Monroe is small, fast-growing city in Union County, North Carolina, with plenty to do whether you enjoy the outdoors or prefer more sedate activities such as wine tasting. With several verdant green parks, like Andrew Jackson State Park and Morrow Mountain State Par, locals have plenty of space to escape to during weekends.

Wine making and vine growing are becoming increasingly popular and touring vineyards is a fun pastime, especially when they have additional attractions such as tree houses. Monroe is known for several large and very popular antique or flea markets, such as Ian Henderson’s Antique Market and Sweet Union Flea Market

1. Aw Shucks Farms

Aw Shucks Farms
© Aw Shucks Farms

Located in Monroe, only about 12 miles from Charlotte, Aw Shucks Farms is a popular fall destination for all ages. There is a 6-acre corn maze, a pumpkin patch, hayrides, an animal barn, frequent concerts on their outdoor stage, bonfires, a fishing pond, a haunted trail, and an old-fashioned general store with all sorts of interesting things. A visit to Aw Shucks farm is a fun learning experience for the kids, and the farm works with local schools to make school trips to the corn maze a part of the school curriculum. Little Scouts can even earn badges on the farm. The farm is also great fun for birthday celebrations, reunions, and even weddings and corporate team-building events.

3718 Plyler Mill Rd, Monroe, NC 28112, Phone: 704-709-7000

2. Hilton Vineyard

Hilton Vineyard
© Hilton Vineyard

Hilton Vineyard is a family-run business with a vineyard in Mineral Springs. Although it is one of the smallest vineyards in North Carolina, it has received the Charlotte Observers “People Choices Award” for best tasting wine. All Hilton wines are hand-made – grown, fermented, bottled, and labelled in Union County. Only the mango is brought in from Florida. Hilton Vineyard offers 23 varieties of wines of all kinds. You can taste them all at the Hilton Vineyard Wine Bar and Retail Store in downtown Monroe. Spend some time in this charming, cozy place, discover your favorite Hilton wine, and stock up for later. The bottles are decorative and some are double waxed with two colors.

104 S Main St, Monroe, NC 28112, Phone: 704-776-9656

3. Southern Range Brewing Co.

Southern Range Brewing Co.
© Southern Range Brewing Co.

Southern Range Brewing is the first craft beer bar in Monroe. Located in historic downtown Monroe, the bar is a cozy, comfortable space attracting both beer geeks, who are happy to try craft beers from all over the country, and folks who want a pleasant place to hang out with a cold mug of their favorite pilsner and meet friends. The bar has 16 taps and offers flights of four at an affordable price. Southern Range is in the process of starting their own brewery in town. For now, visitors can enjoy their 64-ounce growler of beer to-go, 16 beers on tap, and a small selection of cans and bottles as well as barbecue platters and the BBQ Sundae, a cup with barbecue meat layered with baked beans, coleslaw, mac and cheese, and barbecue sauce.

151 S Stewart St, Monroe, NC 28112, Phone: 704-289-4049

4. Stonebridge Golf Club

Stonebridge Golf Club
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Stonebridge Golf Club is a beautifully maintained 18-hole championship golf course located in Monroe, North Carolina, about 25 miles from uptown Charlotte. The golf course was designed by architect Richard B. Osborne, known for his naturalist golf course designs that are incorporated into the local environment. As a result, the Stonebridge course not only offers spectacular vistas, but also a play that is a pleasure both for those looking for a challenge and for occasional players. Stonebridge is carved from the rich Carolina forest land and includes 6,950 yards from championship tees. Besides the 18-hole championship golf course, the club has a great practice area with a chipping facility and a superb clubhouse with a grill and a golf shop.

2721 Swilcan Burn Dr, Monroe, NC 28112, Phone: 704-283-8998

5. Sweet Union Flea Market

Sweet Union Flea Market
© Sweet Union Flea Market

Sweet Union Flea Market is the largest and arguably the best flea market in the Charlotte area. It has more than 300 vendors in tents in the vast outdoor space and more in the indoor climate-controlled halls. The market was once a place to solely come and look for lost treasures, bargains, collectibles, and such. You can still find those, but the market now has a distinct Mexican vibe, with Mexican food trucks, churros, and different specialties at each stand, very much like you would find in any small Mexican town. You will also find embroidered jeans, lacy brassieres, cactus paddles, tooled boots, and other distinctly Mexican items. It is very popular and gets crammed on Saturdays and Sundays, and with loud Mexican music it has a festival vibe.

