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.

June 9, 2018: "State of Origin" Craft Brew Festival
This boutique craft brew festival is held on Morganton's historic Courthouse lawn. Presented by Fonta Flora Brewery, 20 craft breweries from all across North Carolina will present unique beers brewed with local ingredients from flora and fauna. 5-9 PM. $50/person. Go to their Website.

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 four wineries conveniently located near I-40. Three of them are just a few miles apart. 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.

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
Just 40 minutes east of Asheville, this 1913 Country Manor turned bed & breakfast offers luxurious guest rooms, including two suites. Spacious and elegant common rooms, a 'green' environment, the best porch in Burke County and unbeatable event space perfect for weddings and family reunions. Surrounded by the natural beauty of the... 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 five wineries in the foothills of the Catawba Valley located east of Asheville, between Marion and Morganton. Four of them (Silver Fork, South Creek, Belle Nicho and Lake James Cellars) are along a 15-mile drive near I-40, so very convenient!
Valdese, NC
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.
Morganton NC
Morganton Nature's Playground 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

Field Day at Joara
Field Day at Historic Joara Site
Saturday, June 23, 2018
450th anniversary of the first European inland settlement in the USA at Fort San Juan (predates Jamestown by 40 years). Open for excavation tours, demos of primitive skills and Cherokee craft. Located at 1700 Henderson Mill Road, Morganton, 10 AM-2 PM, parking $5, admission free.
Red, White & Bluegrass Festival
Red, White & Bluegrass Festival
Wednesday, July 4, 2018 to Saturday, July 7, 2018
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 $25/advance and $30/gate. Four day pass is $60/advance and $75/gate.
Morganton Festival
Morganton Festival
Friday, September 7, 2018 to Saturday, September 8, 2018
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