How to Have a Perfect Weekend in Statesville

The charming town of Statesville is located in Iredell County, in the western Piedmont region of North Carolina, approximately 45 minutes north of Charlotte. Statesville is an ideal getaway for history buffs, adventurers, and those who just want to relax.

Known as the hot air balloon capital of the East, opportunities to hop on, hop on and off, plus an annual hot air balloon festival are definite pluses for this friendly town. And there’s so much more to see, do, and discover when you visit Statesville.

Note: Our lovely weekend was generously hosted by Visit Statesville. All opinions are mine.

Simon Lock / MyEclecticImages

Things To Do In Statesville

Settlers began arriving in what would become Statesville as early as 1753, and the town’s history is omnipresent. Add opportunities for outdoor activities on land, water and air, locally produced food and drink and friendly residents who welcome visitors. The only challenge is deciding what to do first.

Take a thrilling hot air balloon ride: Hot air ballooning may seem scary, but unless you have a crippling fear of heights, it’s an exhilarating experience like no other. Floating serenely above forests, lakes, fields, and Statesville itself gives you a unique perspective of where you’ve been and where you’d like to go. There are several reputable hot air balloon operators to choose from, but if you’re content to watch those huge orbs from the ground, time your visit to Statesville to coincide with Carolina BalloonFest. This popular festival takes place every year on the third weekend of October and offers the opportunity to contemplate more than 50 balloons filling the sky with brilliant colors.

Inside Fort Dobbs
Simon Lock / MyEclecticImages

Visit Fort Dobbs

On an interpretive tour of Fort Dobbs, you’ll travel back to 1756 and the French and Indian War. In this reconstructed replica of the original fort, a knowledgeable guide in period costume takes you through the buildings and grounds of this ephemeral yet historically relevant facility. The tour lasts approximately 1 hour and by the time you leave you will have gained an understanding of the soldiers and their way of life. A guide takes visitors through the history of the fort, the war and its aftermath.

Pro tip: The terrain is easily navigable on foot and the ground floor of the fort is wheelchair accessible.

The baseball memorabilia section of the Statesville Historical Collection.
Simon Lock / MyEclecticImages

Take a fascinating walk through the Statesville Historical Collection

Statesville Historian Steve Hill brings the town’s history to life in a most unusual and entertaining way. Its Statesville Historical Collection is a well-curated accumulation of all things Statesville. Since his high school days, Steve has collected photos, documents and memorabilia that tell the story of his beloved hometown. Located downtown in a showcase donated for his collection, the space is filled with military uniforms, vintage clothing, toys, posters and thousands of photographs. Be sure to check out the impressive baseball section, as well as the historical and hysterical signs in the storefront.

Some of the thousands of old photographs found in the Statesville Historical Collection.
Simon Lock / MyEclecticImages

Pro tip: Steve is usually available to show you his treasures on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, or by appointment.

Statesville Sculpture Garden, the heads seem buried in the earth.
Statesville Sculpture Garden (Photo credit: Simon Lock / MyEclecticImages)

Experience fun and funky at the Statesville Sculpture Garden

Located at the corner of Water and Center streets, the Statesville Sculpture Garden encourages you to pause and enjoy the palpable art. No doubt sculptors know precisely what their work represents, but that shouldn’t stop you or your imagination.

Statesville City Hall Built in 1892.
City Hall (Photo credit: Simon Lock / MyEclecticImages)

Explore Downtown Statesville

A vibrant downtown is an integral part of what makes Statesville such an exciting city. The shops, restaurants and historic buildings can keep you busy for hours. Check the schedule on the Downtown Statesville website for concerts and special events.

Pro tip: Be aware that many retailers are closed on Sundays.

Beautiful clouds over Lake Norman at Lake Norman State Park, North Carolina.
Jon Bilous /

Hike, Bike, and Swim at Lake Norman State Park

10 miles from Statesville by car, you can spend a few hours or an entire day enjoying nature at Lake Norman State Park. North Carolina’s largest man-made lake offers swimming, a boat launch and seasonal fishing for water lovers. Mountain bikers have 30.5 miles of single-track trail to explore. Picnic, hike or just sit back and enjoy the fresh air and sounds of nature all around you.

Pro tip: Be sure to stop by the Visitor Center for information, educational exhibits, and free interpretive programs.

