The charming town of Statesville is located in Iredell County, in North Carolina’s western Piedmont region, approximately 45 minutes north of Charlotte. Statesville is an ideal getaway for history buffs, adventure seekers, and those who simply want to relax.
Known as the Ballooning Capital of the East, opportunities to go up, up, and away, plus an annual balloon festival are definite draws to this friendly town. And there’s much more to see, do, and experience when you visit Statesville.
Note: Our delightful weekend was generously hosted by Visit Statesville. All opinions are my own.
Things To Do In Statesville
Settlers began arriving in what would become Statesville as early as 1753, and the town’s history is everywhere. Add opportunities for outdoor activities on land, water, and in the air, locally produced food and drink, and friendly residents who welcome visitors. The only challenge is deciding what to do first.
Take an exciting hot air balloon ride: Ballooning may seem scary, but unless you have a paralyzing fear of heights, it’s an exhilarating experience like no other. Floating serenely over forests, lakes, fields, and Statesville itself gives you a unique perspective of where you’ve been and where you might like to go. There are several reputable balloon operators from which to choose, but if you’re content watching those enormous orbs from the ground, plan your Statesville visit to coincide with Carolina BalloonFest. This popular festival takes place annually on the third weekend in October, and offers the opportunity to gape at over 50 balloons filling the sky with brilliant colors.
Visit Fort Dobbs
On an interpretative tour of Fort Dobbs, you’ll wander back to 1756 and the French and Indian War. At this reconstructed replica of the original fort, a knowledgable guide in period costume takes you through the buildings and grounds of this short-lived, but historically relevant installation. The tour takes approximately 1 hour, and by the time you leave, you will have gained an understanding of the soldiers and how they lived. A guide takes visitors through the history of the fort, the war, and its aftermath.
Pro Tip: The terrain is easily navigated on foot, and the ground floor of the fort is wheelchair accessible.
Take A Fascinating Wander Through The Statesville Historical Collection
Statesville historian, Steve Hill, brings the town’s history to life in a most unusual and entertaining way. His Statesville Historical Collection is a neatly organized accumulation of everything Statesville. Since his high school days, Steve has been collecting photos, documents, and memorabilia that tells the story of his beloved home town. Located downtown in a storefront donated for his collection, the space is filled with military uniforms, vintage clothing, toys, posters, and thousands of photographs. Be sure to check out the impressive baseball section, as well as the historical and hysterical signs in the front window.
Pro Tip: Steve is usually available to show you his treasures on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, or by appointment.
Discover The Fun And Funky At Statesville Sculpture Garden
Located at the corner of Water and Center Streets, the Statesville Sculpture Garden encourages you to take a break and enjoy some touchable art. No doubt the sculptors know precisely what their work represents, but that shouldn’t inhibit you or your imagination.
Explore Downtown Statesville
A vibrant downtown area is an integral part of what makes Statesville such an exciting town. The shops, restaurants, and historical buildings can keep you occupied for hours. Check the schedule on the Downtown Statesville website for live music and special events.
Pro Tip: Be aware that many retailers are closed on Sunday.
Hike, Bike, And Swim At Lake Norman State Park
A short 10-mile drive from Statesville, you can spend a few hours or an entire day enjoying nature at Lake Norman State Park. The largest manmade lake in North Carolina offers swimming, a boat ramp, and fishing in season for water lovers. Mountain bike enthusiasts have 30.5 miles of single-track trail to explore. Picnic, hike, or simply sit back and take in the fresh air and sounds of nature all around you.
Pro Tip: Be sure to stop in at the visitor center for information, educational exhibits, and free interpretive programs.
Pick Something To Pick
There’s nothing like fresh flowers and produce you pick yourself. The Statesville area has many farms where you can harvest their seasonal offerings. Here are a few to get you started:
- Gather spring tulips at Howard Family Farm
- Pick luscious strawberries at Patterson Farm
- Find your autumn sweet spot picking muscadines at Cowan Farm and Vineyard
- Pick your perfect Halloween pumpkins at Beaver Farms
Best Restaurants In Statesville
You can find most of the national chains in Statesville, but you certainly don’t have to partake. Local eateries of all kinds are waiting to banish your hunger pangs with everything from down-home southern fare to international favorites, all served with a generous pinch of love. And to go along with all that good food, Statesville’s distillery and breweries are waiting to quench your thirst.
