One of my favorite ways to spend a sunny Saturday is exploring the Lake Norman area north of Charlotte. During the week, traffic makes this area miserable. Seriously, nothing is worth the agony of the parking lot that I-77 becomes at 5 pm. But on Saturdays it’s easy-breezy—and actually a pretty drive as far as interstates go.
On last Saturday’s perfect pseudo-spring afternoon I went with friends up to Davidson to meander around before dinner at Kindred, celebrating my friend Jenn’s birthday. Wandering in and out of shops on its charming Main Street reminded me how much I enjoy this area. So, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite spots in case anyone else was inspired to spend their weekend hours leaving the city for some of its cutest ‘burbs:
Check out the vineyards. Daveste (above) is at the northern most point of the lake in Troutman. It’s a simple, pretty vineyard with an airy tasting room and outdoor seating overlooking a pond. There are lots of vineyards farther north on 77, but this is a good one for a taste of the local grapes.
For a playful twist, make a trip to Lazy 5 Ranch in Mooresville. You feed animals like giraffes and deer from your hand. It’s kind of a weird experience, but it’s also pretty fun. (Warning: You will find bits of animal feed in your car for weeks after this trip. Turns out, wild animals are not neat eaters.)
During the warmer months, stop at Carrigan Farms in Mooresville for a swim. It’s a pick-your-own farm for some seasonal crops and offers fun hayrides in the fall, but the coolest thing at this farm is its rock-quarry-turned-swimming-hole where you park in a field and take a path through the woods to this hidden gem.
If you’re looking for a casual bite, go to Alino Pizzeria in Mooresville. I really can’t stress enough how much I love this place. It’s the best pizza restaurant I’ve ever been to. Ever. And it’s housed in a cool old mill. It’s relaxed and casual while also being chic. I would eat there every day if I lived in Mooresville. Every. Freaking. Day.
I don’t really feel like I need to express how much you need to eat at Kindred if you haven’t yet. I’ll let all the national accolades and James Beard nominations do the talking for me. But seriously, go there. And order the fried oysters and the birthday cake dessert. I realize that’s a weird combo, but both those things are just so good.
If you have extra time, check out the Davidson Farmers Market on a Saturday morning. There’s a woman there who sells Mason jars filled with fresh goat cheese and tapenade. Buy them. And then grab a fresh loaf of bread at Millstone Bakehouse to smear that on. Unfortunately, there are no photographic examples of this due to being distracted by eating it. So, you’re just going to have to trust me on that one.