Hickory, Dickory, dock. One of America’s favorite nursery rhymes is as beloved as the Western North Carolina mountain town of Hickory. Chances are if you’ve ever sat in your favorite chair reading about the best small towns in America, you’ve already had a taste of Hickory.
Not just because the southern city along 4,200 acre Lake Hickory has made its way onto more than a few “Best Places” lists but because that favorite chair you’re sitting in is very likely to have come from Hickory. A large majority of furniture produced in the United States is made in or around this furniture hub. Many big-name furniture manufacturers – Broyhill and Drexel Heritage among them – are headquartered in Hickory, one of the most industry-rich, scenic mountain towns in North Carolina.
Lush with hardwood forests and handsomely framed by the Blue Ridge Mountains, Hickory is a sight to behold, not to mention a town to be treasured. Located halfway between Winston-Salem and Asheville in Western North Carolina, this haven of a small-town charm is nestled between her slicker sister cities. And, as you might guess from this ideal location, there are plenty of enjoyable things to do in Hickory North Carolina.
When you live at The Coves Mountain River Club, you don’t have to guess. You’re living the Hickory experience on the regular basis. The Coves continues to be one of the most sought-after gated mountain communities located just minutes away in Lenoir, one of the best places to find mountain homes with long-range mountains views and five miles of frontage on the Johns River.
What’s the big draw? Furniture, fine art, and fun. Here’s a quick glimpse of the limitless things to do in Hickory North Carolina:
#1 – FURNITURE ENVY
How could we not top the list with furniture? It’s what Hickory’s known for. History has it that one of the town’s earliest settlers, Henry Robinson, built a wood tavern beneath a huge oak tree back in the 1850s. It seemed only natural that the town that sprang up around it should be called Hickory Tavern, as it was originally named in 1863. As this quaint hardwood forest-rich town continued to develop, a new furniture mecca began to blossom, and the rest is Hickory history.
Today, Hickory is home to multiple furniture factories and dozens of individual stores. Its factory outlets attract furniture lovers from miles around. Folks come to Hickory in search of high-quality handcrafted furniture at bargain prices. With so many stores to choose from, all in such close proximity to manufacturers’ factories, the true furniture aficionado can easily find customized furnishings as well as helpful advice from friendly professionals who know the furniture business inside and out.
Take a tour of your neighbor’s custom-built home at The Coves Mountain River Club, and you’re bound to fall in love with that perfect hutch in their foyer, or exquisite hand-crafted furnishing they picked up at one of their favorite stores in Hickory. Here are a couple of our favorite furniture malls that offer a vast selection of galleries, shops, and outlets to choose from:
20 Miles of Furniture (between Lenoir and Hickory)
Located along a scenic 20-mile stretch of U.S. 321 North off Interstate 40, this one’s a must for the serious furniture fanatic. Billed as “The Home of Deep Discount Furniture,” this is literally 20 miles of stores, galleries, and outlets ranging from the biggies (like Bernhardt, Broyhill, Kincaid, and Thomasville) to the smaller lesser-knowns that take pride in their top-notch handcrafted furnishings.
Hickory Furniture Mart (2220 Hwy 70 SE in Hickory)
We’re not alone in loving this one. It’s visited by 500,000 furniture lovers each year. And with 100 showrooms, outlets, and private galleries showcasing more than 1,000 of the world’s top furniture designers and manufacturers, there’s an amazing assortment that’s sure to satisfy a variety of tastes and budgets.
When you’ve had your fill of the large-scale browsing experience, be sure to stop in on a few of Hickory’s smaller home furnishing shops:
Hickory Fire Place & Patio – 47 14th Ave NE
Hickory Oriental Rug Gallery – 2019 US Hwy 70 SE
Highland Woodcraft – 1223 Highland Avenue NE
In Your Home Furnishings – 210 13th St SW
Lindy’s Furniture – 233 1st Ave NW
Revive Furniture – 210 2nd Street Place
Watson’s Furniture House -1210 2nd Ave SW
Furniture is not the only focus of the Hickory shopping experience. Fashion lovers will enjoy a stroll through Union Square to peruse clothing, jewelry, and fashion accessories at shops like Ella Blue (clothing), Tracy’s on the Square (formal wear), Merle Harmon’s (sports clothing), Grace Knitting Company (specialty socks), Bisanar Jewelry, and Aqua B (jewelry/accessories).
