Morganton & Burke County

Morganton & Burke County

The fun picturesque town of Morganton is located in Burke County, about 63 miles east of downtown Asheville. Its location along I-40 makes it very convenient to stop for the visit in the foothills. Little known fact: This area is the oldest known European inland settlement in the United States, with Spanish explorers settling in the village of Joara in 1567!

We love to explore the charming downtown, centered around the stately historic courthouse. For a small town, you'll be impressed with the number of artists, performing arts, shopping and events. The City of Morganton Municipal Auditorium (CoMMA) hosts plays, Broadway musicals, graduations, and other cultural and public events. Stop by to see their fresco anytime! Don't miss the interesting down-home History Museum that transports you through the rich history of this area.

Table Rock

Morganton and Burke County are a nature's playground with hiking, biking, camping, fishing, lakes and waterfalls. Explore two of the best state parks in North Carolina: South Mountains and Lake James. Plus, Pisgah National Forest across the north side of the county includes Linville Gorge and the Blue Ridge Parkway. From the Parkway, take scenic NC 181 South ("The Snake") for 27 miles to Morganton, passing along the way the entrances to Table Rock (pic above), Hawksbill, Upper Creek Falls, Brown Mountain Lights and more! See listings below for much more info about each.

Your first stop should be the Burke County Visitor Center (110 E. Meeting Street) to get plenty of info on area attractions, events and dining.

Todd Boera at Fonta Flora Brewery

Downtown Morganton Brewery Tour
All located on the same street, three very different breweries offer a big variety of local craft beer:

  • Fonta Flora Brewery (317 N. Green Street) owner Todd Boera receives national attention for his emphasis on seasonal flora. Sample his brews of English tradition and Belgian inspiration using an amazing variety of local ingredients.
  • Catawba Brewing (212 S. Green Street) is a fast growing craft brewery and started here in downtown Morganton. They are open everyday with 10 beers and taps and plenty of events.
  • Sidetracked Brewery (609 S. Green St) is located by the historic depot. Find 12-14 railroad-themed small batch beers on tap, all brewed in-house. Play ping-pong or relax on the covered patio. Open Tuesday-Saturday.

Burke Arts Council

The "Sales Cell" in the Jailhouse Gallery (115 E. Meeting) in the former jail promotes and sells the art and crafts of local artists with a impressive selection of unique handcrafted items. It's across the street from the Visitor's Center and two blocks from the History Museum. Hamilton Williams Gallery (403 East Union) features impressive pottery, ironwork and jewelry from area artists.

Morganton Wineries

On the Catawba Valley Wine Trail, visit three wineries conveniently located near I-40. Read more.

Go to the Morganton & Burke County Web site for a full list of attractions and great places to stay.

Joara: The site of the first European inland settlement in the United States opens to the public during the annual Field Day in June. Summer 2017 marked the 450th anniversary of Spanish explorers establishing Fort San Juan alongside Joara, a Native American village. The Spanish settlement, which predates Jamestown by 40 years, co-existed with the village of Joara for 18 months before being destroyed by the natives. See the ongoing archaeological site excavation, see demos including blacksmithing, primitive skills and Catawba Indian crafters. 1700 Henderson Mill Road, Morganton. Go to their website.

Ghost Tours: On the last two Friday and Saturday nights in October, take a Ghost Tour downtown, departing every 30 minutes 7-8:30 PM. Learn about Morganton’s spooky history, researched by paranormal investigator Joshua P. Warren. The 1.5 hour-long, scenic tour tells of local history, strange sightings and folklore during a mile and a half walking tour. Some stories date back 500 years! Perfect to get you in the Halloween spirit!

