18 things to see, do and eat in Salisbury (45 minutes from Charlotte)

18 things to see, do and eat in Salisbury (45 minutes from Charlotte)
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Note: Our “Driving Distance” series is powered by Hendrick Auto Mall Concord Mills. Take your next day-trip in a 2016 Toyota RAV4 from Hendrick Toyota Concord — GM Donnie Moore can help you pick yours out.

    I made a blind trip to Salisbury on Wednesday afternoon. I didn’t do any research, didn’t look up any sites to explore, didn’t even put in an address. I just mapped my way from Charlotte to Salisbury and decided to figure out the rest when I got there. What I found was a thriving downtown district, a true Old South Main Street revival (or preservation) and just a gem of a town.


    salisbury nc

    I got there around lunchtime and found a small crowd of workers watching a street performer sing a cover of Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable.” (Is this my heaven? Yes.) Street performances aren’t uncommon in Salisbury. In fact, the city’s 3rd Annual Busker’s Festival was last weekend and featured more than 40 performers lining the streets.

    I wish I had found out about the festival sooner, but it’s not too soon to start planning for next year’s event. It’ll be Friday, September 2, 2016.

    Salisbury NC

    Everyone I encountered greeted me with the same two questions, “First time here? What can I help you with?”

    Maybe my suspicious iPhone photography of everything in sight was a red flag or maybe I looked like an outsider in my baseball tee and white jeans or maybe the people of Salisbury really are just that accommodating. Whatever it was, I liked it.

    Here are 18 things to see, do and eat in downtown Salisbury (and this isn’t even close to everything).

    See & Do

    Carolina Lily
    Address: 314 Depot Street

    Large, four-room shop filled with jewelry, housewares and clever gifts.

    Carolina Lily

    Carolina Lily

    Tickle Our Ivories Project
    Location: multiple locations downtown

    Salisbury Symphony partnered with Rowan County high schools to create a community arts initiative. Students decorated seven donated pianos that are now on display throughout downtown. Passersby are encouraged to stop and play.

    piano Salisbury NC

    Literary Bookpost
    Address: 110 South Main Street

    Is there any greater business concept than a bookstore with a bar? Literary Bookpost serves wine and beer and hosts regular social events for book lovers.

    Literary Bookpost

    bookstore bar

    Lettered Lily
    Address: 109 West Fisher Street

    Super cute stationery store.

    Lettered Lily

    Historic Salisbury Mural
    Location: behind Wells Fargo at 130 South Main Street

    A 127-ft x 48-ft mural painted by artist Cynvia Rankin in 1980. Fully restored in 2001.

    Salisbury mural

    Ruby’s Boutique
    Address: 210 South Main Street

    I didn’t have time to stop in here but anyone with a “Proud supporter of messy hair and sweatpants” shirt in the front window deserves a feature.

    Ruby's Boutique

    Queen’s Gifts
    Address: 221 South Main Street

    Massive gift shop loaded down with jewelry, accessories, art and more.

    Queen's Salisbury

    Queen's Gifts


    Simply Good Natural Foods
    Address: 128 East Innes Street

    A Salisbury staple since 1979, this store is filled with natural foods, supplements, local goods and more. They’ve also got a smoothie bar and customer lounge.

    Simply Good

    Spanky’s Homemade Ice Cream & Deli
    Address: 101 North Main Street

    Local favorite for homemade ice cream since 1986.


    Abigail’s – A Cake Affair
    Address: 113 North Main Street

    New bakery selling cupcakes, cookies, homemade ice cream and gorgeous custom cakes.



    Hap’s Grill
    Address: 116 1/2 North Main Street

    I saw a line out the door and a crowd of people huddled around a stand-up table in front of this tiny to-go counter and had to stop and get the scoop. Turned out the people at the table were Agenda readers and were happy to offer up their dogs for a photo. Hap’s has a simple five-item menu (hot dogs $1.75, hamburgers $3.50, bottled drinks $1.50, chips $0.75 and slushes $2). Cash only.

    Hap's Grill

    Haps Grill

    Maraca’s Cuban Cafe
    Address: 118 West Innes Street

    Authentic Cuban food from Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef Mabel Jacome and her husband Frank Trujillo.


    Innes Street Drug
    Address: 112 South Main Street and 1706 West Innes Street

    Nothing makes me happier than an old school pharmacy/soda shop combo. Very, very intrigued by the Apple Ugly, a Salisbury original that’s basically a hunk of dough dripping in frosting. The preparation instructions include “take a nap” as a step.

    Innes Street Drug

    Ugly Bites

    Go Burrito!
    Address: 115 West Fisher Street

    Home of the only rooftop patio in a 50-mile radius.

    Go Burrito

    Isjay’s Sweets & Celebrations
    Address: 206 South Main Street

    This bakeshop with an unexpected video game lounge behind the kitchen is like the mullet of bakeries: business in the front, party in the back.


    Isjay's cupcakes

    Isjay's game room

    Firehouse Sweets
    Address: 207 South Main Street

    Famous for their oatmeal cream pies.

    Firehouse Sweets

    Firehouse Sweets

    Chef Santos by Goodfellas
    Address: 123 East Fisher Street

    When I asked someone for the best restaurant in town, this is what they told me, but it’s closed for lunch.

    Santos Salisbury

    Firehouse Brew Pit
    Address: 113 South Lee Street

    This place was oddly packed at 2 o’clock on a Wednesday afternoon.

    Firehouse Brew Pit

    Bonus point: You can take the train. Amtrak travels from Charlotte to Salisbury in about 40 minutes for $10 to $12 each way. The Salisbury Depot will drop you right in the heart of downtown.

    Salisbury Amtrak

    Salisbury Depot


    Connect with Downtown Salisbury


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