“We came for the scenic mountain retreat, we stayed for the endless entertainment!” It’s a common refrain we hear from folks with mountain homes in Western North Carolina. If you’ve ever wondered whether it’s possible to live in a beautiful, secluded mountain home and still have an active social life, the answer from those in the know is a resounding yes. Especially when home is a heavenly retreat in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, like at The Coves Mountain River Club. Here you’re just minutes from several small towns where there’s plenty to see and do.

As lively small towns go, Morganton NC tops the list as a treasure trove of activity for mountain residents. Known as “Nature’s Playground” it’s a mountain town The Coves residents admit to falling in love with at first sight. Not only is it bursting with shopping, dining, and entertainment venues, it’s fully loaded with some unexpected modern amenities – like bike lanes for active cyclers, free wifi on the courthouse lawn and surround sound piped in music, all that give this small-town entertainment hub a touch of big-city pizzazz.

The list of reasons to fall in love with Morganton NC spans as wide as the Blue Ridge Mountain range that adorns its skyline. But we’ve compiled a list of our Top 7 favorites – including the best of Morganton NC shopping, Morganton NC restaurants and a Morganton festival or two – to give you just a sampling of some of the best reasons to love this vibrant small mountain town.

#1 – FOODIE MECCA

From the farm-to-table movement to the craft-beer craze, foodie culture has taken root in small town North Carolina, and no one serves it up better than Morganton. With restaurants ranging from throwback burger joints to elegant upscale dining, here’s a list of some of our favorite Morganton NC restaurants that The Coves residents swear by:

Wisteria at 108 E Meeting St, Morganton, NC 28655

Talk about farm-to-table deliciousness. This gastropub offers classic Southern cuisine with a twist. Their seasonally inspired menu stems from their promise to support community farmers and artisans. All ingredients are sourced locally, and the chef uses only humanely raised meats and sustainable seafood. The result is fresh, healthy, delicious food with a distinctive local flavor.

Grind Café Coffee House at 136 W Union St, Morganton, NC 28655

They call themselves “a little slice of heaven in the cozy foothills of the mountains,” and we couldn’t agree more. Drop in to this hip little coffee house for a Blue Ridge roast beef hoagie and a craft beer. Or order a gourmet espresso drink, a couple of frozen whipped smoothies and a selection of fresh pastries from the to-go menu and enjoy them on your screened-in porch back at The Coves.

 Jake’s Wayback Burgers at 160 S Sterling St, Morganton, NC 28655

As the name suggests, the goal here is to take you back “to a simpler more genuine time.” The hometown vibe is apparent in this 25-year-old neighborhood favorite that serves fresh (never frozen) burgers, hand-dipped milkshakes, and a slew of sides. Try their kid-friendly and vegetarian options.

Kin2Kin at 103 S Green St, Morganton, NC 28655

Okay, can we talk about a perfect date night? This Japanese restaurant and sushi bar is located right next door to Morganton’s 7-screen cinema. We can’t think of a more romantic way to spend an evening than taking a scenic drive from The Coves to downtown Morganton and treating your sweetheart to an elegant dinner fresh off the hibachi menu (grilled tableside), followed by the latest big-screen blockbuster.

King Street Café at 207 S King St, Morganton, NC 28655

When you’re ready for a unique fine-dining experience, local celebrity Chef Peter Chan is ready to wow your taste buds with fresh seasonal fare. Famous for their French onion soup, exotic nightly specialties and fresh homemade desserts, this quaint café in a romantically lit Victorian home setting has a menu that features wild game, fowl, and seafood, enhanced with savory herbs and fresh-made sauces. They also have an extensive wine list and imported beer.

Maria’s Italian Eatery at 601 S Green St, Morganton, NC 28655

Did you know The Coves holds an annual ‘Taste of Italy’ food celebration and competition? Not that we’re trying to tip the scales in anyone’s favor, but here’s a little secret. If you want to study up on delicious Italian food, Maria’s is a great place to start. In addition to tasty pizzas piled high with toppings, they’ve got a variety of pastas, subs, calzones, and salads galore. Maria’s will even do special-order pizzas, including gluten-free crusts.

Root & Vine at 139 W Union St, Morganton, NC 28655

This cozy but sophisticated wood grill restaurant puts a focus on freshness and value. They coordinate daily with local farmer’s markets, growers, and fish purveyors to create a menu that features fresh produce and seafood. Everything’s made from scratch in a style that blends traditional French with New American for some seriously “straightforward, unpretentious fare.”