Choose something to choose

Nothing like fresh flowers and produce that you pick yourself. The Statesville area has many farms where you can harvest their seasonal offerings. Here are a few to help you get started:

Best restaurants in Statesville

You can find most national chains in Statesville, but you certainly don’t have to participate. Local restaurants of all kinds await to banish your cravings with everything from southern home fare to international fare, all served with a generous dash of love. And to go along with all that good food, the Statesville distillery and breweries await to quench your thirst.

Le Bristol Café & Restaurant

For classic southern cuisine with a twist, Bristol Café prepares a wide variety of mouth-watering dishes. Open Thursday through Sunday for breakfast, brunch, and lunch, this chic and casual restaurant is located in downtown Statesville. The popular combination of chicken and waffles gets a makeover with a crispy and sweet fried chicken breast marinated in tea topping a jalapeño bacon waffle. For breakfast, try one of the creative variations of Eggs Benedict. You can serve it with crab cake and spinach, prime rib and spinach served with oatmeal, or pork belly topped with collard greens and served on a cracker. Don’t worry, the poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce will always top the dish. If you have room, let yourself be tempted by the Tuxedo Bomb, a chocolate cake covered in a succulent white and chocolate mousse, covered with a chocolate ganache.

D’Laney Sports Bar

If you can’t bear to miss that all-important game, or just want good food in a lively atmosphere, D’Laney’s fits the bill. Try the Southern Comfort, a burger topped with chili, onions and coleslaw. D’Laney also serves brunch. Cali breakfast tacos — three chewy tacos filled with Cajun sausage, egg, peppermint melted cheese, avocado, and pico de gallo, served with sour cream — will keep you going for hours.

Mezzaluna II

If you’re in the mood for Italian, head to Mezzaluna II, a casual fine-dining establishment in the city center. Classic and innovative Italian dishes such as mussels al vino blanco, zuppa de pesce and a superb chicken marsala await you. If you’re lucky enough to have dinner on a night when shrimp and scallops in whiskey sauce is one of the specialties, don’t hesitate to order it. You won’t be sorry.

Pro tip: Mezzaluna offers vegetarian and vegan options, and you can enjoy live jazz events each month to accompany your meal.

Fourth Creek Brewing Co.

Statesville’s first brewery since Prohibition is a small, independent establishment that brews and serves local craft beer downtown. The welcome at Fourth Creek Brewing Co. is always warm, and the beer is always cold. Try Mrs. Mango, an IPA with a refreshing balance of bitter and sweet. Or you might prefer Black Dog, a light, dry Irish stout with subtle hints of coffee and chocolate. Fourth Creek also serves hard seltzers, ciders, craft cocktails, and wine. The brewery is open Wednesday through Sunday with alternating food trucks and live music on the weekends.

The entrance to the southern distillation.
Simon Lock / MyEclecticImages

Southern Distillation Society

For a change of pace, take a tour and taste at Southern Distilling Company, a family-owned distillery, one of the largest state-of-the-art distilleries in the Southeast. You’ll find it on I-77 at the I-40 junction. Here you can buy bourbons, rye whiskeys, fruit brandies and other ultra-premium products from Southern Distilling. Tours are offered daily. You will have the opportunity to see the fascinating process involved in the production of fine spirits. Afterwards, you can taste a few samples to help you decide which bottles you want to take home.

Best hotels in Statesville

The yellow bow tie

Treat yourself to a taste of luxury at Yellow Bow Tie, a three-bedroom boutique bed & breakfast located within walking distance of downtown Statesville. The beautifully appointed en-suite rooms have special touches such as down pillows, fluffy bathrobes and slippers, and personalized toiletries. Indoor and outdoor common areas invite guests to mingle and the sumptuous gourmet breakfast provides a great start to the day.

Pro tip: All bedrooms are located on the second floor and are accessible by climbing a flight of stairs.

Hilton Garden Inn

Located in a historic area of ​​Statesville, the Hilton Garden Inn is a modern 104-room hotel. Rooms are clean and comfortable, and amenities include free parking, Wi-Fi, a pool, 24-hour fitness center, and a free shuttle to nearby destinations.

Pro Tip: Any time of the year is a good time to visit Statesville, but spring and fall will give you the best weather and off-season prices.

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