Are you looking for the best things to do in Fayetteville, NC? Are you ready to experience a fun-filled, action-packed weekend getaway in a destination that offers so much outside of being widely known as being the home of the Fort Bragg military installation? Join us as we explore a collection of cool attractions, epic eateries, vibrant urban brewhouses and much more during a long weekend adventure in Fayetteville.
For those of you that haven’t visited this part of North Carolina, you may be familiar with Fort Bragg as an active military base but you likely won’t be aware of the many military inspired attractions, restaurants, brewhouses and even coffee shops that have been developed by former military personnel who wanted to give back to the local community that gave them so much during their time at the Fort Bragg base.
Fayetteville also has a blend of distinctive attractions that are not associated with the military base and regardless of the type of traveler you are, you can be sure that this destination offers something for everyone. Let’s take a look at some of the coolest things to do in Fayetteville, all of which we believe you can experience during a weekend getaway. Many of these attractions are in close proximity to each other, ranging from the historic downtown district to the suburban neighborhoods that continue to thrive and expand to serve locals and tourists alike.
Things to Do in Fayetteville, NC
Whether you are looking for the best places to eat or coolest things to do during a weekend getaway, we think the following list offers an eclectic look at how to enjoy the very best of Fayetteville. While this is by no means an exhaustive list of things to do in the area, it will give visitors the opportunity to sample some of the finest restaurants, attractions and other reasons to justify adding Fayetteville to your future travel plans.
- U.S. Army Airborne & Special Operations Museum
- Cape Fear Botanical Garden
- 1897 Poe House
- Veterans Park
- Carvers Creek State Park
- Dirtbag Ales Farmers Market
- Experience Local Coffee Shops
- Fayetteville’s Breweries
- Candle Making at Hummingbird Candle Co.
- Enjoy Global Cuisine
U.S. Army Airborne & Special Operations Museum
Aside from being home to the infamous Fort Bragg military installation, perhaps the most iconic attraction in Fayetteville is the fitting tribute to the Airborne and Special Operations soldiers located in the historic downtown area of the city. The U.S. Army Airborne and Special Operations Museum offers both outdoor and indoor exhibits that are worth visiting and learning more about the iconic role these individuals played in wars across the globe.
Before venturing inside, take some time to experience the iconic monuments on display in front of the museum. Constant Vigilance was created to memorialize all of the K9 units that have been lost in battle around the world. The strategic position of this memorial in close proximity to “Iron Mike” reflecting the loyalty that they have for their special operations comrades. At the base of the memorial are individual stones reflecting the names of all the K9 units that lost their lives in battle.
Self-guided tours inside the museum are free and lead visitors through a series of realistic exhibits, starting in 1940 with the creation of the U.S. Army Parachute Test Platoon and culminating with today’s Airborne and Special Operations units that have battled most recently in Afghanistan and Iraq. As you pass through each of the eras, you learn how these units have evolved utilizing knowledge and technology to better support other armed forces across the globe.
While tragedy is always going to be associated with museums like this, it is certainly a fitting tribute to memorialize and remember all of those that have fought in battles and this truly does represent units that frequently fly under the radar given their specialized roles in the military.
Cape Fear Botanical Garden
“Nature is the poetry of earth”…when John Keats alluded to this in his works, I think it’s fair to say he was looking at a breathtaking natural landscape that spoke to the inherent beauty that surrounds us. Visitors to Cape Fear Botanical Garden may well feel something very similar as they are transported into a natural abyss of beauty. During our visit, we were led on a guided tour of this botanical garden, exploring all of the iconic areas that were either in full bloom or in the process of showing their full colors.
We have been fortunate to visit a variety of botanical gardens across the globe but we would argue that Fayetteville’s version was up there with the very best, simply because of the natural feeling you get as you meander around the gardens. Many botanical gardens have that “man-made” association but this is certainly not the case at Cape Fear. Located on 80 acres nestled between the Cape Fear River and Cross Creek, these gardens offer visitors of all ages a learning experience of botany like no other in the area.
