Nestled in the heart of North Carolina, the charming town of Shelby is a hidden gem waiting to be explored. With a rich history, vibrant culture, and a plethora of captivating attractions, Shelby offers an unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages. In this article, we will dive deep into the captivating world of Shelby, unveiling a wide array of things to do in Shelby, North Carolina, that will leave you enchanted and wanting more.

1. Shelby’s Historic Charm

Shelby, North Carolina, nestled in the heart of Cleveland County, offers a rich tapestry of historical charm, cultural heritage, and outdoor adventures. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply seeking a relaxing getaway, Shelby has something to offer everyone. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the top attractions and activities in Shelby, with a particular focus on the things to do in Shelby, North Carolina.

Shelby Courthouse Square

One of the most iconic and picturesque spots in Shelby is the Courthouse Square. This historic square is enveloped by beautifully preserved buildings and charming boutiques, creating an ambiance that transports you back in time. A leisurely stroll along the square’s cobblestone pathways is a delightful experience. Don’t forget to admire the neoclassical architecture of the Cleveland County Courthouse, which stands as a testament to the town’s architectural heritage.

Earl Scruggs Center

To delve deeper into Shelby’s cultural heritage, a visit to the Earl Scruggs Center is a must. Named in honor of the legendary banjo player, Earl Scruggs, this interactive museum is a treasure trove of information about Shelby’s history and its profound influence on American music. Here, you can explore exhibits that showcase the rich musical legacy of Shelby and the exceptional talents of its residents.

Shelby City Park

For outdoor enthusiasts, Shelby City Park is a true gem. This sprawling park offers a wide array of recreational activities and natural beauty. Here are some highlights:

Hiking TrailsExplore well-maintained trails through lush greenery.
PlaygroundsPerfect for family outings with kids.
Picnic AreasEnjoy a leisurely picnic amidst scenic surroundings.
Carp FishingTry your hand at fishing in the park’s well-stocked pond.
Amphitheater EventsCatch live performances and events in the park’s amphitheater.

Broad River Greenway

For those seeking more nature-centric experiences, the Broad River Greenway is a must-visit destination. This 1,500-acre natural preserve offers a serene escape into the outdoors. Activities here include:

Hiking and BikingExplore miles of trails along the scenic Broad River.
Canoeing and KayakingPaddle down the river and enjoy the tranquility of nature.
Equestrian TrailsHorseback riding opportunities for equestrian enthusiasts.

Savor Culinary Delights

No visit to Shelby is complete without indulging in its culinary offerings. The town boasts a diverse culinary scene with restaurants and eateries catering to a variety of tastes. Be sure to sample some of these local delights:

  • Barbecue: North Carolina is renowned for its barbecue, and Shelby is no exception. Try the local barbecue joints for a mouthwatering experience.
  • Southern Comfort Food: Explore the flavors of the South with dishes like fried chicken, collard greens, and cornbread.
  • Farm-to-Table: Many restaurants in Shelby prioritize locally sourced ingredients, offering fresh and delicious farm-to-table options.

Attend Local Events

Shelby hosts a vibrant calendar of events throughout the year. From festivals celebrating local culture to outdoor concerts and art exhibitions, there’s always something happening in town. Check the event calendar to align your visit with a special happening that interests you.

2. Outdoor Adventures

Person walking on a boardwalk while holding a bike by the lake.

Shelby, North Carolina, is not only steeped in history and culture but also offers a plethora of outdoor adventures for nature enthusiasts and thrill-seekers alike. When it comes to things to do in Shelby, North Carolina, the great outdoors has much to offer. Here are some top outdoor attractions:

Cleveland County Fairgrounds

If your visit to Shelby falls in September, a visit to the Cleveland County Fairgrounds is a must. This expansive fairground hosts the annual Cleveland County Fair, a vibrant event that offers a blend of entertainment, agriculture, and culinary delights. Here’s what you can expect:

Thrilling RidesEnjoy adrenaline-pumping rides suitable for all ages.
Agricultural ExhibitsLearn about local farming traditions and practices.
Live EntertainmentCatch live performances and shows throughout the fair.
Fair FoodSavor a wide array of delicious fair food, from cotton candy to corn dogs.

