Staying Dry In Nature’s Playground: Burke County

Burke County, NC
May 2024

April showers bring May flowers or so the quote goes– to create the beautiful green landscapes of Nature’s Playground, rain is necessary, but if you get caught in Burke County in the rain, have no fear! There is still much to visit and explore while staying dry. 

Burke County has been at the forefront of a lot of history, from the Spanish exploration, the Revolutionary War, Civil War, Moonshining, Industrial Revolution to today. The History Museum of Burke County is open 10am to 4pm Tuesday through Friday and 10am to 2pm on Saturdays.  Upon arrival at this free museum, you will meet with a docent who will take you through the museum. You may decline the docent if you wish but we recommend going with them to learn the stories that aren’t on the display cards. In addition to the History Museum there is also the Historic Burke County Courthouse two blocks up the road in Morganton. Although smaller, it is neat to get to see a part of living history, the courtroom where Morganton native and Watergate senator Sam Ervin tried law, as well as the State Supreme Court, who still tries cases  in this historic building every few years. It is the home of the historical society and a great little gift shop. Lastly, we highly recommend the Waldensian History Museum in Valdese.  This indoor museum highlights the Waldensian people that escaped religious persecution in Italy and created the town of Valdese. Each of these museums are sure to fill your time and give you something tangible to take back with you: knowledge!

If you are trying to stay active even in the rain, two great indoor activities are Indoor Rock Climbing and Yoga.  Bigfoot Climbing Gym is located just minutes from downtown Morganton and offers a unique total climbing experience for the whole family.  The gym is open 7 days a week starting at 11am and is a great way to get pent up energy out while staying inside. Your pass is good for the full day so if you want to leave to grab a bite to eat (or bring your food back with you) you can.  If you want something a little more relaxed to match the weather, Breathe Yoga studio in downtown Morganton does classes all day ranging from beginner to advanced yoga, pilates, sound bathing (don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it) and more. Classes can be purchased individually or in a punch card for a discounted price.

Once you have gotten your work out in or experienced some zen, we recommend checking out some of the local shops. Morganton General Store is a veteran owned business that is great to explore.  Their merchandise ranges from clothes, to games, to food and everything in between. We like to wander around while drinking a cup of coffee from their restaurant upstairs, Swedes Cafe. If Vintage is more your thing, check out Viva La Vintage, the newest shop in downtown Morganton that features vintage clothing, records, movies and more.

There are many other great shops in downtown Morganton and Valdese worth spending the day perusing. 

We hope this helps make the most of your rainy day in Burke County!  Rain or shine, Nature’s Playground is here to explore!

The Burke County Tourism Development Authority is located in Morganton, North Carolina, and serves the tourism interests of Burke County, NC.  Morganton is hailed as, “The Trailhead of Western North Carolina”, centrally located in Burke County. Our Visitor’s Center is full of information about unique attractions and activities in the area. Stop by and visit us! or visit

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