There are a lot of things to do in Murphy, North Carolina, a quaint mountain town in Western NC with hiking, movies, antiquing, and more.
Murphy is a quaint mountain town in North Carolina. One of Murphy’s big claims to fame is that it is closer to six state capitals than it is to its own. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to do in Murphy, North Carolina.
It’s actually a town that my parents have been to a few times and Pete and I have been to once.
Where is Murphy, North Carolina?
Murphy is about seven hours from us in Wilmington and is very close to the Tennessee border.
Murphy is the westernmost town in North Carolina and Manteo, in the Outer Banks, is the easternmost. So you may have heard the phrase “from Manteo to Murphy,” which references some phenomenon that happens statewide.
Oh, about those capitals. Murphy is closer to the capitals of Alabama (Montgomery), Georgia (Atlanta), Kentucky (Frankfort), South Carolina (Columbia), Tennessee (Nashville), and West Virginia (Charleston) than it is to Raleigh, North Carolina.
10 Things To Do In Murphy, North Carolina
As with the majority of our lists, this things to do in Murphy, North Carolina list isn’t in any specific order.
Visit Fields Of The Wood
Fields Of The Wood (10000 N Carolina 294) is a bible park that’s home to the largest display of the Ten Commandments in the world. That’s on the right side when you enter the park and is mostly what your see when you google the park.
On the left side when you pull in is Prayer Mountain. You walk up just over 300 steps from the bottom to top. Along the right side are bible verses that represent the history of the Church of God of Prophecy, the religious sect that built the park. There’s also a rotunda, called the Psalms Of Praise, with various psalms displayed around it.
At the bottom of the hill, there’s a baptismal pond and a replica of the tomb Jesus was laid in after the crucifixion. Around the back of the Ten Commandments is the All Nations Cross, worldwide flags displayed in the shape of the cross.
Fields Of The Wood is set in the beautiful mountains of Murphy and is definitely worth checking out when the weather is nice (this isn’t one of the things to do in Murphy, NC when it rains because it’s all outdoors).
Check out our full Fields Of The Wood review.
Go antique shopping
Murphy officially became a town 175 years ago, but people have been living here for thousands of years. With such a rich history, you know there are some great antiques in town. And there are really fun antique shops in the downtown area as well.
Be sure to check them all out. Every antique shop is unique. There aren’t mass produced antiques, so you really want to check out all the stores and see what you can find. We saw old antique milk bottles, casserole pans, egg carriers, and more.
In Carolina Crafting (49 Peachtree St), we also found a lot of handmade crafts. There were wooden items adorned with vinyl, wood burned items, hand pained items, and more. It was actually really cool to see the juxtaposition in of old and new items. That’s very much how the entire town of Murphy is.
Walk the Murphy Riverwalk
Murphy is right on the Valley River. Along parts of the river is the Murphy Riverwalk, a two mile stretch of (mostly) flattened trail. There are six parking stations and as many trail heads.
The Murphy Riverwalk will take you around Konehete Park, past Murphy Elementary School, through downtown Murphy, NC, and onto a main road.
Okay. So that’s my only complaint about the Murphy Riverwalk. It’s not a continuous loop where you can start at a parking station and follow the path to lead you back there. There are a few different trails along the path and none are a full loop. So you either walk down the path, turn around, and walk back or you end up like us, making a left at the Lowe’s hardware store and playing Frogger to avoid passing cars.
What I do like about the Murphy Riverwalk, though, is there are QR codes at various points. Scan those with your phone and you can get an audio explanation of the town, vegetation along the trail, and more.
Check out the Hiwassee Dam
If you’ve never gotten a chance to check out a dam (which sounds like an odd thing to say until you realize the Hoover Dam is a tourist spot), they’re pretty interesting. I don’t really understand the mechanics behind the turbines and how they generate power, although my dad did explain that to me when we were at the Hiwassee Dam (600 Powerhouse Road).
The dam was started in 1936 by the Tennessee Valley Authority, a building company in Tennessee (although this dam is in North Carolina) and took four years to complete.
It is a (just over) 1,200 feet walk from one end of the dam to the other, which is 307 feet above Hiwassee Lake, and you can get a really good look at the turbines. There’s actually one at Hiwassee Dam’s parking lot, so you can see it up close. That gives you a little perspective for the size when you’re looking down at the dam.
The area around the Hiwassee Dam is beautiful. You can see the Bear Paw water tower and mountains in the distance, and the water and grassy areas in the forefront. Photos don’t do the area justice. You really need to see the beauty with your own eyes.
Catch a movie at Henn Theatre
There were a few old timey movie theaters where we used to live in New York, and it was so much fun to see a movie at those theaters and feel like you went back in time. We only have modern theaters where we are in North Carolina, and they lack that charm.
So of course, I was so excited to see the Henn Theatre (38 Tennessee St) in downtown Murphy. It’s still a working theater. When we were there, it was showing the new Wonder Woman movie and the new Bill & Ted. Tickets were $5.50 each, for any age and any movie time. I would go see every new release for that price.