Kings Mountain National Military Park

For history buffs and outdoor enthusiasts, the Kings Mountain National Military Park offers a unique blend of both. This historic park commemorates the Battle of Kings Mountain, a significant engagement during the American Revolutionary War. Here’s what you can explore:

  • Hiking Trails: The park boasts a network of well-maintained hiking trails that wind through scenic woodlands. These trails provide an opportunity to connect with history while enjoying the beauty of nature.
  • Scenic Views: The park’s elevated terrain offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, making it a prime spot for photographers and nature lovers.
  • Battle History: Explore informative exhibits and markers that detail the historical significance of the Battle of Kings Mountain. Gain insight into the tactics and strategies employed during this pivotal battle.

Broad River Greenway

For those seeking tranquility and a deep connection with nature, the Broad River Greenway is an oasis of natural beauty. Spanning over 1,500 acres, this park has something for everyone:

Hiking TrailsWander along miles of picturesque hiking trails, suitable for all skill levels.
Equestrian TrailsHorseback riders can explore designated equestrian trails through the scenic landscape.
Fishing SpotsAnglers can try their luck in well-stocked fishing areas along the serene Broad River.
Picnic AreasEnjoy a peaceful outdoor meal with family and friends at designated picnic spots.

The Broad River Greenway is a perfect destination for a day of relaxation, exploration, and outdoor recreation.

3. Culinary Delights

Pouring coffee into a mug with pastries beside it.

When exploring things to do in Shelby, North Carolina, don’t forget to embark on a culinary journey through this charming town. Shelby boasts a diverse food scene that caters to various tastes, from traditional Southern comfort food to craft beer and delectable sweets. Here are some top culinary destinations to satisfy your palate:

Shelby Café

The Shelby Café is a local institution renowned for its mouthwatering breakfast options. Whether you’re starting your day or indulging in a late-morning brunch, this classic eatery is a must-visit. Here’s what you can enjoy:

Country Ham and EggsDive into a Southern favorite with a hearty serving of country ham and perfectly cooked eggs.
Homemade BiscuitsSample fluffy, homemade biscuits that pair perfectly with a variety of toppings, from butter to gravy.
Local FavoritesExplore regional dishes that showcase the flavors of the South, such as grits and sausage gravy.

Newgrass Brewing Company

For craft beer enthusiasts, the Newgrass Brewing Company is a hidden gem in Shelby. This microbrewery prides itself on offering unique and flavorful brews, making it a must-visit for beer aficionados. Here’s what you can experience:

  • Craft Beer Selection: Explore a rotating selection of craft beers, including IPAs, stouts, and seasonal brews. The brewery often introduces new and experimental flavors, ensuring there’s always something exciting to try.
  • Tasting Room: Visit the brewery’s tasting room, where you can sample various brews and learn about the brewing process. It’s an excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in the world of craft beer.
  • Community Events: Check the brewery’s calendar for special events, live music, and food truck collaborations that enhance your beer-tasting experience.

Uptown Sweets & Treats

Indulge your sweet tooth at Uptown Sweets & Treats, a delightful confectionery where you’ll find an array of candies, chocolates, and homemade ice cream. Here’s what you can savor:

Candies and ChocolatesChoose from a wide selection of candies, including old-fashioned favorites and artisan chocolates.
Homemade Ice CreamDelight in creamy, homemade ice cream with an assortment of flavors and toppings.
Gifts and SouvenirsPick up unique sweets and treats to take home as souvenirs or gifts for friends and family.

4. Art and Culture

Photo of Don Gibson Theatre signage inside the theater

Shelby, North Carolina, is not just a town rich in history and outdoor activities; it also boasts a thriving arts and culture scene that provides visitors with a diverse array of experiences. When looking for “things to do in Shelby, North Carolina,” exploring the local art and culture is a must. Here are two prominent venues that art and culture enthusiasts should not miss:

Don Gibson Theatre

The Don Gibson Theatre is a cultural gem in Shelby, named after the renowned country music artist, Don Gibson. This intimate venue is the epicenter of performing arts in the town and hosts a wide range of events and performances throughout the year. Here’s what you can expect:

Live PerformancesEnjoy live concerts featuring local and national artists across various genres, from country and folk to rock and blues.
Theatrical ProductionsWatch captivating plays and theatrical performances that showcase the talents of local actors and visiting troupes.
Cultural EventsImmerse yourself in cultural events like dance recitals and community gatherings that celebrate Shelby’s diverse arts scene.

