27 Top Things to Do in Greensboro, North Carolina

The Piedmont Triad is what locals call the region containing the three largest cities in North Carolina, Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point — Greensboro being the largest. The city’s history spans decades, from a defining moment in the American Revolution to a sit-in that helped spark the Civil Rights Movement. Today, local artists and museums make history come alive for residents and visitors. In addition to numerous museums, a zoo, an aquarium, laser tag and a retro bowling alley will keep any kids entertained. Weekenders will love a brewery with a cool vibe and a winery in the country, just outside city limits. The whole family can enjoy Greensboro’s wealth of parks and gardens, which lend ample greenery to the city’s name. You might know North Carolina for its barbecue, but did you know Greensboro is also a cheesecake lover’s dream? The city is full of surprises, not the least of which is a sprawling antique mecca or a former hodge-podge thrift shop that now serves to nurture nostalgic and artistic souls. A city once considered the gateway to the United States, Greensboro will surprise you in all the best ways.

International Civil Rights Center and Museum

On Feb. 1, 1960, four Black college students sat at the lunch counter in Greensboro’s F. W. Woolworth department store and asked for service. When they were refused, they staged a sit-in that eventually led to the desegregation of the counter five months later. This brave act in the name of civil rights is the centerpiece of the International Civil Rights Center and Museum. Preserved and intact in its original location, the counter is just one of 13 permanent exhibitions at the 35,000-square-foot museum. Recent visitors explain that while the museum’s content is emotional and at times heart-wrenching, the experience is worthwhile. A guided tour brings these important stories to life; a staff-led tour of the museum is 75 minutes and costs $25, but a filmed and seated version is also available for $15 (students receive a discounted rate). Reservations are required for tours, but walk-ins are welcome to the museum. The International Civil Rights Center and Museum is closed on Sundays.

Address: 134 S. Elm St., Greensboro, NC 27401

Greensboro Science Center

Where can you find an aquarium, a zoo, a 3D theater, a museum and a ropes course in one place? Trick question: It’s the Greensboro Science Center. This science-based complex is a wonderland for animal and nature lovers, with blue frogs and golden monkeys. Admission includes the museum, the zoo and the aquarium for less than $20, and past travelers say that the museum offers activities for all ages. For something particularly thrilling, visitors can purchase tickets for SKYWILD, a treetop adventure park that encourages participants aged 8 and older to mimic the motions of various animals on a suspended ropes course. If your family is looking for an activity that’s a bit tamer, the gorgeous Greensboro carousel is located on the grounds. In addition to the traditional horses, the carousel also features animals that are symbolic of North Carolina.

Address: 4301 Lawndale Drive, Greensboro, NC 27455

Antique Market Place

Prepare to time travel through winding halls of vintage finds at Greensboro’s Antique Market Place. This mall dedicated to antiques spans 45,000 square feet and includes more than 170 stalls stocked with stuff. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday (reduced hours Sunday), the market attracts regulars and out-of-towners on the hunt for unique items. Were you looking to purchase a neon jukebox or 19th-century baby carriage? How about crystal salt and pepper shakers? It’s all here, and a multitude of vendors curate the most interesting items to entice collectors and onlookers alike. You’ll be sure to find a one-of-a-kind souvenir, but some visitors note that the price tags are occasionally higher than expected.

Address: 6428 Burnt Poplar Road, Greensboro, NC 27409

Bur-Mil Park

Along Greensboro’s Lake Brandt is the 250-acre Bur-Mil Park. Golfers will be pleased to find a nine-hole, par-3 golf course. There are also tennis courts, cycling trails and picnic areas to enjoy some of North Carolina’s mild weather. The Frank Sharpe Jr. Wildlife Education Center offers programming and displays on local resources and wildlife. Visitors will also find a playground at the southern end of the park and a pier at the northeastern tip. It’s a nice place to stretch your legs lakeside or spoil the dog with a walk. Each October, the park hosts a fall festival with hayrides among a charming backdrop of changing leaves. Bur-Mil Park sits 9 miles north of downtown Greensboro.

