A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

    What we love about Asheboro and Randolph County Yes, Asheboro is lauded as home to the North Carolina Zoo. But the diverse natural habitats at this iconic attraction

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

    What we love about Asheboro and Randolph County Yes, Asheboro is lauded as home to the North Carolina Zoo. But the diverse natural habitats at this iconic attraction

Your Guide to Randolph County



What we love about Asheboro and Randolph County

Yes, Asheboro is lauded as home to the North Carolina Zoo. But the diverse natural habitats at this iconic attraction — the largest of its kind in the world, with 1,700-plus animal residents — are just one reason to visit the geographic center of our state. Here’s our recommendation: After you take a walk on the wild side, spend a leisurely afternoon exploring Sunset Avenue in historic downtown. Here, locally owned businesses invite you to experience the town like a local: tableside visits by the owners after a hearty Southern meal; handmade mugs for club members at the brewery; tables instead of booths at a café to encourage conversation among strangers. Lively gatherings at Bicentennial Park draw the community together and welcome visitors to stop by for a taste of small-town South. Beyond downtown, carve out time to catch your favorite country artist at Liberty Showcase Theater; pick your own apples at Millstone Creek Orchard; immerse yourself in the state’s clay culture; or traverse Deep River State Trail by foot, bike, or kayak. Wherever you choose to explore, this slice of the Piedmont gives you plenty of room to roam.


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What to Do in Downtown Asheboro

Shop: Vintage and antique treasures fill nearly every inch of Collector’s Antique Mall. Allow plenty of time to wander the two buildings — the 1965 B.C. Moore department store and the 1905 Big Bear Supermarket. The mall is filled with nostalgia, from fine furniture to vintage Sno Cone makers and farm tools. Within Randolph Arts Guild’s art center, Morings Fine Crafts and Gifts focuses on artwork, gifts, and goodies created by North Carolina artisans.

Dine: Everything at Magnolia 23 is made from scratch with family recipes and seasonal ingredients from North Carolina fields. The owners are known to visit each table to make sure everyone’s enjoying the fried chicken and persimmon pudding. At the ever-popular breakfast, lunch, and Saturday brunch spot The Table, the owners intentionally chose community tables to promote conversation. With cozy booths, brick walls, and dark wood trim, Hamilton’s Steakhouse is the perfect place for an intimate meal of crab cakes and hand-cut filet mignon, aged 40 days and cooked to perfection. And for a casual night of pizza, creative bar fare, and fun, you can’t beat The Flying Pig.

Sip: Four Saints Brewery offers a changing and varied selection of brews, from the hoppy Summertime blond to the malty and sweet Saint Luke honey-ginger pale ale. You can also sip a nonalcoholic beer, choose a board game from the brewery’s collection, and enjoy events like Taco Tuesdays.




Where to Explore Nature

North Carolina Zoo: With 2,600 acres of natural habitat, animals at the North Carolina Zoo have plenty of room to roam. Here you’ll find lions, elephants, and bears — along with 1,700 other animals — in the largest natural habitat zoo in the world. Take a spin on the endangered species carousel, climb Treehouse Trek, feed the giraffes, and admire 50 awe-inspiring sculptures throughout the park.

Deep River State Trail: Paddle, hike, or bike this unique hybrid trail along 125 miles of The Deep River and a repurposed rail bed from the old Atlantic & Yadkin Railway. Follow in the footsteps of Native American Indians and Revolutionary War soldiers on the Faith Rock nature trail loop near Franklinville.

See chimpanzees like baby Obi at the North Carolina Zoo, or escape into nature in a different way at Creekside Park. Photography courtesy of North Carolina Zoo, Heart of North Carolina Visitors Bureau

Creekside Park: For fun physical fitness for everyone in the family, try the 18-hole disc-golf course at Creekside Park, including a six-hole course for beginners. Walk your dog on three miles of paved trails or let furry friends loose in the one-acre dog park. Creekside Park also includes playgrounds as well as sand volleyball and basketball courts.

