With a downtown historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places and more than 100 buildings dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries, Hillsborough, North Carolina, has been called a museum without walls. And for good reason. Walk the streets and gaze upon all that the town has to show, the buildings practically whisper their stories, and the food packs flavors of recipes passed down through generations.
Get a taste of the history at The Wooden Nickel. Hillsborough is among the oldest communities in North Carolina—it was founded in 1754—and the small town retains much of its historic charm today. But it doesn’t take much digging to realize that there is entirely another world here, as well. It’s a world of art, food, literature, craft cocktails, and organic food. The past and present live side-by-side and that’s what gives this town its life.
The Colonial Inn is an iconic cornerstone of downtown Historic Hillsborough. After years of waiting, the doors are now open. The food is four-star, and the ambiance is too. There are not too many restaurants where you can look up from your appetizer and see a happy bride and groom skipping to their limo and driving away for the rest of their lives or running into one of the many famous local authors who live here. For those who like to lace up their shoes and roam, take a walk to the centerpiece of this lovely town, a 1.8-mile paved trail that runs alongside the Eno River from Gold Park through the middle of Hillsborough. It’s also part of the statewide Mountains-to-Sea Trail.
There is no other town in North Carolina quite like Hillsborough—quaint and cutting-edge at the same time. The next time the weather calls for Carolina Blue skies, make a day trip over to Hillsborough. Or better yet, spend the night and enjoy the stars and beautifully lit streets of the historic downtown.