Just north of Charlotte you’ll find picturesque Lake Norman. The communities that dot the shoreline of our state’s largest man-made lake are home to a number of natural attractions that invite visitors to explore. Follow this two-day trip idea to experience a nature preserve, kayaking and farm-to-table dining.
Day 1: Historic Attractions & Ramsey Creek Beach
Begin your day with breakfast at Café 100, a local favorite set in a quaint little house in downtown Huntersville. With an extensive breakfast menu, you’ll be sure to find something delicious that will leave you energized for the day ahead, like a house favorite lox bagel platter or the peanut-butter-and-banana-stuffed French toast with fresh fruit.
Spend your morning exploring the grounds of Rural Hill. Now a county park, the land was once owned and farmed by several generations of the Davidson family, dating back to the mid-1700s. Its 265 acres include beautiful nature trails, Scottish cows and an endless lineup of events year-round.
For lunch, grab some Eastern-style barbecue pork and brisket from Lancaster’s BBQ before heading to your next stop. The food here is made fresh from scratch, and your meal will come with a warm basket of complimentary hush puppies.
Spend the afternoon beating the heat at Ramsey Creek Beach. Located at the point of Ramsey Creek Park, the beach is open to swimmers Memorial Day to Labor Day. With picnic shelters, a horseshoe pit, volleyball court, playground, and a half-acre of clean and sandy beach, it’s the perfect spot to enjoy the beauty of Lake Norman.
To end your day, visit Birkdale Village and enjoy a great combination of shopping and dining. With bubbling fountains and colorful gardens, you’re sure to enjoy strolling through the village to the various stores lining the main street. Then dine at one of its many mouthwatering restaurants such as eeZ Fusion & Sushi, Red Rocks Café or Dressler’s Restaurant. Locals love eeZ Fusion & Sushi’s colorful plates with appetizers such as the crab rangoon dip and avocado and tuna tini. The Birkdale Roll is a meal in itself with ebi shrimp, kani, cream cheese, tempura asparagus, topped with premium tuna and avocado.
Day 2: Preservation, Conservation & Water Sports
After you grab a breakfast feast of pancakes, omelets or French toast at Famous Toastery in Huntersville, start the day with a hike around Historic Latta Plantation Nature Preserve. Take in scenic views of the forest, streams and Mountain Island Lake on 16 miles of beautiful trails, and tour the historic home and grounds of James Latta of the 1800 circa plantation. The preserve also includes the Carolina Raptor Center, a living museum dedicated to the conservation of birds of prey. Discover eagles, falcons, owls, hawks and other raptors. Take a walk on the nature trail, watch Bald Eagles nesting, or learn about raptor rehabilitation, research and conservation.
Next, stop by Crafty Burg’r in Cornelius to dine in or to pick up the burger of your dreams with mac n’ cheese, egg, double spicy or all of the above, perfect for a waterfront lunch at Blythe Landing or Jetton Park. With playgrounds, sand volleyball courts, tennis courts, floating piers and beautiful views, both are great places to stop and enjoy a pleasant picnic by the water.
You can’t leave Lake Norman without checking out My Aloha Paddle and Surf, one of Lake Norman’s most-loved paddleboard companies. Book an introductory stand-up paddleboard lesson with an experienced staff member, or rent a kayak and admire plant and animal life as you paddle around the water’s edge.
Make a quick stop at McLeod Organics at The Bradford Store to browse tons of organic products and local produce. A significant part of William Bradford’s early 1900s farmstead, the store has provided members of the community with locally made goods since 1912. From beeswax candles to fresh flowers and homemade jam, you’re sure to find something you’ll love.
Finally, have a special treat at Kindred Restaurant, a farm-to-table restaurant specializing in cuisine featuring fresh, local ingredients. Its menu change with the seasons, and the year-round favorites won’t disappoint. Order plates to share and try a bit of everything. Include staples starting with milk bread and the squid ink conchiglie plate. It’s favored by Bon Appétit and chef Joe Kindred, a James Beard award nominee. Finish your meal with a piece of the chocolate birthday cake with sweet cream ice cream and sprinkles.
This trip idea courtesy of Visit Lake Norman.