Open Air Market, Downtown Wilkesboro
Photo courtesy of Cultural Arts Council of Wilkes County
Activities & Interests
- Agricultural Heritage
- Craft Heritage
- Music Heritage
- Natural Heritage
- Cafe on Premises
- Canoeing / Kayaking
- Family Fun
- Farmers' Markets
- Gallery / Gift Shop
- Historic Sites
- Scenic Drives
Nestled in the rolling foothills of northwestern North Carolina, the quaint town of Wilkesboro has been the county seat of Wilkes County since 1778.
The town was officially laid out by General William Lenoir in 1801 and incorporated in 1847. Notable distinguished early settlers and leaders to visit include Daniel Boone, Christopher Gist, Colonel Benjamin Cleveland, General William Lenoir and Thomas Fields.
Today, antique and retail shops plus an array of American and ethnic
restaurants please every appetite of visitors to Wilkesboro. Nearby, the vineyards of the Yadkin Valley produce award-winning wines and offer tastings, delicious dining, and special events.
Museums & Galleries
The arts and history go hand-in-hand in Wilkesboro. Two frescoes by world-renowned artist Benjamin Long IV can be viewed in the commons area in St. Paul's Epicopal Church, (ca. 1849.) The Cultural Arts Council of Wilkes exhibits the work of local and regional artists in Town Hall Wilkesboro. Nearby, Royall's gallery and frame shop exhibits the work of local artist and owner, Kelly Royall, and other area artists.
The Wilkes Heritage Museum Historic Properties allow visitors to step back in time as they tour the Wilkes Heritage Museum, (old Wilkes County Courthouse, ca. 1902), Old Wilkes Jail, (ca. 1859) and the Captain Robert Cleveland Log Home, (ca. 1779). The Wilkesboro Historic Walking Tour takes visitors on a leisurely walk to view early architecture in the town.
Parks &Outdoor Activities
The Yadkin River Greenway, located in the heart of the downtown area, is an excellent place for strolling or riding bicycles. Cub Creek Park offers an abundance of family activities, including fun for the family pet in the adjacent Hidden Oaks Dog Park. A treasure trove of fresh vegetables can be found at the nearby Community Garden.
Just west of Wilkesboro is the W. Kerr Scott Dam & Reservoir, which is enjoyed by boaters, fishermen, and outdoor lovers in general. A recent addition is the Environmental Education Center which offers programs for children and teachers, educating through hands-on activities and exhibits about the environment of the region.
Festivals & Events
Themed special events take place on the third Friday each month from 4 - 9 pm featuring live music, food and childrens' activities. Local businesses, produce and craft vendors offer a wide variety of items for sale, and non-profit organizations share their mission stories with participants.
Merlefest, a diverse roots music festival, is dedicated to the memory of musician Merle Watson, son of Americana music's icon, Doc Watson. Known worldwide, this annual event takes place the last weekend in April on the campus of Wilkes Community College.
Farmers Tailgate Markets
The Wilkesboro Open Air Market is held May through October beneath the canopy of Pin Oaks on Main Street in the Town Parking Lot every Friday from 4 - 8 pm.
Wilkesboro is located off US 421.
For more information
- Wilkes Heritage Museum (2 miles)
The Wilkes Heritage Museum in Wilkesboro, NC features exhibits on early stock-car racing, moonshining, and traditional music.
- Old Wilkes Jail (2 miles)
Built in 1859, the Old Wilkes Jail held Union prisoners and stored Confederate provisions and ammunition during the Civil War.
- Town of North Wilkesboro (3 miles)
North Wilkesboro is sometimes called the "Key to the Blue Ridge".