Places to Stay & Things to Do

Lake James Cabin
Places to Stay: Linville Falls & Lake James
Find a big variety of cabin and cottage rentals, B&Bs and hotels near Morganton, including Linville Falls, Table Rock, Lake James and South Mountains - with lake and mountain views.
Inn at Glen Alpine
This 1913 Country Manor offers luxurious and charming B&B guest rooms with plenty of modern amenities, 40-minutes east of Asheville. Extensively renovated in 2014, it has spacious common rooms, a wrap around porch, a 'green' environment and beautiful grounds. 4 rooms including 2 suites, $130-$190, 2 course gourmet breakfast,... read more
History Museum of Burke County
History Museum of Burke County
A must-stop in downtown Morganton! Take a free one-hour guided tour through a maze of rooms on two floors, packed with many thousands of fascinating items. Each room has a theme (especially love the vintage beauty parlor and music rooms) that makes your journey through time lots of fun. Open Tues-Fri 10 AM-4 PM and Sat 10 AM-2 PM. 201 West Meeting Street.
Catawba Valley Wines
Catawba Valley Wine Tour
Visit wineries in the foothills of the Catawba Valley located east of Asheville, between Marion and Morganton. Three of them (Silver Fork, South Creek and Lake James Cellars) are along a 15-mile drive near I-40, so very convenient!
Valdese, NC
Valdese
Founded on the traditions of 19th century Waldensian settlers from Italy. Stop by the Visitor Center in the historic Rock School for things to do including Waldensian Heritage Winery, Waldensian Museum, Trail of Faith, Old Rock School Art Galleries and model train museum.
South Mountains
South Mountains State Park
(2-40 miles, easy, moderate, strenuous) This state park near Morganton has 40 miles of hiking trails. Our favorite is High Shoals Falls 2.7-mile loop trail to a beautiful 60-foot waterfall. Combine several trails for a much longer hike.
Lake James beach
Lake James State Park
This state park has a wide beach with a nice pavilion with changing rooms, open for swimming May-September. Also enjoy hiking, mountain biking, fishing and more.
Linville Gorge
Linville Gorge
Find some of the most spectacular scenery with many hikes along the rim to peaks like Table Rock, Hawksbill and Shortoff. And don't forget Linville Falls!
Linville Falls
Linville Falls
Perhaps the most photographed waterfall in NC, Linville Falls is along the Blue Ridge Parkway (Milepost 316). A moderate hike of 1.6 miles round-trip offers four overlooks, add another 1.5-mile hike for two more vistas. Second parking area in National Forest. Also see Dugger Creek Falls here.
Table Rock Mountain
Table Rock Mountain
(2.2 miles round-trip, moderate) Hike to the top of one of the most recognized peaks in the Blue Ridge Mountains. This trailhead is just five miles from Hawksbill, so you can double your fun.
Hawksbill Mountain
Hawksbill Mountain
(1.5 miles round-trip, moderate) Enjoy spectacular mountaintop views overlooking Linville Gorge. We love to hike this and nearby Table Rock on the same day! Take a picnic.
Upper Creek Falls
Upper Creek Falls
This beautiful waterfall setting has multiple cascades and a swimming hole with a rope swing for diving! Located in Pisgah National Forest along NC Highway 181, about 13.5 miles north of Morganton. It's about a half mile hike from the parking area.
Shortoff Mountain
Shortoff Mountain
(4.5 miles round-trip, strenuous) Located near Lake James, a beauty of a hike to the top of a plateau summit with spectacular views of Linville Gorge.
Henry River Village, NC
Henry River Village
Take a tour of this ghost town near Morganton that is coming back to life with tours, events, paranormal experiences and more. Film location for The Hunger Games, District 12.
Burke County Trail Guide
Morganton Town & Trail Guide
Order a free guide to Morganton and Burke County, located east of Asheville and home to Linville Falls, Lake James & South Mountain State Parks, small towns, scenic drives and hikes to Table Rock and the Linville Gorge.

Top Morganton Festivals

Red, White & Bluegrass Festival
Red, White & Bluegrass Festival
Thursday, July 4, 2019 to Saturday, July 6, 2019
Go to one of the top bluegrass music festivals in the South, with 20+ bands including some national headliners. Camping, food, crafts and more in a beautiful park in Morganton. Fireworks on the 4th. Daily admission starts at $15/advance. Event pass starts at $25/person.
Morganton Festival
Morganton Festival
Friday, September 6, 2019 to Saturday, September 7, 2019
A big street festival in downtown Morganton that includes fine arts and crafts, festival cuisine, a beer garden, teen and kid zones, four stages of entertainment, a sunrise run on Saturday and much more. Free admission!

 

 

The hike to High Shoals Falls is one of the most scenic in western North Carolina. It's located in South Mountains State Park,... read more
Our top mountain beach near Asheville is at Lake James State Park. It's... read more
The Ben Long frescoes in churches and public buildings in western North Carolina are beauties to behold, and people travel from around the world to see. Visit three of them in the Asheville area (one... read more
For one of the most spectacular views in the North Carolina mountains, head to Wiseman's View on the western side of Linville Gorge... read more