Your Guide to a Day Trip to the Earl Scruggs Center

Spring is here in Shelby, NC, and with that comes delightful weather and the urge to take daytrips or explore your own community. We hope that means you are planning a visit to the Earl Scruggs Center, where you can learn more about the life and career of Mr. Scruggs, the rich history of our region, or take part in one of our engaging programs or events. 


Just in case you need more reasons to spend a day in our beautiful area, here are some of our favorite things to do before or after your visit to the Earl Scruggs Center, and all within walking distance.


  1. 1. Learn about groundbreaking banjo master Earl Scruggs, the history of the region that nurtured his music, or participate in a cultural program at the Earl Scruggs Center. Check our events calendar for concerts, children’s music programs, or one of our famous Pickin’ on the Square events. Also, don’t miss visitor favorites within the museum such as the life-size statue of Mr. Scruggs, the Bernie Taupin-created art installation, or the Common Threads table—a giant touchscreen with stories, songs, and digital instruments.


  1. 2. Take a selfie with the giant murals of Earl Scruggs and Don Gibson, both located within two blocks of the Earl Scruggs Center. Created by artist Scott Nurkin of the North Carolina Musician Murals Project in summer 2020, these murals honor these local legends and groundbreaking musicians. The mural of Earl Scruggs can be found on the side of Newgrass Brewing Company, one of the finest craft breweries in the region. Make sure you stop by, spend some time with Earl, and enjoy their outdoor seating. You’ll find the mural of Don Gibson just down the street on the side of Miss Molly’s Boutique.


  1. 3. Step back in time with the Historic Shelby Walking Tour, which begins on the picturesque historic court square, now the home of the Earl Scruggs Center. This self-guided tour highlights historic structures dating back to the 1850s, including some on the National Historic Register. Find more information here:


  1. 4. Picnic on the historic court square. One of our favorite things to do is order take-out from a nearby locally owned restaurant and picnic on the court square. Spread out a blanket in the ample green space, or pull up to one of the tables available outside of our Gift Shop. If picnicking is not your thing, dine in or enjoy an outdoor dining area – and our guest services representative would be happy to make a recommendation based on your preferences. After lunch, pop into LilyBean Coffee for a mid-afternoon caffeine fix (the Lily Bean Signature Iced Coffee is a favorite) or one of the several sweets shops for dessert.


  1. 5. Shop in Uptown Shelby. Speaking of boutiques, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the interesting and creative shops on the streets and blocks around the Earl Scruggs Center. Interested in antiques, crafts, or art? Clothing boutiques and gift shops? Wine and fine cooking? Furniture, home, and pet goods? We have it all, and better yet, within walking distance. Check out the Uptown Shelby Association’s directory to see a list of businesses in the district.



  1. 6. Appreciate Local Art at the Cleveland County Arts Council, located just across the street from the main entrance of the Earl Scruggs Center. They present rotating exhibits, and currently on display is “Treasures of the Earth,” an annual favorite that features local and regional potters. If you want to shop local art for your own collection, also check out Buffalo Creek Gallery and Griffin Pottery.


  1. 7. Meet a local farmer at the Foothills Farmers’ Market (Seasonal, April – October, Saturdays 8 am – Noon). Shop an array of locally produced foods at one of the best farmers’ markets in the region. Located just a block away from the Earl Scruggs Center, you’ll find fresh fruits and vegetables, meat and poultry products, baked goods, artisan cheeses, honey, specialty food items, and some of the friendliest farmers and vendors around. It’s not unusual to hear local music or find a food truck selling freshly made breakfast or brunch. We suggest stopping by early, before the Earl Scruggs Center opens at 10 am.


  1. 8. See a concert or live performance at the Don Gibson Theatre. This beautifully restored Art Deco style venue with a 400-person theatre honors the legacy of the Country Music Hall of Fame singer and songwriter. With a schedule featuring nationally touring, award-winning, or hot up-and-coming acts, it is easy to find a reason extend your day trip and stay for an evening show.


For more information, visit Cleveland County’s Travel & Tourism website or the Uptown Shelby Association’s website.