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25+ Great Things to Do in Kannapolis (+ Shopping and Restaurants!)

Published by Christina Riley. Last Updated on June 12, 2024.

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Kannapolis, North Carolina, is a delightful small town in Cabarrus County that has recently undergone quite a bit of renovation. With an adorable, walkable downtown and great surroundings that include the NC Music Hall of Fame, there are so many things to do in Kannapolis NC!

Explore the boutique shops, enjoy fine local food and treats, and sit for a spell with some coffee or an NC beer. Either way, we think you’re going to enjoy all the fun things to do in downtown Kannapolis and nearby!

There is a lot to explore, so here’s how we’ve organized this guide:

  • Where is Kannapolis
  • The History of Kannapolis
  • Annual Events
  • Things to Do in Kannapolis NC This Weekend (and Throughout the Year!)
    • Downtown Kannapolis and Nearby
  • Restaurants
  • Breweries
  • Things to Do Near Kannapolis

Whether you’re a new resident, a frequent visitor, or a local, we’re leaving no detail behind. If you live in the Kannapolis area and are wondering, “What are the best things to do near me?” we think this NC travel guide will help you out! 

Read More: The Best Day Trips from Charlotte (Within a 90-Minute Drive)

Where is Kannapolis NC?

NCMap doton Kannapolis Image Credit Seth Ilys CC BY SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
The original uploader was Seth Ilys at English Wikipedia., CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Kannapolis, North Carolina is located in the south and center of North Carolina in Cabarrus County and Rowan County. It is northwest of Concord (20 Minutes Away) and Charlotte (35 Minutes Away) and southwest of Winston-Salem and Greensboro.

Including the cities mentioned above, Kannapolis is within a short drive from many of our favorite places to visit in Central NC, including:

Kannapolis is also within a day’s trip from Durham and Raleigh. If you’d like to plan your trip visually, check out the following maps created with Google Maps by NC Tripping:

The History of Kannapolis

Things to Do in Kannapolis

Even if you’re not a history aficionado, one of the first things to do in Kannapolis North Carolina is to understand its background. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • The town was founded in 1908 by JW Cannon, the owner of Cannon Manufacturing.
  • The company would later become the largest manufacturer of sheets and towels. Many of the buildings in Kannapolis started as textile mills and employee housing.
  • In 2004, the owner of Dole Food Company, David Murdock, bought the land and turned it into North Carolina Research Campus. This campus is home to eight universities that have teamed up to make breakthroughs in health and nutrition research.
Things to do in Kannapolis green space
  • Those universities are:
    • Appalachian State
    • Duke
    • NC A&T
    • NC Central
    • NC State
    • UNC-Chapel Hill
    • UNC-Charlotte
    • UNC-Greensboro

Read More: 125+ Important Facts About North Carolina You Should Know (History, Geography, and More!)

Visiting Kannapolis Today

downtown Things to do in Kannapolis

With the presence of this research campus, Kannapolis’s main business sectors are health, nutrition, science, and education. Kannapolis is also a family-oriented community emphasizing healthy, holistic lifestyles.

Its ideal location makes it easy to get to the mountains of Western North Carolina, the amazing beaches along our coast, and anywhere in between.

If you want to explore Kannapolis, you can drive here or even take a train to the city. There are quite a few hotels nearby, and you can check availability here.

Annual Events in Kannapolis

Cannonballers Things to do in Kannapolis

Before we share our favorite things to do in Kannapolis this weekend (and most of the year), here are some annual events and seasonal attractions to keep an eye out for:

