The City of Asheboro, named an All-America City by the National Civic League, is located in Randolph County, known as “The Heart of North Carolina.”
Asheboro is a mix of history, beauty, and charm—and, might I add, a fantastic foodie destination.
Asheboro is often called the center point or the Heart of North Carolina. It sits on the Piedmont (n.gentle slope from mountains to flatland) in the beautiful rolling foothills of the Uwharrie Mountains, 27 miles south of Greensboro. And Asheboro sits less than 75 miles from Raleigh and Charlotte, making it an exciting getaway location.
Randolph County offers a range of attractions for both indoor and outdoor lovers. Walking, hiking, biking paths, museums, pottery shopping, animals, and art are all available in and around Asheboro.
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Discover Downtown Asheboro
With remnants of its historical past still standing, Asheboro is proactively revitalizing its downtown and re-purposing centuries-old textile mills and other historic buildings. Restaurants, breweries, and an array of shops make “old” buildings their new home, creating a charming, walkable downtown.
Opened in 1930, the historic Sunset Theater is also downtown and still in use today. Fully restored and renovated with modern conveniences, the Sunset Theater is a great place to see a movie, concert, or play.
Also known as “Zoo City” for the proximity of the North Carolina Zoo (see below), downtown Asheboro invites visitors to explore the Zoo City Social District. A new trend in North Carolina cities since approved by the state in 2021, adults can stroll outdoors in a designated downtown area with alcoholic beverages purchased at participating businesses.
Note: Outdoor drinking in Zoo City Social District is limited to certain days and hours.
North Carolina Zoo
Located just south of Asheboro, the North Carolina Zoo is the world’s largest natural-habitat zoo and the largest zoo in North Carolina. The zoo’s mission is to preserve and protect animals and to do so in their natural habitats.
Visitors can watch over 1,700 animals roam 500 acres of Africa’s grasslands and America’s forests. According to Jane Parker, NC Zoo Society Director of Communications and Education, Asia is currently under construction and should be completed by 2026.
In addition to many animals in fantastic, large habitats, NC Zoo is filled with exciting things to do, including animal feeding, hiking trails, a butterfly garden, and a Kid Zone.
Art in the Park at the North Carolina Zoo
What I found most interesting and enjoyed very much at the NC Zoo was the Art in the Park. There are over 50 commissioned pieces of art strategically placed around the zoo. Visitors will notice the impressive and largest sculpture, The Elephant Group, at the zoo’s main entrance. Be on the lookout as you wander the zoo. There are birds in the trees, lizards, snakes on rocks, buffalo, bears, and cats. My favorite is the hippopotamus family.
North Carolina Trails
North Carolina, aka The Great Trails State, has a trail for everyone. There are 19 trails totaling over 30 miles near Asheboro alone. In addition, Asheboro has got you covered (pun intended) with these other fun outings.
Pisgah Covered Bridge
Built in 1911, the Pisgah Covered Bridge is one of North Carolina’s two oldest remaining historic covered bridges (the other in Catawba County is Bunker Hill c. 1895). The bridge spans the West Fork Branch of the Little River in a serene and picturesque area with a short walking trail—worth the short drive.
Pisgah Covered Bridge is 15 miles southwest of downtown Asheboro in the Uwharrie National Forest. It is designated a local and federal historic landmark.
Richland Creek Zip Line Canopy Tour
Richland Creek Zip Line Canopy Tour offers up-close and personal views of Randolph County’s most scenic wilderness, including Richland Creek and Mendenhall Falls.
Experience the thrill of a lifetime as you soar through the forest on a 14-station zipline. Sky bridges and rope obstacles are also part of the tour.
Enjoy the great North Carolina outdoors at Randleman Lake, just north of Asheboro. The reservoir is located on the Deep River, part of the Cape Fear River basin, with 100 miles of scenic shoreline. Fish, kayak, canoe, picnic, or sit and relax at Randleman Regional Reservoir Marina. Bring your own gear or rent at the marina.
If museums are your thing, Asheboro is your place. Not your typical big-city museums, these museums are more personal and built for speed (of sorts).
Petty Garage and Petty Museum
The Petty Garage and Petty Museum belong to legendary NASCAR driver Richard Petty and his family. Known as The King, Richard Petty won an impressive 200 races and seven championships.
What makes this museum even more special than it already is? It is located in Level Cross, just 15 miles north of Asheboro, where the Petty family lived for generations. Richard was born in the house that sits next to the museum.
Look inside Lee Petty’s (Richard’s dad) original garage still on the property. See the working garage where Petty built and maintained his race cars. Visit the museum filled with memorabilia of four generations of Pettys.
North Carolina Aviation Museum and Hall of Fame
Located near the Asheboro Regional Airport, the North Carolina Aviation Museum and Hall of Fame displays military and civilian aircraft, wartime memorabilia, artwork, aircraft models, and more. The exhibits continually change, so there is always something new and exciting.
