Asheboro is only thirty miles from the geological center of North Carolina. It takes less than two hours to drive into the city from Raleigh, Durham, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, or Charlotte along various interstates. It’s a perfect weekend getaway in the Heart of North Carolina – but what can you do when you get there?

Visit one of the most natural zoos in the country. Explore a ginormous antique mall. Check out the belt buckles and cars collection at the Richard Petty Museum. Eat your heart out at local restaurants.

Asheboro is a wonderful weekend getaway in the middle of North Carolina with lots of things to do, places to shop, and restaurants to sample. Read all the information here and book your hotel soon.

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TOP: The Watani Grasslands were the most surprising thing I saw at the North Carolina Zoo. BOTTOM: An elephant tossing dirt onto his or her back was the most interesting thing I saw.

No. 01

Experience the North Carolina Zoo

Sprawling across 2,600 wooded acres just fifteen minutes from downtown Asheboro, the North Carolina Zoo offers encounters with animals living in natural habitats. Enclosures are measured in acres instead of square footage as the animals roam across prairies and bathe in lakes. Visitors wander concrete paths beneath bamboo forests or take the easy way – a tram that quickly whisks them between different sections of the zoological park.

Visitors can see polar bears and arctic foxes at Rocky Coast, elk and bison herding across a prairie, squawking birds and towering trees in the Forest Aviary, and herds of elephants, rhinoceroses, and antelopes at the Watani Grasslands Reserve.

Plan to spend a day exploring the entire zoo, but it will be a comfortable day. The tram makes three stops throughout the zoo for easy transportation. Outposts feature snack bars, restaurants, and gift shops. And there are plenty of places to sit back and enjoy the sights and sounds of one of the most natural zoos in the country.

4401 Zoo Parkway, Asheboro, NC | 336-879-7000 | www.nczoo.org

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No. 02

Visit the Pisgah Covered Bridge

Pisgah Covered Bridge is one of only two extant covered bridges in the state. The original bridge was built in 1911 by J.J. Welch, but a flash flood destroyed it in 2003. Volunteers recovered about 90% of the original building materials and rebuilt the bridge using the same design plans.

Driving to the bridge will feel remote, but it’s only twenty minutes from downtown Asheboro. It’s located in Uwharrie National Forest, an area for local hiking trails and outdoor recreation. The bridge is open to visitors during daylight hours.

Inside Tip Unfortunately, the interior of the bridge has been scarred with graffiti over the years. Some of the graffiti is profane and all of it is unnecessary. It is still fun to see one of the last remaining covered bridges in the state, but be warned about the interior.

6925 Pisgah Covered Bridge Road, Asheboro, NC | 336-626-0364

Top: A family spends an afternoon plucking peaches from trees at Millstone Creek Orchards. Bottom: An example of a perfect peach.

No. 03

Visit Millstone Creek Orchards

Opened in 2004 by Nick and Beverly Mooney, Millstone Creek Orchards is a day trip destination for lots of fun and savory food. The heart of the family-owned business is the self-pick experience in the fruit orchards – blackberries, blueberries, and peaches in the summer and apples in September.

Not interested in picking your fruit? That’s no problem at Millstone Creek. The open-air retail building is stocked with freshly picked fruits, flowers, and baked goods. Granny’s Kitchen is always cooking something – fresh apple cider and apple donuts in the fall are one of the most popular items all year. Throughout the rest of the year, you’ll find cakes and jams stacked on shelves.

506 Parks Crossroads Church Road, Ramseur, NC | 336-824-5263 | www.millstonecreekorchards.com

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Owens Pottery is one of the oldest and longest running pottery studios in the region.

No. 04

Take a Drive to the North Carolina Pottery Highway

Seagrove is a small town just fifteen minutes south of Asheboro, but it will be a place you’ll spend at least half a day. The North Carolina Pottery Highway is a 30-mile stretch of Highway 705 starting in Seagrove. More than one hundred pottery studios, some of them run by the descendants of the original potters in the area, are located along the highway.

Start in Seagrove with a visit to the North Carolina Pottery Center. Learn about the history of the area, explore the pottery exhibits, and pick up a map to help you find the local studios. Jugtown Pottery is one of the oldest in the area, located inside an old log house – today it’s run by Travis and Bayle Owens. Ben Owen Pottery is one of the most modern facilities with a gorgeous show room to explore.

Return to Seagrove to finish the day with the one-room shop at Seagrove Stoneware Pottery. The studio is run by the husband-and-wife team of David Fernandez and Alexa Modderno. You’ll likely find Alexa in the studio show room, but David spends a lot of time just a few minutes away at The General Wine & Brew. It’s the only bar in Seagrove, and Fernandez and Modderno built it themselves in their former studio space in an old general store.