Address: 5834 Bur-Mill Club Road, Greensboro, NC 27410

Get Lost in Elsewhere

Elsewhere Living Museum is a three-story former thrift store that self-describes as a collaborative learning laboratory. The quirky space is chockfull of memorabilia and hosts artists in residence. Most pieces come from the personal collection of Sylvia Gray, who acquired the items over 58 years and ran the thrift store from the ’70s until she died in 1997. The space is on the oddball spectrum for sure, with some visitors likening it to hoarding, while others say they connected nostalgically to the items, which include vintage toys and dolls. More than 50 projects, primarily eclectic art exhibits, are hosted each year, so check the calendar before your visit. Private tours can be arranged, but a $5 suggested donation covers general admission.

Elsewhere Museum plans to reopen with regular hours in spring 2022.

Address: 606 S. Elm St., Greensboro, NC 27406

Celebration Station

If the kids need to blow off some steam, Greensboro’s Celebration Station entertainment complex offers a lot to do in one place. In the heat of a North Carolina summer, a mix of air-conditioned and outdoor activities is ideal for a family afternoon. Options include go-karts, laser tag, mini-golf, batting cages, arcade games and bumper boats. Each attraction is individually priced, so you only pay for what you do, but packages start at $28 and include three activities and $10 of gameplay in the arcade. Additional passenger prices are $5 for the go-karts and the bumper boats, so little ones can ride along. Celebration Station is off Interstate Highway 40, about 7 miles west of downtown Greensboro.

Address: 4315 Big Tree Way, Greensboro, NC 27409

Bog Garden at Benjamin Park

Greensboro is full of green spaces, but Bog Garden stands out from the competition with its unique features. The garden, located within Benjamin Park, boasts an elevated boardwalk that winds through 7 acres of natural wetlands. Birding is excellent here, and sightseers will also find a re-circulating waterfall called Serenity Falls. According to recent visitors, it’s a peaceful place for a walk, which only takes 20 to 30 minutes to complete. A map of the path can be downloaded online and includes stops with sculptures, bridges and a lake. Benjamin Park is free and located about 4 miles northwest of downtown Greensborough.

Address: 1101 Hobbs Road, Greensboro, NC 27408

ACC Hall of Champions at Greensboro Coliseum Complex

The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) is a collegiate athletic conference in the eastern U.S. At the special events center of the Greensboro Coliseum Complex, sports fans can find an exhibit dedicated to athletes and coaches across the conference’s 70-year history. Greensboro touts the nickname “Tournament Town,” and visitors to the Hall of Champions will see why, with artifacts and photos from ACC sports moments. There is no admission fee to the hall, which is open to the public Thursday through Saturday and is located about a mile from the University of North Carolina Greensboro. Stadium concerts and performances are regularly scheduled at the coliseum, from Iron Maiden to Olympic figure skating; check listings to see what might be on when you’re in town.

Address: 1921 W. Gate City Blvd., Greensboro, NC 27403

Guilford Courthouse National Military Park

More than 240 years ago, the Battle at Guilford Courthouse played out in what is now modern-day Greensboro and contributed to British forces abandoning North Carolina. According to the National Park Service, “the events at Guilford Courthouse influenced the outcome of the American Revolution.” Visitors and history buffs visiting the site express appreciation for the designated cultural landscape, which helps us understand the battle tactics of the American forces and the human toll of war, with 29 gravesites and monuments. The 250-acre park offers an important piece of U.S. history, plus a modest number of natural attractions. Most of the park is forested, including various species of oak trees, and walking trails wind through the park and surrounding areas.

Address: 2332 New Garden Road, Greensboro, NC 27410

Dare to Enter the Kersey Valley Spookywoods

If you’re visiting Greensboro in autumn and like a good scare, head 15 miles south to Archdale, North Carolina, and enter Spookywoods. Run by America Haunts, a haunted attraction conglomerate, Kersey Valley Spookywoods has been a local fall institution for 38 years. Each year, more than a dozen fully themed sets are retooled by a full staff dedicated to state-of-the-art makeup, set design, and special effects. Spookywoods is open September through November, and tickets range from $30 to $75 (plus $10 for parking). This spine-tingling experience is not recommended for children 12 and younger.

