Road trips are vogue right now. We joined the many Americans packing their cars and hitting the road for family vacations. Heading east, we found respite at a quiet lakeside retreat in North Carolina. Lake Norman, a 33 mile long, man-made lake, is situated just 40 minutes north of Charlotte. It’s tree dense shores are home to lake houses, ranging from quaint to oh-wow, and dotted with docks that house boats and jet skis. We’ve scouted the surrounding towns and rounded up the best places to eat, shop in the vicinity.
Lake Norman’s surrounding Main streets and tree lined byways are home to small, local businesses that capture the essence of the region. The night we arrived, we ordered dinner from Kindred, located on Davidson, NC’s Main Street. Dine in the cozy dining room, housed in a 100 year-old brick building, or on their elegantly appointed patio. The menu, carefully crafted by the husband and wife ownership duo, uses locally sourced ingredients to create a mouthwatering, seasonal menu. Grandfather’s pickles, duck fat potatoes and the crisp little gem lettuces are the perfect lead into the fresh fish, delectable pasta or ribeye entrees.
If you’re lucky enough to be in town on a Saturday, head to the Davidson Farmer’s Market to shop alongside the locals from area farms. Davidson is also home to Summit Coffee where you can grab a fair trade, organic coffee to sip while you explore the town. Just a few doors down is Main Street Books, an independent book store stocked with new bestsellers and timeless favorites. Keep going and you’ll run into Moxie Mercantile, another independently owned boutique stocking sustainable brands of jewelry, home goods and more. Stop by The Pickled Peach, tucked back in a nook off of the main road, for lunch. House made soups, sandwiches and salads are made with organic produce, local whenever possible. While you’re there, browse the market that features a curated selection of beer, wine and artisan groceries.
If you’re up for venturing a bit further, head south towards Huntersville to the McLeod Organics shop located at Bradford Farm. The farm shop stocks locally grown, organic produce, grass-fed meats, organic groceries, fresh bread and so much more. It’s also a nice stop if you’re coming from Charlotte to stock up on ingredients for a farm-fresh dinner.
The lake itself offered a perfect break from the monotony of life during Covid. Our porch had the perfect view of the lake and served as a comfortable place to get a little work done, read, and daydream while watching the water. Rent a boat and you can easily spend hours exploring the seemingly endless inlets of the lake, admiring all the amazing homes that dot the shore. Nearby, Lake Norman State Park offers a different perspective of the lake through hiking trails that wind through towering trees.
No matter what your perfect road trip vacation looks like, Lake Norman has something to please everyone in the family. From being out on the water, to cozying up with a book or strolling downtown, no one will feel left out. Davidson’s quaint downtown offers many opportunities to shop small and meet the local business owners. The weekly farmers market also affords visitors the chance to meet local farmers and purchase locally grown, raised and made food. Stock up to cook at home while you relax, take in the view and breathe.