The Don Gibson Theatre offers an intimate and welcoming atmosphere where you can connect with the arts and culture of Shelby.

Cleveland County Arts Council

For those interested in visual arts, a visit to the Cleveland County Arts Council is a must. This dynamic gallery space serves as a hub for local and regional artists to display their work. Here’s what you can explore:

  • Rotating Art Exhibits: The gallery hosts rotating exhibits that showcase a wide range of visual art, including paintings, sculptures, photography, and mixed media. This diversity allows visitors to experience different artistic styles and themes.
  • Local and Regional Talent: The Arts Council’s commitment to supporting local and regional artists means you’ll have the opportunity to view and purchase unique pieces that reflect the talent of the community.
  • Workshops and Events: Check the Arts Council’s calendar for workshops, art talks, and cultural events that provide insight into the creative process and foster a deeper appreciation for the arts.

5. Family-Friendly Fun

Beautiful landscape with a clear sky.

Shelby, North Carolina, is a town that welcomes families with open arms, offering a variety of family-friendly attractions and activities. When searching for “things to do in Shelby, North Carolina” that cater to all ages, you’ll find plenty of options. Here are two fantastic destinations where families can create lasting memories:

Shelby City Park

Shelby City Park is a sprawling and vibrant destination that promises fun for the entire family. This park is not just a green space; it’s a hub of recreational and entertainment activities. Here’s what your family can enjoy at Shelby City Park:

PlaygroundsLet the kids burn off energy at well-maintained playgrounds designed for different age groups.
Picnic AreasEnjoy a family picnic amidst scenic surroundings and designated picnic areas.
Miniature Train RideEmbark on a miniature train ride that weaves through the park, providing a delightful adventure for kids and adults alike.
CarouselExperience the magic of a classic carousel ride, a timeless attraction that never fails to enchant.

Shelby City Park is a haven of family-friendly activities, making it a top choice for parents looking to entertain their little ones.

Holly Oak Park

Another family-friendly gem in Shelby is Holly Oak Park. This park offers a tranquil setting for families to enjoy the outdoors together. Here’s what you can find at Holly Oak Park:

  • Walking Trails: Explore scenic walking trails that wind through lush greenery, perfect for a family stroll or a leisurely nature walk.
  • Playground: Let the kids have a blast on the playground, complete with slides, swings, and climbing structures designed for safe and enjoyable play.
  • Splash Pad: Cool off on hot summer days at the splash pad, where children can run through fountains and enjoy refreshing water play.

Both Shelby City Park and Holly Oak Park are well-maintained and provide a safe and enjoyable environment for families. Whether you’re seeking active outdoor adventures or a peaceful retreat in nature, these family-friendly destinations have something for everyone.

Transportation and Getting Around in Shelby, North Carolina

Planning your visit to Shelby, North Carolina, is an exciting endeavor, and understanding the transportation options and how to navigate the town is crucial for a seamless experience. In this section, we’ll provide you with comprehensive details on how to get to Shelby and get around once you’re there.

By Car

Shelby is conveniently accessible by car, with several major highways converging in the area. Here are the primary routes to Shelby:

  • From Charlotte: If you’re arriving from Charlotte, head west on US-74 W (Wilkinson Blvd) for approximately 40 miles. This is the most common route, and it takes around 45 minutes to reach Shelby from Charlotte.
  • From Asheville: If you’re coming from Asheville, take I-26 E and US-74 E. The journey takes about 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions.
  • From Raleigh: From Raleigh, you can take I-40 W and I-85 S to US-74 W, which will bring you to Shelby in approximately 3 hours.
  • From Greenville, SC: Head north on I-85 N and take exit 92 to merge onto US-11 N/US-29 N toward Spartanburg. Continue on US-29 N and US-74 W to reach Shelby. The drive takes about 1.5 to 2 hours.