Address: 1615 Kersey Valley Road, Archdale, NC 27263

Pig Pounder Brewery

Toss a couple back at this swine-themed microbrewery that offers a selection of craft brews. Enter the interactive tasting room to sample lagers, stouts or their critically acclaimed Boar Brown ale. Don’t forget the hard-to-resist Lipstick on a Pig hard seltzer. Pig Pounder regularly hosts events in its 3,000-square-foot space, from trivia and music bingo to yoga and morning coffee. The property’s game pavilion features foosball, Ping-Pong, hatchet throwing and the occasional food truck against a backdrop of vibrant murals from local art collective Kotis Street Art. The brewery is open Tuesday through Sunday and is located a bit more than a mile from downtown Greensboro.

Address: 1107 Grecade St., Greensboro, NC 27408

Bourbon Bowl

Strike gold with the family at a locally owned and operated bowling alley. Bourbon Bowl was born out of a junkyard and gas station in June 2021 and is now part of the revitalization of downtown Greensboro. The property offers six bowling lanes that are rentable by the hour, which provide an interesting ambiance by maintaining much of the building’s original, industrial vibe. The outdoor lounge is an ideal place to eat or grab a drink when you’re not bowling, with an impressive fire and water feature that runs the length of the patio. Bourbon Bowl’s menus include small bites (perfect for bowling) and American dishes as well as expansive beer, wine and cocktail lists.

Address: 531 S. Elm St., Greensboro, NC 27406

Weatherspoon Art Museum

The Weatherspoon Art Museum at the University of North Carolina Greensboro brings a diverse range of pieces to six galleries and a sculpture courtyard. Works from prominent artists are featured alongside commissioned works from former or current UNC students in the MFA program. Recent exhibits have featured the work of living artists Nick Cave and Lorraine O’Grady. Weatherspoon Art Museum is closed on Sundays and Mondays; parking and admission are free. The museum recommends that guests request tours — even self-guided — about three weeks in advance.

Address: 1005 Spring Garden St., Greensboro, NC 27412

Greensboro Historical Museum

Sneak in a local history lesson at the Greensboro Historical Museum, an accredited Smithsonian affiliate that highlights the impact of time on the Greensboro community. History enthusiasts will appreciate exhibits showcasing first lady Dolley Madison, the wife of President James Madison, and similar showcases. Meanwhile, kids are sure to love the immersive and interactive exhibit Gate City, which gives a firsthand experience of what it was like to live in Greensboro during the early 20th century. (Can they lift a fire bucket or write on a schoolhouse slate?) Greensboro Historical Museum is free to visit and open every day but Monday and holidays. The museum’s central location in downtown Greensboro also makes it easily accessible for most travelers.

Address: 130 Summit Ave., Greensboro, NC 27401

Print Works Bistro

Sitting pretty in the upper echelon of Greensboro restaurants and earning rave reviews from recent travelers, Print Works Bistro is well worth a meal. Print Works Bistro is the on-site restaurant at the Proximity Hotel, but the eatery packs more personality than you’d expect. Book a brunch, offered all week long and highly recommended by past diners, and pair duck confit hash with a house-made cinnamon bun or a warm, cream-filled beignet. Enjoy any meal along the terrace, shaded by elegant starch-white umbrellas and overlooking a creek. Food is locally sourced, and sustainability practices are top of mind; Print Works and the Proximity Hotel were the first in the U.S. to receive LEED Platinum, the highest rating awarded by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, for their environmentally conscious operations. They’re also one of the few employee-owned restaurants and hotels in the country.