The fabulous variety of Morganton NC restaurants isn’t the only thing that makes this town a foodie mecca. You’ll also want to visit the Morganton Natural Foods store, try out one of the town’s many open-air farmer’s markets, and get your fill of all-you-can-eat chili at the Annual Chili Cook-Off.

If you’re looking to combine food and fun, there’s always a Morganton festival worth checking out. These events serve food with local flair in a setting where both beer and live music flow like a mountain stream. No event does this better than the State of Origin Craft Brew Festival, now in its third year. This annual event is hosted by Fonta Flora, one of three popular craft beer breweries in downtown Morganton.

#2 – BEER CITY 

The brewery boom is real, folks. And it’s become an increasingly popular trend, spreading like wildflowers through the Blue Ridge Mountains and all across North Carolina. Beer enthusiasts in this part of the country enjoy touring the state’s breweries, attending beer festivals, or taking bike tours through the mountains in search of the best local brews.

Last year, Morganton was the first stop on the Beer City Bicycle Tour, which wound its way round the scenic mountain roads through several small towns in Western North Carolina. And what better place to start the tour than in this beloved beer city. With three mighty microbreweries in downtown Morganton, we’re having a hard time picking a favorite. So we recommend you try them all and decide for yourself!

Fonta Flora Brewery at 317 N Green St, Morganton, NC 28655

Here you’ll discover a uniquely artisan approach to crafting beer with an emphasis on local flora. This brewery calls upon the talents of local artists to help bring a creative perspective to traditional beer making. The tap list changes with the seasons and ingredients are as exciting and unpredictable as local bull’s blood beets from Bluebird Farm of Morganton, kiwis from Fox Farms, and other locally sourced flora that “take beer back to its agricultural roots.”

Brown Mountain Bottleworks at 115 E Union St, Morganton, NC 28655

This microbrewery boasts a 33-foot concrete bar. Sidle up and order from more than 250 craft beers, plus ciders and wines. All food and drink here has a ‘locally grown’ focus. Round up your music-loving neighbors from The Coves and enjoy one of Bottleworks’ live band or open mic nights.

Catawba Brewing Co. at 212 S Green St, Morganton, NC 28655

This is not your average watering hole, folks. It’s a family owned and operated brewery with enough space for pool tables, live music, and an expansive dance floor. Rock bands play on Friday and Saturday nights, and Trivia Tuesdays are not to be missed. As for the libations, they’ve got craft beers, ales, stouts, and saisons available in tasting rooms, kegs and cans. Try one of their more out-there flavors like Peanut Butter Jelly Time Ale or Astral Bootie Beer.

#3 – ART SCENE

Performing Arts

Folks who enjoy living the quiet mountain lifestyle in places like The Coves Mountain River Club will tell you they cherish their drama-free lifestyle. But that doesn’t mean they don’t like a little drama on the stage. That’s why, after a day of peaceful fishing in the Johns River or downward-dogging on a yoga mat by the Pisgah Mountain Lodge infinity-view swimming pool, The Coves residents like to drive to Morganton to catch a live show at the City of Morgan Municipal Auditorium known as CoMMA. This 30-year-old theatre hosts everything from Broadway musicals and ice ballets to big band concerts, string symphonies, and bluegrass bands.

Visual Arts

Morganton’s City Hall is proud to host revolving art exhibits right there on the premises. ‘Art in the Hall’ is designed to enhance the experience of visitors to City Hall and provide a public space for local artists to exhibit their work. Visitors are treated to displays of folk art, quilt art, photography, painted landscapes, and more.

Downtown Morganton is also home to a number of private galleries and museums, including The History Museum of Burke County and M.A.D. (Morganton Art & Design). And the Burke Arts Council organizes some pretty fabulous gallery tours and art crawls.

Cinematic Arts

When you have a clear view of Blue Ridge Mountains outside your window at The Coves, you can’t imagine anything more picturesque to feast your eyes on. But sometimes getting lost in a good movie can be a nice diversion too. Morganton’s Marquee Cinema offers family-friendly entertainment in a state-of-the-art movie house with plush seating, 7 screensm and a 3D cinema to accommodate a broad selection of the most up-to-date Hollywood titles. 