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I spent nearly forty-five minutes exploring the Collector’s Antique Mall before I found a coffee grinder to take home!

No. 05

Go Shopping at Collector’s Antique Mall

In 1993, the old Moore Department Store was converted into an antique mall. The Big Bear Supermarket and Cheek Sign offices were added to the sprawling mall in later years. Today, Collector’s Antique Mall spans 35,000 square feet across three floors in downtown Asheboro.

The mall features dozens of shops filled with individual sellers’ antiques, toys, clothing, books, and décor. Everything in the store is labeled and priced to make it easy to find something you want to take home. The difficult part will be exploring the entire store in just one visit.

211 Sunset Avenue, Asheboro, NC | 336-629-8105 | www.collectorsantiquemall.com

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No. 06

Explore the North Carolina Aviation Museum

Almost hidden from downtown Asheboro at the small municipal airport, the North Carolina Aviation Museum is one of the most fascinating small aviation museums in the state. The idea for the museum began in 1994 when Jim Peddycord established the Foundation for Aircraft Conservation. After his tragic death three years later from a mid-air collision practicing for an airshow, local businessman Craig Branson picked up the torch. In 2001, the state of North Carolina officially established the North Carolina Aviation Museum.

A dozen aircraft, aviation components, and classic cars are spread between two hangars. The collection includes a Piper J-3 Fitfire flown by Orville Wright and a limousine used by President Truman.

2222 Pilots View Road, Asheboro, NC | 336-625-0170 | www.ncamhof.com

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No. 07

Visit the American Classic Motorcycle Museum

Inside the halls of the American Classic Motorcycle Museums, visitors can explore one of the largest private collections of antique Harley Davidson motorcycles. Motorcycles, parts, and interpretive panels are safely secured behind large glass walls. Enthusiasts could spend hours exploring the collection – but even the most casual visitor will need an hour or two.

1170 US-64, Asheboro, NC | 336-629-9564 | www.facebook.com/ACMMofAsheboro

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No. 08

Visit the Richard Petty Museum

Even the most casual NASCAR fan will enjoy the history and collections at the Richard Petty Museum. The museum is located on the same property where Lee Petty built his first garage and his son, Richard, firmly established his racing legacy. The museum opened in 1988 and offered a unique experience – a chance to explore an origin story.

Spread between multiple buildings, Richard Petty’s racecars are on display for visitors to admire the increasing complexity over the years. Petty’s additional collections of rifles, Smith & Wesson handguns and belt buckles are spread among the cars.

311 Branson Mill Road, Randleman, NC | 336-495-1143 | www.rpmuseum.com

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No. 09

Attend a Show at the Sunset Theatre

In 1930, the Sunset Theater opened as the city’s first movie house. First-run films played until the 1970s, and then second-run films until it was finally shuttered in the 1980s. In 2005, the city purchased the building and began a long series of renovations to restore the historic theatre.

The theatre puts on concerts, live performances, lectures, and movies in a large space with comfortable seating. Check the event schedule to see if a performance aligns with your visit to Asheboro.

234 Sunset Avenue, Asheboro, NC | 336-626-1240 | http://sunsettheatre.org

Brewskie’s has several tables, but in the back of the cozy coffee shop you’ll find armchairs and a large conference table.

No. 10

Start (or End) Your Day at Brewskie’s

Brewskie’s is the kind of place to start your day with great coffee or end your day with a cold beer and live music.

Fresh ground coffee and strong lattes will get your day started in the mornings. Just a few minutes from downtown, it’s a quiet place to enjoy your caffeinated drink. Take up a place at one of the tables or one of the high-backed armchairs. In the evenings, flatbreads and wraps pair perfectly with craft beers.

The small stage at the front, flanked by studio speakers, is where you’ll find lively entertainment on most Friday and Saturday nights.

730 South Fayetteville Street, Asheboro, NC | 336-628-0515 | www.facebook.com/Brewskiesofasheboro

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A flight of three craft beers at Four Saints Brewing Company.

No. 11

Get a Drink at Four Saints Brewing Company

Did you know there are four patron saints of beer? When Joel McClosky and Andrew Deming opened Four Saints Brewing Company in Asheboro, they named the brewery in honor of Saint Wenceslaus, Saint Nicholas, Saint Luke, and Saint Augustine of Hippo.

READ MORE: 17 Craft Breweries You Need to Visit in Wilmington, NC

Four Saints Brewing Company is the only brewery in Asheboro – so far. The downtown taproom is located inside a renovated retail building. Tables and chairs are spread across the bare concrete floor. High-top chairs offer a chance to cozy up to the counter and chat with knowledgeable bartenders about their craft beers at the bar.