Address: 702 Green Valley Road, Greensboro, NC 27408

Tanger Family Bicentennial Garden

Open year-round from sunrise to sunset, Tanger Family Bicentennial Garden provides a respite from the city’s hustle. The landscaping is meticulously maintained, with a re-circulating stream alongside bronze sculptures and seasonal blooms. The garden is one of many around Greensboro that is free to enjoy, providing a peaceful place to soak in nature. A sensory garden is also part of the 7.5-acre green space, inviting visitors to interact with plants that stimulate any combination of the five senses. Recent travelers enjoyed the replica grist mill with a functioning water wheel and the garden’s excellent location, about 4 miles from downtown Greensboro and within walking distance from the popular O.Henry Hotel.

Address: 1105 Hobbs Road, Greensboro, NC 27410

Greensboro Children’s Museum

If you’re looking for a kid-friendly afternoon, you’ll find one at the Greensboro Children’s Museum. Kids can go wild exploring through play with more than 20 featured interactive areas, like Water Wonders or the Construction Zone. The museum provides a hands-on facility with indoor and outdoor spaces for kids of all ages, but most exhibits are tailored specifically for toddlers through elementary school-age children. The Children’s Museum is located in downtown Greensboro and is open to the public every day but Monday. Admission is $10 (parking is free), and babies under 1 are free.

Address: 220 N. Church St., Greensboro, NC 27401

Gateway Gardens

Greensboro was once known as Gate City, referring to its status as a railroad hub in the early 1900s. Gateway Gardens is located at one of the entrances to Greensboro (East Gate City Boulevard), less than 3 miles from downtown, and welcomes residents and guests to the city. In 2014, Gateway Gardens was certified as a LEED Silver project. The 11-acre space encompasses a children’s garden, a rain garden, a heritage garden and more, and public artwork is displayed throughout the area. Gateway Gardens is free to visit and ever-growing; future additions include an event garden and a Japanese garden.

Address: 2800 E. Gate City Blvd., Greensboro, NC 27401

See a Show at the Carolina Theatre

Built in 1927, the Carolina Theatre was billed as the Showplace of the Carolinas upon opening in downtown Greensboro. Today, it hosts live community performances as well as independent and classic movies. At the theater, you might catch a showing of “Gentleman Prefer Blondes” or a princess-themed tea party with Cinderella followed by the ballet “Cinderella.” The Carolina Theatre also hosts local artists in its third-floor loft space, known as The Crown. The Crown opened to the public in 2013 but was originally a sign shop for vaudeville (a type of stage show), producing iconic posters that are collected even today. Tours of the Carolina Theatre are also available for a fee.

Address: 310 S. Greene St., Greensboro, NC 27401

Grove Winery

For a quick day trip outside of Greensboro, drive 7 miles northeast of the city limits to Gibsonville, North Carolina, the home of Grove Winery. The estate vineyards have been growing European grapes since 1993, and they offer a limited production of premium wine annually. The tasting room is open daily, year-round, to sip a merlot or sangiovese. An outdoor patio fittingly overlooks Lake Cabernet. Grove Winery says they are bike-, horse-, and canoe-friendly, hosting various cycling and river tours. Recent visitors to the winery have called them a hidden gem and recommend tasting as many wines as possible.

Address: 7360 Brooks Bridge Road, Gibsonville, NC 27249

Boxcar Bar + Arcade

Cross a bar with an arcade to create a “barcade,” a hip attraction springing up in cities nationwide. Greensboro is in on the trend; Boxcar Bar + Arcade features more than 175 console games, 15 pinball machines, 50 arcade cabinets and more. A full bar with 24 rotating drafts provides the liquid confidence needed to achieve that high score. Wood-fired pizzas and pretzels provide something to snack on between (or during) games. Games can be played by purchasing tokens on-site. Kids are welcome with adults before 7 p.m. (weekends) or 8 p.m. (weekdays), after which the barcade becomes strictly 21-plus. Boxcar is located in downtown Greensboro and is open daily until midnight or later.

