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Light Up Downtown

Chritmas in Wilkes

Annual Light Up Downtown Celebration

Light Up DowntownLight Up Downtown is an annual celebration held in historic Downtown North Wilkesboro to usher in the holiday season. The celebration is kicked off with the lighting ceremony when the B Street Park Christmas Tree is light along with all of the holiday lights that line the town streets. Vendors gather from in and around the county to sell their goods on the streets as store owners stay open late to welcome in the crowds and to show off their holiday window displays. The celebration also features hay rides and dance performances and Santa!


Shopping at the festival…

There are always a few folks offering free snacks and drinks, while supplies lasts, but be sure to bring your wallet and a little cash. You are sure to find great holiday gifts in the shops or in any of the vendor booths. As you shop you may be tempted to buy a few goodies to eat. The smell of funnel cakes and fresh coffee are hard to resists. If you miss the festival don’t worry too much….you can enjoy shopping in Wilkesboro NC at any time of the year.


How to get there and where to park…

The festival is in the heart of Downtown North Wilkesboro and results in the closing of many of the streets, mainly Main St, 9th and 10th. The streets usually aren’t closed until about half an hour to an hour before the festivities. There is plenty of parking close to the festival most of which can be easily reached from the CBD Loop which borders the downtown area.

If you are coming from the east, I would advise you to take the NC Hwy 115 exit and turn right on 115. This will take you to NC 268, turn left on NC 268 and you will run right into the festival.

If you are coming from the west on US 421, take “421 Business” into the downtown area. This left turn is the next left after the Taco Bell. Business 421 will take you directly into the down town area. If you are tech savvy, just enter North Wilkesboro into whatever device you have and hit the road.


This years event is November 16 from 6pm-9pm.

Top 10 Things to Do in Wilkes


Recently we were asked what the top 10 things to do in Wilkes were.  We have put our heads together and come up with the list!  Below are the things we feel Wilkes does best.

1.  Local Shops.  Wilkes has some really great locally owned stores.  Each has such great character, wonderful owners, and speciality items you won”t find anywhere else.  A few of our personal favorites include; Cook”s Sporting Goods, Ivy Ridge Traditions, Quick Frame, and Gloria Sews.

2. Get Outside.  Located by a beautiful body of water, Wilkes residents have access to fishing, boating, hiking, mountain biking, and camping!  W. Kerr Scott Lake truly has something to offer for everyone.  Whether you want to drive out to the lake for a low key evening of watching the sunset on the water, or an extreme day of jet-skiing on the lake, you can do that here!  The lake also has 30 miles of mountain bike trails that can not only be used for biking, but hiking or trail running (just look out for mountain bikers!).


3.  Take in a Movie.  Wilkes is fortunate to have two theaters, both offering a different experience for movie-goers.  The Liberty is nestled in quant Downtown North Wilkesboro in an original downtown building.  The Liberty offers movie-goers a more traditional theater experience with two screens.  Two Rivers Cinemas is a brand new theater in Wilkesboro, with six movie screens and stadium seating.  Both have delicious popcorn, fizzy drinks, and candy available to munch on during your feature film.

4.  Visit a State Park.  Stone Mountain State Park is in the northeast part of the county and a huge tourist draw.  Visitors come from all over the state and country to hike, climb and camp at Stone Mountain.  Whether you are an avid climber or just a beginner level hiker, Stone Mountain has something for you!  Check out the link below for more info!

5.  Do a Tasting.  Wilkes is part of the Yadkin Valley, which is known for its” wonderful vineyards and wineries.  Visitors can check out the Yadkin Valley Wine Trail and pick and choose which ones sound the best to them.  Most vineyards have set hours for tastings and tours.  They also sell their wine by the bottle and case.

