in Cleveland County, living like a local is a little different. There’s a rhythmic undertone everywhere you go, from picking up hyper-local vegetables from the farmers market to the pace you walk when you’re hiking in the foothills. These are a few of the favorite spots where folks ‘round these parts go on the regular. After tasting the best sandwich in town and following it up with a drag race you can only see here, you’ll want to live like a local in Cleveland County all the time.
2 days | 14 stops
STOP 1: Shelby Cafe
The Shelby Cafe is the kind of place where a balanced diet starts with a fork in each hand. This local and nationally known favorite has been cooking up Carolina comfort food for close to a century. From fried livermush to homemade pimento cheese, every order is the right order. Especially when it is brought to your table with a smile and followed by a “Y’all come back.”
STOP 2: Workshop Vintage Market
No shopping trip to Shelby would be complete without a visit to the largest craft and vintage market in Cleveland County. More than 80 vendors await in Workshop Vintage Market, perfect for shoppers who love to scour, scavenge, and collect repurposed and vintage furniture and homegoods. Another bonus? This stop hosts DIY workshops for creative projects like macrame, watercolors, painting and more.
STOP 3: Foothills Farmers Market
Produce doesn’t get more local than this. Stop by the gorgeous Foothills Farmers Market for some produce directly from family-owned farms in Cleveland County and the surrounding 50 miles. Grab a watermelon. Stock up on some ears of corn. Check out the nuts, poultry, cheeses and meats. Pick up a homemade pie that you really don’t need. Selections change by the season. But if you can grow it on a farm, chances are you can find it here.
STOP 4: Red Bridges Barbecue
Picture this: Tender, hand-chopped pork, painstakingly pit-cooked over a bed of glowing hickory and oak, slathered in red, Lexington-style sauce. Oh, and hush puppies and red slaw. For three generations this is what the Bridges family has been serving up in Cleveland County. The same old fashion flavor perfected in 1946 is what you get today. If the packed parking lot is any indication, visitors can’t get enough. Just make sure you stock up on extra napkins. If your face and hands don’t get messy eating this barbecue, you’re doing it all wrong.
STOP 5: Kings Mountain Gateway Trail
Less than 20 minutes from Uptown Shelby, you’ll find the Kings Mountain Gateway Trail. This area has some of the best hiking and biking in the entire region. Choose from four different trails that cover over 8 miles. Each trail connects to the other and weaves throughout the forest and hills. Along the path you may pass the edge of an active quarry, a garden designed for Monarch Butterflies or a scenic overlook of both Kings Mountain and Crowder’s Mountain. It’s time to gear up and head out. May the forest be with you.
STOP 6: 238 Cherokee Grill
When the menu includes an item called the Pork-a-saurus, you know the meal is going to be a topic of conversation. That’s exactly what you get at 238 Cherokee Grill. Located a short drive away in Kings Mountain, this unpretentious little tavern offers some big flavors to satisfy any appetite. The food is American with a Southern kick. Chicken is served smothered. Green beans are breaded and fried. Come hungry and with a belt you can loosen a couple notches.
STOP 7: Sunset Drive In
Bring the whole family for a night of nostalgia and entertainment under the stars at the Sunset Drive In. Showing movies every Friday and Saturday night, Sunset is owned and operated by three generations of the Stinnet family. Pack a picnic or hit up the snack bar for cheese fries, corn dogs, ice cream, and of course, fresh popcorn by the bucket.
STOP 8: Ken & Mary's
Beloved spot for home cookin' and stellar service. Stop in for breakfast or lunch at this Southern diner. You'll find all your favorite staples like egg plates and bacon served with a steaming puddle of creamy grits.
STOP 9: Earl Scruggs Center
Earl Scruggs was born right here in Cleveland County in the small town of Flint Hill. (Ever heard of the Flint Hill Special?) Earl helped to define the voice of the banjo to the world. His three-finger playing style (Scruggs style) didn’t just cross musical boundaries, it created a whole new style of play. He was an innovator. He was a music lover. This Center that bears his name is our way to keep his legacy alive for future generations. You can even try your hand at the banjo in the Banjo Petting Zoo! Toe-tapping and inspiration included with admission.
STOP 10: Antique Market
Antique Market of Shelby is four floors of antiques in Uptown Shelby. Owners Bill and Myra have been collecting for over 40 years during travels around the world. These world-class pickers have done the hunting so you don’t have to. A vintage wooden rocking horse, vinyl records, gorgeous antique furniture and homewares in every style from Victorian to mid-century. Antiquers may never leave this gorgeous treasure chest.
STOP 11: Banker's House
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the Banker’s House is one of North Carolina’s most beautiful historic homes that’s been converted into a place where guests create history of their own. Visitors are welcome to tour the event venue. The house was built in the 1800s in the Second Empire Style and was a private residence owned by members of Shelby’s banking profession until the late 1970s. It stands as a monument to the heritage of Cleveland County and is thought to be the work of famed architect G.S.H. Appleget.
STOP 12: J-bird's Deli
Ready for a masterpiece made of premium cold cuts? J-Bird’s Deli is the next stop on your culinary adventure. This local deli specializes in artisanal crafted sandwiches. Try the Captain Fantastic --fresh sourdough piled high with chicken, pimento cheese, jalapeno, and garlic aioli. Order up the Bolognious Monk --sliced ciabatta with bologna, american cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion, mayo. Or build your own edible art and pair it with the latest craft brew. We’ll save you a seat.
STOP 13: Baker Buffalo Creek
This vineyard is nestled into the rolling hills and farmland that has been in the Baker family for over a century. Inspired by a visit to Napa and Sonoma, the owners planted the first grapes here in 2003. Today the grounds include a historic farmhouse and eight different grape varietals ready to harvest. Venture into the original milking room for a tour of the wine-making operations and a tasting flight that may include chardonnay, merlot, Riesling, scuppernong and more. Raise your glass to a wonderful afternoon. That you may or may not remember.
STOP 14: Shadyside Dragway
Dubbed the baddest outlaw track–period. Shadyside Dragway features some of the best outlaw racing in the country. The smooth ⅛-mile dragstrip has your fix for fast cars, be they street cars or hot rods. It makes for an exciting family outing with crowds cheering and wheels screeching. Your time there will fly almost as fast as the cars racing around the track.
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