7 Fun Things To Do in Fayetteville NC Besides Going To Museums

Fayetteville North Carolina sign via Canva

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Are you looking for things to do in Fayetteville, NC, besides going to the museums? The Airborne and Special Operations Museum and the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex are fine for some people. But what if you like outdoor adventures, delicious food, and maybe a little romance? Don’t worry; you can find these activities in Fayetteville if you know where to look. You can even go to the museums too if you really want to.

Downtown Fayetteville NC street scene
Cape Fear River Trail Fayetteville North Carolina via Canva

Soar Through the Trees at Zipquest Waterfall & Treetop Adventure Park

Zipquest Waterfall & Treetop Adventure Park touts itself as the premier zipline adventure facility in North Carolina, and it’s one of the best zipline parks in America, according to USA Today. There isn’t one extraordinarily long line or super fast zip that earns this praise, but rather a sustained adventure through the treetops and across Carver’s Falls. In total, there are eight zips and three suspension bridges. The longest is 800 feet long, which is still short enough to use a hand brake.

We had a lot of fun at Zipquest. The introduction and safety brief was solid, and soon we were zipping through the canopy. The clever course design has us spending more time on the line than we did climbing ladders or wandering through the woods. It was an extremely well-designed course that maximized the views of Carver Falls with plenty of shade throughout.

ZipQuest Waterfall and Treetop Adventure Fayetteville NC
ZipQuest Waterfall and Treetop Adventure Fayetteville NC-4
ZipQuest Waterfall and Treetop Adventure Fayetteville NC-3
ZipQuest Waterfall and Treetop Adventure Fayetteville NC-2

Bike The The Cape Fear River Trail and Cape Fear Mountain Bike Trail

The 10′ wide paved Cape Fear River Trail winds over 7 miles through tall trees with spectacular river views. It has over 1,000 feet of boardwalk through the marsh and wetlands along the trail and several bridges, including a unique covered bridge as the trail passes underneath a railroad track. There are over 700 species of plants and trees and more than 150 species of birds along the route, so they installed some interpretive signs along the way.

I biked from the northern trail terminus to the Clark Park Nature Center and thought that mile-for-mile, the CFRT was as good as riding the Neuse River Trail in Raleigh or the Yadkin Atlantic Trail in Greensboro. It was a little short for destination biking, but if my Trek Top Fuel was working better, I would have added some miles on the adjacent Cape Fear Mountain Bike Trail. Unfortunately, I trashed my drive train just before this trip, so I couldn’t crank like I needed for mountain biking. I got it fixed (one month and $1,500 later), so I will have to return to experience more biking in Fayetteville.

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Cape Fear Bike Trails Fayetteville NC-2
Cape Fear Bike Trails Fayetteville NC
Cape FCape Fear Bike Trails Fayetteville NC-Cape Fear Mountain Bike Trailear Bike Trails Fayetteville NC-3
Cape Fear Bike Trails Fayetteville NC-Clark Park Nature Center

Kayak the Rockfish Creek Paddling Trail

Rockfish Creek Paddling Trail is a hidden gem hiding in plain sight. We rented kayaks from Yakalacky Outfitters, which made the logistics super easy. The hardest part was finding a parking space at Hope Mill Lake. After that, they met us at the parking lot with our boats, and we used the easy put-in at the beach. We paddled a half mile across flat water and under the railroad bridge. We saw kids jumping off the bridge like a scene from Stand By Me, and then the lake started getting narrower and narrower. That’s when things got really fun.

We followed signs and flagging on the paddling trail between old cypress trees and swamp flowers. The Black River seventy miles away has a 2,624-year-old cypress, the oldest tree east on the east coast, but here, you can see its cousins with a simple paddle. After about an hour of exploring the backwaters, we returned to the beach and left our kayaks for Yakalaky to pick up. We wondered if the mass of humanity splashing by the shore knew how close they were to the incredible Rockfish Creek natural area.

Yakalacky Outfitters at Hope Mills Lake Fayetteville NC
Yakalacky Outfitters at Hope Mills Lake Fayetteville NC-2
Rockfish Creek Paddle Trail
Rockfish Creek Paddle Trail

Stop and Smell the Roses at Cape Fear Botanical Garden

The 80-acre Cape Fear Botanical Garden sits between the Cape Fear River and Cross Creek, just two miles from downtown Fayetteville. CFBG highlights include Camellia, Daylily, Shade Gardens, the Butterfly Stroll and Children’s Garden, and the Heritage Garden featuring 1886 agricultural structures and a homestead. They also host special botanical events and feature rotating gardens.