  • Kannapolis Cannonballers Baseball (April to September): When visiting Kannapolis, you can’t miss watching a Minor League Baseball game featuring the town’s very own Cannon Ballers. Baseball goes back a long way in Kannapolis, but this team first arrived in 1995 as the Piedmont Phillies. Of course, you’ll want to see future White Sox and their rivals duke it out each spring and summer. You can see the Cannon Ballers’ entire season schedule and buy tickets here.
  • Jiggy with the Piggy Festival (May): The Jiggy with the Piggy Festival in Kannapolis is a wonderful event, with live music, a 5k walk (or run), a “People’s Choice Pork Tasting Contest,” fireworks, and more!
  • Kannapolis Farmers’ Market (May to September): Open on Thursdays from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., the Kannapolis Farmers’ Market (Dale Earnhardt Blvd &, Vance St, Kannapolis, NC) is an excellent way to finish your day.
  • Kannapolis Christmas Lights (mid-November and December): Village Park is one of our favorite places to visit in Kannapolis throughout the year. It’s also home to a truly special Kannapolis event—Christmas Lights! Though not as big as Speedway Christmas in Concord, we think you’ll enjoy the Christmas Lights at Village Park.

Read More: The NC Tripping Events Calendar

Things to Do in Kannapolis NC This Weekend (and All Year!)

Those events in Kannapolis are worthy of your calendar, but you can enjoy these places throughout the year!

  • Downtown Kannapolis
    • Shopping in Downtown Kannapolis
  • Atrium Health Ballpark
  • Curb Records and Motorsports Museum
  • Dale Earnhardt Plaza
  • The Gem Theatre
  • NC Music Hall of Fame
  • The Slot Car Track
  • The Swanee Theatre
  • Veterans Park
  • Vietnam Veterans Park
  • Village Park

Downtown Kannapolis

The first place we go is downtown Kannapolis. Thanks to revitalization efforts, West Avenue and its surroundings welcome visitors from all over to see what the buzz is about.

Shopping in Downtown Kannapolis 

Shopping in Kannapolis

Visiting the town’s nice and growing selection of boutique shops should be on anyone’s list of things to do in Kannapolis. Here are a few places to stop in, browse, and buy.

  • 3 Jems Boutique (147 West Ave, Kannapolis, NC): This boutique is owned by three sisters, Jenna, Emilee, and Meredith, where the name “Jem” comes from. 3 Jems reflects the three’s unique style by selecting tops, bottoms, dresses, shoes, rompers, and outerwear. The sisters are TikTok famous, too, in case you were wondering!
  • Adair (135 West Ave, Kannapolis, NC): Adair is a brick-and-mortar women’s clothing and accessories store with three locations throughout the town. Their pieces range from dresses and tops, shoes, masks, gift items such as candles, and other accessories.
  • Lennon Boutique (113A West Ave, Kannapolis, NC): Lennon Boutique offers clothing, jewelry, accessories, and home and gift items. Shop their online store or in-person location, and choose from all their new arrivals or popular items.
  • Lovely Lines (113A West Ave, Kannapolis, NC): Lovely Lines is a boutique in the heart of Kannapolis that caters specifically to sizes XL-3XL. It opened in 2017 as an online store that has since expanded into a brick-and-mortar building. Shoppers can choose from various items and even browse an “as seen on TikTok” section. While we’re mentioning TikTok accounts, you can also find NC Tripping there!

Read More: 10 Ways to Support Amazing Local Businesses in NC Today

Atrium Health Ballpark

Address: 1 Cannon Baller Way, Kannapolis, NC

Minor League Baseball in North Carolina Cannonballs

As we mentioned, you can watch the Kannapolis Cannonballers play from April to September in the beautiful Atrium Health Ballpark. However, the park doubles as a free public space when games aren’t happening.

Your kids can play on the playground and splash pad (when open) or walk the Atrium Health walking trail around the concourse. This is another reason why visiting Atrium Health Ballpark is one of our favorite things to do in downtown Kannapolis.

Curb Records and Motorsports Museum

Address: 600 Dale Earnhardt Blvd, Kannapolis, NC
Website

Things to do in Kannapolis Curb Motorsports

The Curb Motorsports Museum for Music and Motorsports exhibits are spread over 20,000 square feet in the same building where you’ll find the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame.

Owned by Mike Curb, a musician, record executive, politician, and motorsports car owner, the museum mixes his love for NASCAR with his record label, Curb. The museum on Dale Earnhardt Boulevard features NASCAR, Indy, modified race cars, and images of famous artists from his record label.

