Located in the heart of North Carolina, between the mountains and the coast, Alamance County is home to nine municipalities, including Burlington, Mebane, Graham, Elon and Saxapahaw, and countless things to see, do and explore.
With a mix of charming small towns, wide-open spaces, and enough historical monuments, mill villages, museums, breweries, stock car races and hiking trails to fill even the most ambitious itineraries, Alamance County is worth a stop. Here are nine places to check out on your next visit.
1. HIKE THE HAW
Lace up your hiking boots and head out on the Haw River Trail. Over 17 miles of the trails follow the flowing Haw River in Alamance County, passing through some of the prettiest natural landscapes in the region. The Haw River corridor is also home to a “paddle trail” that allows you to explore the pristine wilderness from the water.
2. STEP BACK IN TIME
The Alamance County Museum in Burlington is in a 1790s house that highlights the life and influence of textile pioneer Edwin Michael Holt. Check out exhibits showcasing military artifacts, antiques, quilts and pottery. The African American Cultural Arts and History Center tells the stories of local African American history.
3. FIND YOUR INNER CHILD
With hands-on exhibits where kids (and kids at heart) can build bridges, paint on walls, perform in puppet shows and clean giant teeth, the Children’s Museum of Alamance County in Graham is a must-see stop for all ages. The award-winning museum encourages exploration, interaction and creativity.
4. DRIVE THE CIVIL WAR TRAIL
Soldiers crossed through Alamance County in April 1865. On the self-guided tour, visit sites like the Alamance Battleground, the Tribal Center in Mebane and the Cane Creek Meeting House. During the tour, which takes about three hours if you stop at every location, learn how the war impacted local communities and see interesting artifacts of life from the time.
5. RIDE THE CAROUSEL
Head to Burlington City Park to ride one of the 46 hand-carved animals that make up the 1910 carousel. It’s one of just 14 remaining intact Dentzel Menagerie Carousels in the world and is one of the most popular attractions in the park. It is in the process of being restored, so check to see if it’s reopened before planning your visit.
6. CELEBRATE THE SEASON
Alamance County hosts a full calendar of seasonal and special events. Festivals like the Mebane Dogwood Festival, Lil’ John’s Mountain Music Festival, Uncle Eli’s Quilting Party and the Yee Haw! River Paddle attract crowds and offer a great reason to visit the area. Each festival is filled with music, food and fun for all ages.
7. EXPERIENCE THE ARTS
Housed in an 1871 Queen Anne mansion in Graham, the Alamance Arts Council operates a gallery featuring the work of local and regional artists. View current exhibits, shop for unique gifts and explore the gardens for a glimpse into the local arts community.
8. SOAK UP THE SCENE
The towns of Burlington, Elon, Graham and Mebane are the heart of the region. Walk through the vibrant downtown districts for shopping and local eats. Explore downtown museums, shop locally owned boutiques, and peruse antiques shops and galleries for interesting, unique items. While in the area, stop for lunch or coffee at any diner or cafe. These small towns are the perfect starting points for exploring the region.
9. ENJOY GOOD EATS
Alamance County is home to breweries, wineries and farm-to-table restaurants. Order a pint from Haw River Farmhouse Ales, Bright Penny Brewing or Burlington Beer Works. Or sip local vintages at Grove Winery, Iron Gate Vineyards or Wolf Wines. Need a bite to eat? Sample dishes made with the freshest ingredients at The Root or the Mark at Elon.
The Saxapahaw General Store is also worth a stop to shop. The traditional general store stocks everything from gas and snacks to kombucha and filet mignon. It’s billed as “your local five-star gas station.”
For more things to see and do in Alamance County, check out visitalamance.com.
– Jodi Helmer NC Field & Family