A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

The first American town to be named for the Marquis de Lafayette, a Revolutionary War hero, Fayetteville was once the political center of North Carolina. The North Carolina General Assembly

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

The first American town to be named for the Marquis de Lafayette, a Revolutionary War hero, Fayetteville was once the political center of North Carolina. The North Carolina General Assembly

Around Town: Fayetteville

The first American town to be named for the Marquis de Lafayette, a Revolutionary War hero, Fayetteville was once the political center of North Carolina. The North Carolina General Assembly convened in Fayetteville from 1786 to 1794, and in 1788, the town almost beat out Raleigh to become the state capital. Today, Fayetteville is better known for its shops, restaurants, and unexpected adventures, and for nearby Fort Bragg, one of the largest military installations in the world. Whether you want to learn more about the town’s history, spend time appreciating the arts, or take a stroll through the great outdoors, Fayetteville has you covered.

Celebrate local and legendary artwork

Housed in a former post office now on the National Register of Historic Places, the Fayetteville/Cumberland County Arts Council Gallery showcases works by national and local artists. The gallery features a number of family-friendly exhibits and events throughout the year, each open to the public six days a week at no charge. Guided group tours are also available, providing deeper insight into the exhibits. And it’s not just visual art that’s celebrated — the Arts Council also hosts poetry slams, competitions in which poets read or recite their original works.

Tip: New exhibits are unveiled during Fourth Fridays, Fayetteville’s monthly celebration of the arts. Come out and enjoy these and other free events around downtown.

Fayetteville/Cumberland County Arts Council Gallery
301 Hay Street
Fayetteville, NC 28301
(910) 323-1776

See what’s brewing downtown

When Molly and Bruce Arnold took shelter from a storm in the doorway of a condemned building, they had no idea that just a few years later they would be its new owners. But in 1999, the couple bought the property at 227 Hay Street and began renovating downtown Fayetteville one structure at a time. Now, their coffee shop, Rude Awakening, provides coffee lovers with just that: a dramatic look at what can be done when someone cares enough to invest in his or her community. Whether your drink of choice is an espresso or a peppermint mocha, the shop’s motto holds true: Coffee is life. Be sure to try the jade espresso, sourced from Charlotte’s Magnolia Coffee Company.

Tip: Fresh off her success with Rude Awakening, Molly bought and restored a building on neighboring Franklin Street. Stop by White Trash & Colorful Accessories for vintage finds, home furnishings, and more.

Rude Awakening
227 Hay Street
Fayetteville, NC 28301
(910) 223-7833

Admire world-renowned street art with a local spin

Take a stroll down Hay Street, and eventually you’ll come across a brick wall covered in striking black-and-white photos: dozens of Fayetteville’s own residents, smiling and serious, solemn and silly. These photos are part of the Inside Out Project, a global participatory art project. Launched by award-winning French artist JR, who wanted to turn messages of personal identity into public works of art in changing cities around the world, the project allows anyone the opportunity to share their portrait and express what they stand for. Today, on the streets of Fayetteville, it’s a reminder that there is strength in diversity.

Tip: Stop by before or after a trip to Rude Awakening — the photo wall is right around the corner.

Inside Out Project
229 Hay Street
Fayetteville, NC 28301

photograph by Dillon Deaton

Step inside a modern mercantile

Leclair’s General Store is an ideal place to start and end the day. This atypical general store sells both coffee and wine, as well as a wide assortment of home goods. On any given day, you may find, among other things, essential oils; craft beer; antiques; handmade pottery; and metal ammunition cans filled with salsa and other locally sourced items. The walls are adorned with items ranging from a white-tailed deer mount to colorful artwork to the coffee mugs of the shop’s most loyal patrons. In short, owner Patrick Leclair has created a patchwork quilt of life in southeastern North Carolina — Fayetteville in particular.

Tip: Leclair’s hosts Wine & Bites and Yoga & Wine events. Check the store’s website for availability and to reserve a spot.

Leclair’s General Store
1212 Fort Bragg Road
Fayetteville, NC 28305
(910) 491-1060

Spend an evening at the theater

In 1962, a group of local artists came together with borrowed equipment to produce two shows in Fayetteville: one at the junior high school and another at the town’s courthouse. From those humble beginnings came the Cape Fear Regional Theatre, now operating in a three-story complex with a 309-seat main stage. The troupe of local actors puts on six performances per season, with the 2018-2019 season now underway. Make plans to attend Peter and the Star Catcher, an imaginative backstory to the beloved children’s tale Peter Pan, which will be performed October 25 through November 11.