From viewing Dale Earnhardt’s #2 car that won him his first Winston Cup Championship to gold record awards and autographed posters, there are many things to explore here.

Read More: 20+ Awesome Museums in Charlotte and Nearby!

Dale Earnhardt Plaza

Address: 164 S Main St, Kannapolis, NC

Dale Trail Things to do in Kannapolis

Speaking of Dale Earnhardt Sr., the legendary driver was from Kannapolis and his memory and legacy will hopefully never fade.

Dale Earnhardt Tribute Plaza is one way to keep him fresh on people’s minds and we approve. The plaza includes a 9-foot, 900-pound statue of Dale Earnhardt Sr.

Read More: Delicious Restaurants in Mooresville and Nearby (Prepare for a Food Coma!)

The Gem Theatre

Address: 111 Laureate Way, Kannapolis, NC
Website

The Gem theatre Kannapolis NC Photo by NC Tripping

The Gem Theatre originally opened on December 31, 1936, and has been “The Showplace of Kannapolis“ ever since. The Kannapolis attraction has overcome a destructive fire in 1942 and continues as a first-run, single-screen historic movie theater.

Just thinking about the Art Deco building and its neon sign shining brightly above the marquee has us eager for our next movie there.

Read More: Movies Filmed in North Carolina

NC Music Hall of Fame

Address: 600 Dale Earnhardt Blvd, Kannapolis, NC
Website

The NC Music Hall of Fame was incorporated in 1994 to recognize, promote, and commemorate North Carolina’s musical heritage. Since 2009, Mike Curb’s Records and Motorsports Museum has housed the museum.

This museum is very accessible and modern-thinking. It uses QR codes to make it easier for visitors to learn more about each Inductee’s history and listen to their music.

New inductees are honored and added every year in a ceremony that is open to the public!

Read More: Amazing Museums in North Carolina

The Slot Car Track

Address: 101A West Ave, Kannapolis, NC
Website

The Slot Car Track Kannapolis NC Photo by NC Tripping

This raceway and hobby shop brings out the nostalgia in us and excitement in our little ones’ eyes. Bring your own (kudos!) or rent a car and controller for hours of racing fun at the Slot Car Track.

We like going with our kids and friends but the Slot Car Track and Trackside Bar is also great for groups and events.

Read More: Fun Things to Do in Wilkesboro (+ North Wilkesboro and Nearby!)

The Swanee Theatre

Address: 200 West Ave. Kannapolis, NC
Website

Things to Do in Kannapolis NC Swanee Theatre Photo by NC Tripping

The 1930s live large in Kannapolis, thanks to the Gem and the Swanee Theatre. Remodeled to its original glory, the Swanee Theatre hosts music and events and is a great place to catch a show.

Veterans Park

Address: 119 N Main St, Kannapolis, NC
Kannapolis Parks Website

Veterans Park honors those who’ve served and also serves as a great spot for concerts and events in Kannapolis. The Ring of Honor here displays more than 1,700 names of soldiers from Rowan and Cabarrus counties, going all the way back to the Revolutionary War.

Read More: How to Visit Lejeune Memorial Gardens in Jacksonville (+ 5 Powerful Monuments)

Vietnam Veterans Park

Address: 760 Orphanage Road, Concord, NC

Vietnam Veterans Park Kannapolis NC Photo by NC Tripping

The address says “Concord” but Vietnam Veterans Park (formerly North Cabarrus Park) is in southern Kannapolis. Cabarrus County operates this 90-acre park and includes tons of fun, including:

  • Soccer Complex
  • Tennis Courts
  • Picnic Areas
  • Playgrounds
  • Trails (see Carolina Thread Trail below)
  • An 18-hole Mini-golf Course
  • A 10-acre Lake

Village Park

Address: 700 W C Street, Kannapolis, NC
Kannapolis Parks Website

Village Park is a one-stop-shop for some of the best things to do in Kannapolis NC. They have activities for all ages, from the general park to many more specialized attractions.

