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With the motto “where racing lives,” you’ll be surprised at how much there is to do in Concord, North Carolina. While racing permeates everything in the county, there is a rich and proud history that is alive and well. Concord has found a way to forge its own path in the present as an up and coming destination. Cabarrus County hosted the Travel Media Showcase in 2017, bringing representatives of destinations and travel writers from all over the world. There are a million reasons to visit Cabarrus and here are a few of the things to do in Concord NC.
Top Things to Do in Concord NC in a Weekend
A fan of racing? Concord is a natural destination! Many racing teams are based here in Concord or have their repair shops here. A full list of racing shops is available here. Having only a weekend in town, I focused on visiting the two largest and free to tour facilities.
4400 Papa Joe Hendrick Blvd, Charlotte – Website
Even though I knew that Hendrick Motorsports was a large organization (I purchased my Toyota at a Hendrick dealership), I never realized HOW big it really is. Driving onto the campus, a sign informs visitors to tune to an FM station. A loop gives details about the facility and what you can expect to see. Pit crews can be seen competing against each other, but only if you visit on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Want a backstage tour? Make friends with one of the sponsor companies to go into the shop.
Meanwhile, the shop itself is ah.ma.zing. Even for a non-fan like me, the cars on display were impressive. Race cars, memorabilia, and trophies are on display at the Museum and Team Store. You’ll even see tires and other car parts used in competition.
Roush Fenway Racing
4202 Roush Place, Concord – Website
Starting my exploration at Roush Fenway Racing was a natural starting point. Pit crews practice on campus – call ahead to find out which days of the week. If live demonstrations are not available, you can watch a video in the 100-seat theater. Winning cars, trophies and memorabilia are on display. You can learn a lot about racing from this museum.
NASCAR Racing at Charlotte Speedway
My first trip to Charlotte, over ten years ago, was as a spectator at the Bank of America 500, a NASCAR Race. The NASCAR building nearby houses the facilities where cars have to be approved for racing. While there are no specific tours, a fan might like to stop by for a photo-op.
Prefer something a little dirtier? Check out our full post on things to know if you’re attending the World of Outlaws World Finals. At the end of October every year, three days of action-packed dirt racing on the four-tenths oval culminates with the crowing of the series champions for The World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series, the World of Outlaws Late Model Series, and the Big-Block Modifieds of the Super DIRTcar Series. Find out more about this experience here.
Pints & Picking
The Depot at Gibson Mill
325 McGill Avenue NW, Concord – Website
Browse 88,000 square feet of antiques. Aisle after aisle is bursting with all kinds of unusual items. We saw historic scales by Toledo, collector Coke bottles, and amazing repurposed furniture from old stores and homes. I even found an inspiration piece for my next logo. This is a great place to purchase an unusual and unique gift for someone. If you’re into “what is old is new again,” then this is the spot for you.
Cabarrus Brewing Company
329 McGill Avenue NW, Concord – Website
The largest of the five local brewing companies, stop by Cabarrus Brewing Company to enjoy a cool refreshment after looking through the rows of goods at the Depot. Enjoy live music on Friday nights. During the warmer months, try a delicacy from one of the food trucks.
High Branch Brewing Company
325 McGill Avenue NW, Concord – Website
The oldest of the five local breweries, High Branch is also located in the old Gibson Mill building. With wooden pallets on the walls, the rustic decor fits perfectly into the theme of this place. Their beers feature local products and they have the friendliest bartenders. A patio area allows your four-legged companion to keep you company while you sip a delicious brew.
Things to Do in Concord NC: Explore Historic Downtown
A charming town in North Carolina, Concord was founded on a twenty-six-acre plot of land back in 1796 and was incorporated in 1806. Strolling down Union Street, plaques commemorate the town’s proud history. Did you know that Concord won an All-America City Award in 2004? Or that it has one of the fastest-growing economies in the U.S.? And the name Concord, meaning harmony, aptly describes this town where old and new coexist.
Historic Walking Tour
This is the only small town I’ve ever visited with a self-guided walking tour on an app. You can download a Downtown Concord, NC app for your phone. As you walk past each building, beacons activate through Bluetooth and your phone shows the story of over 50 historic sites. I was amazed at the number of buildings with the Historic Landmark designation. See beautiful homes and Concord landmarks that are an important part of North Carolina’s architectural legacy while learning about the stories and locals associated with them.
70 Union Street N., Concord – Website
Need a spot for some quiet reflection? The First Presbyterian church maintains beautiful memorial gardens worthy of a visit. Stone paths wind through the church’s beautiful 200-year-old cemetery. I’ve mentioned before that my mother has always loved visiting cemeteries and I’m starting to appreciate them as I grow wiser.
