Farmers Market

Address: 126 W. Marion St. Shelby, NC

Website: Foothills Farmers Market

Opening hours: Sat: Apr - Oct, 8am – 12pm & Nov - Mar: 10am – 1pm; Wed: May - Oct, 8am – 12pm

6. Visit the world famous Don Gibson Theater

Thank you for supporting our theatre! If you would like to ensure continued quality performances at the Don Gibson...

Posted by The Don Gibson Theatre on Wednesday, February 1, 2017

This State Theatre opened in 1939 and is praised as one of the most beautiful buildings in Shelby. It was a highly popular small movie theatre, but it encountered challenges which befell many such film houses. With the advent of malls and cable TV in people’s lives, these theaters found it very difficult to survive, but thanks to a passionate volunteer group, called Destination Cleveland County, this old movie house was brought back to life.

Known as the Don Gibson Theatre, this 400 seat venue is now mainly an intimate concert hall. You will find only the best in touring nationally famous acts here, including musicians that have been featured on magazine covers and those who have won Grammy Awards, gold albums and “Best of the Year” awards.

Don Gibson Theater

Address: 318 Washington St, Shelby, NC 28150

Website: Don Gibson Theater

7. Tour the Owl's Eye Vineyard and Winery

Editor’s note: Establishment is permanently closed

This exciting vineyard is situated near Charlotte, in North Carolina, just outside Shelby. If you are a wine connoisseur or you are just starting to explore wine, you will have a memorable and enjoyable experience here. It is located just 2.5 miles (4 km) away from historic downtown Shelby. They offer tours, wine tastings and private parties and events. Its winery tasting room is a welcoming place for private parties, gatherings, work events, wedding receptions and dinners.

Owl's Eye Vineyard and Winery

Address: 1414 Metcalf Rd, Shelby, NC 28150

Website: Owl’s Eye Vineyard and Winery

8. Trek in South Mountains State Park

South Mountains - Silky stream
Source: Photo by Flickr user SnappinDragon used under CC BY 2.0

The South Mountains State Park lies in one of Shelby’s most rugged areas and features elevations up to a height of 3,000 feet (914.4 meters). It has an 80-foot (24.4 meter) waterfalls, streams and 40 miles (64.4 km) of trails for hikers, equestrians and mountain bikers. You will have a real backcountry experience here and there are 20 backpacking sites at six different locations.

Equestrian camping is offered in the park, along with trailer parking and a barn to complement the 33 miles (53.1 km) of bridle trails. Mountain bikers can enjoy a 17-mile (27.4 kilometer) ride, where they can bike to campsites and sit by the Jacob Fork River, with its tributaries and miles and miles of trout fishing.

It also has two picnic spots and one picnic shelter for groups. There is a visitor center here, which offers great, museum-quality exhibits on the rich cultural and natural history of the South Mountains.

South Mountains State Park

Address: 3001 South Mountain Park Avenue, Connelly Springs, NC 28612

Website: South Mountains State Park

9. Visit the Great Metalmorphosis Giant Head

Source: Pixabay

Metalmorphosis is a mirrored sculpture in Whitehall Technology Park, located in Charlotte, North Carolina. The creation has nearly 40 steel pieces, which are grouped into seven segments and which rotate 360 degrees, independently. Water comes out of the mouth into a surrounding pool. When all the segments are aligned, it appears to be a giant silver head with all the fixtures in their own place.

Metalmorphosis - Giant Head

Address: 3700 Arco Corporate Dr., Charlotte, NC

Website: Metalmorphosis - Giant Head

10. Sunset Drive-In Theatre

Source: Photo by Flickr user Michael Kilgore used under CC BY 2.0

The Sunset Drive-In Theatre was opened prior to 1955 and was operated by Colonial Theatres. It is a family-owned business and is open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It is a good place for an inexpensive family night out for the entire family and you can watch two movies for just 7 USD per carload.

There is parking for 420 cars. Bring your own chairs and blankets to watch the movies under the stars or sit in your car. There is a snack bar inside, which sells great burgers and hot dogs, as well as corn dogs, tasty chili cheese fries, french fries, yummy popcorn, fizzy drinks and, of course, candy.

Sunset Drive-In Theatre

Address: 3935 W. Dixon Boulevard, Shelby, NC 28150

Website: Sunset Drive-In Theatre

11. Appreciate the art exhibits at Buffalo Creek Gallery

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Buffalo Creek Gallery on Wednesday, August 18, 2021

The Buffalo Creek Gallery was founded in 2006 by 24 local artists. Artists from nearby areas joined in as well and it officially opened on August 10, 2006, and has been a leader in the community by organizing its “Arts On The Square” event, annually.

It is a Shelby, NC, attraction that features paintings, pottery, drawing, cards, clay art, woodcarvings, jewelry, stained glass, photography, quilt making, and weaving. The gallery has an in-house studio for working artists to make and promote their art, in Shelby.

Buffalo Creek Gallery

Address: 104 E Warren St, Shelby, NC 28150

Website: Buffalo Creek Gallery

12. Visit the Foothills Public Shooting Complex

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Foothills Public Shooting Complex of Cleveland County on Saturday, April 30, 2022

Foothills Public Shooting Complex, near Shelby, in Cleveland County, is known as the largest public outdoor shooting range in the southeastern part of the United States. It is a huge 85 acre (34.4 hectare) campus, which can be used for all types of weapons.

It has facilities for 3D archery and there is a range office and a classroom training facility, as well as an outdoor pavilion and a catering service area, restroom facilities, and a vending area for drinks and snacks. It has ample parking and is wheelchair accessible.

Foothills Public Shooting Complex

Address: 283 Fielding Rd, Cherryville, NC 28021

Website: Foothills Public Shooting Complex

The 'City of Pleasant Living' beckons you!

It’s no wonder that Shelby is called the City of Pleasant Living. It is a pleasant city to live in and also visit, as it has every amenity you can imagine and is also filled with arts, culture and history.

Frequently asked questions about the best things to do in and around Shelby, North Carolina

1. Which are the best attractions to visit in Shelby?

Shelby is a city that boasts some of the best attractions in the North Carolina region. Here are the best ones to visit during your trip: i) Earl Scruggs Center, ii) Uptown Shelby, iii) Foothills Farmers Market, and iv) Owl’s Eye Vineyard and Winery.

2. Which are the best activities in Shelby?

You would not have to think about what to do in Shelby, NC, with this set of suggested activities. Explore the city and nearby areas by: i) visiting the world-famous Don Gibson Theater, ii) trekking in South Mountains State Park, iii) seeing the Great Metalmorphosis Giant Head, and iv) appreciating the art exhibits at Buffalo Creek Gallery.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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An Ex Investment Banker with a zest for life, now a full time mom who has a bag always packed to explore the universe, have traveled through the whole of India, loves adventure and enjoys...Read more

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