From meeting new people to experiencing new sights, sounds, and smells – is there anything more exciting or rejuvenating than a break from the day-to-day mundanity? Traveling is an excellent way to immerse yourself in a new culture, setting, or way-of-life, but the best part is this: you don’t have to venture far from home to enjoy what this world has to offer.
Whether your journey takes you across your own city, to an unexplored part of your state, or even to the other side of the world, there’s no doubt you will still learn a lot about your surroundings – and yourself – along the way.
While the culture an hour away from your home might not be drastically different from what you’re used to, you can still gain a deepened sense of appreciation for where you’ve laid your roots. Plus, traveling locally has a lot of benefits:
More cost-effective. Local travel is certainly a budget-friendly way to explore! Many activities and parks are free or have a low cost of entry. For day trips, you can also pack your own meals to save.
Eco-friendly way to travel. Travel is hard on the environment, but putzing around your area is more sustainable than air travel.
Quick trips. Getting out locally means you can do it more often! Long weekend trips are a lot easier to take when the destination is a short drive away.
Easy to plan. Preparing your itinerary for a local getaway will likely save you some time and stress.
More convenient. Especially if you have little ones, sticking close to home may be much more convenient than far-off destinations. If you forget something, have an emergency, or need to cut the trip short, being closeby definitely has its benefits.
Henderson is a small city located in the western part of North Carolina. This historic location is just a 40-minute drive from Raleigh, the state’s capital city. Along with its renowned antique shopping, you’ll also find quaint shops, cafés, restaurants, and pubs, along with fun attractions.
What it lacks in size and population, this city makes up for in character. Where else can you enjoy all the modern amenities that a city provides, while still enjoying the tranquillity and slower pace of life that a smaller town offers?
So, ready to discover the best of Henderson, North Carolina? Let’s get started!
*Note: Some of the suggestions may not be doable due to coronavirus closures, but keep this list handy for when things start opening back up more! Be sure to check individual pages for specific operation details.
Henderson and its surrounding area are home to multiple state parks, helping you to get back to nature and leave behind the hustle and bustle of the city – even if only for a couple of hours. Here are our top picks within the region.
Just a 13-minute drive from the city, Kerr Lake State Recreation Area is situated on a 50,000-acre reservoir that reaches into Virginia. Here, you’ll find hundreds of campsites, as well as several swim beaches, multiple boating ramps, two private marinas, and a lake renowned for excellent fishing. The state park is also a hiker’s paradise, with multiple popular trails located within it.
A 35-minute drive south-west of Henderson will take you to the Falls Lake State Recreation Area, which is one of the most popular outdoor recreational areas within the region. You can make use of facilities such as campsites (including RV hookups), five swim beaches, multiple boating ramps, a network of hiking and mountain biking trails, and a quite lake for paddling, fishing, and swimming.
Just over a 45-minute drive from the city center will take you to Eno River State Park, another popular state park within the area. It offers nearly 30 miles of hiking trails, along with a stream that’s perfect for fishing and paddling. Canoeing and kayaking are permitted but are sometimes difficult due to shallow water. There are also two picnic areas, so why not pack some lunch and be prepared to spend a long (but beautiful) day here?
If you don’t mind crossing the border into Virginia, then less than a 40-minute drive will take you to Occoneechee State Park, named after the Native Americans who lived in the area for hundreds of years. It’s situated around Buggs Island Lake, a popular fishing and boating lake. Here, you’ll find picnic shelters, an amphitheater, a playground, boat ramps, a private concession offering boat rentals and snacks, 20 miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding, and a visitor center and museum introducing visitors to Native American history and the indigenous Occoneechee people.
Around a 45-minute drive to the east of Henderson is Medoc Mountain State Park, which is home to the appropriately named Fishing Creek - one of the cleanest streams in the region. Along with fishing and paddling, you can also enjoy activities here such as hiking, horse riding, camping, mountain biking, picnicking, and ranger-led interpretive programs.
One of the best ways to truly experience Henderson is by foot, so luckily, there are plenty of hiking trails in or near the city. These are some of our favorites!
You’ll find the popular Bluff Loop Trail southeast of the picnic shelter in Medoc Mountain State Park. It’s 3 miles in distance and is considered a moderate hike. This trail starts in the low land along Little Fishing creek before climbing on top of the bluffs, offering scenic views across the state park.
If you don’t mind a short, less-than-40-minute drive out of the city, then you can go to Durham, which marks the beginning of the popular American Tobacco Trail. It’s 22.2 miles in length and takes walkers all the way through to Wake County, further south. The trail courses through beautiful pines and its rural sections boast plentiful wildlife to admire.
