12 Most Fun Things To Do In Hillsborough, North Carolina

As a tourist, stepping into the idyllic town of Hillsborough feels like entering a storybook realm. With its timeless charm, picturesque landscapes, and a tapestry of historical wonders, Hillsborough beckons travelers to immerse themselves in a world where past and present harmoniously converge for an enchanting escape.

Nestled amidst the rolling hills of California, Hillsborough boasts a rich history that beckons travelers seeking an enchanting escape. With its roots tracing back to the late 19th century, this quaint town has grown into a renowned tourist destination, and for good reason.

Hillsborough’s allure lies in its captivating blend of old-world charm and modern delights. A journey through its historic district unveils splendid architectural wonders, showcasing a time when elegance was paramount. 

From the iconic Carolands Chateau to the enchanting Flintstone House, each edifice tells a tale of luxury and creativity. Beyond its architectural treasures, Hillsborough offers an abundance of natural beauty. 

Explore the serene Crystal Springs Reservoir, where tranquil waters reflect the surrounding greenery, providing a respite from the hustle and bustle of city life. The town’s pristine parks and hiking trails, such as the scenic Sawyer Camp Trail, beckon nature enthusiasts with their breathtaking vistas.

Tourists can relish the town’s vibrant festivals, celebrating its diverse cultural heritage. From the Hillsborough Concours d’Elegance to the Art and Wine Festival, these events add a touch of excitement to the visitor’s experience.

If you want to enjoy infinite things to do in Hillsborough, NC, plan your trip keeping in mind the weather. It enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate. 

The best time to visit is during the late spring and early summer months, from May to June, when temperatures are pleasant and gardens are in full bloom. Avoid the chillier and rainier winter months for an optimal visit experience.

However, Hillsborough’s fame as a tourist destination also comes with the challenge of high demand during peak seasons. To fully savor its charm, plan your visit wisely and book accommodations well in advance, ensuring a delightful and memorable stay in this picturesque gem of California.

1) Hillsborough Visitors Center 

The Hillsborough Visitors Center serves as a gateway to the town’s rich history and culture, offering a wealth of information about the area. Visitors can explore exhibits detailing the town’s pivotal role in American history, including its significance during the American Revolution. 

Hillsborough Visitors Center 

The center also provides brochures, maps, and guided tours to help guests navigate Hillsborough’s historic sites, charming shops, and local dining options. It’s a valuable resource for those seeking to immerse themselves in the vibrant heritage of this picturesque North Carolina town.

The Hillsborough Visitors Center boasts a range of fun things to do in Hillsborough, NC, to enhance your visit. Inside, you’ll find informative exhibits, knowledgeable staff, and a wealth of brochures and maps to help you explore the town’s treasures. 

The center offers clean restrooms and is wheelchair accessible for all visitors. As for things to do in Hillsborough, you can embark on historic walking tours to discover the town’s colonial and revolutionary past. Stroll along the picturesque Eno Riverwalk, go antiquing in charming shops, or savor local cuisine at restaurants. 

Take advantage of the Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area for hiking and stunning vistas because, with its rich history and natural beauty, Hillsborough has something for everyone to enjoy.


150 East King Street, Hillsborough, NC 27278, United States

2) Ayr Mount

Ayr Mount, located in Hillsborough, North Carolina, is a historic plantation house built in 1815. It was the residence of William Kirkland, a prominent planter and politician. This Federal-style mansion, surrounded by picturesque gardens and woodlands, is a testament to early 19th-century Southern architecture. 

Ayr Mount

Ayr Mount’s significance lies in its preservation efforts and role in local history. In 1985, it became a historic site and has since been open to the public, offering tours and hosting cultural events. Visitors can explore its well-preserved interiors and experience a glimpse of antebellum Southern life and architecture.

Explore the meticulously restored Federal-style mansion, gaining insights into 19th-century Southern living through guided tours. The lush gardens surrounding the estate provide a serene setting for strolls and picnics. 

Nature enthusiasts can hike the scenic trails within the woodlands, encountering local flora and fauna. The estate frequently hosts cultural events, art exhibitions, and educational programs, ensuring there’s always something engaging happening here. 

For history buffs and photography enthusiasts, Ayr Mount is a captivating destination with many exciting things to do in Hillsborough, NC, with its rich historical significance and photogenic charm, making it a must-visit in Hillsborough, North Carolina.