Visitors are welcome to get a glimpse at the brewery in the back half of the building. Just be sure to have a drink in your hand, or else you might offend one of the saints.

218 South Fayetteville Street, Asheboro, NC | 336-610-3722 | www.foursaintsbrewing.com

Inside Tip Want some great food to go along with the craft beer? Ask the bartender for a menu for Time Square Pizza, a locally owned pizza joint just a few doors down. Although they won’t deliver, it takes only minutes to pick it up and enjoy it at the brewery.

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No. 12

Spend an Evening at Leo’s Whiskey Bar

Leo’s Whiskey Bar is an anachronism – sort of. When Tom Papas opened a bar in downtown Asheboro, he created a 1940s experience complete with old photographs hanging on the walls, jazz and big band music gently filling the air, and no Wi-Fi connectivity. The result is a charming bar that can only seat 25 people and an atmosphere that lifts your spirits.

Speaking of the spirits, Papas knows his whiskey. He named the bar after his dad, who would enjoy a drink or two after a long day at the steel mill. Bourbon, Rye, Scotch, and Irish Whiskey fill the shelves behind the small bar.

111 North Street, Asheboro, NC | 336-521-4007 | www.leoswhiskeybar.com

Inside Tip Leo’s Whiskey Bar is a members-only bar, but membership costs a mere $1 and can be purchased at the time you visit. However, space is limited. The best time to visit is a non-peak hour.

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Savory barbecue and delicious tacos were great meals in Asheboro, but my favorite was pizza by the slice at Times Square Pizzeria.

Where to Eat

As more people discover Asheboro, more restaurants open throughout town. Mexican, Italian, Southern – there are many options in the small town.

Opened in 1954, Hop’s Bar-B-Q has been a staple of downtown Asheboro for longer than almost any other business in town. Don’t let the unassuming small brick building give you second thoughts. Inside, you’ll find savory Western-style barbecue and delicious sides.

The folks in the kitchen at The Taco Loco know how to make amazing tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and fajitas. Tacos are served on homemade corn tortillas, and all the menu items are made to order. Enjoy the meal inside the small restaurant on Sunset Avenue or sit outside to enjoy the fresh air.

Times Square Pizzeria won’t win any awards for restaurant design, but their gourmet pizzas will make you forget about the outdated tables and chairs. Choose from one of their dozens of recipes or completely build your own from scratch. Solo travelers will appreciate the option to order by the slice.

When Dustie Gregson decided to open a restaurant, she chose a rustic 1925 office building to build The Table. Asheboro native Chef Deanna Clement works hard behind the scenes to create savory breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals. Enjoy the food inside a restaurant with white walls, hardwood floors, and beautiful table décor reminiscent of a Pottery Barn advertisement.

The locals can’t stop talking about The Flying Pig Food & Spirits. It’s the quintessential neighborhood watering hole with fantastic food, a friendly staff, and lively entertainment. The menu covers a little bit of everything with pizza, hotdogs and burgers, and sandwiches.

Magnolia 23 knows how to make southern-style food. Using fresh ingredients means the menu changes almost daily, but you’ll always find fried chicken, pork chops, collards, and green beans. Sit inside the rustic building if you want, but the best seat in the house is outside in the courtyard beneath the shade of giant trees.

Positano Italian Restaurant is a casual upscale eatery in downtown Asheboro. Family recipes have been passed down through the generations for savory, authentic Italian cuisine. It’s the most gorgeous restaurant in town with maroon tablecloths on the tables, comfortable chairs, and booths beside floor-to-ceiling windows.

If you enjoy beef, the family-owned Hamilton’s Steakhouse is the place to go. Steaks are hand-cut daily and marinated for the ultimate flavor. The menu also includes pasta, seafood, burgers, and homemade desserts. The large restaurant features cushioned wood chairs and tables, comfortable booths, and a lounge area.

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Where to Stay

The North Carolina Zoo, local retail shops, and fantastic restaurants have made a home in Asheboro. But the one thing the city still lacks is a variety of places to stay. Three moderately priced hotels are located adjacent to each other, about five minutes from downtown.

Fairfield Inn & Suites features a moderately nice indoor swimming pool and a spacious lobby. Rooms include two double beds or one king bed, and the suite includes a king bed and a sleeper sofa.

Holiday Inn Express & Suites opened in 2021, the newest hotel in the city, and features an outdoor swimming pool and comfortable lobby. Rooms include two queen beds or one king bed.

Hampton Inn is always a great place to stay with the best complimentary hot breakfast of any hotel chain. The hotel features a spacious indoor swimming pool and hot tub. Rooms include two queen beds, one king bed, or one king bed and a sleeper sofa.