Catching a movie at the Henn Theatre is definitely something you can do if it rains in Murphy. So much of the town is outdoors, so it’s nice to have a few options in case the weather doesn’t cooperate.
Eat at Main Street USA
My parents’ favorite restaurant in Murphy, North Carolina is Main Street USA (85 Hiwassee St). You can get the burger special, which is a burger, drink, and fries for $3.49. The burger is great too, topped with lettuce and tomato. It’s a real deal.
You can order other items as well, like the Hot Plate. That’s what Pete and I got when we went. For $5.49, you can choose one meat (I picked chicken, Pete got pollock), a bread (I picked cornbread and Pete got a biscuit), and three sides (we both got fried okra, green beans, and mashed potatoes. The last two came highly recommended). A drink is also included in the Hot Plate, which is a steal.
The cafeteria-style restaurant (cafeteria, like how restaurants were back in the day, not a school cafeteria) was packed when we went, and so was the drive through. So it’s definitely one of the hot spots to eat in Murphy. It’s generally only open for breakfast and lunch.
So, if you’re looking for a dinner option, we really liked Rib Country BBQ (2121 E U.S. Highway 64 Alt). Get the onion loaf. Trust me.
Gamble at Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino
The only reason we even knew Murphy existed in the first place is because of Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino (777 Casino Pkwy). It is sister casinos with Harrah’s Cherokee Hotel And Casino in Cherokee, NC. We’ve been there before and it is a beautiful casino.
Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino is a little smaller, but it still has all the slot machines you could want. And, even with the way the world is right now, the slot machines are open. Every other machine is in operation, so you are able to gamble and social distance. The card tables are set up in a similar manner. The minimum bet is also higher than usual, so that helps to keep people away too (or maybe just me).
There’s a food court at the casino with tables where you can relax and eat. You can’t bring any outside food or drinks onto the casino floor, but you can order drinks when you’re at the slot machines and card tables. North Carolina’s ABC laws don’t allow free alcoholic drinks to gamblers, but you can get free non-alcoholic drinks when you’re gambling in North Carolina.
Learn at the Cherokee Historical Museum
Unfortunately, the Cherokee Historical Museum (87 Peachtree St) museum was closed when we went to Murphy, so we weren’t able to go inside. I tried to look in through the windows, but you couldn’t see anything. So I don’t know exactly what’s in the museum.
But I still know you should go.
Murphy, North Carolina is Cherokee County, so it’s rich in history, a history that you may have learned about in school — but maybe not. And even if you did learn about it, school was probably so long ago for you at this point (it was for me, anyway). So going into the museum, learning or relearning about the Cherokee tribe, and the area that you’re visiting is a really great idea.
The museum features over 2,000 Cherokee artifacts. It also serves as an interpretive center for the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. Murphy has a deep history with the Trail of Tears. Fort Butler, one of the main holding areas for Cherokees being removed from North Carolina, was in Murphy. Fort Butler is no more, but you can read about the fort via historical markers.
Enjoy the mountains
Murphy is a very outdoorsy town. That’s why it’s hard to find things to do in Murphy in bad weather. Especially snow. Honestly, I wouldn’t plan a trip there if it was cold and snowy. You just wouldn’t be able to enjoy the town that much.
Murphy is nestled in the Appalachian Mountains, right on the Hiwassee River. There are a bunch of ways to actually enjoy the mountains.
One, you can drive through them. This is probably the easiest way to see them. Just jump in your car and drive around any of the roads that wind through the mountain. This isn’t the best way for the driver to enjoy the mountains, though, because you really need to pay attention to the road. There are overlooks where you can pull over and park your car to get a view, though.
Two, you can go rafting or kayaking. There are so many outdoor companies in Murphy that rent out rafts and kayaks. So you can use them to go down the river, check out the mountains, see waterfalls (there’s the Shoal Creek Falls, Fire Creek Falls, amongst others) and more. When we were driving, we saw so many rafters and kayaker in the water.
Three, go hiking. Throughout the mountain, there are a bunch of pull offs where you can park and start your hike. Just be sure to only hike when it’s light out and be aware of when sunset is. You don’t want to get caught hiking in the dark.
Read the Charters of Freedom
In downtown Murphy stands the Charters of Freedom monument (Valley River Ave), a display of the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, and Bill of Rights. It’s a replica of the way the three are displayed at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.
To make this display more localized, the names of the North Carolina Representatives who signed the Constitution — John Penn, Joseph Hewes and William Hooper — are prominently displayed.
Things To Do Near Murphy, NC
If you’re vacationing in Murphy, NC, you may be looking for a few other things to do when you’re in the area.
Check out these great day trips from Murphy, NC, which are all just about two hours or less away from Murphy, NC:
- Gatlinburg, Tennessee
- Hendersonville, North Carolina
- Oconaluftee Indian Village (Cherokee, NC)
- Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (Mills River, NC)
Which of these things to do in Murphy, North Carolina would you try first?