The park provides numerous shelters that can be rented out for gatherings and an indoor event center. There is a playground, carousel ($), rotary train ($), and splash pad ($).

Many events in Kannapolis NC are also hosted in Village Park’s amphitheater.

Where to Eat in Kannapolis NC (Restaurants)

With all these fun things to do in Kannapolis, you’re going to get hungry. Here are some of our favorite restaurants in the area.

Things to do in Kannapolis Chophouse 101
  • Chophouse 101 (101 West Ave, Kannapolis, NC): Chophouse 101 is the restaurant of Hot Tamales food truck owner Carlos Hernandez. The restaurant offers a steak-forward menu, offering salads and sides, too. Chophouse 101 also serves local Old Armor beer and source some of their meat local to Cabarrus County.
  • What-a-Burger #10 (926 S. Main St, Kannapolis, NC): For those local to Cabarrus County, take a trip down memory lane with a visit to What-a-Burger #10. Be prepared to pay with cash as they do not take credit/debit cards. Make sure to try their specialty drink, “The Witch Doctor,” a combination of all the soda fountain flavors and pickle slices.
  • My Sister’s Place (111 #5 West Ave, Kannapolis, NC): My Sister’s Place is a recent addition to downtown Kannapolis. Two sisters opened the shop in 2020 and offer some of the best homemade ice cream and fudge in the area!
  • Eat Cakes Bakery (141 West Ave, Kannapolis, NC): Eat Cakes Bakery offers many different sweets to satisfy any craving. Their baked goods range from bread, cupcakes, cheesecakes, cinnamon rolls, and more! They make sweet treats for your furry friends, too!
  • Local Patriot Roasting Company (139 West Ave, Kannapolis, NC): Local Patriot Roasting Company is a patriot- and veteran-owned coffee shop and the first coffee roastery in Kannapolis. They have quickly become a pillar of the community, giving back to the town and offering the option to “Pay It Forward” for first responders, heroes, and military service members.

Read More: The Best Restaurants in Concord and Cabarrus County

Drink Craft Beer in Kannapolis

Of course, you can’t leave out craft beer when discussing things to do in Kannapolis this weekend. Here’s a closer look at an amazing veteran-run brewery.

Old Armor Beer Company

Address: 211 West Ave, Kannapolis, NC
Website

Things to do in Kannapolis old armor brewing

Old Armor Beer Company is a unique brewery owned and operated by combat veterans who have served overseas. They give back every way they can and have 12 unique brews specially created to give back to different charitable foundations.

There is also a “Pay It Forward” Board, allowing guests to buy a beer for a veteran or first responder.

Read More: The Best North Carolina Breweries

Ready to Enjoy these Fun Things to Do in Kannapolis NC?

Downtown Kannapolis

With an adorable downtown, a great baseball park, and plenty of unique boutique shops, Kannapolis is an incredible place to explore! We encourage you to take a day (or more!) to really get to know the atmosphere of Cabarrus County and all the things to do in Kannapolis!

Have you recently visited this wonderful town? We’d love to know about your favorite things to do in Kannapolis and its surroundings.

Let us know in the comments and remember to share your NC adventures in our North Carolina Travel Facebook Group!

Things to Do Near Kannapolis NC (Concord, Salisbury, and More!)

Kannapolis is in a sweet spot in Central NC. It’s surrounded by Concord and Charlotte to the south, Greensboro and Winston-Salem to the north, and quite a few more places in between.

Here are a few places to visit with things to do near Kannapolis:

  • Carolina Thread Trail
  • Cabarrus County
    • Concord
    • Reed Gold Mine (Midland)
    • Mount Pleasant
  • Salisbury

Carolina Thread Trail

Various Entry Points
Website

Things to Do in Concord NC Irish Buffalo Creek Greenway Kannapolis

The Carolina Thread Trail runs through 15 counties between North and South Carolina, including Cabarrus County and Kannapolis.

There are hiking trails and bike paths, which you can find here. Of them all, one of our favorites is Irish Buffalo Creek Greenway in Kannapolis.

