We’re continually on the hunt for opportunities to add richness to our lives. In the time of the road trip revival, we are proud to feature a monthly section featuring destinations within driving distance of Charleston that make for a great getaway. We feel that our worldly and devoted readers will find these places interesting.
Lake Norman, NC
Driving 230 miles south of Charleston brings you to the region of Lake Norman, North Carolina. Lake Norman comprises Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville, and Mooresville; each of these darling towns has its own flavor and unique offerings. Here are some ideas to make your weekend getaway a success.
WHAT TO SEE & DO IN LAKE NORMAN
Lake Norman is a manmade lake with 520 miles of shoreline, so boating, swimming, jet skis, and fishing are incredibly popular. If you are interested in boat rentals, you can find them at Cornelius Pontoon Rentals and Saltshaker Marine. The Lake Norman fishing scene has perch, crappie, catfish, and striped bass, to name a few. Buy your bait and fishing needs at Carolina Fishing Tackle in Mooresville.
You’ll find beautiful parks at Lake Norman, perfect for hiking, birding, biking, and exploring the great outdoors. Jetton Park is a popular one, with 104 acres and picturesque formal gardens.
Lake Norman runs the gamut from mini-golf and indoor go-kart racing to the NC Auto Racing Hall of Fame, full of racing memorabilia, stock cars, and such. In addition, Lazy 5 Ranch is fun for admiring animals from all over the world (e.g., lemur, yak, llamas, African Watusi), plus they have a petting zoo.
Perhaps the best family-friendly attraction of all is Lake Norman’s Carolina Raptor Center, a home for owls, vultures, eagles, and other magnificent birds of prey. Admission prices are $12 for adults and $8 for students four and over. Residents of the Carolina Raptor Center include vultures, eagles, falcons, owls, and more.
In the same area as the Carolina Raptor Center is Historic Latta Plantation, a living history attraction with an 1800’s plantation house, cabins, barn animals, and outbuildings. Latta Plantation showcases Carolina’s backcountry living in the 19th-century.
Downtown Davidson is one of the cutest little downtowns, lined with cozy benches, planters, and flags across from the pristine Davidson College campus. You’ll find quaint shops, cafes, eye-catching murals, and admirable outdoor sculptures, part of the Davidson College Sculpture Garden.
Shoppers will delight in Birkdale Village, a shopping, dining, and entertainment complex with plenty of parking that also features a movie theater. Don’t miss a delicious dessert from Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop. If antiques are your guilty pleasure, you’ll browse for hours in Oak Street Mills.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
The food is sensational at Lake Norman, and you may find yourself doubling up for meals to try all of the tasty options. For breakfast, I love the Benedicts at the Egg at Davidson or Flapjacks from Famous Toastery, a local’s fave. For lunch, Hello, Sailor is a colorful, trendy, and superb restaurant sitting right on the waterfront in Cornelius. The burgers and seared cauliflower steak are both tasty choices. At Port City Club, another waterfront offering, enjoy the cute beach area or indoor/outdoor dining with excellent steaks, flatbreads, fish tacos, and fried zucchini chips, a house specialty.
For dinner, head out to Kindred in downtown Davidson. This hip eatery has coveted street-front tables, gorgeous craft cocktails, and a chef-inspired menu. The Fried Oysters are a delicious starter, and the English Pea pasta dish is lip-smacking good. However, you will probably be thoroughly satisfied after the complimentary flower pot milk bread.
The brewery scene is admirable in Lake Norman. D9 Brewing is exceptional for IPA and sour beer choices, with a tangerine session ale (Sweet Rider) you must try.
WHERE TO STAY IN LAKE NORMAN
The Davidson Village Inn, in downtown Davidson and within walking distance to shops, campus, and restaurants, is the perfect spot to be for your Lake Norman travels. Davidson Village Inn offers luxurious rooms and attentive service, with a warm, inviting lobby, onsite parking, and complimentary breakfast.
Lake Norman has many vacation rental properties or your choice of chain hotels like Comfort Suites, Residence Inn, Candlewood Suites, and Clarion Inn.
OUTDOOR LIFE AMPLIFIED
Traveling to Lake Norman, North Carolina, is highly recommended for those who wish for lake opportunities, great fishing, animal adventures, delectable food, and a family-friendly vibe. To add more fun to your trip, Charlotte is only 45 minutes south.