6.  Attend a Concert.  Due to the music history in this part of the state, Wilkes is known the “Heart of Folk”.  The last weekend of April brings a four day music festival to Wilkes known as MerleFest.  This festival is a tribute to Merle Watson and his father, Doc Watson. Americana and bluegrass music is the dominate genres to be heard at MerleFest, but there is truly a little bit of everything.  A new festival called Carolina In The Fall will begin in September 2015 and will be a celebration of the music, food and beverages of the region.  The festival will be hosted by The Kruger Brothers.  Music on Main is a concert series that features local and national bands once or twice a month.  This series features smaller shows at Talia Espresso in downtown North Wilkesboro, and bigger name bands at the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame at the Heritage Museum in Wilkesboro.

7.  Chow Down.  Most would assume since Wilkes is located in the south that we only have southern restaurants, but that is not the case!  We have Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Mexican, Italian, American, and several really great BBQ joints.  There are also several ice cream and frozen yogurt shops for those looking to satisfy their sweet tooth.  Check out the link below for local eateries:

8.  Appreciate the Visual Arts.  Wilkes is lucky to have a great art gallery featuring talented artists.  The art gallery also does wine & paint nights for the community.  These events are every 1st Thursday of the month and can also be scheduled for private groups on other nights.  The art gallery also does birthday parties, wedding receptions, and corporate events.

9.  Get Fit.  The Wilkes Family YMCA and the Wilkes Express YMCA have special classes available for individuals of all ages.  Whether you are interested in an intense pilates session or a beginner level swim class for kids, the Y has you covered.  There are leagues that also meet and play different team sports throughout the year.  Choose which activity sounds most like you and get active!

10.  Tie the Knot.  Wilkes is home to several beautiful wedding destinations.  It seems that the newest trend in weddings is to have an outdoor ceremony and if this sounds like what you are interested in, Wilkes has lots of options.  With everything from our local vineyards and wineries, to outdoor chapels and rustic barns, Wilkes has something to offer everyone!

Wilkes County Flea Market


Wilkes County Flea Market

(also known as the Cattle Sale)

Wilkes County Flea MarketIf you are visiting Wilkes you may hear many of the locals talking about going to the Monday Cattle Sale. What they are really talking about is not buying cattle but rather the flea market that occupies a large field near the actual Cattle Sale. The Wilkes County Flea Market has been going on for as long as I can remember. The Wilkes Monday Flea Market has all kinds of stuff from food and plants to antiques and live animals; sometimes you can even find pony rides and live music! This is a great place to find good deals on all things especially produce. I like to go early in the morning and stock up on my veggies for the week.

What to take:

  • Be sure to bring enough cash to get what you want. If you are making a larger purchase some of the vendors may be willing take a check.
  • Be prepared for the weather with sunscreen or an umbrella. Some of the vendors have booths and some setup tents but the market is mostly exposed to the elements be it rain or shine.
  • I have seen avid  shoppers equipped with tote bags and small carts. There is a lot to see and you may not want to carry your purchases in grocery bags as you walk (though you could always make a quick trip to the car)

How to get there and where to park:

The Wilkes County Flea Market is located on Orange Street, just before the VFW Campground in North Wilkesboro.

View Larger Map

Wilkes County Flea MarketOnce you are on Orange Street you can”t miss the market parking area.  Cars will be parked in a grassy lot alongside the gravel road.  Just pick a spot and remember where you parked.  If you are there on a very busy day you may need to park further away…possibly at the VFW.  The VFW will sometimes charge a small fee for parking in their lot but it goes to a good group of people and is well worth it.

The flea market itself is not immediately visible but you are sure to see people walking towards a row of tightly planted evergreens.  A small stream runs along one side of the market and you will cross one of two small footbridges to enter.  Then you can pick a direction and explore!

Don”t miss The Barn Yard Opry as you walk through the Wilkes County Flea Market!

Blue Ridge Parkway South

Anytime is a good time to visit the Blue Ridge Parkway 

Summer, Fall, Winter or Spring!

There are cooling waterfalls for hot summer days, leaves of all colors in the fall, mountains sparkling with snow and ice in the winter and wildflowers lining the road in the spring.  Once a year really isn”t enough to take in the beauty of the North Carolina mountains and with so much to do along the Blue Ridge Parkway you will find it hard to stay away.Blue Ridge Parkway

You may wonder… Why stay in Wilkes to visit the Blue Ridge Parkway?

There are many reasons.