Union Square also offers a variety of charming shops for those in the mood for art, music, books, and gifts, including: Bisque ’N Beads (arts/crafts), Wee Mount & Frame (arts/crafts), The Book Exchange (used books), Larry’s Music & Sound (instruments), Kay Young Robb (portraits), Jenny’s (gifts), Lou Lou’s Corner (gifts), Hickory Wine Shoppe, and a unique boutique called Bottega, a consignment-based art shop with “an incredibly wide array of art forms and mediums” and which features the artwork of Hickory’s own resident artists.
In 2014, Hickory was named the country’s most sprawling metro area by Smart Growth America. Folks in areas such as these support local businesses and also tend to walk more because of the abundance of Greenways in the region. After enjoying your shopping experience in Downtown Hickory, you’ll surely understand why this award-winning small town is sprawling and thriving.
#2 – FOOD, BEER, AND CHEERS
All that strolling, browsing, and buying is sure to work up an appetite. The good news is you’re still within walking distance of a variety of great restaurants in Hickory NC.
While you’re in the neighborhood, you’ll want to try Josh’s on Union Square for either brunch, lunch, or dinner. The menu is designed by a culinary perfectionist, Josh Phillips, who strives to provide Hickory’s diners with “fine dining comfort food with the exciting casual dining atmosphere at a value for all.” Memorable menu items include duck tacos, shrimp creole, and butternut risotto. Josh’s is located at 206 Union Square NW.
Other restaurants on Union Square to tempt your taste buds are:
Groucho’s Deli – 1025 2nd St. NE in Downtown Hickory
The restaurant’s founder Harold “Groucho” Miller, the mustachioed jokester and Groucho Max look-alike, was as clever about his humor as he was serious about the quality of his food. Deli-style sandwiches are enhanced by secret family sauces and dressings, original potato salads, and slaws. Like Groucho himself, the food here is “fast, fresh, and original.”
Fresh Depot Gastropub – 220 Union Square NW in Downtown Hickory
With a commitment to environmental friendliness, this trendy pub specializes in healthy sandwiches packed with organic veggies and meats sourced from local farmers. Bread is homemade sourdough, wheat, or rye, and desserts, cinnamon bread, and rolls are baked daily. Starter menu includes innovative bites, like whiskey battered onion rings and squash fries.
Olde Hickory Station Deli – 223 Union Square NW in Downtown Hickory
As the name implies, this classic deli is situated in a renovated historic train station. The seasonally changing menu includes ingredients sourced locally as well as meats, cheeses, and bread imported from Europe. Desserts are made fresh in their bakery and can be pre-ordered. You’ll also want to shop their fresh market or try a handcrafted beer from the Olde Hickory Tap Room, which has 50 beers on tap and features NC beers and craft beers from around the U.S. as well as European imports.
Granite Falls Brewing Co. – 47 Duke Street in Granite Falls
Just up the road from Hickory, this funky Southern gastropub known as the “Front Door to the Blue Ridge Mountains” is a multi-award-winning restaurant with a tasting room and brewery, all located in the historic Granite Bottling Works and Pepsi bottling plant. Currently ranked the #1 Granite Falls restaurant on TripAdvisor, the historic microbrewery boasts 111+ years of beverage production and bottling on site. They also serve wine and spirits, and their food menu includes burgers, wings, panini, and a fair share of salads.
After sampling the shopping and restaurants in Hickory NC, why not check out Hickory’s art scene and bring a treasure home.
#3 – FINE ART AND CULTURE
One of our favorite things to do in Hickory North Carolina is open our senses and inhale the beautiful art that permeates this town like fresh mountain air. Local artists who live in places like The Coves Mountain River Club get their daily inspiration from the spectacular views of Grandfather Mountain, Adams Knob and Table Rock Mountain, the stunning sunsets, the gorgeous gardens, and the symphony of sounds that rise from the local fauna living along the Johns River and nearby hiking trails.
Nowhere is the natural beauty of mountain towns in North Carolina captured more vividly than in the local art scene of this lovely lake town. The city of Hickory is home to a number of visual and performing arts venues that offer a range of exhibits, shows, and classes.