376 Saint Mary’s Road, Hillsborough, NC 27278, United States

3) Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area

Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area, located in North Carolina, boasts a rich history and abundant natural beauty. This 190-acre park showcases the remnants of ancient volcanoes, with the namesake Occoneechee Mountain as its centerpiece, standing at 867 feet. 

Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area

Indigenous peoples inhabited the area for centuries, leaving behind artifacts and earthworks. In the 19th century, the land was used for mining and quarrying. 

Today, it is a protected natural area, offering hiking trails, diverse flora, and fauna, including rare species. Visitors can explore its geological wonders, enjoy scenic vistas, and learn about its cultural significance through educational programs.

You’ll find well-maintained hiking trails that cater to various skill levels, providing opportunities for both strolls and challenging hikes. Picnic areas with scenic views are perfect for outdoor dining with relaxing things to do in Hillsborough, NC. 

Birdwatchers can spot a diverse array of avian species, while nature enthusiasts can explore the unique flora and fauna that call this area home. Interpretive programs and guided tours offer educational insights into the park’s geological and cultural significance. 

With its serene atmosphere, geological wonders, and engaging activities, Occoneechee Mountain is a must-visit destination for outdoor enthusiasts.


625 Virginia Cates Road, Hillsborough, NC 27278, United States

4) Eno River Farmers Market 

The Eno River Farmers Market, located in Durham, North Carolina, has been a community staple since its founding in 2008. This vibrant market offers a diverse array of locally grown produce, artisanal goods, and handmade crafts. 

Eno River Farmers Market 

Operating from April to December, it promotes sustainable farming practices and provides a platform for local farmers and artisans to connect with the community. Over the years, it has grown in popularity, fostering a sense of community and supporting small-scale agriculture. 

Visitors can enjoy fresh, seasonal produce and unique handcrafted items while supporting local businesses and sustainable food production practices.

Visitors can explore a vibrant selection of fresh, locally grown produce, artisanal goods, and handmade crafts, all while enjoying the picturesque natural surroundings and lively things to do in Hillsborough, NC. 

The market often hosts live music performances, cooking demonstrations, and educational workshops, adding to the fun and educational experience. 

With ample parking, a friendly atmosphere, and picnic areas nearby, it’s a perfect spot for families and friends to spend a leisurely morning or afternoon. The market’s commitment to sustainability and community engagement makes it a truly enriching destination for all.


144 East Margaret Lane, Hillsborough, NC 27278, United States

5) Hot Tin Roof

Hot Tin Roof in Hillsborough, North Carolina, is a historic landmark known for its rich history. Built in the early 1800s, it once served as a cotton gin and later as a tobacco barn. 

Hot Tin Roof

Today, it has been lovingly restored as an event venue, showcasing its rustic charm and preserved character. The venue offers a picturesque setting for weddings and special occasions, blending the past with modern celebrations. 

Its enduring legacy is a testament to the enduring history and cultural significance of Hillsborough, making it a cherished part of the town’s heritage.

Hot Tin Roof in Hillsborough, North Carolina, offers a range of facilities and fun things to do in Hillsborough, NC, that make it a captivating destination. The venue features a beautifully restored historic barn with modern amenities, making it perfect for weddings and events. 

Its picturesque surroundings provide a charming backdrop for photography, and guests can enjoy on-site accommodations for a convenient stay. 

Surrounding Hillsborough offers hiking trails, historic sites like Ayr Mount, and delightful local restaurants. Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion, exploring the outdoors, or indulging in local cuisine, Hot Tin Roof and its surroundings promise an enchanting and memorable experience.


115 West Margaret Lane, Hillsborough, NC 27278, United States

6) Burwell School Historic Site

The Burwell School Historic Site, located in Hillsborough, North Carolina, was founded in 1837 by Reverend Robert Burwell and his wife, Margaret Anna Burwell. This educational institution provided girls with a rare opportunity for advanced learning in the 19th century.

Burwell School Historic Site

The school’s curriculum encompassed subjects like literature, music, and needlework. Notably, it hosted a young Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley, who later became the dressmaker and confidante of Mary Todd Lincoln

The Burwell School operated until 1857, and today, it stands as a well-preserved historic site, offering insights into early women’s education and life in antebellum North Carolina.

