Fayetteville, North Carolina is a town with a rich history and a lot of fun things to do.
With museums, botanical gardens, parks, farms, outdoor activities, and more, this home of Fort Bragg has more than meets the eye. Whether you’re interested in exploring the downtown coffee shops and art galleries, or hiking through the North Carolina forests is more your speed — you’ll find what you’re looking for in Fayetteville.
Here are 19 things to do in Fayetteville NC that you’re going to want to add to your itinerary.
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COOLEST PLACES TO STAY IN FAYETTEVILLE NC
- Fun Home for The Whole Family. Featuring a huge pool, game tables, a movie room, and more — this amazing home is perfect for a family or group getaway. The home has 5 bedrooms, and is only 9 miles from Fort Bragg Military Base.
- Hotel Pick for Families. Residence Inn by Marriott Fayetteville Cross Creek is a good choice with kids in tow if you’re not looking at VRBO or house options. It’s 5 miles from downtown and the children’s museum. As always, all suites have a kitchenette and free breakfast on-site.
- House Pick Near Ft. Bragg. Cozy Cottage Feel is wonderful if you’re heading to Ft. Bragg for a graduation or other event. This 3-bedroom home is only 5 minutes from the base.
AIRBORNE AND SPECIAL OPERATIONS MUSEUM
This museum holds a special place in locals’ hearts and for soldiers all over the country. The Airborne and Special Operations Museum has been educating the public for the last 20 years, reminding us all why we should appreciate our liberties so much. Here you can not only go through the museum that shares a rich history of our Airborne and Special Operations soldiers, but it is also next to their local academy.
They offer exclusive visits that go more into current-day training, if that’s what interests you. Looking to learn more about history? This museum also focuses on crucial events such as D-Day, The Vietnam War, and interesting backgrounds on heroes, like the Bielski Brothers.
CULTURAL HERITAGE TRAILS
If you are someone who can’t get enough of history, then exploring any of the 750 miles of the Cultural Heritage Trails is worth your time.
Fayetteville is considered to be “America’s Hometown,” and with these trails, you can learn all about America right inside Fayetteville. Choose the African American Heritage Trail and drive from site to site, getting a first-hand feel for life as an African American in Fayetteville. From churches to the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, there are more than 20 different stops on this trail.
You can also explore The Civil War Trail, The Antiquing Trail, or The All-American Trail. Each of these trails offers something new and different, and are well worth a visit.
82ND AIRBORNE DIVISION WAR MEMORIAL MUSEUM
The 82nd Airborne Division War Memorial Museum is located at Fort Bragg. Fort Bragg is a historical site that is one of the largest military installations in the world, hosting 54,000 military personnel.
The museum itself was established in 1945, in an effort to preserve and teach the public about the history of the division dating back to 1917. While they have four full-time staff to help you, the exhibit section is self-guided, and you can take in 5600 square feet of teachings, starting with World War I.
The Museum Theater hosts 64 people and shows a daily 25-minute film that highlights the history of the Army Airborne Division. But that’s not all! The actual grounds consists of 7 acres waiting to be explored. This includes The Airborne Airpark, which has nearly every plane that paratroopers have jumped from since World War II.
CAPE FEAR RIVER TRAIL
The Cape Fear River Trail is one of the most beautiful walks, runs, or bike rides that you can take while visiting Fayetteville. It is a 10-foot wide path that consists of trails, and even covered bridges and boardwalks, over marshes. It’s 5.5 miles long, which means you could spend a few hours walking and taking in the beautiful scenery along the river.
Along the trail, you will find signs detailing what kind of wildlife and habitat you may come across. Over 700 species of trees and plants are featured along the trail, and over 150 species of birds can be found in the area, too. Be on the lookout for possible lizards and turtles as well! This is a great place to take in nature and get a little exercise.
