Fayetteville in North Carolina is a place of rich history coupled with southern hospitality. Located close to Fort Bragg, Fayetteville is understandably proud of its military background, and you will find museums and monuments here dedicated to telling the story of the service of many of the men and women in the area. As well as being a recognized Military Sanctuary Community as well as ‘America’s Most Pro-Military Town’ (as declared by TIME Magazine), Fayetteville is also a vibrant and modern city, and you will find a whole host of events that demonstrate this.
Live music nights and clubs abound, as well as fine dining restaurants, art galleries, and upscale shopping venues. There are also a wealth of parks, trails, and the dominating Cape Fear River, as well as a number of attractions for younger guests like playgrounds and museums.
Lets explore the best things to do in Fayetteville:
1. Cameo Art House Theater
The Cameo Art House Theater has recently been restored to the way in which it would have looked in the 1920s when it was first opened.
The cameo now shows a range of films including new releases as well as classics, and art house films.
The cinema is billed as an ‘alternative’ art house experience in Fayetteville, so if you want to catch a showing then this is the place to do it as you take in the gorgeous period features of this building.
2. Arnette Park
Arnette Park sprawls over 100 acres and is one of the most picturesque green spaces in the city.
There are hiking trails that span the park, meaning that this is a great place to come for an afternoon stroll if you want to take in some of the beauty of North Carolina.
There are also ball fields here, and if you are lucky you may just catch as game, or you can enjoy playgrounds for younger visitors.
You can even compete in a game of disc golf here as well as use basketball courts and volleyball nets.
3. Fayetteville Area Transportation and History Museum
The Fayetteville Area Transportation and History Museum is dedicated to showcasing the work of the African-American community in Fayetteville.
The museum is run by local volunteers who are happy to fill you in on African-American history in the area, and will give you a tour of the museum.
There are a full range of exhibits here dedicated to African-American history, and the museum also operates as a research facility.
4. Cape Fear River Boat Rides
Cape Fear River Boat Rides is run by local resident Freddie Mims who is also a licensed United States Coast Guard, so if you go out on the water with him then know that you are in good hands.
If you want to check out the gorgeous strip of waterway that is Cape Fear River, then Freddie offers a range of different cruises that can take anything from 2 to 8 hours depending on how much you want to see.
All tours take off from Riverside Marine at Cambellton Landing, and this is a great way to see the city from the water with a knowledgeable local.
5. Airborne and Special Operations Museum (ASOM)
The Airborne and Special operation Museum, also known as ASOM is a small museum that has the mission statement of preserving the memory of the sacrifice of servicemen in the special operations forces as well as airborne troops.
To that end, you can expect to find a range of period artifacts in this museum as well as dioramas, and audio and visual exhibits to stimulate all the senses.
There is even a motion simulator here which will give you the feeling of the work of the All American Airborne soldiers, and there are also movies that will take you through the history and experiences of those who work in service.
6. Campbellton Landing
Located on the lush east bank of the gorgeous Cape Fear River, Campbellton Landing has a long and illustrious history.
In the present day, this is an entertainment venue, but it was first founded in 1762 and as a ferry landing for what was then Campbellton Village.
The site is deeply historic in terms of the story of Fayetteville, and you will find a range of events held here throughout the year including special events at holidays.
Another favorite use of the landing is for fishing, and you can come and fish for local species here 24 hours a day free of charge.
The waters here are teeming with Spotted Bass, Striped Bass, Catfish, and a whole host of other aquatic life, so if you are a keen angler then you shouldn’t miss the chance to head down here.
7. The All American Fencing Academy
The All American Fencing Academy sits in the downtown area of Fayetteville and if you are looking for something a little different to do while you are in town then this is the perfect place to come.
There are beginner classes here which start every month and are open to those who have never tried fencing before, and this is also an Olympic fencing institution, meaning that you will be learning with expert and highly talented teachers.
For anyone looking to learn a new and exciting sport, then this is not to be missed.
8. Cape Fear Botanical Garden
Cape Fear Botanical Garden stretches across an amazing 77 acres of land and is blessed with views over the Cross Creek River as well as the majestic Cape Fear River.
