Situated in the foothills of the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains between the bigger cities of Charlotte and Asheville, the small town of Hickory is steeped in rich history and Southern charm. For decades the area has been known for its high-quality furniture and craftsmanship, but the town offers residents so much more. From a bustling downtown that’s full of local shopping and dining options to the area’s surrounding wineries, craft breweries, and outdoor adventures, there’s so much to see and do in Hickory.

With all the the town has to offer it’s no surprise that there are plenty of ways live a fit, active, and healthy life in Hickory. With that in mind we consulted with the doctors and staff at ORTHOCAROLINA’S Hickory Office at 214 18th St., SE Hickory, NC 28602 as our May experts on Locals Living the Healthy Life, Hickory Edition to create a list of the best places in the area to help you reach your fitness and health goals.

Best Places to Walk/Bike/Run in Hickory

Walking, biking, hiking, and running — you can do it all at the picturesque Glenn C Hilton Jr Memorial Park that features a lighted, paved trail as well as a nature boardwalk. The Henry Fork Regional Recreation Park, Hickory Optimist Park, and Stanford Park also offer paved trails that are perfect for a leisurely stroll or daily run when the weather’s nice.

Rotary-Geitner Park is ideal for riders with a system of biking trails that range from a short 1.8-mile ride designed for beginners to a longer 4-mile ride. The park also features a pump track that’s suited for all skill levels as well as a jump line for more seasoned riders to test their riding abilities. Hickory City Park is another great option when it comes to places to ride. It has a paved bikeway, plus, a system of mountain biking and nature trails to explore.

Best Places to Walk Your Dog in Hickory

Let your dog run off-leash at Hickory’s Fairbrook Optimist Dog Park, where you’ll find two separate sections designed to keep dogs safe — one is for small dogs under 30 lbs. and the other for larger breeds. The park also features obstacle courses, pet stations, dog water fountains, covered shelters, park benches, and restrooms. Additionally, waste bags and containers are provided. The park is open from 7 a.m. to dusk.

The 9-acre St. Stephens Park is another location that offers pet owners a safe, designated space for their dogs to enjoy being off-leash. Dogs can roam free over an entire acre without a leash inside the appointed area, or, there’s the option to explore the park’s walking trails on a leash. (A permit is required for all pets visiting the dog park.)

Most Underrated or Unknown Exercise Options in Hickory

Hickory Parks & Recreation’s Highland Recreation Center is a 4,000 square-foot facility with a wide selection of both cardio and weightlifting equipment for members to use. There’s also a large aerobics studio where an assortment of group fitness classes are held. Classes range from dance cardio and stretch yoga to cycling and cardio strength circuit. Monthly adult memberships are only $17.50 and daily passes are $3 for local residents. The recreation center is open every day, but Sundays.

Hickory Parks & Recreation also hosts a number of adult athletic leagues that compete throughout the year, including basketball, dodgeball, kickball, soccer, softball, volleyball, and tennis.

Best Free or Almost Free Fitness in the Area

Hickory Girls Fitness studio offers high-intensity cardio workouts that are designed to suit all ages and fitness levels. Classes are offered every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, and are only $5 per class. There are no sign up fees or contracts to sign, and the first class is always free.

Best Nearby Outdoor Activities for Families

Enjoy nine innings of America’s favorite past time at LP Frans Stadium cheering on the Hickory Crawdads Minor League Baseball team as they take on opponents from all over the country. On Wednesdays families can take advantage of Kids Win Wednesdays, where children 12 and under get a free ticket to the game, free meal voucher, and a free bounce house voucher. Be sure to check out the team’s promotional schedule for special events like fireworks, or fun giveaways.

Best Nearby Outdoor Activities for Dates

Treat your significant other to a night outdoors exploring Lake Hickory on a Lake Hickory Adventures cruise. The company offers everything from dinner cruises and holiday cruises to private charters. Looking for something fun to do during the day? They also have all-day boat rentals available.

Best Neighborhood Studios in Hickory

Fuel Hickory aims to provide its clients with more than just a daily workout. The gym not only provides intense and challenging workout classes that are designed to work the entire body, but its staff also takes the time to teach clients how to live an all-around healthier life by introducing them to more positive habits, and teaching how to increase metabolism and eat better.

Best Vegetarian/Vegan/Juice Restaurant in Hickory

Vegetarians will have no trouble finding something delicious to eat at Boca. The restaurant’s menu has a long list of vegetarian-friendly options that include eggplant roulade, a veggie burger, and gourmet pizza with fig jam, parma ham, Manchego, and arugula. There are also several hearty soups, salads, and meatless starters to choose from

Crescent Moon Cafe offers an impressive selection of vegetarian options with more than two dozen different dishes on the menu. Choices range from a fresh tomato stack and house-made hummus to several types of flatbreads and street tacos.

Best Place to Eat After Your Workout

Center Street Eats and Active Edge Nutrition have been preparing healthy and nutritious meals for Hickory residents since 2005. Clients can pre-order or stop in and grab a pre-made meal from their coolers — making it easy to stay healthy on the go, especially after a workout. Each week the menu changes making it almost impossible to get tired of the selection. They also have gluten free, low carb, and vegetarian options available.

Best Neighborhood Outdoor/Athletic Store to Buy Your Gear in Hickory

Fleet Feet is the go-to for athletic gear in Hickory. The store is always well stocked with everything from the latest running shoes and socks to training and safety gear, plus, energy food and drinks. Not only do they use 3D foot scanning technology to make sure you get the best running shoe for your foot, but they also offer training advice and programs to make sure every runner gets the most out of their workouts.

Now that you’ve seen our list of bests, we’d love to hear how you stay fit and healthy in Hickory. Leave a comment with your favorite places to get active or grab a healthy meal.

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