We loved the blooming summer perennials and the recently remodeled Children’s Garden during our visit. Of course, we appreciated the shade garden during the heat of summer. We also saw multiple wedding parties enjoying the event space with built-in natural photo opportunities. If you like plants, you’ll love the Cape Fear Botanical Gardens.

Cape Fear Botanical Garden Fayetteville NC-4
Cape Fear Botanical Garden Fayetteville NC
Cape Fear Botanical Garden Fayetteville NC-2
Cape Fear Botanical Garden Fayetteville NC-3

Get Your Fill in the ‘Ville

Fayetteville’s food scene was a delightful mix of local favorites that have been around for generations and up-and-coming eateries in the newly revitalized downtown.

Fayetteville, North Carolina, surprised us in many ways, like the hidden Rockfish Creek Paddle Trail and the Cape Fear Bike Trail, which, mile for mile, is probably the best bike trail in North Carolina. But what surprised us the most was the extraordinary food scene. Here are some of our favorites.

  • Brunch at Blue Moon Café  – A farm-to-table experience in super cute downtown Fayetteville that’s worth the wait. We loved the sweet of the Berries ‘n Brie Crostinis paired with the salty prosciutto ham of the Caprese benedict. We didn’t need breakfast tacos, but we couldn’t pass up the slow-cooked pork and avocado crema. 
  • Vagabond Café – A coffee lovers’ paradise with house-made syrups for the sweet crowd and coffee good enough to drink straight. It’s a must-stop coffee shop for aficionados or anybody looking for a good cup of joe.
  • Luigi’s Italian Chophouse and Bar – A neighborhood Italian restaurant that has been cooking family recipes for generations. We loved their chicken Marsala so much that we asked the owner for the secret. He said it all started with quality ingredients and those tried and true recipes.
  • Chris’s Steak & Seafood House – Another neighborhood favorite that has stood the test of time. We loved the quality of their cuts and the care they took in proper seasoning and preparation.
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Vagabond Café Fayetteville NC
Blue Moon Fayetteville NC
Luigi’s Italian Chophouse and Bar Fayetteville NC
Chris’s Steak & Seafood House

Delight in Downtown (or Chill in Cool Springs)

The Cool Springs Downtown District of Fayetteville is a testament to urban planning. Their website says – “Downtown Fayetteville has successfully reversed its image with a multitude of downtown revitalization projects that began in the early 90s and continue today through yearly Plans of Work.” These plans won the hearts and minds of the neighborhood, and today the district is brimming with boutique shops, arts, events, and so much more. We can’t keep up with everything going on in downtown Fayetteville, so you should check out Visit Downtown Fayetteville for the latest events and newest shops.

We visited the district on a Sunday afternoon when the meters were free, and the walking was easy. We put our names on the waitlist at Blue Moon Café. It was a sweltering summer day, so we popped into Turner Lane for their house-made North Carolina muscadine cider slushy. We explored up and down Hays Street and knew we had to return for coffee at Vagabond Café. They take coffee seriously and even craft their own syrups. They also have a ‘cutting wall’ where plant lovers can trade starts that exemplifies the Cool Springs District community spirit.

Downtown Fayetteville NC-2
Downtown Fayetteville NC
Downtown Fayetteville NC-5
Downtown Fayetteville NC street scene

Book a Room at the McPherson House

We love boutique hotels, but we had to search for a place we wanted to stay in Fayetteville. Luckily, we found the McPherson House, a historic building with a modern B&B. This isn’t your grandma’s bed and breakfast.

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The staff was lovely, and we had to grab one of their delicious cookies every time we walked through the foyer. The location on Hays Street, just up the hill from downtown, was convenient. It was a walkable distance from the heart of the Cool Springs District, but you might need a muscadine slushy to beat the heat.

The MacPherson House B&B Fayetteville NC
The MacPherson House B&B Fayetteville NC-2
The MacPherson House B&B Fayetteville NC-3
The MacPherson House B&B Fayetteville NC-4

Interactive Map of Things to do in Fayetteville, North Carolina

This is the part of the piece where we wrap up our storylines and encourage you to come and experience the trip for yourself. Much like our Things to do in Greenville article, We thought the best way to do this was to put all of the things to do in Fayetteville we mentioned onto an interactive map. We used native Google pins so you can click around for a virtual tour. If the map doesn’t load, just hit the refresh button, and it should come up.

Disclosure: A big thank you to Visit Fayetteville NC for hosting us and setting up a fantastic itinerary! For more travel inspiration check out their Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube accounts.

As always, the views and opinions expressed are entirely our own, and we only recommend brands and destinations that we 100% stand behind.

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Hi! We are Jenn and Ed Coleman, and together we are Coleman Concierge. It is our goal to inspire you to get out, expand your world, and to seek adventure, even in your own backyard.

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