Published by Christina Riley. Last Updated on February 25, 2024.
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
- 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!
Where is Kannapolis NC?
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.
- Davidson (25 Minutes Away)
- Mooresville (30 Minutes Away)
- Salisbury (30 Minutes Away)
- Lexington (40 Minutes Away)
- Lake Norman (45 Minutes Away)
- Lake Norman State Park (45 Minutes Away)
- Gastonia (50 Minutes Away)
- Statesville (50 Minutes Away)
- Asheboro (1 Hour 10 Minutes Away)
- Map of Things to Do in Concord and Cabarrus County
- Central North Carolina Map
- North Carolina Travel Map
The History of 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.
- Those universities are:
- Appalachian State
- NC A&T
- NC Central
- NC State
- UNC-Chapel Hill
Visiting Kannapolis Today
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.
Annual Events 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
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
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!
Atrium Health Ballpark
Address: 1 Cannon Baller Way, Kannapolis, NC
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
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
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.
The Gem Theatre
Address: 111 Laureate Way, Kannapolis, NC
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
The NC Music Hall of Fame was incorporated in 1994 to recognize, promote, and commemorate the musical heritage of North Carolina. The museum has been housed by Mike Curb’s Records and Motorsports Museum since 2009.
This museum is very accessible and modern-thinking, as they use QR codes to make it easier for visitors to learn more about each Inductee’s history and listen to their music.
Read More: Amazing Museums in North Carolina
The Slot Car Track
Address: 101A West Ave, Kannapolis, NC
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.
The Swanee Theatre
Address: 200 West Ave. Kannapolis, NC
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.
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.
Vietnam Veterans Park
Address: 760 Orphanage Road, Concord, NC
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
- Trails (see Carolina Thread Trail below)
- An 18-hole Mini-golf Course
- A 10-acre Lake
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.
- 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.
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
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?
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!)
Here are a few places to visit with things to do near Kannapolis:
- Carolina Thread Trail
- Cabarrus County
- Reed Gold Mine (Midland)
- Mount Pleasant
Carolina Thread Trail
Various Entry Points
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 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. And 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.
Reed Gold Mine
Address: 9621 Reed Mine Rd, Midland, NC
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!
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.
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.