Hillsborough Travel Guide

Discover the beautiful city of Hillsborough, North Carolina through this comprehensive travel guide that includes must-visit attractions, outdoor adventures, food and drink scene, where to stay and more.

Introduction to Hillsborough

Hillsborough is a small town located in the heart of Research Triangle in Piedmont, North Carolina. It boasts rich history, vibrant culture, and scenic views that have made it a popular destination for both tourists and locals. The town’s unique charm and character are evident from its well-preserved historic sites to its burgeoning food and drink scene.

List of Places to Visit in Hillsborough

Hillsborough is home to many amazing attractions, both natural and cultural, that are worth visiting. Here’s a list of some of the top places to visit in Hillsborough:

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

  • Orange County Historical Museum: Displays artifacts and exhibits that tell the story of Hillsborough’s rich history.
  • Ayr Mount: A beautifully preserved Federal-era plantation house that offers tours of the house and its grounds.
  • St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church: A historic landmark built in the late 1700s that still holds regular services to this day.
  • Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail: A hiking trail that follows the historic Occoneechee Speedway, which was active during the 1940s and 50s.

Natural Attractions of Hillsborough: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

  • Riverwalk: A riverside trail that offers stunning views of the Eno River and the surrounding landscape.
  • Eno River State Park: A 3,900-acre park that offers hiking, camping, fishing, and canoeing opportunities.
  • Hillsborough Riverwalk and Wetland Trail: A paved trail that winds through beautiful wetlands that are home to a variety of wildlife.
  • Hillsborough Hog Day: An annual festival held every June that celebrates the town’s agricultural heritage and offers live music, food, and family-friendly activities.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Hillsborough

Hillsborough offers a variety of trails for hikers and bikers of all skill levels. Here are some of the best routes:

  • Eno River Trail: A 29-mile trail that takes hikers and bikers through the heart of the Eno River State Park.
  • Hillsborough Riverwalk and Wetland Trail: A 1.8-mile paved trail that is perfect for a leisurely stroll or a bike ride.
  • Occoneechee Mountain Loop Trail: A 2.2-mile trail that offers beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and the Piedmont region.

Best Things to Do in Hillsborough: Activities and Tours

There are a lot of things to do in Hillsborough, so we’ve put together a list of some of the best activities and tours:

  • Historic Hillsborough Walking Tour: Take a tour of the town’s historic sites and learn about its rich history.
  • Cedar Grove Blueberry Farm: Pick your own blueberries and enjoy the scenic views of the farm.
  • Mystery Brewing Company: Take a tour of the brewery and sample some of their award-winning beers.
  • Carolina Balloonfest: An annual festival held in nearby Statesville that offers hot air balloon rides, live music, and family-friendly activities.

Week-Long Itinerary for Hillsborough

If you’re planning on spending a week in Hillsborough, here’s a sample itinerary that will help you make the most of your time:

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5
Visit Orange County Historical Museum and Ayr Mount Hike the Eno River Trail Take the Historic Hillsborough Walking Tour Go canoeing in Eno River State Park Visit the Cedar Grove Blueberry Farm
Day 6 Day 7      
Take a hot air balloon ride at Carolina Balloonfest Visit the Mystery Brewing Company      

Food and Drink Scene of Hillsborough

Hillsborough is rapidly becoming a hot spot for foodies and craft beer lovers. Here are some of the must-try dishes and local beverages:

Must-Try Dishes

  • Biscuits and Gravy: A classic southern breakfast dish that can be found at many of the town’s local cafes.
  • Pimento Cheese: A southern staple that can be found at many of the town’s sandwich shops and cafes.
  • Boiled Peanuts: A southern snack that is boiled with salt and spices and can be found at many of the town’s roadside stands.

Local Beverages

  • Hillsborough Wine Company: A local winery that produces a variety of high-quality wines.
  • Mystery Brewing Company: A local brewery that produces a variety of award-winning craft beers.
  • Manna Confections: A local candy-making company that produces a variety of delicious handmade chocolates and candies.

