Hillsborough is a charming southern town in Orange County, North Carolina, with a population of around 6,000 residents. The town has a history spanning three centuries, with an historic downtown district that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Hillsborough celebrates a barbecue tradition each May with an annual Hog Day, and the downtown comes alive with arts and entertainment during its Last Fridays celebrations.
One of the most enjoyable things to do is to take a stroll 1.8 miles along the Eno River’s urban greenway.
The Riverwalk is part of the North Carolina Mountains-to-Sea Trail and passes by “A Sight to Behold,” a massive stick sculpture from acclaimed artist Patrick Dougherty.
2. Historic Hillsborough
The hilly, historic town center is best taken in on foot. Notable is the Old Cemetery, where William Hooper, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence is buried. You can also take a 2-hour “Haunted Hillsboro” guided tour. It’s a 1.5-mile walk around downtown Hillsborough which visits 13 places of interest, including haunted houses and an execution site.
3. The Burwell School
Burwell School is an antebellum (pre-Civil War) 2-acre private home that was also used as a boarding school for girls. The Burwell School was the home of Elizabeth Keckley, an enslaved woman who later became the dressmaker to Mary Todd Lincoln. The Burwells undertook the education of more than 200 young women in a program designed to make them “thorough scholars and useful members of society.”
4. Ayr Mount Plantation
Ayr Mount is a Federal-era plantation house built in 1815 by William Kirkland, and named in honor of his birthplace, Ayr, Scotland. At the time of its construction, Ayr Mount was considered one of the finest residential structures in Piedmont North Carolina. The home is beautifully preserved, with exquisite manicured gardens and grounds.
Here are additional things to do in the area:
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- Here’s How to Spend a Fun Weekend in Alamance County, North Carolina
Disclosure: The author was honored to be the guest of Visit Hillsborough during her stay in Chapel Hill, but as always, the opinions, reviews and experiences are her own.