The grounds of the botanical garden are covered in different themed gardens, and you will find educational exhibits here such as the ‘water-wise’ gardening display.
There is a restored farmhouse that sits in the botanical garden and here you will find period farming tools as well as live demonstrations on how to harvest tobacco, cotton, and other local crops from the south.
The botanical gardens are also filled with wild flowers, oak trees that have been here for centuries, and plants native to North Carolina.
You can take in the stunning views here by wandering along the many trails that span the gardens, and guided tours are also available.
9. Arsenal Park
Arsenal Park is one of the smaller parks in Fayetteville but it still packs a punch and is covered with gorgeous grassy meadows and hiking trails.
If you are looking for somewhere to get outside in Fayetteville, particularly if you are traveling with younger visitors, then this is a solid choice, and as the park is compact you can visit it easily for a quick stroll around sunset.
10. Cape Fear River Trail
The Cape Fear River Trail consists of a paved walking path that is 10 feet wide and can be used to jog, cycle, or bike along.
The trail spans over 5 miles and as you move along it you will be able to take in majestic trees, pretty wild flowers, as well as the amazing wildlife found in North Carolina.
As the trail winds past the spectacular Cape Fear River, you will be able to take in the stunning views over the water.
As well as the paved trail there are also wooden bridges here and a boardwalk that spans 700 feet and takes you through lush wetlands that skirt past Clark Park.
One of the best aspects of the trail is that it has boards along the way that will tell you all about the local flora and fauna that you are likely to encounter, such as over 700 species of plants and 150 species of birds alone.
If you are lucky, you may even come across turtles and deer.
11. Sandhills Family Heritage Center
At Sandhills Family Heritage Center, you can take a guided tour where you will learn all about the history of African American heritage in the North Carolina area.
The history lesson here will take you from the times of slavery all the way through to the Civil Rights Movement and you will hear period testimonies of those involved as well as see antique memorabilia and galleries dedicated to telling the story of those who lived through this tumultuous period of American history.
You can also learn about the contributions of the African American community in the development of North Carolina and there are galleries dedicated to topics like religion, herbal medicine, and land ownership.
12. Contentment Farm
Fayetteville and its surrounding areas are known for the strong farming community, and with that in mind why not head for a tour of one of the working farms in the area? Contentment Farm belongs to the Gillis family who span eight generations of farmers in the region, a lineage that goes back to the 1700s.
As you tour the farm you can learn how the day-to-day farming practices here have changed since the days of old, and there is a self guided walking tour that will take you to all the best spots at this picturesque outdoor museum.
13. Milton E. Mazarick Park
Milton E. Mazarick Park covers 80 acres of land in Fayetteville and is known as the place to come if you want to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors.
One of the signature features of the park is Glenville Lake which sits in the center, and fishing is popular here thanks to the huge number of local species that are found in these waters.
If you prefer walking, then there are trails around the lake and wider park, or you can bring a picnic and enjoy the grassy knolls that abound here.
For anyone looking to get active, you can enjoy the disc golf green here, or the basketball and volleyball courts.
14. Fayetteville Rose Garden
The Fayetteville Rose Garden is part of Fayetteville Technical Community College and dates back to the 1970s when it was first founded.
The garden has over 1,000 gorgeous rose bushes on show, and if you want to take in the colorful displays and heady scents of the roses then you can walk around and enjoy the garden for free.
The best time to enjoy the roses as they bloom is from April until the winter period, and as well as the actual blooms you can also enjoy a striking gazebo area as well as fountains and other local flowers.
If you want to know more about the garden, its conception, and the roses on display, then there are horticulturalists who work here who will be happy to give you a guided tour.
15. 1897 Poe House
The 1897 Poe House was, perhaps unsurprisingly, built in 1897 by E. A Poe, a prominent businessman from Fayetteville who lived here with his wife Josephine.
The house is now part of the Cape Fear Historical Complex and has been turned into a museum and you can take a tour with a knowledgeable docent who will tell you the story of the house as well as the history of the surrounding area.
The house is much as it was in the early twentieth century and is filled with period antiques and memorabilia.