1897 Poe House
Did you know that the E.A. Poe House was located in Fayetteville, NC? Ok, you can be forgiven for thinking that this is the former residence of the infamous writer because instead, Poe was a local businessman and owner of the Poe Brick Company. Dating back to the late 19th century when the house was constructed in 1897, visitors to Fayetteville can take a guided tour of the property before visiting the museum and learning about African American history, social change in North Carolina, the role of women and much more.
The Museum of Cape Fear offers more than 400 years of history across two floors of exhibits and after exploring this rich local history, visitors will want to head outside to Arsenal Park which has the remains of an ordnance factory that served both the Federal and Confederate governments during the 19th century.
Veterans Park and Freedom Memorial Park
North Carolina Veteran’s Park is the first park in the state dedicated to veterans from all branches of the military. This poignant area has memorials for the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard and well worth taking some time to explore after experiencing the nearby Airborne and Special Operations Museum. The Oath of Service wall is perhaps the most iconic of all the memorials here, displaying bronze castings of North Carolina veterans’ hands strategically placed at shoulder height depicting them taking the oath of service before fighting for their country.
The nearby visitor center is worth exploring to learn more about the various military branches, while this is also home to a chandelier constructed from 33,500 military dog tags and also a Service Ribbon Wall made of fused glass that displays every service medal awarded since the Civil War.
Just a short walk from Veterans Park is Freedom Memorial Park and is also worth experiencing. Dating back to its construction in 1992, this memorializes those who have lost their lives in battle and offers a location of solitude in the downtown area of Fayetteville for family members to reflect on those that were tragically lost.
Carvers Creek State Park
With over 4,530 acres across the Sandhills region of North Carolina, Carvers Creek State Park is the perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life to relax among natural surroundings and enjoy a myriad of multi-use trails. At the heart of Carvers Creek State Park is Long Valley Farm, a historic retreat of a Rockefeller family member, but regardless of your desire to learn more about the Rockefeller legacy, this park is one where you can enjoy miles of gorgeous trails.
There are two convenient access points to the state park, either via the Sandhills entrance or via the Long Valley Farm entrance. Either option offers a starting point for a variety of trails through longleaf pine forest, whether you are wearing your favorite hiking boots or hopping on a bike to explore more of the state park, you can be sure there is something for every visitor.
Dirtbag Ales Farmers Market
One of the most unique experiences in Fayetteville is the family friendly farmers market at Dirtbag Ales, just a few miles outside of the downtown area of the city. If you are looking to sample great local food, listen to awesome live music, enjoy delicious local craft brews and have a good time with all the family (including your dogs…that’s right, all dogs are welcome and it’s just an awesome experience to see everyone there), head over to Dirtbag Ales Farmers Market for the ultimate experience.
Be sure to arrive early on the days where this farmers market is taking place to ensure convenient parking before heading over to the taproom to sample a few of the favorite brews Dirtbag Ales has to offer. This unique collaboration between Dirtbag Ales and local farmers/artisans, showcases some of the best local produce the area has to offer.
Whether you are inspired to get an artistic representation of your dog or perhaps sample a delicious handcrafted burger from Napkins, you can be sure that this fun-filled experience will grab your attention for most of the afternoon. Don’t forget to arrive with your appetite intact, with Napkins along with a variety of local food trucks available to entice your tastebuds to sample some of the delicious cuisine on offer.
Of course, you can visit Dirtbag Ales all week long throughout the year but if you are fortunate to be in Fayetteville on the weekend at certain times of the year, head over to this location on Sunday morning to enjoy a late brunch, live local music and bring your four legged friends to join in all the fun with locals and visitors alike!
