If you’re looking for things to do in Fayetteville, North Carolina, we’ve got you covered! This city is perfect for those who are looking for a unique southern destination steeped in American history and culture and surrounded by beautiful scenery!
Fayetteville has played a key role in American history, beginning in the late 1700s when it was founded by immigrants from the Scottish Highlands. Its location on the beautiful Cape Fear River has made Fayetteville an important military and trading hub over the years. There are plenty of historic Fayetteville attractions and landmarks waiting to be discovered!
Learn about Fayetteville’s rich military history at a museum dedicated to just that, step back in time in a historic mansion, or explore one of the town’s many scenic walking trails or colorful gardens. There are exciting things to do in Fayetteville for everyone! Keep reading to discover why visiting Fayetteville is one of the best things to do in North Carolina!
14 Best Things to Do in Fayetteville NC You Shouldn’t Miss
US Army Airborne and Special Operations Museum
Located very close to historic Fort Bragg, Fayetteville is still surrounded by military history today! One of the best things to do in Fayetteville for those who are interested in learning about military history is a visit to the US Army Airborne and special operations museum.
This fascinating museum features state-of-the-art exhibits that tell the stories of the United States Army’s Airborne and the Special Operations Forces throughout history. Step back to 1940, when the first Airborne platoon jumped out of the sky and into battle. Explore exhibits highlighting World War II, the Cold war, and Korean War, all the way up to the modern-day war on terrorism.
The US Army and Special Operations Museum is located right in the heart of Fayetteville, so it is easy to visit even on a short trip. Admission is free although donations are encouraged to support future events and exhibits. The museum is one of the most popular attractions in Fayetteville and is a must-see for anyone who wants to dive deeper into America’s military history!
Cape Fear Botanical Garden
No visit to Fayetteville is complete without a visit to the beautiful Cape Fear Botanical Garden! Strolling through these stunning gardens is one of the best things to do in Fayetteville NC for nature lovers!
Cape Fear Botanical Garden boasts over 80 acres of beautiful forest. Get lost on the nature trails and enjoy the 2,000 varieties of plant species. Be sure to keep an eye out for local wildlife such as herons and hawks. Many migratory birds are attracted to the gardens, making it a perfect spot for bird watching!
Visiting the Cape Fear Botanical Garden is one of the best things to do in Fayetteville with kids! There are always events going on for both kids and adults such as yoga and storytime. Whether you are just looking for a peaceful place to spend a sunny afternoon or are wanting to learn more about the local plant life, a visit to this fantastic garden is a must!
Market House is one of Fayetteville’s most cherished historic buildings! Visiting this landmark is what to do in Fayetteville if you’re interested in the city’s history.
This unique building was built in 1832, on the site of the State House that burned down in 1831. The second floor served as the town hall while the open space underneath was used as a market for household goods. A famous skirmish happened just in front of Market Hall during the Civil War.
Today, it is designated a National Landmark, one of only 40 in North Carolina. It is no longer possible to visit the outside, but taking photos outside is one of the best free things to do in Fayetteville NC!
1897 Poe House
Not to be confused with the famous gothic writer, local businessman E.A. Poe built this magnificent home for his wife and 8 children in 1897. Today, visiting the home is one of the most interesting things to do in Fayetteville North Carolina!
As you wander the beautiful grounds and home, you will learn about what life was like for an affluent family during the early 20th century in North Carolina. The house has been meticulously preserved and contains much of the original furnishings and decor.
The 1897 Poe House is part of the Museum of Cape fear and is located very close to downtown. Guided tours are donation-based and are available Tuesday-Sunday. Touring this home is one of the best activities in Fayetteville for those who are looking for a taste of history!
Museum of Cape Fear
The Museum of Cape Fear should be your first stop in Fayetville to learn about the history of the area! It is one of the most informational Fayateville attractions and is essential for a first-time visit to the city.
The museum itself is two stories of exhibits that tell the story of North Carolina all the way from the Native Americans to the early 20th century. Step back in time as 400 years of history come to life with artifacts from the area’s first settlers, the Civil War, and more.
The museum sprawls over 7 acres and is comprised of the museum building, the 1897 Poe House, the 1840 Culbreth House, as well as Arsenal Park which contains the ruins of a Civil War-era military arsenal. The Museum of Cape Fear is one of the best things to do in Fayetteville for history buffs!
The Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum
Located inside the historic and meticulously restored Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley Railroad Depot which dates back to 1890, The Fayetteville Transportation and Local History Museum is one of the most fun things to do in Fayetteville NC!
Highlights of the museum include the recreated station agent’s office, the model train room, and an interactive steamboat exhibit. Beyond that, you will find transportation-related exhibits that cover automobiles, airplanes, and trains. There are even vintage cars and re-created 1920s gas station inside!
After learning about Fayetteville’s transportation history, learn about the area’s law enforcement and fire department history. There are also exhibits on the region’s farm life. This museum is perfect if you’re looking for fun things to do in Fayetteville with kids!
Spend the Day at Lake Rim
Looking for a quick escape from the city? A day trip out to Lake Rim might be for you! Located just a short 20-minute drive from downtown, Lake Rim is one of the best places to go in Fayetteville for those looking for a unique place to relax.
Take a stroll along the one-mile trail that runs along the lake through the wetlands. Pack a lunch and have a romantic picnic, play a game of soccer or volleyball, or simply go for a swim. Families with children can take advantage of the pool and waterslides at the lake Rim Aquatic Center.