The Bead Lady
1 Union Street North, Concord – Website
The most surprising local business! Owned by Kathleen Reeder, she patiently guided me through making my own necklace. If you’re a bride, her store is amazing and after visiting, it’s clear why brides fly in from all over the country. Recently, they started preserving bouquets from funerals as well as weddings. You can find more information on their website. Even if you’re not into making jewelry (I wasn’t but it was so fun), you’ll find locally made items both in jewelry and other local products, so worth a visit. It is easy to see why The Bead Lady graced the cover of the local visitors’ guide last year.
126 E. Innes Street, Concord – Website
This curated gift shop sells charming local goods. Offering workshops and classes, this shop is a great place to host parties as well. What could be better than getting together with some friends and making a craft or decoration for your home or to give?
Union Street Market
10 Union Street North, Concord – Website
Need a snack while walking downtown? Looking for a local delicacy to take home as a memento of your visit? Union Street Market opened its doors in July 2018, serving the downtown area. Located on the ground floor of the historic Hotel Concord downtown, it is convenient for a quick cup of coffee or other local treats. Forgot your toothbrush? Need another everyday item? Chances are that you don’t need to get back in your car, just walk on down and enjoy the friendly customer service.
Red Hill Brewing
21 Union Street South, Concord – Website
Smallest brewery in the county that makes all their beer one batch at a time. Their hashtag #goodbeerforgoodpeople fits them to a tee because they support local businesses and people, giving a sense of community. The other unique feature is that this brewery is housed in the same building as the local Crossfit box and Cabarrus Creamery (ice cream store). Because you can sweat, then drink a cold one, and reward yourself with a delicious ice cream! My favorite neighborhood brewery of all the ones we visited.
Things to Do in Concord NC: Taste the Local Flavors
Jim n Nics
7791 Gateway Lane NW, Concord – Website
I’ve stopped several times at exit 49 off I-85 and never realized that this local gem was located here among all the chain restaurants, and directly across from the Holiday Inn where we spent our weekend. If you’re looking for a locally owned barbecue place, you’ve got to try Jim n Nics. At my server’s suggestion, I ordered the beef brisket platter and substituted fried green tomatoes instead of the fries (I love Southern cuisine!). While I waited for my food, a basket of of cheesy biscuits was served. I intended to pass on them, but I couldn’t once I tried them! Plus they serve local beers. Worth a stop if you’re driving by on I-85.
Havana Carolina Restaurant and Bar
1 Union Street South, Suite 108, Concord – Website
A Cuban restaurant in Concord, North Carolina? Why not? This family-owned business is as authentic and proud as they come. The menu features family recipes and staples of Cuban cuisine. While having our lunch here, we saw not only see several patrons come in, but others who also came to pick up orders. We both enjoyed a delicious and inexpensive lunch special. Plus I’m a sucker for a Cuban coffee.
Food Truck Fridays
During warmer months, visit Food Truck Fridays at Gibson Mill. Located on the back outside of Cabarrus Brewing Company and High Branch Brewing Company, you’ll easily find eight food trucks at a time. As a fan of food trucks and beer, we were thrilled that we got to experience the last one of the season. So note to self – Food Truck Fridays stop at the beginning of November. Here’s hoping warmer weather comes back soon!
8680 Concord Mills Blvd, Suite 10, Concord – Website
This place was highly suggested as a breakfast place. We’re not really breakfast people, so I wasn’t sure that I would make it. But on Sunday, before we left, after a lazy Sunday morning, we decided it would be worth having brunch. Am I glad we did! We waited half an hour to be seated, which apparently was a very slow day as Sunday waits often take around 2 hours. If you’re not a breakfast person, you can choose from a variety of sandwiches. But this place is only open until 2 pm, and based on the traffic we saw going in and out, there is a reason why it is so popular. Worth the visit!
As we were leaving the downtown area, I spotted the Oasis Shriners Parade. As we walked over to Red Hill Brewing earlier, we saw the winners of that morning’s 10K receiving their medals. And we really shouldn’t have been surprised by all the goings-on in town. A quick peek at Concord Downtown’s calendar of events shows that there is always something going on! Time your visit with a fun event.
Commoners Brewing Company
1048 Copperfield Blvd, Suite 101, Concord – Website
“Become part of the story” and enjoy a brew and the sunset from the upstairs balcony. Just about everything in this brewery is repurposed from old furnishings – look at these old hinges that make up the legs on the beer flight board.
While our visit to Cabarrus County was sponsored by Cabarrus County Convention & Visitors Bureau, all opinions are our own.
Annick, The Common Traveler