The Burwell School Historic Site boasts many fun things to do in Hillsborough, NC, that immerse visitors in 19th-century charm. Explore the beautifully restored historic buildings, including the Burwell family home and the main school building, showcasing period-appropriate furnishings and decor. 

The lush gardens provide a serene backdrop for strolls, while the on-site gift shop offers unique souvenirs.

Engage in fun activities like guided tours, educational programs, and special events that transport you to the past. Discover the captivating stories of the school’s students and teachers, or participate in hands-on workshops and historical reenactments. 

This immersive experience offers a glimpse into the rich history and culture of the era, making it a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and families alike.


319 North Churton Street, Hillsborough, NC 27278, United States

7) Nash Street Tavern

Nash Street Tavern, located in Hillsborough, North Carolina, has a rich history dating back to the early 19th century. Originally a stagecoach stop and later a general store, it evolved into a beloved local tavern. 

Today, it maintains its historic charm while serving as a gathering place for the community. The tavern offers a diverse menu of American cuisine, craft beers, and live music, making it a cultural hub in the area. 

With its historical significance and vibrant atmosphere, Nash Street Tavern continues to be a cherished establishment, combining tradition with modern hospitality.

Inside, you’ll find a cozy, rustic interior that exudes charm, boasting a well-stocked bar that features a wide selection of craft beers, wines, and signature cocktails. 

Their menu offers a delectable array of American cuisine, from burgers to seafood, catering to diverse tastes. Live music performances are a regular highlight, providing an entertaining backdrop to your visit.

For more fun things to do in Hillsborough, NC, explore their outdoor seating area, perfect for socializing on pleasant days. Additionally, Nash Street Tavern hosts trivia nights, karaoke, and special events, keeping patrons engaged and entertained. 

Whether you’re looking for a casual meal, a night of music, or a place to unwind with friends, this historic establishment has you covered, making it a must-visit destination in Hillsborough.


250 South Nash Street, Hillsborough, NC 27278, United States

8) Hillsborough Arts Council Gallery

The Hillsborough Arts Council Gallery has been a vibrant cultural hub since its inception. Established to showcase local artists and promote the arts, the gallery hosts a diverse array of exhibitions, including painting, sculpture, photography, and more. 

It serves as a platform for emerging and established artists to share their work with the community. Through various events and collaborations, the gallery fosters artistic dialogue and engagement. 

With a rich history dating back several years, it continues to be a cherished space for artists and art enthusiasts alike, contributing significantly to Hillsborough’s cultural scene.

Inside, you’ll find spacious exhibition areas showcasing an eclectic mix of artworks, from paintings and sculptures to multimedia installations. The gallery often hosts artist talks and workshops, providing opportunities for art enthusiasts to engage with creators directly.

For a unique experience and things to do in Hillsborough, NC, explore the gallery’s vibrant outdoor sculpture garden, featuring captivating artworks nestled within a picturesque setting. 

Additionally, the gallery frequently organizes art-related events, including gallery openings and community art projects, fostering a sense of artistic community.

The nearby downtown area offers charming cafes and shops, perfect for strolling and enjoying the local culture. Whether you’re an art lover or simply seeking a delightful outing, the Hillsborough Arts Council Gallery promises a fulfilling and enriching visit.


121 North Churton Street, Hillsborough, NC 27278, United States

Hillsborough Arts Council Gallery

9) Weaver Street Market

Weaver Street Market, founded in 1988 in North Carolina, is a co-op grocery store known for its commitment to sustainable and locally sourced products. It began as a small buying club and has grown into a cooperative with multiple locations. 

Weaver Street Market

Weaver Street focuses on offering organic foods, supporting local farmers, and promoting community engagement. They prioritize ethical business practices, including fair wages for employees and environmental sustainability. 

With a range of products from fresh produce to artisanal goods, Weaver Street Market serves as a hub for community members seeking healthy, environmentally conscious shopping options.

Weaver Street Market offers a host of amenities, enjoyable activities, and things to do in Hillsborough, NC. Inside, you’ll find a diverse selection of fresh, locally sourced produce, artisanal cheeses, and gourmet products. 

The market boasts a café serving up delicious coffee and ready-to-eat meals so patrons can savor their purchases at outdoor seating areas, fostering a communal atmosphere.

Regular events such as live music, food tastings, and cooking classes make visits engaging. Weaver Street’s commitment to sustainability is evident in its recycling programs and energy-efficient practices. 