Whether you’re craving comfort food, fast food, or a fine dining experience, this area has it all. Ready to satisfy those post-hike cravings?
Located in the heart of downtown Henderson is George’s Restaurant, which is family-owned and run. Their menu offers a wide range of delicious meals, including starters, salads, wraps, paninis, burgers, sandwiches, pasta, chicken, seafood, beef, and pork. The locals can’t be wrong, and they love it here!
Fancy some delicious and traditional Italian fare? At Pino’s Italian Restaurant, they use nothing but the freshest seasonal ingredients. On their menu, you’ll find favorites such as pizza (including calzone, Stromboli, and stuffed pizza), pasta, seafood, chicken, meat, dessert, and more.
If you’re interested in visiting a place that’s a café, juice bar, and health and wellness-focused shop all-in-one, then Juice & Moor is for you. Here, you’ll find a long list of juices, smoothies, salads, and other vegan foods, as well as crystals and precious gemstones, candles, incense, self-help books, ethnic clothing, and more. It’s well-worth the visit!
For fresh seafood dining in a casual atmosphere at an affordable price, look no further than 220 Seafood Restaurant. Many locals have been enjoying dinner here since the late 1970’s, proving just how much of a mainstay this establishment is. Its seafood dishes are unparalleled within Henderson.
If you ask North Carolina natives where delicious Caribbean cuisine can be found, they’ll point you in the direction of Chewly Delicious Jamaican Restaurant, right here in Henderson. The photos of food on their website alone will get your tastebuds tingling, while mouth-watering menu items such as jerk chicken, fried salted fish fritters, and coco bread will have you booking a table, ASAP.
This hidden eatery has quickly earned a place in my heart. It's got great food, really good coffee, and a fun staff. Order breakfast or lunch, dine in or to go at the counter; it's all good. My favorites are the avocado toast, empanadas, and kale salad. With its rustic décor and farm-to-table atmosphere, it makes a great spot to get comfortable over a good meal. Get one of their flavored mimosas if you want to partake in some day drinking.
Just down the street from Sunrise Coffee, Mothership Coffee waits for you! Mothership Coffee is actually connected with Sunrise but serves its own specialty drinks. They also roast and serve their own coffee beans right onsite and even sell individual bags of coffee so you can enjoy your favorite cup at home! I love the quaint but lively atmosphere of Mothership; it’s perfect for relaxing with a book or banging out some work.
If you’re looking to kick back with a craft beer in a spacious, low-key, family-friendly environment, you should make a stop at CraftHaus’s taproom and onsite brewery in Henderson. There’s ample room inside to enjoy a little A/C, lots of old-school games like Connect Four and Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em, and small bites to keep you from imbibing on an empty stomach. Come by for a special bottle release on brews like the Barrel Aged Comrade, a Russian imperial stout, or pick up a crowler of the All Together, a West Coast IPA whose profits benefit the hospitality industry.
After feasting and enjoying all that nature has to offer, you may be wondering: “what next?” Well, when it comes to Henderson’s attractions and activities, you’re only just getting started. Here are some of the most fun things on offer in and around the city!
Looking for some fun activities to do with children? Look no further! The following attractions are sure to satisfy even the smallest humans for hours on end.
Adventure Island is the area's premier destination for family fun, with the venue claiming to accommodate visitors from age 1 to 101. Here, you can enjoy attractions such as mini golf, bumper boats, batting cages, indoor playmaze, laser tag, an awesome game room, and more. The best part? It’s open 7 days per week, so you and your family will never be without something fun to do.
If apple picking, petting farm animals, and visiting a pumpkin patch sounds like a great day out for you and your family, you’re not alone. Grandad’s Apples is a popular attraction to enjoy a variety of fun activities on a 100-acre family farm. At Grandad’s Barn and Country Store, you’ll find a great selection of fall harvest decorations, apple peelers, apple bakers, and other apple gifts. Plus, try their apple cider doughnuts and have an apple cider slushie!
Whether it’s date-night or you simply find yourself wandering around the city long after the sun has gone down – here are our top activities to enjoy in Henderson during the darker hours.
Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre is one of only 6 drive-in theatres left in operation in North Carolina. Enjoy a movie under the stars, whether it’s one of the latest blockbuster releases, or an old favorite such as The Goonies, Back to the Future, or Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Grab some popcorn, your loved one(s), and kick back!