  • Hotels in Wilkes are more affordable than those up the mountain and offer top notch amenities and wonderful service. If you are traveling during a peak season, or during a big game day at Appalachian State University in Boone, you may also find that there is less chaos at  the foot of the mountain.
  • The drive up the mountain is beautiful!  As you travel you can see how things transform. In the fall leaves can be seen at different stages of color transformation at the different elevations.   There are wide mountain views to the left and folks are often selling produce, honey and other goods along the route.
  • In the winter months weather can be a good reason for staying in Wilkes.  Although we are only a short drive away there can be a drastic contrast between the weather in Boone and the weather in Wilkes.  Unexpected snow and ice storms and strand travelers, make driving dangerous and close the parkway.  Staying in Wilkes will allow you time to sleep comfortably, knowing that a foot of snow in Boone may only result in a few inches in Wilkes.

How to get there

To the Blue Ridge Parkway from Wilkes

- 20 miles, 20 min title=”Blue Ridge Parkway 412″ alt=”Blue Ridge Parkway” src=”×223.jpg” width=”210″ height=”156″ />

  • Take Hwy 421 South from Wilkes towards Boone
  • Turn left onto the Pkwy ramp immediately after passing under large stone bridge.
  • Follow ramp to the Pkwy and turn right to follow the Pkwy South.


To Blowing Rock along parkway from Hwy 421

 - 20 miles, 30 minPlaces to see along the Blue Ridge Parkway

  • Exit Pkwy turning left onto Flat Top Road.
  • Keep left to follow ramp to Hwy 321/221.  Turn right on Hwy 321.
  • Exit Hwy 321 by turning left after Tanger Outlets heading into downtown.


To Tweetsie Railroad along parkway from Hwy 421 

- 18 miles, 30 minPlaces to see along the Blue Ridge Parkway

  • Exit Pkwy turning right going North towards Boone on 221/312.
  • Follow ramp to Hwy 321/221.  Turn right on Hwy 321 North.
  • You will clearly see Tweetsie Railroad on your left.



Shoppes on the Parkway/ Tanger Outlets along parkway from Hwy 421 Places to see along the Blue Ridge Parkway

-15 miles, 25 min

  • Exit Pkwy turning left onto Flat Top Road.
  • Keep left to follow ramp to Hwy 321/221.  Turn right on Hwy 321.
  • Turn left at light to Tanger Outlets.

To Grandfather Mountain along parkway from Hwy 421

- 25 miles, 45 minPlaces to see along the Blue Ridge Parkway

  • After crossing the Pkwy Viaduct be prepared to exit Parkway.
  • Turn left at milepost 305 to take Linville Exit towards Blowing Rock Road / US 221.
  • Take first left and turn right onto US 221 . Then follow signs to the park.

To Linville Caverns along parkway from Hwy 421

- 46 miles, 80 minPlaces to see along the Blue Ridge Parkway

  • Drive about 40 miles along Pkwy.
  • Exit by turning right onto ramp towards US 221 / Linville Falls.
  • Turn left onto US 221 and follow signs to caverns on the right.



To Linville Falls along parkway from Hwy 421

- 42 miles, 70 minPlaces to see along the Blue Ridge Parkway

  • Exit the Pkwy at mile Post 316.4 turning left.
  • Continue two miles to The Visitor Center.
  • Hike half a mile to the falls.


Visual Arts

Touring the Arts in Wilkes County

When people hear “Wilkes” they often think of MerleFest, The Brushy Mountains or W. Kerr Scott Lake but there is another attraction here, well known among Wilkes County locals and rapidly growing in size. Murals are coming to life in downtown, galleries are opening, and crafts, rooted in North Carolina heritage, are being preserved and shared. The visual arts are alive and well in Wilkes. Travelers are discovering that there is more here than nature and music, there is a feast for the eyes. Local craftsmen display and sell their goods throughout Wilkes, especially in the downtown areas, museums and galleries are welcoming travelers daily and murals and barn quilts are gracing the sides of many a building.