4420 US-74, Monroe, NC 28110, Phone: 704-283-7985

6. Treehouse Vineyards

Treehouse Vineyards
© Treehouse Vineyards

Treehouse Vineyards is a family-owned and operated vineyard and winery located on a former 200-year old farm. The winery opened its doors in 2005 and today offers superb hand-crafted merlot, cabernet sauvignon, and dry white blends as well as some award-winning muscadine wines. Wine tasting and tours of the vineyard and winery are offered every day and there is a live music event called Live at the Vines in the evening. Besides great wines, Treehouse Vineyard is well known for its whimsical treehouses scattered throughout the vineyard. Guests can rent the 30-foot-high original treehouse by the hour, or can spend the night at the Papa’s Dream Treehouse with a deck overlooking the pond and the vineyards.

301 Bay St, Monroe, NC 28112, Phone: 704-283-4208

7. Union Cigar Company

Union Cigar Company
© Courtesy of adrian_am13 -

The only real tobacconist in Monroe, Union Cigar Company offers a wide range of premium brands of cigars and tobacco bundles. All their products are stored in a large walk-in humidor. They also offer a large range of pipes, pipe tobacco, and accessories. There is something for every taste and every budget. The attached private lounge is a comfortable, elegant oasis with leather chairs and sofas, cozy fireplace, high definition TV, and coffee bar, and is a refuge for tobacco aficionados, where they can enjoy their passion, meet people with same tastes, watch a game, or have a business meeting.

14001 E Independence Blvd suite b, Indian Trail, NC 28079, Phone: 704-635-7915

8. Union County - Cane Creek Park

Union County - Cane Creek Park
© Courtesy of Margaret -

The most popular park in Union County, Cane Creek Park is only about 45 minutes away from Charlotte, in a lovely shady, forested area on the lakefront. The park’s main attraction is beautiful 350-acre lake that has a nice beach with lifeguards. The lake is great for swimming, boating, fishing, and just enjoying the views. The park has great camping facilities, several kids’ playgrounds, a horse campground, and paved trails for hiking and biking. There is also mini golf, an arcade, volleyball and basketball courts, and several wilderness sites. It can get crowded on weekends, when the locals come with families for some fun on the water.

5213 Harkey Rd, Waxhaw, NC 28173, Phone: 704-843-3919

9. Why Not An American Ark

Why Not An American Ark
© Why Not An American Ark

Why Not An American Ark is a 125-acre farm with a combination horse riding school and petting zoo. With a spacious pasture room and well-set rings and courses, they organize various riding events and offer their facility for rental for other suitable events. They have a five-level cross-country course for beginner novice, novice, and training levels. The course has three water complexes, including wooded and open. They also offer trail rides by hour. The petting zoo has a small collection of animals that visitors are encouraged to feed, touch, or just observe from an old-fashioned hayride, and species include American bison, horses, cows, llamas, zebu cattle, zebras, hogs, miniature horses, and many others.

3224 Medlin Rd, Monroe, NC 28112, Phone: 704-282-0441

10. Morrow Mountain State Park

Morrow Mountain State Park
© Courtesy of Jesse Kunerth -

About 6 miles east of Albemarle, Morrow Mountain State Park is a heaven for those who like hiking, camping, fishing, paddling, horseback riding, swimming, or just enjoying the beautiful scenery. There are more than 15 miles of well-maintained hiking trails and 16 miles of bridle trails, which go from the summit of Morrow Mountain to Lake Tillery. The lake has a boathouse with rental boats, canoes, and fishing bait and there is a campground with 106 spots for tents, RVs, and trailers. While swimming in the lake is not allowed because of dangerous currents, there is a fun swimming pool with showers and changing rooms and even a kiddy pool. An old stone bathhouse offers poolside amenities as well as cold drinks and snacks.

49104 Morrow Mountain Rd, Albemarle, NC 28001, Phone: 704-982-4402

11. Fox's Alley Bowling, Bar and Grill

Fox's Alley Bowling, Bar and Grill
© Fox’s Alley Bowling, Bar and Grill

Family owned and run, Fox’s Alley Bowling Bar and Grill is a popular family-friendly meeting place for Monroe bowling enthusiasts. Everyone is welcome to stop by for a friendly game, a drink and a light meal from the Grill. More serious players can book their lanes in advance to avoid disappointment. Fox’s also boasts a large outdoor patio area where you can relax and dine alfresco while the children enjoy a game of corn hole. Fox’s is open from Wednesday to Sunday and attracts an enthusiastic bunch of league bowlers, including a senior team which competes on Friday mornings. Fox’s offers fun for all ages and abilities and is a great venue for birthday parties or team-building events.

Fox’s Alley Bowling, Bar and Grill, 1901, Skyway Drive, Monroe, NC 28110, 704 776 9518

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