Kannapolis Travel Guide

Explore the best of Kannapolis, North Carolina with this comprehensive travel guide featuring top tourist attractions, hiking and biking routes, food and drink scene, where to stay, local culture, and safety tips.

Kannapolis, located in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, is a charming city with plenty to offer visitors. From outdoor adventures and scenic views to museums and historical sites, Kannapolis has something for everyone. In this comprehensive travel guide, we’ll explore the top tourist attractions, hiking and biking routes, food and drink scene, where to stay, local culture, and safety tips.

Introduction to Kannapolis

Kannapolis was once a booming textile manufacturing town, but today it’s known for its rich history, outdoor recreation, and bustling downtown. Visitors can explore the city’s past at the North Carolina Research Campus, a former mill turned biotechnology research center, or unwind with a picnic at Village Park. The city is also home to the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame and the Dale Earnhardt Tribute Plaza, honoring the racing legend who called Kannapolis home.

List of Places to Visit in Kannapolis

  • North Carolina Research Campus
  • Village Park
  • North Carolina Music Hall of Fame
  • Dale Earnhardt Tribute Plaza

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

North Carolina Research Campus - The North Carolina Research Campus is an exciting destination for visitors interested in learning about biotechnology and cutting-edge research. The former textile mill turned research center is home to eight universities and a variety of research institutes, including the Plants for Human Health Institute and the Nutrition Research Institute. Guided tours of the campus are available and offer a behind-the-scenes look at the innovative work happening in Kannapolis.

North Carolina Music Hall of Fame - The North Carolina Music Hall of Fame is a must-visit for music fans. The hall honors musicians with North Carolina connections and features exhibits on a range of genres, including rock, blues, and country. Be sure to check out the exhibit on North Carolina’s beach music scene, which highlights the state’s contribution to the genre.

Dale Earnhardt Tribute Plaza - Racing fans won’t want to miss the Dale Earnhardt Tribute Plaza, dedicated to the legendary race car driver who called Kannapolis home. The plaza features a life-size statue of Earnhardt, as well as plaques honoring other NASCAR drivers with connections to the area.

Natural Attractions of Kannapolis: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

Kannapolis Greenway - The Kannapolis Greenway is a 6-mile paved pedestrian and bike path that winds through scenic forests, parks, and neighborhoods. The greenway features several access points and is a great way to see Kannapolis’s natural beauty.

Village Park - Village Park is a popular destination for outdoor recreation and relaxation in Kannapolis. The park features walking trails, a lake for paddle boating and fishing, picnic shelters, and a splash pad for kids. Be sure to catch one of the park’s outdoor movie nights or concerts during the summer months.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Kannapolis

Rocky River Trail - The Rocky River Trail is a 14-mile bike trail that runs through the beautiful countryside outside Kannapolis. The trail is suitable for all skill levels and offers stunning views of the river and wildlife.

Best Things to Do in Kannapolis: Activities and Tours

Kannapolis Cruise-In - The Kannapolis Cruise-In is a classic car show that takes place on the first Saturday of every month from April to November. Visitors can check out vintage cars and enjoy live music and food from local vendors.

The Gem Theatre - The Gem Theatre is a beautifully restored movie theater in downtown Kannapolis. The theater features a mix of classic and modern films and is a great way to experience some local culture during your visit.

Week-Long Itinerary for Kannapolis

Day Activities
1 Explore the North Carolina Research Campus and take a guided tour
2 Visit the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame and the Dale Earnhardt Tribute Plaza
3 Relax at Village Park and enjoy a picnic or paddle boat ride
4 Bike the Rocky River Trail for stunning views of the countryside
5 Shop for local souvenirs at the Kannapolis Farmers Market
6 Explore downtown Kannapolis and see a show at the Gem Theatre
7 Attend the Kannapolis Cruise-In and see vintage cars on display

Food and Drink Scene of Kannapolis

Kannapolis Farmers Market - The Kannapolis Farmers Market is a great place to find fresh produce, plants, and crafts from local vendors. The market is open on Thursdays and Saturdays from May to September.

Must-Try Dishes

  • Barbecue from Afton Tavern
  • Tacos from El Amigo Mexican
  • Seafood from Captain’s Galley

Local Beverages

  • Beer from Old Armor Beer Company
  • Wine from Cauble Creek Vineyard

Where to Stay in Kannapolis: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

Kannapolis Embassy Suites - The Kannapolis Embassy Suites is an all-suite hotel located just a short drive from the city’s top attractions. The hotel features a complimentary breakfast, evening reception, indoor pool, and fitness center.

What to Buy in Kannapolis: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

  • Locally grown produce from the Kannapolis Farmers Market
  • Honey from the Cabarrus County Beekeepers Association

Local Culture and Customs of Kannapolis

Kannapolis has a rich history as a textile manufacturing town and has experienced significant growth and change over the years. Visitors may notice the city’s strong sense of community and pride in its heritage.

Best Time to Visit Kannapolis

The best time to visit Kannapolis is in the spring or fall when the weather is mild and outdoor activities are in full swing. Summer can be hot and humid, while winters can be cold and dreary.

Do’s and Don’ts of Kannapolis


  • Visit the North Carolina Research Campus for a behind-the-scenes look at biotechnology and innovative research
  • Take a bike ride along the Kannapolis Greenway for scenic views of the city
  • Attend the Kannapolis Cruise-In for a classic car show and live music


  • Forget to try the local barbecue and seafood
  • Miss out on hiking the Rocky River Trail for stunning countryside views
  • Engage in loud or disruptive behavior in public places

Safety and Health

Safety in Kannapolis

Kannapolis is generally a safe city with low crime rates, but visitors should still take precautions to keep themselves and their belongings safe. Avoid leaving valuables in your car and be aware of your surroundings, especially at night.

Health in Kannapolis

Kannapolis is home to several hospitals and medical centers, including Atrium Health and Novant Health. Visitors should make sure to have any necessary medications with them and seek medical attention if needed.

Getting to Kannapolis: Transportation Options and Logistics

Airports Near Kannapolis

  • Charlotte-Douglas International Airport (CLT)

Bus Stations Near Kannapolis

  • Greyhound Bus Station (Charlotte)

Other Options

  • Driving: Kannapolis is located off Interstate 85, making it easily accessible by car.
  • Train: The nearest Amtrak station is in Salisbury, a short drive from Kannapolis.

How to Get Around in Kannapolis

Kannapolis is a walkable city, but visitors may want to rent a car to explore the surrounding area. The city also has a public bus system, Kannapolis Area Transit, which offers several routes throughout the city.

Where to Go Next from Kannapolis: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

  • Charlotte, NC (25 miles)
  • Concord, NC (10 miles)
  • Uwharrie National Forest (40 miles)


Kannapolis offers visitors a unique blend of history, culture, and outdoor recreation. Whether you’re interested in biotechnology research at the North Carolina Research Campus or classic cars at the Kannapolis Cruise-In, there’s something for everyone in this charming North Carolina city. With this comprehensive travel guide, you’re sure to have a fantastic time exploring Kannapolis and all it has to offer.