Hanging Rock State Park is a fantastic place to hike, camp, and chase waterfalls. It also makes a great base to use to springboard to check out things to see around Hanging Rock State Park. From cool geological features to historic districts to an entire town that inspired a hit TV series.
North Carolina’s Hanging Rock State Park is a great family destination for outdoor adventure. With hiking trails, rock climbing routes, horseback rides, fishing, boating, and swimming, there are a ton of things to do in this 8600-acre park. They even have camping and cabins if you want to spend the night. In fact, Hanging Rock State Park makes an excellent and affordable home base for exploring North Carolina.
My husband and I spent an afternoon at Hanging Rock State Park in February on our van camping trip. We didn’t walk to Hanging Rock, the namesake of the park (which I regret), but instead opted to hike a couple of the shorter trails in the park that lead to some of the waterfalls.
We followed the trails to both Hidden Falls and Cascade Falls and, in the process, also stopped to see the Rock Garden, which is a completely accessible trail located across the street from the main parking area and visitor center.
But on this trip, we weren’t just there to see Hanging Rock, we were checking out the surrounding area too.
Here are some of the Top Things to See Around Hanging Rock State Park
From an unmistakable geological feature to a town that inspired a hit TV series to a historic district with over 500 historic buildings that date back from 1890-1930, we’ve found a few of the best places to explore a short drive from Hanging Rock State Park.
Pilot Mountain State Park
21 miles each way
Another excellent state park nearby is Pilot Mountain State Park. We stop every time we’re in the area to take in the views and to have a picnic.
The 2,000-foot namesake mountain looms over the surrounding countryside and the summit can be reached on foot or by car. This is one of the most popular state parks in North Carolina, in large part due to the amazing views from the summit. Read more about our visit to Pilot Mountain State Park.
Mt Airy, North Carolina
30 miles each way
One of the best things to do near Hanging Rock State Park is to visit the town of Mt. Airy, North Carolina. Mt. Airy is the real-life inspiration for Mayberry, and the town keeps the spirit of Andy Griffith alive today with plenty of tourist attractions. Find out how you can take a ride in Barney Fife’s squad car, plus all the other great things to do in Mt. Airy, NC.
Körner’s Folly, Kernersville, North Carolina
30 miles each way
Sometimes called the strangest house in America, this historic home is an excellent roadside attraction or a day trip from Hanging Rock State Park. The home was built in 1880 by Julie Körner, a designer and artist. Meant to showcase his interior design skills, the house is now a museum that is open to the public for tours. Check the website for special events, such as Christmas by Candlelight.
Philpott Lake, Virginia
50 miles each way
Not far over the Virginia border is the pristine, 2900-acre Philpott Lake. The lake has 100 miles of shoreline, much of which falls in several protected recreation areas. There’s Twin Ridge Recreation Area, Goose Point Recreation Area, Deer Island Recreation Area, Mize Point Recreation Area, Spring Cove Park Recreation Area, and Fairy Stone State Park. With six beaches and numerous boat docks, this is the spot for watersports in Southern Virginia.
Black Mountain Chocolate Factory, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
30 miles each way
How far will you drive for chocolate? 30 miles is totally worth it for a tour of the Black Mountain Chocolate Factory! All of the chocolate is made by hand, and of course, there are samples readily available. Check out their website for special events from tours to chocolate tastings to wine nights.
West End Historic District, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
30 miles each way
History buffs will love exploring this National Historic District. With over 500 historic buildings that date back from 1890-1930. Although primarily residential, there are many shops and cafes throughout the district so you can take an entire day to explore. If you really want to step back in history, take a carriage ride and imagine the early booming days of the tobacco industry that was founded in this region.
Don’t miss the Shell Service Station that is only two miles away from the historic district. We visited specifically to see this fun roadside attraction.
Greensboro Science Center, Greensboro, North Carolina
45 miles each way
This Greensboro attraction is so much more than a science center; it’s fun for the whole family. It is an aquarium, zoo, museum, and treetop adventure park. Children or adults will enjoy the exhibits, with special events and programs for different age ranges. The aquarium features penguins, sharks, fish, and jellyfish. There’s also a dinosaur exhibit, an OmniSphere Theater, and SKYWILD, an aerial challenge course through the treetops above the science center.
North Carolina Zoo, Asheboro
80 miles each way
The North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro lays claim to a few impressive superlatives. Not only is it the world’s largest walk-through zoo, but it is also the world’s largest natural habitat zoo. This means each animal has an abundant amount of room to roam and explore, which mimics their natural habitat. With four restaurants and several snack bars scattered throughout the zoo, it’s easy to make this an all-day trip!
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Have you explored Hanging Rock State Park or the area around the park? Leave a comment and tell us about it!