Local Crafts and Visual Arts

• Locally made custom jewelry can be found at Sisters.
Taupe Gallery represents 65 Northwestern N.C. craftsmen.
• Textiles are artfully stitched at Gloria Sews.
• Crafts and coffee come hand in hand at Talia.
• Stone Mountain Country Store has quilts, crafts, good eats and ice-cream.
• William Vance Nichols shares his paintings and skills at his studio in Melody Square.
• Royall”s Custom Framing and Fine Arts has paintings by local artists of many local places.
Southern Candle uses traditional artistry in producing their own hand crafted candles.

Permanent Museums, Galleries & Displays

• The Old Wilkes County Courthouse, built in 1902, is home to the Heritage Museum.
• Saint Paul”s Episcopal Church, built in 1848, features two frescoes by renowned artist, Ben Long.
• Historic log cabins at Whippoorwill Academy contain art by locals both young and old.
• The Wilkes Art Gallery, located in the old library, originally the North Wilkesboro Post Office, always has something new to see and sell.

Events like MerleFest and the Brushy Mountain Apple Festival allow craftsmen to gather annually while long time establishments such as Whippoorwill Academy, Wilkes Art Gallery, The Wilkes Heritage Museum and others, remain open throughout the year. With so much to see and learn, experiencing the arts in Wilkes is a must.


Visiting these establishments in Wilkes could become a vacation all its own.

We invite you to stay awhile and experience all that Wilkes has to offer.


Wilkesboro Open Air Market

Wilkesboro Open Air Market

“Come for the freshness and stay for the fun.”


Each year the Town of Wilkesboro opens its’ doors to consumers, farmers and artisans to buy and sell at the Wilkesboro Open Air Market. “Fresh from the farm” produce as well as handcrafted products will be available every Friday for some 5 months (depending on the harvest). The market is located on Main Street in downtown Wilkesboro in the parking lot adjacent to the “old Courthouse” which now houses the Wilkes Heritage Museum. Vendors start arriving early and they open for business at 4 pm and stay open until they sell out or 8pm, whichever comes first.

The Open Air Market offers a special event every third Friday…. called “Third Friday” J. During these events, the standard fare is available, but plan on some special things to be available. Additionally, local musicians will perform and there will be children’s activities available. The Heritage Museum will be open for tours during this time as well.


As with other downtown festivals, parking is somewhat limited, but thankfully is in adequate supply. Take your time and cruise the area and look for the local lots or on-street parking. The crowds are reasonable, so no worries. Enjoy the walk and do a little window shopping while you stroll. There is parking around the museum, beside Nanasan Restaurant, behind the restaurant and of course on the streets throughout the town.

Welcome to Small Town USA

Wilkesboro is the prototype small southern town filled with everything that makes small towns the place to be. The people are the nicest you will ever meet. The food is local “mom and pop” and tastes great. The service is excellent and you will be treated very well. The language is distinctly southern. Everybody will want to talk to you, if you are open to conversation. So enjoy the grits and grins and be sure to join right in. Toto, you are not in Kansas anymore.

My First Impression

I arrived early, maybe too early; many of the vendors were still setting up. The market was not crowded and no one seemed to be in a hurry. Leisurely chats were in order at every booth. I learned about each person, how they farmed or made their product and what they had to offer. I don’t remember any of this at Wal-Mart J. Great looking produce, sweet scented soaps, goat milk cheese, handmade this and that, all waiting to go home with me. I watched a local blacksmith work steel. I had a wonderful coffee from Talia Espresso and sampled several flavors of things that had never been in my mouth before. All very good!

In Closing

If it is Friday afternoon and the Wilkesboro Open Air Market is open and you are looking for a great little outing, drive downtown and enjoy the evening. No stress, no strain, just good friends with wonderful homegrown or homemade items for you to try and buy, if you wish. Wilkes is nationally known for its’ music and the Heritage Museum is home to the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame ( Be sure to check out those that have been enshrined in the Hall for their contributions to this regions music. “Third Friday” will feature some of the area’s finest musicians, many of which will likely one day find themselves remembered in the Hall. So, come on out and enjoy the music, food and fellowship, y’all will be glad you did.