If you’re looking for a post-dinner activity to take your night from good to great, look no further than a night concert at the much-loved McGregor Hall. It’s a 1,000-seat, state of the art Performing Arts Center located in downtown Henderson that presents a diverse schedule of performing arts, including all genres of music, dance, Broadway-touring theatricals and national, regional, and local touring artists.
Want to hit the town without it costing you a small fortune? Henderson is full of fun and interesting attractions, including those that cost just a few dollars for you to enjoy. Here are some of our favorite ways to enjoy the city “on the cheap”.
The Vance County Regional Farmers Market opens around mid-April each year and runs through late-November. Here, you’ll find produce, arts, crafts, and other goodies from local sellers, growers, creatives, and more. It’s a great way to support the local community.
For just $3 - $5, you can enjoy a day out at the Historic Johnson Farm, which is a heritage education museum owned by Henderson County Public Schools. Along with school field trips, it also offers historic home tours, nature trails, picnic tables, animals and 10 historic structures on 15 acres of forest, fields, and streams.
Looking to get the most out of your time spent within the city of Henderson? Whether you want a fun way to waste away a Sunday afternoon or a date idea that won’t break the budget – here are our most recommended things to do in the city that won’t cost you a cent.
Jump Off Rock is a famous scenic overlook within the region, which provides a panoramic view of rolling pastures, the Blue Ridge and Pisgah mountain ranges. There are also three hiking trials at Jump Off Rock, varying in length and difficulty. While the area might seem tranquil during the day, it holds a dark secret from the past, causing many to claim it’s haunted. Indian legend has it that on moonlit nights you can see the ghost of a young Cherokee Indian maiden, who jumped to her death from the rock after learning that her Indian Chief had been killed in battle.
Although it’s a working church to this day, the famous St. John in the Wilderness Church is one of – if not the oldest - church within the region, having been built back in 1833. It has been made using handmade bricks, and features stunning architecture seldom seen these days. Come by and admire its quality workmanship, or stop in for a service to soak-up its religious significance.
Alright, by now you’ve probably been on your feet all day exploring the sights and delights that Henderson has to offer. If you’re craving some rest and relaxation, or even a bit of pampering, these are two of the best spas in the region.
Henderson Wellness Center is Henderson's only one-stop for medical treatment, chiropractic care, and massage therapy. So, whether you’re looking for some quick, yet effective relaxation, or more pressing medical care, you’re sure to find what you need.
Salon Serenity Spa is a 5000-square foot luxurious, full-service upscale Day Spa, Hair Salon and Nail Salon – all-in-one! Just some of their massage services include Swedish, hot stone, deep tissue, medical/sports, Moroccan oil, couples, waterfall, cupping, and prenatal. You’ll also love their facials, body wraps, and other body treatments.
If rejuvenation for you is less about deep relaxation and more about sweating it out, then you’re in luck. Hederson is home to some of the highest-rated gyms and yoga studios within the region.
Henderson Family YMCA is more than just a local gym – it’s a community. They offer wellness and fitness classes such as aqua aerobics, barre, core training, indoor cycling, pilates, yoga, Zumba, and so much more. Trust us, there’s something for everyone here!
Love hot yoga or always wanted to give it a try? Alchemy Hot Yoga was created to provide a space that encourages and promotes a sense of community, where students can practice hot yoga in an inclusive and non-judgmental environment. They also run workshops from time-to-time, so be sure to check their schedule to see if anything takes your fancy.
Looking to fulfill your wanderlust by heading outside of the region for a day? You could spend weeks within Henderson without barely scratching the surface of all there is to do in this city, but consider these day trips next time you fancy a new adventure.
Charlotte is the most populous of the cities within North Carolina, and it’s located less than a 3 hours’ drive from Henderson. There are plenty of activities and attractions to enjoy here, including the Carowinds theme park, NASCAR Hall of Fame, Discovery Place Science, Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, and more.
If you fancy a trip over into the Virginia border, you can arrive at the world-famous Shenandoah National Park within just 3.5 hours’ drive. Here, you can enjoy a wide range of outdoor recreational opportunities, from hiking and mountain biking to rock climbing, fishing, horseback riding, and more. The park also hosts an array of special events and ranger-led programs which can help you learn more about this area’s unique history and landscape.
As a final reminder, some of these activities may need to wait until businesses fully reopen from coronavirus closures. However, there is still much to see and experience in Henderson that you can enjoy today! What are your favorite spots in Henderson? Send them our way to firstname.lastname@example.org or by tagging us on Instagram @rvshare and using the hashtag #rvsharelocal.