Driving in Hickory is quite easy, although the remaining one-way streets and eclectic street naming conventions can be somewhat bewildering. If you get lost, just ask a local and say you're from out of town. They'll refrain from an age-old Hickory tradition of giving directions based on where things "used to be".
The main throughfares in Hickory are Interstate 40, U.S. 70, and U.S. 321.
Hickory Museum of Art, . Although American art was almost unrecognized outside of New York and Philadelphia in 1943, the North Carolina city of Hickory set out to establish a museum of American art. Located on Hickory, NC’s SALT Block (Sciences, Art, Literature Together), Hickory took the lead in the Southeast as being the first city to establish a museum of American art. Among the artists represented in the HMA collection are names such as Gilbert Stuart, Thomas Cole, Asher B. Durand, J. Fredrick Kensett, William Merritt Chase, Worthington Whittredge, F. Ballard Williams, Eanger Irving Couse, Elliot Daingerfield, Anna Hyatt Huntington, Hobart Nichols, Albert T. Bricher, Edward Potthast, and many others. Closed Mondays. Free admission.
Catawba Science Center, . Explore the Physical and Natural Sciences. Interesting traveling exhibits rotate throughout the year. In October '08 Catawba Science Center expanded to include a planetarium and aquaria with touch tanks where you an touch creatures such as live sharks and rays. Located on Hickory, NC’s SALT Block (Sciences, Art, Literature Together), in the Arts & Science Center of Catawba Valley, CSC also provides a variety of educational movies (in their digital planetarium and fun programming for school groups, children, families, adults, homeschoolers, preschoolers, scouts and other community groups. The Science Emporium gift shop stocks educational toys and gifts that enhance the museum experience. Closed Mondays. Adults: $5, Ages 3-16 $3, Ages 0-3 free.
Hickory Motor Speedway, . NASCAR short track. It is the oldest professional sporting venue in Catawba County, and the oldest continually operating motor speedway in the country with over 53 seasons. Three fully equipped concession stands, a souvenir stand, six large restroom areas, and three enclosed air-conditioned hospitality suites. Also contains a game room, and kids' fenced-in play area with a climbing gym & swings, and RV parking is available. Adults, $10.
Hickory Crawdads Minor League Baseball, . As American as, well, baseball! Always good fun, and the Crawdads usually win, too! Try the Crawdad Red Ale at the Crawdad Cafe. (Take I-40 to exit 123 North (Hwy 321 Lenoir/Airport). Travel to fifth stoplight and turn left onto Clement Blv., NW. L.P. Frans Stadium is 1/2 mile up to the right). $6-12.
Carmike 14, on Catawba Boulevard behind the mall. First-run movies. $7.50 for adults.
Marquee Mimosa 7, excellent first-run theatre in downtown Morganton (I-40W from Hickory to NC-18 N/W - 25 minutes). $7 for adults. Less hectic than the Crown or the Carmike with friendlier people and cheaper concessions.
Carolina, downtown with two screens and daily $2 showings. A local favorite with ultra-affordable concessions and reclining seats with cupholders. Located in a seemingly ancient theatre downtown near the Wachovia building.
Furniture. Take I-85S to US-321N for excellent furniture shopping at a host of furniture outlets as well as the Hickory Furniture Mart  (huge) and the Catawba Furniture Mall  (quieter and less expensive).
Valley Hills Mall, . Regional center for shopping. Dillard's, Belk, JC Penney, Sears. Gap, Limited, Lerner, Ambercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle, Aeropostale, Bath and Body Works, etc.
Hickory Ridge Shopping Center. On Catawba Valley Boulevard (behind the Valley Hills Mall). Target, Best Buy, Hallmark, Marshalls, Kohl's, Old Navy, AC Moore Crafts, Babies R Us, Pier 1 Imports.
McGuire's Pub. Daily food and beer specials. Excellent array of interesting sandwiches. Booths offer excellent privacy in a relaxed atmosphere. Best onion rings in town and the home fries are to die for. The Fitzgerald sandwich is especially good. Stay away if you're truly pressed for time. Downtown across from Bank of Granite. $6-12.
Longhorn Streakhouse. US-70 near Home Depot. $9-20.
Jersey Mikes Subs. Two locations. US-70 at the intersection with McDonald Parkway (I-40 exit 126) near Barnes and Noble. Second location: NC-127N in the Belle Hollow shopping center beside Harris Teeter. $5-7.