Millstone Creek Orchards: Experience sweet country living every season of the year at this 84-acre family farm. Summer’s colorful zinnias, farmers markets, and peach donuts make way for autumn apples, hayrides, and cider slushies. Open year-round, The Apple Barn offers freshly baked goods, raw honey, jams, and other provisions.




Where to Enjoy the Arts

Sunset Theatre: Asheboro’s historic theater stages all types of entertainment, from movies to plays to musicals to concerts. Although updated with modern sound, lighting, and other amenities, Sunset Theatre retains its exquisite 1930s Spanish Colonial Revival details.

RhinoLeap Productions: Asheboro’s professional theater company aims to do the unexpected every day. Experience live radio shows, storytelling, children’s productions, and digital stories that reflect the community’s diverse creative scene.

See a performance at RhinoLeap Productions and look for collectible art at the North Carolina Pottery Center. Photography courtesy of HEART OF NORTH CAROLINA VISITORS BUREAU

North Carolina Pottery Center: Visit the town of Seagrove — the handmade pottery capital of the United States — to explore dozens of potters’ studios and the North Carolina Pottery Center, which represents 1,000 potters working throughout the state today. Find traditional tableware and collectible art pieces to historical reproductions and pots created by the Cherokees more than 500 years ago.

Explore the Carolina Bronze Sculpture Garden and enjoy live music at Liberty Showcase Theater Photography courtesy of HEART OF NORTH CAROLINA VISITORS BUREAU

Carolina Bronze Sculpture Garden: One of the East Coast’s preeminent sculpture manufacturers cast the statue of President Ronald Reagan that’s on display at the U.S. Capitol rotunda. The fine arts foundry provides tours and invites the public to explore its sculpture garden with 25 stunning pieces exhibited in native gardens around a peaceful pond.

Liberty Showcase Theater: It’s always a toe-tappin’ good time at this 450-seat vintage theater, established in 1949. Today, the theater is a destination for Grammy Award-winning musicians and Nashville recording artists in bluegrass, country, and Christian music. Previous performers include Kathy Mattea, The Malpass Brothers, Gene Watson, and Dailey and Vincent — to name a few. Check out upcoming events on their site.



Where to Explore Museums & Local History

North Carolina Aviation Museum & Hall of Fame: Discover 20,000 square feet of military and civilian aircraft, wartime memorabilia, historically accurate aircraft models, and unique artifacts — like President Truman’s limousine and a Piper J-3 Flitfire flown by Orville Wright. Be sure to check out the calendar of events for an upcoming air show or fly-in.

Randolph County Genealogy Room: Complete your family tree project with the treasure trove of historical and genealogical records on the first floor of the Asheboro Public Library. Trace your family’s roots by researching newspapers, vital records, soldier rosters, government documents, photographs, scrapbooks, and maps, with professional staff to guide you.

See aircraft at the North Carolina Aviation Museum & Hall of Fame and discover Linbrook Heritage Estate, one of the biggest private homes in the Southeast. Photography courtesy of HEART OF NORTH CAROLINA VISITORS BUREAU

Linbrook Heritage Estate: Step inside one of the Southeast’s largest private homes. Completed in 2006 by tech entrepreneur Jerry Neal, the impressive 60-room mansion features architectural details found in many 18th-century homes. Also on-site is the Neal Agricultural & Industrial Museum, honoring the family’s longtime farming heritage.




Explore More in Randolph County

The Wild & Wonderful North Carolina Zoo

In Asheboro, come face to face with incredible animals at the world’s largest natural habitat zoo.

Richard Petty: A Hometown Hero

“The King” — a NASCAR legend and Randolph County native — reflects on 75 years of North Carolina racing history at the Petty Museum.

The Uwharrie Trailblazers are Closing the Gap

In the late 1960s, an Asheboro Scoutmaster had a dream: cut a mini Appalachian Trail through Uwharrie National Forest, in the center of the state. Today, a new group of trailblazers aims to finish the job.



This story was published on Aug 23, 2023

Lara Ivanitch

Lara Ivanitch is a freelance writer who resides in Raleigh.

Laura Lee

Laura Lee has lived and worked all over the Southeast. When she's not writing, she loves traveling with her family and her goldendoodle, ready to discover the next hidden gem.