By Air

If you’re traveling from a distance, Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) is the nearest major airport. From CLT, you can rent a car or use other transportation services to get to Shelby, which is approximately 50 miles away.

Getting Around Shelby

Once you’ve arrived in Shelby, getting around town is straightforward, with various transportation options:

Transportation OptionsDescription
Car RentalsRenting a car is a popular choice for travelers who want the flexibility to explore Shelby and the surrounding areas at their own pace. Major car rental companies operate at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, providing a wide range of vehicle options.
Local Taxis and RidesharesShelby has local taxi services, and you can also use rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft for convenient transportation within the town.
BikingShelby is a bike-friendly town, and you’ll find bike lanes and paths in some areas. If you enjoy cycling, consider bringing your bike or renting one locally to explore the town and its scenic trails.
WalkingShelby’s downtown area, including Courthouse Square and many historical landmarks, is highly walkable. Strolling through the charming streets allows you to immerse yourself in the town’s atmosphere and easily access shops and restaurants.
Public TransportationShelby does not have a comprehensive public transportation system like larger cities, but there are some local bus routes operated by the Cleveland County Transit System. These routes primarily serve the town and nearby areas.
Shelby GreenwayThe Shelby Greenway is a network of multi-use trails that provides a scenic and eco-friendly way to explore the town and its natural surroundings. Whether you’re walking, jogging, or cycling, the Greenway offers a unique perspective of Shelby.

Parking in Shelby

Parking in Shelby is designed to be hassle-free, offering a range of convenient options for visitors. Whether you’re exploring the town’s historic landmarks, cultural attractions, or scenic beauty, you’ll find accessible and ample parking facilities. Here’s a detailed breakdown:

Parking FacilitiesDescription
Shelby Parking OptionsShelby provides various parking options, including parking lots and on-street parking.
Free ParkingMost attractions and restaurants offer free parking for visitors, ensuring affordability and accessibility.
Courthouse Square ParkingCourthouse Square, a key landmark in Shelby, has designated parking areas nearby.
Historic District ExplorationThese parking spaces make it convenient for you to explore the historic district and its charming surroundings.
Arts and Cultural Venue ParkingShelby’s vibrant arts and cultural venues have conveniently located free parking lots.
Event and Exhibition AccessibilityThese lots cater to attendees of events, exhibitions, and performances, offering ease of access.
Pedestrian-Friendly AtmosphereShelby’s downtown area, including Courthouse Square and numerous historical landmarks, is designed to be highly walkable.
Smooth Transition to WalkingWell-marked crosswalks and accessible parking areas facilitate a smooth transition from driving to walking, ensuring an enjoyable exploration of the town’s atmosphere.


Shelby, North Carolina, is a captivating destination that offers a delightful blend of history, outdoor adventure, culinary experiences, and cultural attractions. Whether you’re exploring its rich heritage or immersing yourself in its natural beauty, Shelby has something for everyone. So, when planning your next getaway, make sure to include Shelby on your list of “Things to Do in Shelby, North Carolina” for an unforgettable experience. Visit this charming town, and you’ll leave with cherished memories and a desire to return soon.


Q1: What are the best times to visit Shelby, North Carolina?

A1: Shelby is a year-round destination, but the spring and fall seasons offer the most pleasant weather for outdoor activities. Additionally, the Cleveland County Fair in September is a highlight of the year.

Q2: Are there any accommodations in Shelby?

A2: Yes, Shelby offers a range of accommodations, including hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, and campgrounds for those who prefer a more rustic experience.

Q3: Can I explore Shelby on foot?

A3: Absolutely! Many of Shelby’s attractions are within walking distance of each other, especially in the historic downtown area.

Q4: Are there any annual events in Shelby?

A4: Yes, in addition to the Cleveland County Fair, Shelby hosts various annual events, including the Livermush Festival, the Livermush Expo, and the Art of Sound Music Festival.

Q5: How far is Shelby from major cities in North Carolina?

A5: Shelby is conveniently located. It’s about 40 miles west of Charlotte, making it accessible for day trips from the Queen City. Asheville is about 80 miles to the west, and Raleigh is approximately 175 miles to the east.