The Heart of North Carolina

The Heart of North Carolina: Attractions and Culture in the Piedmont Triad

Sometimes it’s almost impossible to prepare for what you might find in a new destination, but the region known as the Heart of North Carolina – including the cities and towns of Archdale, Asheboro, Franklinville, Liberty, Ramseur, Randleman, Seagrove, Staley and Trinity – was filled with so many surprising and enchanting people, places and activities. Maybe it was the call from the animals in the North Carolina Zoo, the warm breeze of the Uwharrie Mountains or the central location to visit other towns and cities in the region. The rolling hills, lush greenery and friendly locals guided me to some of my new favourite places.

North Carolina Zoo

As an animal lover, I couldn’t wait to explore what has been recognized as the world’s largest “natural habitat” zoo at the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro. I booked a tour of the grounds and was guided through this 2,200-acre expanse on what is known locally as Purgatory Mountain. The ride was exhilarating, and I was able to see so many majestic creatures, including rhinos, elephants, antelopes, ostriches and giraffes. But don’t stop there; the zoo also has over 300 birds in the R.J Reynolds Aviary, a newly expanded gorilla habitat and the largest polar bear exhibit in the U.S.

Seagrove: Handmade Pottery Capital of the U.S.

I have tried my hand at pottery a couple times, and I have a couple of what I like to call “abstract” pieces on display at home, but here in Seagrove, genuine potters are creating the most beautiful pieces for you to take home. Seagrove has more than 70 pottery shops in 15 miles. If you need a breakdown of what’s what, head over the town’s visitor centre off the I-73/74. I stopped by Original Owen’s Pottery, which is the oldest pottery shop in North Carolina. I was pleasantly surprised when I walked into this wood cabin store, laden with all manner of table ware with signature red paint designs. Mr. Owen himself was there to give me a quick tour, point out his best sellers and give me a family history.

The Home of NASCAR Legend Richard Petty in Randleman

I have always loved Formula One racing but down in the American South, NASCAR is king. Seven-time championship winner Richard Petty is honoured in Randleman. I was greeted upon entry to the Petty Museum by some lovely southern belles who had grown up with Petty, and it was here that I learnt more about the legendary driver and his family. The museum includes tributes to the four Petty family members inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. I also strolled through the Petty family home and Petty’s garage, where the original vehicles he used are on display.

Downtown Asheboro: Fine Dining, Shopping and Mountain Views

For dinner, I headed over to downtown Asheboro’s Historic District and Bia’s Gourmet Hardware – a fine dining experience, set within a modern yet rustic setting. Chef Bia came out to meet me and run down the mouth-watering menu, which pairs delicacies from around the world with wines and cocktails to suit every bite. Bia’s also puts a real emphasis on supporting local farms and traders in the Asheboro area. Strolling downtown Asheboro after dinner, I knew I had to return in the daytime so I could take a look the local shops filled with art, antiques, jewellery, clothes, and, of course, pottery.

The Heart of North Carolina offers that enchanting mix of Southern charm, mountain beauty, attractions and culture that simply must be taken in, just like the fresh mountain air. I left feeling inspired, exhilarated and armed with fabulous gifts for my loved ones back home.


When You Go


Things To Do

North Carolina Zoo




Original Owen’s Pottery


Food and Drink

Bia’s Gourmet Hardware


For More Information

Heart of North Carolina Tourist Bureau