Looking for something fun to do? The holidays are over and this time of year can be slow. The good news, there are several historic sites in North Carolina that provide a fun and educational experience for those of all ages! The sites, which are mostly free or charge a minimal fee to visit include historic buildings, a gold mine, museums, and more. No matter the time period you’re interested, in there is something that will suffice.

North Carolina is home to 26 Historic Sites across the state. We’ve taken the opportunity to tell you about the ones you can easily make a day trip from Charlotte to enjoy. This includes some in the greater Charlotte area, the mountains, as well as closer to the Greensboro area. All destinations are within a reasonable driving distance for a day trip. Or chose to stay the night and check out more of the surrounding areas. So whether you want to get a little history for yourself or maybe you’re looking for some supplemental education for your kids, these are great places to visit this time of year. Historic sites are very reasonable to visit. And the fees that are charged go back to preserving the locations for future generations to enjoy. Check out the list below!

10 Historic Sites In North Carolina Within Driving Distance of Charlotte

  • 1. President James K. Polk Historic Site

    Located right near Carolina Place Mall in Pineville, NC the James K. Polk Historic Site is located on land once owned by the parents of James K. Polk, the 11th U.S. president.

    You can visit for free and see a museum with exhibits on life in this area during Polk’s childhood, Polk’s rise to fame through politics, the Mexican-American War, and temporary exhibits on a range of topics. You can also take guided tours of the historic cabins on the grounds and experience a small nature trail (temporarily closed for construction), a historically-inspired kitchen garden, and a picnic area.
    On the property is also a relocated cemetery where Polk’s grandmother is buried along with other family members who lived and died nearby in the 18th and 19th centuries.

    Get more info here

  • 2. Town Creek Indian Mound

    Town Creek Indian Mound in Mt. Gilead is an archaeological wonder.

    While most archaeological sites are investigated for a few years before archaeologists move on to new locations, Town Creek has been the focus of a consistent program of archaeological research for more than half a century.  This research has contributed to the scientific understanding of the original inhabitants of our continent and has provided educational opportunities for many graduate and undergraduate students in anthropology.

    Admission is free but guided tours are $2 per person. During your visit, you can tour the historic structures, trails, monuments, and outdoor exhibits.

    Get more info

  • 3. Fort Dobbs

    Fort Dobbs is located in Statesville near the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Ft. Dobbs State Historic Site provides a window into the tumultuous period of history known as the French and Indian War which took place from 1754-to 1763. It’s the only state historic site associated with the period.

    On your visit, you can enjoy the newly renovated Blockhouse, visitors center, nature trail, and Petit Sutler shop.

    Get more info 

  • 4. Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum

    Originally called the Palmer Memorial Institute and founded in 1902 by Dr. Charlotte Hawkins Brown. Now visitors can experience the Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum. The Institute transformed the lives of more than 2,000 African American students. Now visitors can explore where boys and girls lived and learned during the greater part of the 20th century. The museum delves into the larger themes of African American history, women’s history, social history, and education, emphasizing the contributions African Americans made in North Carolina.

    Get more info

  • 5. Zebulon Vance Birthplace

    A visit to the Zebulon Vance Birthplace in Weaverville, NC is your chance to explore daily life on an early 1800s plantation in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Step inside a 1790s slave dwelling and hear the stories of the women and men who were enslaved by the Vances.  Take a tour through the reconstructed birthplace of Zebulon B. Vance to discover how the environment and society of Western North Carolina shaped his political career.

    Tucked into the picturesque Reems Creek Valley, the site features seven historic and reconstructed buildings as well as a visitor center with interactive exhibits.  Visitors can take a guided tour of the site, browse our exhibits, and conclude their visit with lunch in our picnic shelter—featuring panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains

    Get more info

  • 6. Reed Gold Mine

    Reed Gold Mine is the site of the first documented gold discovery in the United States. In fact, North Carolina led the nation in gold production until 1848, when it was eclipsed by the great rush to California. At its peak over $1 million worth of gold was discovered each year. Today you can visit Reed Gold Mine which is located in Midland.  There is an underground mine that is open for self-guided tours, historic structures, a visitor center, trails, monuments, and outdoor exhibits. Admission is free though there is a $3 charge if you want to pan for gold.

    Get more info here

  • 7. NC Transportation Museum

    The N.C. Transportation Museum is a historic site located in Stanley, NC. Admission for adults is $6 and is cheaper for children and seniors. The site was once home to Southern Railway’s largest steam locomotive repair facility in the southeast and currently features a museum featuring all types of transportation history – railroading, automotive, aviation, and more.

    Historic structures you can see on your visit include Barber Junction Depot which is an authentic train station built in 1898. The Bob Julian Roundhouse is the largest still remaining roundhouse in North America and houses locomotives, passenger rail cars, and a full-size replica Wright Flyer.

    On Saturdays, visitors can also participate in train rides which take place at 11 am, 1 pm, and 2 pm for a minimal additional charge. The museum also hosts several events throughout the year including The Polar Express, Wine & Dine on The Rails, and A Day Out With Thomas.

    Get more info

  • 8. Horne Creek Living Historical Farm

    Once known as the Hauser family farm but not referred to as Horne Creek. A visit to the farm enables visitors to experience farm life in North Carolina’s northwestern Piedmont around the turn of the century. The site features the family’s original farmhouse, a tobacco curing barn, a corn crib, adjacent fields under cultivation, and even a heritage apple orchard. Programs are offered such as old-fashioned ice cream socials and an annual corn shucking frolic.

    Get more info

  • 9. Alamance Battle Ground

    Alamance Battleground State Historic Site is located on the land which once hosted a battle between the Regulators and the royal governor William Tryon’s militia in 1771. The battle was fueled by growing anger over expensive land, embezzlement of tax money, and collusion between creditors and public officials. That anger led small farmers in piedmont North Carolina to form associations, write petitions, and seek peaceful redress of their grievances. A lack of response from the royal government only deepened the Regulators’ resolve, and rising frustration later gave way to violence. The Regulator movement ended with their defeat at Alamance, but their struggle sent shockwaves through North Carolina and Colonial America, creating tensions that would reignite during the American War for Independence.

    Today you can visit the Battle Ground in Burlington and tour a residence on the property called The Allen House as well as check out the visitor center, a three-quarter-mile nature trail, the James Hunter Monument, and the 1880 granite column commemorating the battle. 

    Get more info

  • 10. Thomas Wolfe Memorial

    You can visit Thomas Wolfe’s mother’s boardinghouse in Asheville, North Carolina. Now known as the Thomas Wolfe Memorial, it has become one of literature’s most famous landmarks. Named “Old Kentucky Home” by a previous owner, Wolfe immortalized the rambling Victorian structure as “Dixieland” in his epic autobiographical novel, Look Homeward.

    The site is open Tuesday-Saturdays and guided tours of the historic “Old Kentucky Home” are offered daily at the bottom of each hour.

    Get more info

    Ts to the setting for this great novel.

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