Tip: The theater also offers studio classes for aspiring actors and those looking to brush up on their acting skills. Registration for the Fall 2018 term ends October 22.

Cape Fear Regional Theatre
1209 Hay Street
Fayetteville, NC 28305
(910) 323-4233

Remember those who’ve served

Fort Bragg is the home of the illustrious 82nd Airborne Division. Fittingly, the base is also home to the 82nd Airborne Division War Memorial Museum. The 5,600-square-foot gallery showcases artifacts from the 82nd Airborne Division’s formation during World War I to the present day. Outside, the seven-acre Airborne Airpark features almost every aircraft from which the 82nd Airborne Division’s troops have jumped since World War II. Visitors should watch the 25-minute film on the 82nd Airborne Division’s history before beginning their self-guided tours, as it will provide context for the exhibits they’ll view.

Tip: There are several other museums located in Fayetteville. Click here for a full list.

82nd Airborne Division War Memorial Museum
Building C-6841 Ardennes Street
Fayetteville, NC 28310
(910) 432-3443

Take a walk along the Cape Fear River

Beginning near the Jordan Soccer Complex, the 10-foot-wide Cape Fear River Trail winds south along its namesake river for more than five miles. The paved trail is open 365 days a year, offering visitors a chance to view some 700 species of plants and wildlife, as well as scenic overlooks of the river. Wooden bridges and boardwalks provide access to some of the area’s wetlands. Dogs are welcome but must be kept on a leash.

Tip: A new section of the trail, scheduled to be completed in mid-2019, will allow for eight uninterrupted miles of walking, running, and biking from the soccer complex to Riverside Dog Park.                         

Cape Fear River Trail
498 Treetop Drive
Fayetteville, NC 28311
(910) 433-1547

Hike up your kilt and go for a drive

Many of the early European immigrants to the Upper Cape Fear region were from the Scottish Highlands. Fayetteville honors that Gaelic heritage with a two-hour, 85-mile driving trail through and around town. There are more than a dozen stops on the Gaelic Beginnings Trail, including the Sanford House, site of the first federal bank in North Carolina; the Smith-Lauder House, home of the Scottish stonemason recruited to build the State Capitol in the 1830s; and the Scottish monument at the Old Fayetteville Commons, which commemorates the 200th anniversary of the first organized Highlander immigration to the area.

Tip: The Gaelic Beginnings Trail is one of many driving trails in Cumberland County. More info can be found at the Fayetteville visitor center, and a full guide can be downloaded here.

Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau
245 Person Street
Fayetteville, NC 28301
(910) 483-5311

Try some creative ’cue

North Carolina is famous for its barbecue, but how many joints in the state offer a pulled pork sandwich with bacon, jalapeños, and cayenne-dusted grilled pineapple? Or a “Q-rrito” — a burrito filled with barbecue, avocado crema, and jalapeño slaw? Fowler’s Southern Gourmet offers a fun, fresh take on barbecue while respecting the traditions that made it a Southern staple.

Tip: Fowler’s is only open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Better get there early, though: The restaurant closes whenever that day’s supply of barbecue is sold out.

Fowler’s Southern Gourmet
723 West Rowan Street
Fayetteville, NC 28301
(910) 491-5721

See the sights from new heightsEver wanted to zip-line over a waterfall? You can in Fayetteville, thanks to Zipquest, a zip-line company operating near the Cape Fear River. Visitors can choose from several different zip-lining packages, including the Waterfall Expedition, which features eight zip lines, 16 platforms, and three sky bridges. The last line takes you over Carver’s Falls, a two-story-high waterfall along the Cape Fear tributary Carver’s Creek. Make it an even more memorable experience by booking a NightQuest: Visitors are given helmets with lights on them in order to ensure a safe, starlit adventure.

Tip: Time your trip so that you can zip-line during a full moon. The lunar light illuminates the falls below — a sight that you will never forget.

Zipquest Waterfall & Treetop Adventure
533 Carver Falls Road
Fayetteville, NC 28311
(910) 488-8787

This story was published on Oct 11, 2018

Taylor Pardue

Taylor Pardue was the digital content editor of Our State. A graduate of North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, he’s freelanced for a number of regional and national magazines, worked as a newspaper reporter, and previously served as the associate and online editor of Sporting Classics magazine.