#4 – MUSIC VIBE

In addition to the many music selections presented by CoMMA, Morganton hosts a series of live concert events on the Courthouse Square. From May to July, Downtown Morganton presents TGIF, a free Friday night outdoor concert series that features a diversity of music for a range of tastes. Bring a blanket or a lawn chair, and get ready to rock. Morganton has a great music vibe in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

#5 – FESTIVALS & EVENTS

There’s nothing like a good ol’ Morganton festival to bring together our top 4 favorite things – food, beer, art and music. These are the annual events that are sure to entice The Coves residents down from Lenoir to Morganton. Two of the biggies are MerleFest in Wilkesboro and the State of Origin Beer Festival in Morganton.

And when school’s out and the grandkids come to visit, there are a couple of not-to-be-missed family-friendly Morganton festival events that take place later in the summer. Mark your calendars for the Red, White & Bluegrass Festival in July and the Historic Morganton Festival in September. 

In its 12 years of lighting up the night with fireworks and live music, the Red, White & Bluegrass Festival has welcomed visitors from all states in the continental U.S. as well as Canada, England, Switzerland, Germany, France and Japan. That just goes to show you how far and wide the appeal of American bluegrass spans, and how far folks will travel for some genuine Morganton festival fun.

The Historic Morganton Festival is coming up on its 35th year of rolling out a mile and a half of arts and crafts in the center of town. This good-time event features food, games, and free outdoor concerts. Consider this an open invitation to “come and play in the streets.”

Both Red, White & Bluegrass and the Historic Morganton festivals are fun for all ages.

#6 – TREASURE HUNTING

It’s no secret that some of us are just born to shop. And when you bring your passion for shopping to Morganton, you definitely won’t go home empty handed. There are so many stores, galleries, antique shops, gift boutiques, and farmer’s markets to browse that we like to think the Morganton NC shopping experience is not so much “shopping” as “treasure hunting.”

 Morganton treasure comes in the form of clothing (from high-end glam to every-day southern chic), hand-made leather boots, jewelry, accessories, beauty products, pottery, art pieces, musical instruments, handcrafted furniture, Christmas crafts, music, books, wines & cheeses, gourmet gifts, nutritional products and vitamins, fresh local produce, and more.

Need we say more? Morganton is a shopper’s paradise.

#7 – PARKS & RECREATION

The fresh air and pleasant climate of small mountain towns make outdoor activities a year-round bonus. That’s why the City of Morganton Parks and Recreation Department keeps more than 400 acres of land open year-round and ready for recreation lovers to jump in and enjoy. Offerings include:

10 Public Parks

All are open from dawn to 10:00 p.m. including Catawba Meadows Park, which has numerous fields and courts for baseball, softball, golf, volleyball, picnicking, and special events

Morganton Greenway

System of trails meticulously maintained and ready for year-round biking, jogging, strolling, birdwatching, and picnicking

Multiple Recreational Facilities

Swimming (indoor and outdoor pools), skeet shooting, and community gardening

Fitness Programs

A variety of athletic and fitness programs for youth, adults, and seniors

By the time you’ve explored the endless treasures to be found at Morganton NC restaurants, Morganton NC shopping, and on the Morganton festival scene, you’ll understand why so many are lured by the energy of this small mountain town. And you’ll long to live within a short drive from The Coves Mountain River Club.

This neighborhood of friendly folks have figured out the secret to mountain living. It’s all about knowing how to live it up in the small mountain towns that surround your little corner of heaven in the riverfront gated community you call home sweet home.

At The Coves Mountain River Club, owning a ‘corner of heaven’ means you get to throw open your windows each morning to greet a magnificent mountain view or hear the soothing Johns River. You will enjoy a series of sun salutations by the pool, raft along your private stretch of river, take your canine buddy on a daily nature hike, harvest vegetables in your neighborhood garden, enjoy a favorite book in a quiet riverfront gazebo, and at the end of the day, share a sunset and a smile with your friends and neighbors sitting fireside at Pisgah Mountain Lodge.

Our property owners feel like living at The Coves with its bounty of on-site amenities and a treasure trove of small-town opportunities just down the road, is like living on a permanent vacation.

Why not ‘live like a local’ for a few days and discover what The Coves Mountain River Club can offer you and your family. You’ve worked hard all your life. It’s your turn now to closely connect with the great outdoors and enjoy life living in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

If you’re exploring the area for the first time, ask for our 84 page complimentary Western North Carolina Visitor’s Guide which provides more information about living in the foothills.