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

Hillsborough offers a variety of lodging options for travelers of all budgets. Here are some of the top hotels, hostels, and guesthouses in the area:

  • King’s Daughters Inn: A luxurious bed and breakfast that is located in a stunning historic mansion.
  • Microtel Inn & Suites: A budget-friendly hotel that offers comfortable rooms and modern amenities.
  • Hillsborough House Bed and Breakfast: A charming bed and breakfast that is located in the heart of downtown Hillsborough.

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

If you’re looking for souvenirs or local products to bring home, here are some of the must-buys in Hillsborough:

  • Hillsborough Wine Company Wines: Purchase a bottle of wine from the local winery to enjoy at home.
  • Sarah’s Cow Pie Soap: A handmade soap that is made from natural ingredients and is perfect for sensitive skin.
  • Riverwalk Studios Art Gallery: Purchase a piece of local art to bring home and remember your visit to Hillsborough.

Local Culture and Customs of Hillsborough

The local culture of Hillsborough is heavily influenced by its rich history and vibrant arts scene. The town is known for its wide range of cultural events and festivals that are held throughout the year, including the Hillsborough Handmade Parade and the Each Open Mic Night.

Best Time to Visit Hillsborough

The best time to visit Hillsborough is in the spring or fall, when the weather is mild and the scenery is at its most beautiful. The town also hosts several annual events during these seasons, including the Hillsborough Historic Home Tour in April and the Hillsborough Hog Day in June.

Do’s and Don’ts of Hillsborough

Here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when visiting Hillsborough:


  • Do take a walking tour of the town’s historic sites to learn about its rich history.
  • Do try the local cuisine and craft beers.
  • Do visit the Eno River State Park for a scenic hike or canoe ride.


  • Don’t litter or damage the town’s historic sites.
  • Don’t miss out on the town’s annual festivals and events.
  • Don’t forget to support local businesses by shopping at local stores and markets.

Safety and Health

Hillsborough is a safe and welcoming town, but visitors should still take basic precautions to ensure their safety. Here are some tips:

Safety in Hillsborough

  • Be aware of your surroundings and avoid walking alone at night.
  • Keep your valuables and cash in a safe place, especially in crowded areas.
  • Follow all traffic rules and wear a helmet if riding a bike or scooter.

Health in Hillsborough

  • Stay hydrated, especially during hot and humid weather.
  • Apply sunscreen when spending time outdoors.
  • Bring any necessary medications or medical supplies with you when traveling.

Getting to Hillsborough: Transportation Options and Logistics

Hillsborough is located within easy driving distance of several major cities, including Raleigh and Durham. Here are some transportation options:

Airports Near Hillsborough

  • Raleigh-Durham International Airport
  • Piedmont Triad International Airport

Bus Stations Near Hillsborough

  • Greyhound Bus Lines
  • GoTriangle Bus

Other Options

  • Renting a car is a convenient option for traveling to and around Hillsborough.

How to Get Around in Hillsborough

Hillsborough is a small town that is easy to navigate on foot, by bike, or by car. There are also several shuttle and taxi services available for visitors who need transportation.

Where to Go Next from Hillsborough: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

There are many nearby destinations and excursions that are worth visiting after exploring Hillsborough. Here are some top picks:

  • Chapel Hill: A small college town that is home to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • Durham: A historic city that has a lot to offer, including the Durham Bulls Athletic Park and the Durham Performing Arts Center.
  • Raleigh: The capital city of North Carolina is a vibrant city that offers a wide range of cultural and entertainment options.


Hillsborough is a charming and welcoming town that has something to offer everyone. Whether you’re interested in history, outdoor adventures, or food and drink, Hillsborough has it all. With this comprehensive guide, you’ll have all the information you need to plan the perfect visit to this beautiful North Carolina gem.