2-Day Art & Culture Tour of Lake Norman

Home to several works of internationally known artist Jon Hair, it’s no surprise the Lake Norman area has great art attractions.

Stroll through the town of Davidson’s art district and Old Town Cornelius to visit many different galleries and art centers, visit a DIY studio and create your own masterpiece on this 2-day trip.

Day 1: Davidson Art District

Start your day with breakfast at Famous Toastery, one of Davidson’s most popular breakfast spots. You’ll have a relaxing morning with its comfortable atmosphere and delicious food. Located in Downtown Davidson, the restaurant is only a short walk from the day’s attractions.

Next, stop by the Wooden Stone Gallery located in the heart of South Main Davidson. Splurge a little, as this gallery showcases furniture, pottery, kitchenware, home décor, gifts and jewelry. Since opening, the gallery has grown to represent more than 600 artists and craftspeople from the United States and Canada.

Head around the corner and you’ll find yourself at AR Workshop. This DIY workshop and boutique offers mixed media classes where you can learn to craft canvas pillows, tote bags, centerpieces and more. Visit the website to book your seat in a workshop or head into the store and shop the custom creations.

photo: Visit Lake Norman

After a short walk down the street, you’ll be at the Whistling Swan Gallery, which features a Fraktur Art exhibit by well-known American Folk Artist, Susan Soloway Daul. The gallery is filled with antiques, reproductions, folk art and more from several featured artists.

You can stop for lunch at any of the several restaurants on Main Street, including award-winning Kindred. There’s also Flatiron Kitchen & Taphouse,Restaurant X, The Soda Shop, and Fuel Pizza. Don’t forget to stop for a quick dessert at Whit’s Frozen Custard.

Then explore several art attractions on the Davidson College campus. First, see the magnificent sculptures in the Davidson College Sculpture Garden, then stop in the Belk Visual Arts Center to see the galleries of William H. Van Every Jr. and Edward M. Smith.

To end the day, check out Our Town Cinemas, which provides a comfortable, inviting and more intimate setting than traditional movie theaters. The concession stand offers all standard theater treats, but also delicious staple items from Brickhouse Tavern and Davidson Chocolate Company truffles. Don’t forget the funnel cake fries, wine by the glass or bottle, beer and other alcoholic beverages.

Day 2: Cornelius Art Stops & Lakeside Dining

For breakfast, try Café 100, conveniently located in close proximity of the day’s attractions. Check out some of the house specials like the quiche of the day or the Greek Frittata.

Next, visit the Cornelius Arts Center to take classes or workshops in a variety of media. Enjoy the displayed art in the gallery and see the current exhibits.

Then make your way to Cornelius Heritage Hall. Based on the book A Town by Any other Name by Leslie Rindoks, the hall features antiques, photographs and maps that provide a tangible overview of the town’s history.

Just across the street, stop by Cornelius’ Old Town Public House. With industrial décor and specializing in craft beer, this neighborhood pub will be the perfect pit stop to your art-filled trip. 

photo: Visit Lake Norman

For lunch, enjoy a waterfront experience at Port City Club or Hello Sailor. Locals will suggest the crab cake appetizer and a lobster roll hoagie at Port City Club, while Hello Sailor is known for its chef-driven cuisines. You won’t regret having the crab Louie salad, fried catfish fillet and the team’s new take on hush puppies.

After lunch, do some antique shopping in Old Town Cornelius. Stop in Oak Street Mill, a 10,000-square-foot historic cotton mill, and browse through furniture, home décor and vintage knick-knacks. Continue your stroll around town and check out the various boutiques that line the streets.

Lake Norman’s community theatre scene is one you can’t pass up. For your next stop, check out Warehouse Performing Arts Center or Davidson Community Players. Both offer riveting performances that feature local actors.

End your night at Cornelius’ Ass Clown Brewing. The brewery’s unassuming location is uniquely decorated with one wall of craft beer bottles and another with pennies. Even the draft handles are custom-made of bullet casing shells. Sample surprising craft beer concoctions made from ingredients like coffee, lemon or truffles.

This trip idea courtesy of Visit Lake Norman.

Updated March 28, 2018
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