More adventurous visitors can join a kayak tour or spend the day fishing. Spending the day at Lake Rim is one of the best things to do in Fayetteville with pets so feel free to bring your furry friends along!
Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site
If you run out of activities in Fayetteville, but still want to dive deeper into history, take a day trip to Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site! This fascinating piece of history is less than an hour away from Fayetteville, making it perfect for a day trip!
Bentonville Battlefield is the site of the Battle of Bentonville, which was fought March 19-25 of 1865 during the Civil War. It was the largest battle ever fought in North Carolina. One of the main highlights of the site is the 1855 Harper House, which housed Union soldiers and is now furnished as a Civil War hospital.
This battlefield is one of the best things to do in Fayetteville for Civil War buffs! Explore the historic site without leaving your car on the 10-mile self-guided driving tour. There are also 5 miles of trails to explore that allow visitors to get a close look at the battlefield. Don’t forget to stop by the visitor center which features exhibits with artifacts from the battle as well as a detailed presentation.
Take a Walking Tour
Looking to get a unique perspective of Fayetteville? A walking tour may be just the thing! Join a knowledgeable local guide and hear stories about the city’s past.
Admire the historic buildings of Downtown Fayetteville as you learn about the figures of the past that shaped the city into what it is today. Learn about the Great Fire of 1831 that destroyed over 600 buildings and the city’s efforts to rebuild them. Discover the history behind historic landmarks that you may otherwise pass right by!
The walking tours are offered by Downtown Fayetteville Tours and reservations must be made in advance! The company also offers ghost tours that take you around the city at night as well as pub crawls to introduce you to the town’s nightlife. Walking tours are one of the best things to do in Fayetteville for those looking for a more local experience!
North Carolina Veterans Park
Located in the heart of historic downtown, the North Carolina Veterans Park is the perfect place to go if you want to pay respect to US military heroes.
Fayetteville’s rich military heritage makes it a perfect place for a veterans memorial. The park features commemorative sculptures that pay tribute to different branches of the military. The park also incorporates natural materials to represent the state.
North Carolina Veterans Park is located right next door to the US Army Airborne and Special Operations Museum, so it is easy to visit both at the same time. A visit to this memorial park is one of the best things to do in Fayetteville for those who have ties to the military or are interested in military history.
For those looking for fresh air in the middle of the city, walking through Arnette Park is one of the best things to do in Fayetteville North Carolina!
Arnette Park is 100 acres of wilderness, all just 10 minutes from downtown! Get your steps in on the one-mile perimeter road or snag a seat at a picnic table under the shady trees for lunch. There are also nature trails and biking trails for those looking to explore this natural paradise a little further!
This park is worth a visit any time of year! During the summer, you can join a game of soccer or volleyball, watch a baseball game, or bring the kids for a day at the playground. In the fall, take a walk and enjoy the vibrant fall foliage! Every winter, Arnette Park transforms into a winter wonderland for Fayetteville’s annual “Christmas in the Park.”
Explore Trendy Downtown
Downtown is where to go in Fayetteville if you’re looking to be in the center of the action and explore the city like a local! Exploring everything downtown has to offer is one of the essential things to do in Fayetteville!
Recently revitalized in 2017, the Cool Spring Downtown District is now home to over 100 of the trendiest shops and restaurants in Fayetteville! Whether you’re looking for a classy restaurant for a special occasion, a vintage boutique to browse, or even a yoga class, you can be sure to find it downtown!
There is almost always something going on downtown, whether it’s live music or a holiday-themed festival. Spend the afternoon wandering through one of the many art galleries or stay after dark for a taste of Fayetteville’s nightlife and local music scene!
Take a Ghost Tour
In a city with such a rich history that has seen tragedy and bloody battles, there may be some residents from that past that never left. The ghost tour offered by Downtown Fayetteville Tours is one of the best things to do in Fayetteville for thrill-seekers!
Walk the streets of Fayetteville after dark and listen to stories of the city’s most famous characters, from the earliest Scottish settlers to Civil War soldiers and more! The tour promises no jump scares, just good old-fashioned storytelling, and stops at the most haunted places in the city.
This tour is a perfect way to learn lesser-known facts about the city’s history and see Fayetteville from a different perspective at night. If spooky destinations are something you enjoy, there are plenty more haunted places in the south to add to your bucket list!
82nd Airborne Division War Memorial Museum
Located in nearby Fort Bragg, the 82nd Airborne Division War Memorial Museum is one of the Fayetteville attractions that those interested in military history simply cannot miss!
This museum focuses on the history of the 82nd Airborne Division, which began in 1917 and is currently stationed at Fort Bragg. Exhibits and artifacts tell the story of the 82nd division throughout the years, including World War I, World War II, the Cold War, and beyond, all the way to the modern day.
One of the highlights of the museum is the Airborne Airpark, which offers the chance for visitors to see almost every aircraft used by the 82nd division since World War I. There is also a theater that features a short film about the history of the 82nd division that is shown frequently throughout the day.
We hope this article inspired you to visit this lesser-known North Carolina city! There are so many exciting things to do in Fayetteville, whether you are a history buff or are just looking to experience that famous southern hospitality without the crowds. For more North Carolina travel inspiration, check out our list of the most epic road trips in the state!