Rowan County is just a short drive from many places in North Carolina. Our convenient location places us just an hour’s drive from Charlotte and the Greensboro and Winston-Salem areas, where you’ll find both a quiet countryside filled with wineries and pick-your-own farms, and bustling downtowns with breweries, historic trolleys, a thriving arts scene and more. You can spend the day exploring any of our municipalities. From Patterson Farm in the west to Tiger World in the east, Rowan County is exploding with day trip opportunities. We’ve compiled a list of four of the many day trip opportunities available to you in Rowan County.


Historic Gold Hill

Take a step back in time in Rowan County by taking a stroll along the wooden sidewalks of the nineteenth century Gold Mining Capitol of North Carolina. Gold Hill is home of the first gold rush, and the first gold discovery in Gold Hill was in 1824. From the sounds of bluegrass music filling the E.H. Montgomery General Store on Friday evenings, to the annual Lighting of the Fall Fires event to kick off the holiday season, Gold Hill has kept their heritage alive. Gold Hill boasts many attractions, including Gold Hill Mines Historic Park, the Village of Gold Hill with quaint shops, the Gold Hill Rail Trail and more. When you arrive in Gold Hill, make sure you stop by the E.H. Montgomery store for snacks, maps and information about what you must see and must do in Historic Gold Hill.


Gold Hill Mines Historic Park is a 70-acre historic theme park, and is the site of Barnhardt and Randolph Gold Mine, reportedly, the richest mining properties east of the Mississippi River. Visitors to the park will enjoy the great outdoors with several miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails, a regulation size softball and soccer field, playground and picnic areas. The park is pet friendly.


The Village of Gold Hill boasts shops with antiques, home décor, bakery, floral gifts, original art and unique handmade gifts. You’ll find plenty of original businesses that give you a sense of Gold Hill’s heritage.


The Gold Hill Rail Trail is a 2.2 mile trail that connects the Historic Town of Gold Hill, a restored mining town, to the original Narrow Gauge Railroad Spur Line of the 1880's. The Rail Trail is also part of the Carolina Thread Trail network. "The Gold Hill Rail Trail is a protected railroad right-of-way developed by the Three Rivers Land Trust in partnership with the Historic Gold Hill and Mines Foundation, Inc. The narrow-gauge rail line was built in the 1880’s to transport gold, gold refining equipment and supplies for the New Gold Hill Ltd. Mining Company. Union Gold and Copper Co. Mine shafts, a powder house, a steam engine and boiler, and a stone jail are some of the historic structures to be enjoyed along the Gold Hill Rail Trail.


Explore more about Historic Gold Hill and begin planning your next visit to Rowan County.



Dan Nicholas Park

Play original with children of all ages at Dan Nicholas Park, a 425-acres park located 8 miles southeast of Salisbury in Rowan County. Dan Nicholas welcomes 600,000 - 700,000 visitors per year with unique attractions and events for families, like their Autumn Jubilee festival held each October attracting visitors from across the state. The park offers a 10-acre lake for paddle boating and fishing, Rowan Wildlife Adventures nature center, tennis courts, picnic shelters, the Hurley Family Water Plaza, playgrounds, volleyball, horseshoes, ball fields, miniature golf, a carousel, gem mining, a fresh water aquarium, animal habitats, a miniature train ride for children and more. Attractions vary by season. Dan Nicholas also has a 70-site family campground that includes an outdoor theater, as well as 17 picnic shelters that are available for rent.


There is no admission to enter the park or fees for parking. Most activities are free of charge, while some charge a small fee ranging from 50 cents to $4, excluding the gem mine. Pets are allowed in the park, but not on attractions. We promise you can spend an entire day enjoying Dan Nicholas Park.


Learn more about Dan Nicholas Park and begin planning your next visit to Rowan County.



Downtown Salisbury

Downtown Salisbury is the perfect place to bring a family for a day of exploration. Spend time exploring our new green space and park, Bell Tower Green, shop and dine in our local original businesses, or explore our history museum and art gallery.


Bell Tower Green is the newest park in Salisbury and Rowan County. It covers one full city block and includes green space, several gardens, a water wall and splash pad, a state-of-the-art play area, and many options for sitting and relaxing. The park is located within walking distance of shops and restaurants, the Rowan Public Library, and many other Downtown Salisbury landmarks. 


Downtown Salisbury’s is filled with original local dining and shopping options. From lunch time hot spots like Sidewalk deli, to regionally famous Hap's Grill, so fine dinner dining at La Cava, Downtown Salisbury has plenty of choices for your trip. Shop in unique boutiques, salons and gift shops for one of a kind finds to remember your trip.


If you're looking for history, pop into the Rowan Museum and check out their current exhibits. The museum is located inside the 1854 Courthouse, which survived General Stoneman’s raid in the American Civil War. It is one of the finest examples of pre-Civil War architecture in the state. Housing the collections of the museum, its grand old rooms including the beautiful second floor court and public gathering place, reflect the life and history of Rowan County through displays and interpretive exhibits.


If it's art that interests you, spend some time in Waterworks Visual Arts Center. The provide a unique blend of education, inspiration, creativity and fun, Waterworks serves as the anchor organization for Salisbury's East Square Cultural Arts District and is the only teaching museum within a forty mile radius of Salisbury. Creative and expressive artwork from established and emerging regional and local artists are featured in three rotation exhibitions annually. 


Learn more about Downtown Salisbury and begin planning your visit to Rowan County.



N.C. Transportation Museum

Experience original at the N.C. Transportation Museum by exploring the 60-acre historic site waiting to welcome visitors young and old. Once home to Southern Railway’s largest steam locomotive repair facility in the southeast, the museum features all types of transportation history - railroading, automotive, aviation, and more. Within the four large exhibit buildings representing the remaining structures of the historic Spencer Shops, you’ll find the largest remaining roundhouse in North America, locomotives, passenger rail cars, a full-size replica Wright Flyer, antique automobiles, fire trucks, the restoration of the Piedmont Airlines’ Potomac Pacemaker and more. You'll find children's play areas, a gift shop with snacks, and plenty of other comforts that make this the perfect day trip destination. 


The museum is a source of education and fun for the young and old. From beer festivals and Wine and Dine events to train rides, scenic excursions, and special visits from Thomas the Train and THE POLAR EXPRESS ™, the N.C. Transportation Museum provides endless opportunities to experience original.


Learn more about the N.C. Transportation Museum and begin planning your visit today!




Whether you're joining us for the day or the weekend, we hope you'll create lasting family memories in Rowan County! Begin planning your trip by exploring more things to do, as well as places to stay. Plus, be sure to check out our special offers page for information on how to earn free tickets to major events in Rowan County.