CAPE FEAR BOTANICAL GARDEN
Just two miles outside of downtown Fayetteville sits an incredible 80 acres of pristine natural greenery. The Cape Fear Botanical Garden sits just between Cape Fear River and Cross Creek, and provides tons of nature to be explored.
The garden was founded in 1989, and serves as a 501(c)3 nonprofit for the town. While this is certainly a great place to have a picnic or read a book, you can also schedule a private guided tour.
This area is known to have a lot of private events and weddings because of how beautiful it is.
MUSEUM OF CAPE FEAR
The Museum of Cape Fear is a two-story complex that is dedicated to telling North Carolina’s history with the Civil War. Along with the museum itself, the complex also features The 1897 Poe House and Arsenal Park.
The Museum of Cape Fear is one of the most interesting museum complexes across the country. From Native Americans to European Immigrants to the Civil War, these grounds have a lot of deep, rich history to offer in guided tours, or just through self-exploration.
1897 POE HOUSE
The 1897 Poe House is a part of an addition to the Museum of Cape Fear. As the title of the home suggests, it was built in 1897 and was owned by Mr. E. A Poe, who was a local businessman who owned a brick company. The home is meant to demonstrate what life was like in the era for women, children, and families.
Here you can find guided tours Tuesday through Friday at 11:00, 1:00, and 3:00. They also offer tours Saturday every hour starting at 10:00 with the last one at 4:00. They also offer tours on Sunday afternoons.
Arsenal Park is also part of the Museum of Cape Fear, as it sits inside the 7-acre complex.
Interestingly enough, the United States government both created and destroyed the arsenal. It was originally commissioned right after the War of 1812, and was meant to be one of five newly constructed arsenals. While it was going to be used for the creation of rifles, among other battle props, it was destroyed by the Union in 1865.
Today, it sits in a green open space that was restored for visitors to explore. You’ll find the ruins and outline of the arsenal, and it’s worth taking a walk around to get the full image of where these arsenals were being built.
GILLIS HILL FARM
Gillis Hill Farm is a farm that has been owned by nine generations of the same family, and welcomes visitors throughout the year. You have two options when you visit the farm — you can just visit their ice cream shop, or you can pay admission and go on a self-guided tour and take part in all the fun.
When you pay the $3 admission fee, you can take part in activities or walk throughout the farm to see all the restored buildings. You also can feed the animals and learn about how the farm operates.
The North Carolina Veterans Park is located in historic downtown Fayetteville. It’s said to be the first sanctuary for the American Military community, and it boasts a rich history. It’s also the first state park in North Carolina to be dedicated to military veterans. It’s the ultimate place to come and show your appreciation, while also educating your kids on their freedoms thanks to the veterans of our country.
The park shows appreciation for all branches — including the Coast Guard, Army, Navy, and Air Force.
FAYETTEVILLE AREA TRANSPORTATION AND LOCAL HISTORY MUSEUM
Another museum worth your time is the Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum. So far we have looked at things on a big scale, but what about all things local? With a focus on the development of the beautiful and historic downtown Fayetteville, this museum is located at the restored 1890 Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley Railroad Depot.
Here you’ll find two floors of artifact-filled exhibits. The history of the Fayetteville area is told from pre-history through the early 20th century. Make sure you visit the steamboat interactive and the recreated Station Agent’s Office!
The Museum also sits next to the Museum Annex. This may be a little more fun for young kiddos who aren’t major history lovers. Here you can find vintage cars, a recreated gas station from the 1920s, and the Fayetteville Silsby Steam Pump Engine.
LAKE RIM PARK
Lake Rim Park seems to have it all. You could spend a day, or even multiple days, here with family or friends, getting into all sorts of activities. You can start with their one-mile trail that is over the wetlands to Bones Creek. But if walking or taking a stroll doesn’t interest you, they also have volleyball courts, tennis courts, and other athletic facilities to take advantage of.
You’ll also find several picnic tables, horseshoe pits, and a children’s playground here.