Plus, it’s a great place for families, with play areas for children and pet-friendly spaces. So come for the groceries, and stay for the vibrant community experience for a longer while!


228 S Churton St, Hillsborough, NC 27278, United States

10) Riverwalk Trail Entrance, Hillsborough, NC

The Riverwalk Trail Entrance in Hillsborough, NC, provides access to a picturesque natural setting steeped in history. This trail is part of the larger Riverwalk network, which winds along the Eno River. 

Riverwalk Trail Entrance, Hillsborough, NC

The Eno River has played a significant role in the region’s history, serving as a source of water power for mills and witnessing pivotal events during the American Civil War. 

Today, visitors can enjoy a serene walking path that offers both historical insight and natural beauty. The trail entrance serves as a gateway to this cultural and recreational treasure, inviting exploration of the area’s rich past and scenic landscapes.

You’ll find well-maintained walking paths, picnic areas, and benches along the trail, making it perfect for a stroll or a family outing. It also provides opportunities for fishing and kayaking, while the lush surroundings are a haven for birdwatching and nature enthusiasts. 

History buffs can explore informative plaques highlighting the area’s significance during the Civil War, adding an educational dimension to your visit. 

With its serene ambiance and diverse activities, this scenic spot is a must-visit destination for those seeking relaxation, recreation, and a dose of history.


Nash and Kollock Street, Hillsborough, NC 27278, United States

11) Sarah P. Duke Gardens

Sarah P. Duke Gardens, located at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, was established in the 1930s. Spanning 55 acres, it comprises four main areas: the Historic Gardens, Blomquist Garden of Native Plants, Culberson Asiatic Arboretum, and Doris Duke Center Gardens. 

Sarah P. Duke Gardens

The gardens showcase a diverse collection of plants, including rare species and themed landscapes. Visitors can enjoy serene walks, educational programs, and events throughout the year. 

These meticulously curated gardens blend horticultural beauty with environmental conservation, making them a cherished destination for botany enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

Sarah P. Duke Gardens offers a range of fun things to do in Hillsborough, NC, for visitors to enjoy. The Doris Duke Center serves as the gateway, featuring educational exhibits and a gift shop. At the same time, picnic areas allow for leisurely lunches amidst lush greenery, and there are also benches for quiet contemplation. 

The Blomquist Garden boasts a delightful stream and pond, perfect for birdwatching, while guided tours provide insights into the garden’s history and plant collections. 

Seasonal events like garden parties and plant sales add a festive touch, so whether it’s photography, botany, or simply strolling through beautiful landscapes, the gardens offer a wealth of enjoyable activities for all.


420 Anderson Street, Durham, NC 27708, United States

12) Matthew’s Chocolates

Matthew’s Chocolates is a renowned chocolatier founded in 2007 by Matthew Turner in Hillsborough, North Carolina. Specializing in artisanal chocolates, they source high-quality cocoa beans globally. 

Matthew's Chocolates

Their dedication to craftsmanship and quality has earned them a loyal following as they offer a diverse range of chocolates, truffles, and confections, often incorporating locally sourced ingredients. 

Matthew’s Chocolates has won numerous awards for its innovative flavors and ethical sourcing practices. With a commitment to sustainability, the company supports fair trade and eco-friendly practices, making it a beloved destination for chocolate enthusiasts seeking delicious treats with a conscience.

Matthew’s Chocolates in Hillsborough, North Carolina, offers a delightful experience with its charming facilities and mouth-watering things to do in Hillsborough, NC. The cozy chocolate shop invites you to savor artisanal chocolates and truffles crafted with precision and care. 

You can explore their viewing window to witness the chocolate-making process, providing an educational and immersive experience. The shop also hosts chocolate-making classes, allowing you to learn the art of chocolate creation firsthand. 

Moreover, you can relax in their quaint cafe area with a hot chocolate or coffee paired with delectable pastries. It’s a perfect destination for indulgence, learning, and enjoying quality time with your loved one, so grab a sweet cup and have a chocolatey experience. 


104 North Churton Street, Hillsborough, NC 27278, United States

Best Hotels To Stay In Hillsborough, NC 

  • Holiday Inn Express Hillsborough
  • Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham Hillsborough
  • The Inn at Teardrops
  • Kirk House Bed & Breakfast
  • Aloft Chapel Hill
  • The Carolina Inn