Cafe Gouda. Eclectic sandwiches with a more casual and sophisticated air. Sandwiches, mostly. Try the Gouda Delite. Open for breakfast. Lattes and coffee drinks available. NC-127N in the Belle Hollow shopping center near Harris Teeter. $7-12.
Backstreets. On the backstreets of Hickory near Hickory High School and the Bank of Granite Building is Backstreets. A little pricey but has an excellent selection of beer and some great food options. Good lighting and a relaxed atmosphere. Daily specials. $9-15.
Olde Hickory Taproom.[http:www.oldehickorytaproom.com] The restaurant front for Olde Hickory Brewery offers seasonal ales and beers as well as the local favorites OHB is known for. The food and service here is "just" pretty good, but everyone keeps coming back for more. Must be the beer! Try the dessert special. A limited menu is offered late into the night. $8-18.
Amos Howard's. Also owned by Olde Hickory Brewery. West on Highway 70, just out of town. Food and service are on par with the Olde Hickory Taproom. Has giant beer barrels that you can eat in. $7-12
Tia's Asian Cuisine. Best Thai in town and the least expensive. Looks a little run-down on the outside, but nice once you're inside. In a small shopping center on Springs Road. From town, go past St. Stephen's Lutheran, and Tia's is a little farther on your right. It's before the intersection with 29th Avenue NE (future McDonald Parkway). $9-13.
Thai Orchid. Good Thai. Very easy to find. Hickory Ridge Shopping Center on Catawba Vallege Boulevard (behind the mall in the same shopping center as Best Buy). $10-15.
Tony's Pizza. Best pizza in town. Very easy to find. Hickory Ridge Shopping Center on Catawba Valley Boulevard (behind the mall in the same shopping center as Best Buy). $13 for a 19" cheese.
1859 Cafe. 443 2nd Avenue Southwest, . Turn right off Hwy. 70 West at 9th Street SW, between Mister Omelette and Furniture Outlet. Turn right at the 2nd light. (2nd Ave. SW) Travel 3/4 mile. Located right beside Wilson Florist. Enjoy the original music of Ulysses Long or request your favorite tune every Saturday night at 8PM. Relax and listen at your table or gather around the bar. Either way you will welcome the soothing music of Ulysses while dining, or for after dinner relaxation". It has been described as "Casually Elegant." Entrees are $15-$24.50.
Sgt. Peppers, . NC-127N across from Hobby Lobby. Great food, good service and atmosphere. Huge bar and live music every weekend. $9-15.
Wild Wok, . Located in southeast corner of the Valley Hills Mall parking lot, off of Highway 70. Asian bistro with Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and sushi. Very good food with good service. $9-12.
The Hickory Tavern, 2982 N Center Street. Hickory, NC 28601 (http://maps.google.com/maps?q=2982+N.+Center+St.,+Hickory,+NC+28601&spn=0.020574,0.082028&iwloc=A&hl=en), ☎ 828-322-2699, . Monday - Sunday: 11:30AM - 2:00AM. shrimp specials on Wednesdays, and oyster specials on Thursdays. very, seafood, steak, appetizers, and sandwiches.edit
If you want to buy liquor by the bottle you must do it at state-run ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Commission) stores rather than at a traditional liquor store. Beer and wine are available for purchase at most markets, grocery stores and gas stations. The alcohol laws of North Carolina prohibit the sale of alcohol after 2AM Monday through Saturday, and from 2AM until noon on Sundays.
Given Hickory's German heritage and heavy Lutheran influences, it's no surprise that beer is easy to find and fun to ingest among friends in Hickory.
Blowing Rock, NC. Beautiful town in the mountains. Great park downtown. Get some ice cream across the street, enjoy the breeze, and read a book. US-321N.
Blue Ridge Parkway. Junction is just north of Blowing Rock. US-321N.
Cone Manor. Crafts, information, and easy trails. The 3 mile jaunt to the lookout tower doesn't take much time and is worth the walk. Go south on the blue ridge parkway. Signed as a "Craft Center."
Charlotte, NC. Largest city in NC with lots of things to do. Take US-321S to I-85N.
Linville Gorge Wilderness. Serious hikers only. Pristine wilderness in the rugged, untamed Linville Gorge. I-40W to NC-18N/W to NC-181 to NC-183. Permits required for overnights during the peak months. Stay away from Cabin Trail and Rock Jock.
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