An adventurous town in the North Carolina foothills, Wilkesboro is emblematic of the word heritage—rich in cultural traditions, unspoiled countryside, historic buildings, and a home to fine craftsmanship. It’s a mountain town of resourceful, loyal folk like famous moonshiners like the “uncatchable” Willie Clay Call and NASCAR legend Junior Johnson.
It is people like this that populate the heart of Wilkesboro, a town of about 3,700 people just an hour and a half north of Charlotte. The charming, historic downtown is undergoing a transformation: Local government has invested millions in creating a vibrant space for creativity, community, and cultivation.
At the center is Heritage Square, the home of the Wilkes Heritage Museum. Visitors can get a snapshot of life in Wilkes through artifacts, accounts, and artistic expression from the mid-1700s to present day, including the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame, paying homage to Merlefest founder Doc Watson and the talent that rings through the foothills.
Just outside the Heritage Museum is the Commons, a stage pavilion that hosts monthly free concerts throughout the summer. Across the street is the Blue Ridge Artisan Center, a former post office and court building that now houses a gallery, concert and contra dance venue, and the Artisan Café.
Throughout downtown Wilkesboro, you’ll find vendors ranging from Sweet Smiles to boutique shops like Aunt B’s Attic, Bella Rose Cottage (housed in a quaint 1871 cottage), and farm-to-table dining plus signature cocktails made with local spirits at Dooley’s and its sister restaurant, Two Boros. There’s plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors in Wilkesboro, from walking the Yadkin Greenway Trail to mountain biking at Cub Creek Park and disc-golfing at Rolling Pines.
Interested in visiting Wilkesboro? Find information on accommodations, things to do, and more at www.explorewilkesboro.com
- by Erin Byers Murray
- by Jennifer Stewart Kornegay
- by Emily Havener
- by Hannah Lee Leidy
- by Beth D’Addono