It’s currently 2.7 miles and connects Bakers Creek Park, Safrit Park and Vietnam Veterans Park. The Thread Trail continues to grow, thanks to the tireless efforts of the people behind it.

Read More: The Best Hiking Trails in North Carolina

Concord

Things to Do in Concord NC Avett Brothers Mural Downtown

Concord is the Cabarrus County seat, largely known as the home of Charlotte Motor Speedway and zMax Dragway. People come from all over to catch races throughout most of the year.

Of course, Speedway Christmas is the perfect way to ring in the holidays!

More family-friendly attractions include Great Wolf Lodge Water Park and SEA LIFE. Then, when you want to get outside for a bit, check out the paths and scenery at Frank Liske PArk, Irish Buffalo Creek Greenway, and the historic Reed Gold Mine.

For lovers of craft beer, head over to Cabarrus Brewing. It’s one of many great breweries in the area.

Reed Gold Mine

Address: 9621 Reed Mine Rd, Midland, NC
Website

Facts About North Carolina Reed Gold Mine Cabarrus County NC Gold Rush
Reed Gold Mine in Cabarrus County.

Head to Midland and you’ll find Reed Gold Mine, which is the site of America’s first documented commercial gold find. Today, there’s a visitor’s center with exhibits documenting the gold rush’s history and displaying mining equipment. 

Outside, portions of the Reed Mine’s underground tunnels are open for you to explore.

And for just a few dollars, you can pan for gold. If you’re lucky, you might just take something shiny home! 

Read More: Amazing Things to Do in Marion (and McDowell County)

Mount Pleasant

Small Towns in North Carolina Mount Pleasant Southern Grace Distilleries North Carolina Bottle During Tasting

Mount Pleasant sits in Eastern Cabarrus County and NC Highway 73 runs through it. It’s also the hometown of NC Hall of Fame inductees The Avett Brothers.

We visited a couple of places here and look forward to coming back and seeing what pops up next. 

  • 73 and Main: If you’re looking for something to eat in Mount Pleasant, look no further than 73 and Main. The first thing to catch your eye is the interior, as this restaurant sits inside a former hosiery mill. The focus and work to remain faithful to the early 20th century-era code are only a part of what makes this place such a special one.
  • Southern Grace Distilleries: We looked forward to visiting Southern Grace Distilleries for so long and the tour lived up to the hype. I really don’t want to spoil much for you, but if you’re interested in learning about award-winning spirits inside a former prison, visit this distillery. The tour and kind people behind Southern Grace impressed us on so many levels.

Read More: Spirit-Filled North Carolina Distilleries, Liquor History, and What to Sip!

Salisbury

NC Transporation Museum nearby Salisbury

Salisbury is on the Rowan County side of Kannapolis , a charming town that’s the home of Cheerwine and Food Lion.

If you’re lucky enough to visit during May, you can celebrate all things cherry-flavored during the annual Cheerwine Festival. Throughout the year, the town’s five historic districts are really fun to explore.

Just a few miles down the road from Salisbury is the NC Transportation Museum in Spencer. The entire family is guaranteed to love this place!

More Things to Do in Kannapolis NC (Travel Guides)

We’ve featured many of these things to do in Kannapolis NC and nearby in our vast collection of North Carolina travel guides. Here are a few of them.

3 thoughts on “25+ Great Things to Do in Kannapolis (+ Shopping and Restaurants!)”

  1. We love James’ Sweet Spot a family owned and run nostalgia candy, jigsaw puzzles, and board game store! It’s located in the Shops on West Ave. in downtown Kannapolis, NC. Y’all should really check this cute store out!! It has tons of nostalgic candy and everyday candy, hundreds of different jigsaw puzzles, board games new and old, funny greeting cards, and a wide selection of glass bottled sodas. It’s super fun and cute and takes you back to your childhood!

    Reply
      • This is such a wonderful article. We have had a shop here for going on 3 years. Love watching the growth and we love being a part of the town. Come back soon, even more change has happened!

        Sweetest Beginnings (now in 135 West Avenue)

        Reply

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