Address: 120 W. Lewis St., Greensboro, NC 27406

Cheesecakes by Alex

Greensboro is known for many things, but we’re guessing cheesecake doesn’t immediately come to mind. One of Greensboro’s most widely recommended cafes is Cheesecakes by Alex, a local dessert institution that welcomes tourists and residents to indulge in its unique flavors. This shop offers cheesecake in bananas foster, peanut butter cup and everything in between, even providing a gluten-free option. If cheesecake isn’t your thing, not to worry; Alex’s has a bake case loaded with pastries, including muffins, turnovers, cookies, brownies and blue velvet cake. Cheesecakes by Alex is open daily and sits in downtown Greensboro, putting it within walking distance of many of the area’s best hotels.

Address: 315 S. Elm St., Greensboro, NC 27401

Experience the Local Barbecue Culture

North Carolina takes its barbecue very seriously, and Greensboro is no exception. Follow your nose — or the critical consensus — to some of the smokiest, sauciest joints in town. Fans call Stamey’s Barbecue a staple, praising its chopped pork and hush puppies. Stamey’s Barbecue was founded in 1930, and they now offer two locations in the city, including a drive-thru where you can grab some fresh barbecue to go. Country Barbecue is known for its ribs, and fans love the sides of red slaw and giant biscuits. Mac’s Speed Shop has a few franchises, but its Greensboro supporters say it’s creatively presented barbecue with banging burnt ends and sweet tea. Whatever you decide on, be sure to ask locals about Lexington-style versus Eastern-style; yes, even within the world of North Carolina barbecue, there are still differences.

Center City Park and LeBauer Park

These two parks are located in downtown Greensboro, providing excellent green space for travelers and locals alike. Center City Park offers numerous walking paths, fountains designed to represent regional geographic features and a band shell for live performances. Catty-corner from Center City Park, LeBauer Park is especially accommodating for anyone with sensory sensitivities. Peacehaven Sensory Space, located within the LeBauer Park, offers a sculptural wall designed for anyone with sensory processing disorders. LeBauer Park also has a playground, interactive fountains, two cafes and a 17,000-square-foot lawn to host outdoor events. A 1-acre ornamental garden is also nestled in LeBauer Park, and kids can splash about at the LeBauer Park Splash Pad from May to September.

Follow the Map to Public Art

Greensboro has more than 150 works of public art scattered throughout the city. While tracking each display can prove challenging, Public Art GSO (part of Greensboro’s Public Art Endowment) offers a handy map of their locations. Find a bronze sculpture memorializing firefighters or sculptural gates inviting viewers to enter the world of art. Kotis Street Art is a huge contributor to the Greensboro public art scene with a variety of murals — they’re also found by accessing an interactive online map. Take a selfie with a realistic-looking girl and balloon or muse over abstract geometric shapes. Most murals are concentrated around Central Greensboro in the College Hill and Idlewood neighborhoods.

Take a Downtown Trolley Tour

The historic Gate City trolley tour departs daily from various downtown Greensboro locations, including four hotels and the Greensboro History Museum. This two-hour guided tour takes place on an air-conditioned, cushioned trolley with five to thirteen passengers. Tours generally cover Greensboro’s most significant universities, businesses and public art. Distinct routes mean tours can also touch on everything from architectural landmarks to the city’s Quaker roots. Tickets must be purchased online in advance, and they start at $42 per person (discounted rates are available for children and groups). Children under the age of 4 are not allowed on the trolley tour. Comedy and brewpub tours are held on select Fridays, and a hot dog tasting tour is conducted monthly.

Wine, Cheese, and Reading at Scuppernong Books

Scuppernong Books is an independent bookstore in downtown Greensboro with an impressive book collection. Browsers will find interesting tomes that range from current events to classic poetry, and Scuppernong Books even houses a rare book section. The store’s dedicated children section allows young visitors of any age group to continue to foster their love of literature. The bookstore also offers a cafe that serves local beer, wine and espresso, along with sandwiches and salads from the nearby Jerusalem Market. Scuppernong hosts a multitude of events throughout the year, supporting the local community with book clubs, open mic nights and more.

Address: 304 S. Elm St., Greensboro, NC 27401

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27 Top Things to Do in Greensboro, North Carolina originally appeared on usnews.com

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