The Bristol Café & Catering
For classic southern fare with a twist, the Bristol Café cooks up a wide variety of tempting dishes. Open Thursday through Sunday for breakfast, brunch, and lunch, this casually classy eatery is located in downtown Statesville. The popular chicken and waffles combination gets a makeover with crispy, sweet tea-marinated fried chicken breast crowning a bacon jalapeño waffle. For breakfast, try one of the creative twists on eggs Benedict. You can have it with a crab cake and spinach, prime rib and spinach served with grits, or pork belly topped with collard greens and served on a biscuit. Don’t worry, the poached eggs and hollandaise will always top the dish. If you still have room, indulge in the Tuxedo Bomb, a chocolate cake layered with luscious white and chocolate mousse, covered with chocolate ganache.
D’Laney’s Sports Bar
If you can’t bear to miss that all-important game, or if you simply want some good food in a lively atmosphere, D’Laney’s fits the bill. Try the Southern Comfort, a burger topped with chili, onions and slaw. D’Laney’s also serves brunch. The Cali Breakfast Tacos — three soft tacos filled with Cajun sausage, egg, melted pepper jack cheese, avocado, and pico de gallo, served with sour cream — will keep you going for hours.
If you’re craving Italian, head on over to Mezzaluna II, a casual fine dining establishment located in the downtown area. Classic and innovative Italian dishes such as mussels al vino blanco, zuppa de pesce, and a superb chicken marsala await you. If you’re fortunate to be dining on a night when the shrimp and scallops in whiskey sauce is one of the specials, by all means, order it. You won’t be sorry.
Pro Tip: Mezzaluna offers vegetarian and vegan options, and you can enjoy live jazz events every month to accompany your meal.
Fourth Creek Brewing Co.
Statesville’s first brewery since Prohibition is a small, independently owned establishment brewing and serving locally-sourced craft beer in the downtown area. The welcome at Fourth Creek Brewing Co. is always warm, and the beer is always cold. Try Mrs. Mango, an IPA with a refreshing balance of bitter and sweet. Or you might prefer Black Dog, a light, dry Irish stout with subtle hints of coffee and chocolate. Fourth Creek also serves hard seltzers, ciders, craft cocktails, and wine. The brewery is open Wednesday through Sunday with alternating food trucks and live music on weekends.
Southern Distilling Company
For a change of pace, take a tour and a taste at Southern Distilling Company, a family-owned distillery, one of the largest state-of-the-art distilleries in the Southeast. You’ll find it on I-77 at the I-40 crossroads. There you can purchase Southern Distilling’s ultra-premium bourbons, rye whiskeys, fruit brandies, and other products. Tours are offered daily. You’ll have the opportunity to see the fascinating process involved in the production of fine spirits. Then you can savor some samples to help you choose which bottles you want to take home.
Best Hotels In Statesville
The Yellow Bow Tie
Indulge yourself in a taste of luxury at the Yellow Bow Tie, a three-room, boutique bed & breakfast located within walking distance of downtown Statesville. The handsomely appointed ensuite bedrooms have special touches such as down pillows, fluffy robes and slippers, and custom toiletries. Indoor and outdoor communal spaces invite guests to mingle and the sumptuous gourmet breakfast gets the day off to a delicious start.
Pro Tip: All bedrooms are located on the second floor and can be reached by climbing a flight of stairs.
Hilton Garden Inn
Located in a historic district of Statesville, the Hilton Garden Inn is a 104-room modern hotel. The rooms are clean and comfortable, and amenities include free parking, Wi-Fi, a pool, 24-hour fitness center, as well as a complimentary area shuttle to nearby destinations.
Pro Tip: Any time of year is a good time to visit Statesville, but spring and fall will give you the best weather and off-season prices.