CAPE FEAR REGIONAL THEATRE
For those who love performing arts and the theater, the Cape Fear Regional Theatre certainly hits the spot. This amazing theater hosts several shows and events, including classics like The Wizard of Oz. The theater started back in 1962, when a group of local actors came together to create one of the best theaters in the entire state.
This is no tiny theater either, as it can host 300 people for the main stage and spans over three stories. It’s a great place to catch a show.
SANDHILLS FAMILY HERITAGE CENTER
The Sandhills Family Heritage Center is located just outside of Fayetteville, in nearby Spring Lake, North Carolina. It’s a 501(c)3 non-profit with a focus on the community coming together, as it is volunteer-led.
The town’s goal is to preserve history and educate visitors on African American history and communities within the town. But it also goes beyond that, while also empowering the youth and honoring the elder through program activities.
On Saturdays from June through September, you’ll find the Sandhills Farmers and Heritage Market, also known at the Spring Lake Farmers Market. This awesome market connects history and culture with fresh produce and specialty items. Grab fresh local fruits and vegetables, while taking in a Zumba presentation or cooking demonstration. This farmers market is the place to be.
SWEET TEA SHAKESPEARE
Sweet Tea Shakespeare truly is something fun for everyone. This theater company brings people together to inspire them with Shakespeare.
Sweet Tea Shakespeare has different approaches to their shows. For instance, their Honey Series has a dedication to women in theater, while their Lit Series allows the actors to interact with their audience.
This is a different experience that is definitely worth taking part in.
FAYETTEVILLE ROSE GARDEN
Established in the 1970s, the Fayetteville Rose Garden is a beautiful place to visit by yourself or in a group. It’s based at the Fayetteville Technical Community College, and offers more than 1000 beautiful rose bushes.
While there are other types of flora, seeing the rose bushes when fully bloomed is truly impressive.
Arnette Park is another fantastic green space that offers many outdoor activities. You can find different sports courts and athletic facilities to keep sports enthusiasts busy. You can also find a ton of walking space and trails through the natural woodland. It’s 100 acres, so you can spend your days hanging out and exploring every part of the park.
For those who like to run and/or bike, there is a one-mile trail called the Perimeter Road. For those who prefer picnics, there are plenty of areas to set up for a nice barbecue.
DIRTBAG ALES BREWERY AND TAPROOM
For those who love breweries, we are sorry to have kept you waiting. The Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom is a great place to sip on beer and take in fantastic live music.
It’s not too far from Fayetteville, as it is located in Hope Mills. Worthy of the short drive, it is known as the iconic North Carolina I-95 brewery, allowing guests to step outside of normalcy and experience: “life as an exception to the rule.”
Their beers are not the only thing that is handcrafted. Their tables and original decorations are showcased throughout the brewery as well. With high quality ingredients, their selection of beers is top-notch, and the perfect way to end the day in this area.
J BAYARD CLARK PARK & NATURE CENTER
With trails along the Cape Fear River, you can find tons of nature to explore within the J. Bayard Clark Park and Nature Center. This area is home to a ton of different animals and species, like birds, fish, snakes, turtles, and more! It’s the city’s second-largest regional park, and has the Nature Center Museum area for viewing live animals in natural habitats.
If you would rather go mountain biking or hiking, visitors can take in beautiful waterfalls just east of the mountains. Pets are welcome, as long as they are leashed and well-behaved. Educational programs and tours are also offered here.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO NORTH CAROLINA
- YOUR NORTH CAROLINA VACATION
- NC BEACHES: 16 Sensational North Carolina Beaches You Need To Visit
- NC SKI RESORTS: 6 Best North Carolina Ski Resorts
- CHEROKEE: 15 Things To Do In Cherokee, NC You Can’t Miss
- NC RESORTS: 24 Resorts In North Carolina That Will Have You Packing Your Bags Tonight
WHERE TO STAY IN FAYETTEVILLE NC
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