Moonshine, Music, & Mountains: 8 Fun Things To Do In Wilkesboro, NC

things to do in wilkesboro north carolina

Wilkesboro is a town of just 3,400 people but has enough activities to entertain even the pickiest of visitors. Come here to enjoy small town living, the great outdoors, and a rich history in moonshine.

Read on to find out about the fun things to do in Wilkesboro, NC.

1. Wilkesboro Heritage Museum

The restored Wilkes County Courthouse is home to the Wilkes County Heritage Museum (8635638090)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Government & ... used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

A non-profit founded in 1968, the Wilkes Heritage Museum strives to preserve and promote the rich history of Wilkesboro. Here you can learn that Wilkes County was known as the “Moonshine Capital of the World,” or that many NASCAR drivers got their start in this area evading the law. You can even get information about the famous Siamese twins that lived in the area and fathered a total of 21 children.

The heritage museum is also home to the Blue Ridge Music Hall of fame and the Old Wilkes Jail, one of the few 19th-century prisons still standing. During the Civil War, this jail held Union prisoners, including one famous escape artist, Otto Wood. Finally, you can experience the log home of Robert Cleveland, built in 1779.

Wilkesboro Heritage Museum

Address: 100 E Main St, 28697 Wilkesboro, NC

Website: Wilkesboro Heritage Museum

2. Warrior Creek Mountain Bike Trail

Alsea Falls Trail System
Source: Photo by Flickr user Bureau of Land Ma... used under CC BY 2.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Known as “the OVT on steroids,” the Warrior Creek Mountain Bike Trail represents the cumulation of over ten years of purpose-built mountain bike trails. Along this exciting 21-kilometer (13-mile) trail, riders will find rock gardens, bridges, and excellent mountain views. The trail also features super stacks of berms and banked turns to challenge and excite riders. Bikers can also combine this trail with two other OVT trails to gain more mileage if they have not had enough fun.

Warrior Creek Mountain Bike Trail

Website: Warrior Creek MTB Trail

3. Foothills Outdoor Adventure

Sportist relaxing canoe ride on a quiet river
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Baldacchino Nell,... used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Foothills Outdoor Adventure has something for any kind of day. From a fun time with the kids to a romantic canoe ride, this place has something for you. They offer rentals on both the Kerr Scott Lake and the Yadkin River.

You can even bring your dog along! This family owned company provides rentals of river tubs, paddle boats, canoes, kayaks, stand up paddle boards, fishing boats, tubes, pontoon boats, and even shuttle services. Call them today to book your dream day on the water.

Foothills Outdoor Adventure

Address: 2618 NC-268, 28697 Wilkesboro, NC

Website: Foothills Outdoor Adventure

4. Call Family Distillers

Distillery barrels
Source: Pixabay

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

The Call family has roots that run deep into Wilkes County’s reputation as the Moonshine Capital of the World. Willie Clay Call was dubbed “The Uncatchable” by the ATF and hauled moonshine all over North Carolina. He is still alive and now practices his craft legally at the distillery.

They have the largest direct steam injection still in North Carolina. It is custom designed, holds 2,100 gallons, and has been nicknamed “The Bull.” Book a tour today to see this wonder along with the rest of the distillery and to taste some of their spirits. The distillery even has a program for people under 21 that includes a tour, non-alcoholic beverages, and a moon pie, so the entire family can enjoy a trip here.

Call Family Distillers

Address: 1611 Industrial Dr, 28697 Wilkesboro, NC

Website: Call Family Distillers

5. Merle Watson Garden of the Senses

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Eddy Merle Watson lived from 1949 to 1985 and was an American folk and bluegrass musician, considered to be one of the best flat-picking and slide guitarists of his generation. He was tragically killed at age 36 when a tractor he was working on slid down an embankment and killed him. The Merle Watson Garden of the Senses was made to honor this legend and is made to be enjoyed by both sighted and visually impaired people.

The plants in the garden are chosen for their beauty, unusual texture, or strong scents. The garden also contains a 45-meter (150-foot) brick wall known as “Nature’s Alphabet.” This wall has a series of brick sculptures representing every letter in the English language, and around each sculpture is a pocket outline, allowing the visually impaired to feel around each letter representation.

Merle Watson Garden of the Senses

Address: 1328 S Collegiate Dr, 28697 Wilkesboro, NC

6. Cascade Falls

Cascade Falls 3
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Anupam Kumar Singh used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Cascade Falls is a beautiful, 76-meter (250-foot) tall waterfall that can be found just outside of Wilkesboro. To reach the falls, you will travel an easy 1.2-kilometer (0.8-mile) loop. You will find information about the local flora encountered along the way. Soon, you will arrive at the upper overlook and be treated to an aerial view of the falls tumbling down below. You can also travel down to the lower overlook to get a different viewing experience.

Cascade Falls

Address: Jobs Cabin, NC, USA

7. Stone Mountain State Park

viewing Stone MT from Wolf Rock, NC
Source: Photo by user jarnocan used under CC BY-SA 2.0

With 5,700 hectares (14,351 acres) of land, you can spend several days exploring Stone Mountain State Park. The park is named for the dome of exposed granite that rises 183 meters (600 feet) above the surrounding areas. This mountain can be seen for miles around and was designated a National Natural Landmark as it is the best example of a granite monadnock in North Carolina. Visitors will find over 35 kilometers (22 miles) of trails ranging from moderate to strenuous that will provide them with panoramic views of the mountain, remains of old liquor stills, paths through the forest to view wildlife, views of waterfalls, and an ascent to the top of the mountain. For the most adventurous, backpack camping and rock climbing are available with a permit.

In addition to all of the above activities, Stone Mountain State Park has 90 campsites and some of the best trout fishing in the area. The visitor center is a great opportunity for education with a Mountain Culture Exhibit and information on the natural history of the area. The park even has a Hutchinson Homestead that includes a log cabin, barn, blacksmith shop, and corn crib.

Stone Mountain State Park

Address: 3042 Frank Pkwy, 28668 Roaring Gap, NC

Website: Stone Mountain State Park

8. Merlefest

Rory Block Merlefest 2014 Wilkesboro
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user bobistraveling used under CC BY 2.0

Merlefest is held the last weekend in April to honor Eddy Merle Watson, the same guitarist for which the Garden of the Senses was designed. It is one of the largest music festivals in the United States, consistently attracting crowds of over 75,000 people. Over four days and across 13 stages, visitors will have a variety of traditional and contemporary roots music to chose from. Some notable performers that have graced the stages here include Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Earl Scruggs, Alan Jackson, the Doobie Brothers, and Lyle Lovett.


Website: Merlefest

Wilkesboro is an adventure

With its deep roots in moonshine and music and proximity to some of the most beautiful areas in North Carolina, Wilkesboro is an adventure just waiting to be experienced.

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

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Molly is a technology marketing and sales professional. She earned a Bachelor's degree from Baylor University and has been writing for many years. Currently, she is a contributor at more

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