Hickory Community Theatre – 30 3rd Street NW
A selection of musicals, comedies, and dramas are brought to the stage of the much-loved Charles E. Jeffers Theatre, or downstairs in the more intimate Firemen’s Kitchen.
Western Piedmont Symphony – 243 3rd Avenue NE
Many a star of classical music has been featured on stage as a guest of this professional orchestra, which offers an annual season of symphonic selections.
Hickory Choral Society – 243 3rd Ave NE # 2N
This choral group is known for touching the hearts and souls of Catawba Valley music lovers with a harmonious blend of diverse voices since 1978.
Hickory Museum of Art – 243 3rd Avenue NE
Founded in 1944, this art museum is the second-oldest in the state and houses a permanent collection in addition to hosting traveling exhibitions, art classes, workshops, tours, and lectures.
Catawba Valley Community College Art Classes – 2550 US Hwy 70 SE
Art classes offered on this lively college campus include basic drawing and painting techniques, oil and acrylic painting, watercolor, stained glass, pottery classes, and more.
Lenoir-Rhyne University Art Classes – 625 7th Ave NE
Students of the arts can participate in summer theater or performing arts programs, as well as art exhibits, visiting writers series, and a Cinematheque film series open to the public.
As if that’s not enough to satisfy the appetite of art lovers, there are many architecturally beautiful homes to explore as part of this town’s rich collection of historic structures. We recommend a visit to The J. Summie Propst House. Built between 1881 and 1883, it’s an architecture admirer’s dream, and definitely worth a tour to experience for yourself its three-stage central tower with a mansard roof and sawn work fan ornamentation. The J. Summie Propst House is the only Second Empire style home in Hickory, and its remarkably intact interior is something to see. Other historic homes worth touring are Harper House (original Queen Anne interior styling) and Maple Grove (restored Italianate-style house), both built in or around 1883.
The tight-knit community of Hickory takes great pride in its rich history, and, trust us, you will not run out of historic attractions (libraries, museums, bridges, trails, mills, and more) to discover and admire.
#4 – HICKORY FUN
Hickory spells fun. And its appeal to fun-seekers of all ages is part of what makes this Western North Carolina mountain town one of the most likable cities in the nation.
From walking trails to golf courses, amusement parks to animal parks, or a day tour of Hickory’s picturesque farms and vineyards, this area is packed with enough activities to keep you coming back for visit after visit to get your fill of all this small-town slice of Americana has to offer.
Speaking of Americana, this is a baseball-loving town! Hickory’s minor league baseball team, the Hickory Crawdads, are the South Atlantic League Affiliate of the Texas Rangers, and they’re gearing up for a great season. Why not catch a game at Hickory’s newly renovated 4,000-seat L.P. Frans Stadium?
Or if baseball’s not your speed, you might try something more fast-paced. Take your turn around the world famous Hickory Motor Speedway. This “Birthplace of the NASCAR Stars” has been entertaining motorsports fans since 1950. It’s open Saturdays from March to October, and it’s sure to give you the thrill of a lifetime. Remember to make an appointment to experience your very own ride-along with the driver of your choice around “The World’s Most Famous Short Track.”
Before you leave Hickory, do yourself a favor and take a sunset cruise along Hickory Lake, or enjoy fishing from John Geitner Park on the lake’s southern shore. In addition to its gorgeous lake, Hickory has so many public parks for outdoor lovers, they will want to spend all day in the open air. And after sunset, there’s and an endless stream of nightlife opportunities for those who like to stay up late.
This is a sampling of everyday life for those who live at The Coves Mountain River Club. Hickory is one of the most attractive and engaging mountain towns in North Carolina, and its residents are every bit as friendly as what North Carolinians are known for.
The Coves Mountain River Club is a gated mountain community seventeen miles from Hickory with 20+ miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding, not to mention community garden and vineyard for growing your own sweet grapes. There’s also fishing and canoeing in the Johns River, and swimming in the infinity-view saline pool at the top of the neighborhood’s summit on the grounds of the beautiful Pisgah Mountain Lodge. Our gated community is bursting with amenities. But perhaps the best of all the benefits of living here are the friendly neighbors who quickly become your extended family.
Come on by and say hey. You’re always welcome at The Coves.
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.