The Aviation Museum’s Fly-In—like a classic car Cruise-In—is held annually in September.
American Classic Motorcycle Museum
The American Classic Motorcycle Museum is a small museum housed in the same building as the Heritage Diner (excellent food, I’m told). Visit the museum and stay to eat at the diner or the other way around. You won’t be disappointed in either venue.
The small upstairs museum is home to one of the largest private collections of antique Harley-Davidson motorcycles anywhere in the country—knuckleheads and panheads alike. There is old Harley memorabilia, posters, parts, and a replica bike shop. It is a pleasant diversion from huge metropolitan museums—and admission is free.
Art in Seagrove
If you’ve ever been intrigued at how a potter can transform a lump of clay into a gorgeous work of art, Seagrove is a “must-visit” when in Asheboro.
Seagrove is known as the Handmade Pottery Capital of the United States. Drive from Asheboro down Pottery Highway—NC Hwy 705—to explore over 100 working potters, shops, and galleries, all within a 30-mile radius.
Ben Owen Pottery
On a recent visit, I was lucky enough to meet and talk with Ben Owen III at his studio, world-renowned for his ceramics. His family pottery-making history in the Seagrove area dates back several generations. His grandfather, Ben Owen Sr, worked at Jugtown (influential in keeping handmade pottery making alive in the area). Ben Sr. began teaching his grandson the art of being a potter at age 9. “The biggest thing I learned from my grandfather,” Ben said, “is patience.”
North Carolina Pottery Center
An excellent place to start your adventure is the North Carolina Pottery Center. I also enjoyed visiting Dean and Martin Pottery and From the Ground Up. Most studios are a short drive from each other. Seagrove Pottery is a gallery with several potters’ works in one place, and there are several more studios and galleries within a two to three-minute walk from there.
More Art in Asheboro, NC
Discover Seagrove Potters has a comprehensive list and map of potters, studios, galleries, events, tour dates, and other information.
Note: A nice stop while in Seagrove is Seagrove Orchids, an orchid nursery that cultivates and offers thousands of orchid varieties. Owner Linda Thorne, known as “the orchid lady,” is a member of the American Orchid Society and U.S. Farmers.
If you love bronze statues, chances are you may have seen the work of Ed Walker, owner of Carolina Bronze Sculpture, a premier fine arts bronze foundry located in Seagrove, just off I-74.
From tiny mice to larger-than-life realistic figures such as presidents and the Pope, Carolina Bronze sculptures can be found in parks and other public and private places throughout the country and the world. I recently enjoyed seeing the Richard Petty (and wife) bronze statue unveiled and dedicated at a park in Randleman, just north of Asheboro.
The foundry and gallery are open for tours or stroll through the Sculpture Garden, perusing the couple dozen statues of various mediums by various artists.
Where to Eat in Asheboro
An emerging foodie destination, Asheboro has an eclectic array of great restaurants to choose from, including Cantina Taco Loco, Flying Pig Food and Spirits, Positano Italian, and Hamilton’s Steakhouse, to name a few.
My husband and I had breakfast at The Table Farmhouse Bakery—The Table for short—during our stay. Located downtown in the historic textile mill office building, The Table is, without a doubt, a restaurant you need to experience. My husband (who loves breakfast) exclaimed as he ate his cheddar bacon omelet that it was one of the best breakfasts he’s ever had. My avocado smash toast topped with radish and salmon was mouthwatering. Start with a fresh-baked seasonal roll or muffin with your expertly brewed coffee. You won’t regret it, I promise.
For delicious Southern, down-home cookin’, it’s got to be Magnolia 23, where the food is “made from scratch and, most importantly, with love”. I once heard that if the line is long, the food has got to be good. And it was! We enjoyed their famous signature pan-fried chicken with traditional sides of greens, coleslaw, beans, and potatoes—all washed down with a mason jar of sweet tea.
We also enjoyed the newly opened Black Powder Smokehouse BBQ, coffee at Brewskies Coffee Shop (yes, they sell beer too), great craft beer at Four Saints Brewing Company, and nightcaps at Leo’s Whiskey Bar, a cozy little “speak-easy” type bar with a plethora of whiskey on the shelf.
Where to Stay in Asheboro
There are several places to stay in Asheboro, from chain hotels to vacation rentals. We had the unique opportunity to try out a new concept by Getaway, tiny cabins in a “campground” setting. Launched in 2015, Getaway has over two dozen locations across the U.S. Asheboro is currently the only North Carolina location.
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Visiting Asheboro, NC
Our stay in Asheboro was a pleasant surprise with all the fun and entertaining things we saw and did. And more than that, we found the people to be friendly and excited about where they live. Everyone we spoke with, restaurant owners, zoo keepers, and bartenders alike, relayed that they loved what they do and are grateful for their community—Asheboro truly is The Heart of North Carolina.
We invite you to let Wander With Wonder be your guide to more great things you can do while visiting North Carolina.