Experience Local Coffee Shops
The eclectic coffee shop scene in Fayetteville is one that is well worth experiencing if you enjoy sampling the finest local roasters when you travel. Whether you are intrigued by the thought of sampling a creative concoction from The Coffee Cup or perhaps you want to sample a more traditional blend from The Coffee Scene, Fayetteville is home to a collection of coffee shops that will give you much needed caffeine to explore the plethora of attractions across the city.
For the non-coffee drinkers out there, head to Winterbloom Tea to sample a handcrafted tea inside one of the most vibrant, urban locations in the city. You can even add a little extra kick with a cocktail style drink, but regardless of your preference, this is definitely worth visiting if you are looking for something a little different. The historic downtown neighborhood of Fayetteville is home to three coffee/tea shops on the main street, so you cannot avoid seeing all of these as you explore some of the city’s most iconic attractions.
Check out our post on the best coffee shops in Fayetteville, NC for more inspiration on which spots are worth visiting on your next trip to North Carolina.
Did you know that Fayetteville was home to six distinguished craft breweries? That’s right, located in Cumberland County, craft beer connoisseurs can visit one of the various breweries to sample not only delicious locally crafted brews, but also a selection of local cuisine offerings that create the perfect accompaniment to these beers.
We already mentioned Dirtbag Ales as the perfect spot to visit on the weekend for the iconic farmers market, but for those that prefer to stay in the downtown vicinity of Fayetteville, you can visit one of the following breweries to sample their showcase of brews. Both Huske Hardware and Gaston Brewing Company are located in the historic downtown neighborhood and with only a short walk between the two of them, you could certainly sample the brews at both breweries during the same trip.
Heckler Brewing Company and Bright Light Brewing Company offer a variety of crafted brews, while The Mash House Restaurant and Brewery is a great place to enjoy an evening meal while indulging in a flight of different brews.
Candle Making at Hummingbird Candle Co.
The unique collection of things to do in Fayetteville continues with a trip to Hummingbird Candle Co. in the historic downtown area of the city. Enjoy a hands-on experience crafting your very own candle, creating the perfect experience for a girls getaway or couples retreat to showcase their creative skills in selecting the perfect scent and building this masterpiece.
Whether you choose to indulge in the candle making experience to become a certified (albeit unofficial) “chandler”, you can wander around and embrace the subtle, unique fragrances available from the candles at Hummingbird.
For only $40, you will receive step by step instructions on how to pick a signature fragrance and hand pour one luxurious coconut oil based 9 oz. candle before coming back in a few hours to take home your magical design. Don’t forget to write your most cherished thoughts on the candle wick so that after you take your candle home and burn it, you will reveal these amazing thoughts to recollect the experience you had at Hummingbird Candle Co.
Enjoy Global Cuisine
A trip to Fayetteville wouldn’t be the same without sampling the eclectic global cuisine on offer across the city. From delicious, authentic Vietnamese cuisine at Grilled Ginger where you can sample your favorite pho or vermicelli bowl, to charming Italian cuisine from Luigi’s Italian Chophouse and Bar, the variety of offerings available are endless.
Of course, while you likely won’t be able to resist the local cuisine available at the various breweries across the city, there is something in Fayetteville to satisfy every appetite. Head to Fowler’s Southern Gourmet to indulge in a scratch kitchen with a focus on BBQ prepared with fresh local ingredients and homemade sauces.
If you are looking to enjoy a little Spanish style tapas or experience more flamboyant Mediterranean cuisine, head over to Pharaohs Village to sample authentic fare with a hint of American comfort food.
Fayetteville, NC may not be the first destination you think about visiting but after spending a long weekend in this area, we can 100% attest that there are a variety of unique experience awaiting visitors. Whether you are inspired to sample an eclectic collection of global cuisine and local craft brews, or perhaps try your hand at candle making, there is something for every type of traveler.
From the rich military history associated with this location to the natural beauty of Cape Fear Botanical Garden, Fayetteville offers a diverse blend of attractions and experiences for all the family to enjoy. If you haven’t visited Fayetteville, be sure to add this to your travel plans because you will not regret it!