2-Day Art & Culture Tour of Lake Norman

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

Stroll through Davidson’s art district and Old Town Cornelius to visit many different galleries and art centers, then 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, head to 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.

You can stop for lunch at any of the several restaurants on Main Street, including award-winning Kindred. There’s also Flatiron Kitchen & TaphouseRestaurant X and The Soda Shop. 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.

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 Cain Center for the Arts 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 Heritage Hall exhibit 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 June 9, 2021
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