Find Your Rhythm in Shelby, NC, home of the Earl Scruggs Center.
Uptown Shelby is the home of the Earl Scruggs Center, which combines the life story of the legendary five-string banjo master with the engaging story of the region in which Mr. Scruggs was born and raised. Visitors come from around the world to experience the Center which tells the story of Earl Scruggs and this place he came from. Earl was born in Cleveland County in nearby Flint Hill where he learned to play banjo and began perfecting the three-finger playing style that has come to be known around the world as “Scruggs Style.”
Stop by during the Earl Scruggs Music Festival weekend or come back later this year to soak it all in. Check out landofrhythm.com for a schedule of local events and other helpful information to plan your trip.
The Earl Scruggs Center explores Mr. Scruggs’ innovative career and the community that gave it shape while celebrating how he crossed musical boundaries and defined the voice of the banjo to the world. Mr. Scruggs embraced tradition while also adapting to the changing times and looking toward the future—themes which resonate throughout the Center. Engaging exhibits, special events, and rich programming provide a uniquely rich experience for visitors. An ESMF ticket gets you a free visit to the Earl Scruggs Center through March 1, 2024. Check out www.earlscruggscenter.org to learn more about special exhibits and events.
Grab a drink and take in a show! Pick your setting to enjoy live music around town. The Don Gibson Theatre offers fantastic acoustics in an Art Deco concert hall; Dragonfly Wine Market is an intimate space with a stage, wine shop and bar; Izzi Que Barbeque offers a full bar and restaurant. In addition, there are other tasty options for experiencing local flavors such as the 100-year-old Shelby Cafe.
Love art? Explore Uptown Shelby to see other colorful murals and sculptures, including fiberglass LPs painted by local artists to celebrate another talented native son, Don Gibson. Stop in to see the free rotating exhibit at the Cleveland County Arts Council.
Get a photo in front of the two-story portrait of Earl Scruggs, found on the side of Newgrass Brewing Company overlooking their patio (pictured above). The mural, by artist Scott Nurkin, is part of the NC Musician Murals Project. Nurkin also painted a mural of Don GIbson on the side of Miss Molly’s Boutique, also in Uptown Shelby.
Don’t miss the Foothills Farmers Market, a Saturday morning staple. They are a grower- certified market, which means every product sold on-site is grown or produced within a 50 mile radius of the county line.
Check out Newgrass Brewing Company for delicious farm-to-table food and a wide variety of craft beer. No reservations are needed but be sure to order food & drinks at the bar. Every Friday they offer a fresh-from-the-boat NC seafood special, but you can’t go wrong with any of the food. For beer, order the bluegrass-inspired Fiddler’s Dream IPA or local favorite Shelby Y’allstars Lager.
Browse local shops for souvenirs ranging from specialty olive oil to locally designed super-soft t-shirts, dog cookies to local art. Check out A. Griffin Pottery, a working pottery studio, Buffalo Creek Gallery artist cooperative, and WorkShop Vintage Market, a curated antiques and artisan market with over 80 vendors.
Families with kids will enjoy the mini train, All Aboard accessible playground, and historic Carrousel at Shelby City Park. Local trails such as the First Broad River Trail and the Broad River Greenway also offer family-friendly fun.
On your way out of town, stop by the iconic Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge on Highway 74. They opened in Uptown Shelby after WWII but moved in 1953 to a funky mid- century modern building that feels like stepping back in time.
The Comfort Inn and Fairfield Inn & Suites offer familiar amenities and top-notch hospitality.
Morgan & Wells Bed & Breakfast offers an intimate setting in a historic Craftsman home within walking distance of Uptown Shelby. The on-site chef prepares outstanding breakfasts every morning for guests.
Parking is free in Uptown Shelby, with both on-street spots and parking lots available. There’s no time limit so we recommend parking once and making use of the shady sidewalks.
Bike racks are available around the district, including at Lily Bean Coffee, Newgrass Brewing Company, and the Bobby Bell Pavilion (home of the Foothills Farmers Market).
Several EV charging stations are available in the parking lot of the Bobby Bell Pavilion.
When to visit: Shelby has events happening from spring through the winter holidays, so there’s always something fun to catch. Click here for a schedule. Visit on a Thursday through Saturday evening to catch the most live music, though you’ll find buskers on the sidewalk throughout the week too.
Where to find visitor info:
In person: Stop by the Earl Scruggs Center Guest Services building to pick up a visitor guide and get personalized recommendations. The staff are very knowledgeable and happy to help you craft your experience.