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Davidson is one of North Carolina’s best-kept secrets. Situated just 22 miles from Charlotte up I-77 on Lake Norman, it’s often described as idyllic by residents and visitors alike.
Davidson is a small town with all the best trappings of a small town — locally owned and run restaurants and businesses, a charming Main Street and the wide green spaces of Davidson College.
If you’re thinking of checking it out — for the day or something a little more permanent — here’s a list of ways to explore the town of Davidson, North Carolina.
Kickstart your morning at Summit Coffee
Owned and operated by Davidson grads, Summit Coffee has locations across the Southeast U.S., but their flagship, called Basecamp, is in downtown Davidson. Summit produces locally-roasted coffee, but they also deliver a stacked menu of non-coffee drinks — including tea, matcha and even beer. You’ll also find pastries and other light bites (I always go for the yogurt parfait).
- Basecamp has fairly limited seating on its ground floor, but you’ll find plenty more upstairs.
Details: Summit Coffee Basecamp is located downtown at 128 S Main St.
- Its open Monday-Tuesday 6am-7pm, Wednesday-Friday 6am-9pm, Saturday 7am-9pm and Sunday 7am-5pm.
- There’s an addition Summit Coffee at Davidson College called The Outpost.
Take a hot yoga class at Yoga on Davidson
If you’re looking to stay mindful (and break a sweat while you’re at it), check out Yoga on Davidson. The hot yoga studio specializes in energetic, heated flow classes. I took their Power Flow with Tyler, which did not disappoint.
- It’s $17 to drop in, but the studio typically offers promotions for new members. Right now, it’s $20 for two weeks.
Details: Yoga on Davidson is located at 120 S Village Ln Unit B
- See their full class schedule.
Explore all Davidson College has to offer
Founded in 1837 and situated on 665 acres, Davidson College is home to about 1,900 students from states across the country (and it has an international enrollment rate of 11%). Whether you know a Wildcat personally or not, there’s a lot to enjoy on this campus.
- From the arts to sporting events, check Davidson’s master calendar for all upcoming events.
Grab a sandwich at The Pickled Peach
The menu at The Pickled Peach is nothing if not unique, specializing in hand-crafted, seasonal sandwiches, soups, and salads. If you’ve only got time to try one thing, it has to be the sandwich for which the spot is named (or is it the other way around?) — the ham, brie, and pickled peach sandwich on challah bread.
- For a bonus, add one of their homemade pastries.
Details: Find the The Pickled Peach at 202 S Main St.
- It’s open Tuesday-Sunday 11am-7pm (closed on Monday).
Shop local at The Bungalow Market, Davidson Provision Company and The Village Store.
Grab lunch at The Pickled Peach, then have a mini shopping day — these three stores are all sprinkled along Davidson’s South Main St, so you can easily hop from one to the other.
The Bungalow Market is your go-to for home decor — you’ll find unique home furnishings, both new and vintage.
- It’s located at 202 South Main St. (next to Ben and Jerry’s).
- It’s open Monday-Friday 10am-6pm, Saturday 10am-5pm and Sunday noon-5pm.
Davidson Provision Company, or DAVPROCO, is your stop for all things outdoors, in addition to other knickknacks and gifts.
- It’s located at 116 South Main St.
- It’s open Monday-Saturday 10am-6pm and Sunday 11am-5pm.
The Village Store is a family-owned gift shop with an inventory so massive, it’s fair to say you’ll find a gift for any occasion.
- It’s located at 110 South Main St.
- The store is open Monday-Saturday 9am-6pm and Sunday 10am-4pm.
Honor your sweet tooth at Whit’s Frozen Custard.
This spot came highly recommended by a few Davidson friends, and now I understand the hype. The frozen custard chain has a massive menu, including vegan-friendly and build-your-own frozen custard options. There’s no shortage of toppings to choose from, either.
- I opted for “The Buckeye,” which I was told is their most popular flavor. It’s a vanilla custard base with Reese’s Cups, chocolate syrup and peanut butter.
Details: Whit’s is located at 428 South Main St.
- It’s open every day from noon to 10pm.
Buy local at the Davidson Farmer’s Market
The Davidson Farmer’s Market runs 9am to noon every Saturday, from April 1 to Nov. 18.
What to expect: Vendors selling fruits and vegetables, meat and dairy, freshly baked bread and artisanal baked goods, plus health and beauty products, among other offerings.
- A few vendors to check out include Barbee Farms, Raceway Berry Farm flowers and Ren Bee Farms honey.
Details: Find the Farmer’s Market at 120 S. Main St. (next to Town Hall).
Get outside on the Davidson Greenway
Whether you like to walk, run, scooter, or bike, the Davidson Greenway is a way to enjoy the outdoors while not having to go too far off the beaten path.
Layout: A 6-mile loop from start to finish, the greenway has a variety of entry and exit points all throughout Davidson and neighboring Cornelius, allowing visitors to hop on or off whenever they prefer.
- Check out a map of the greenway here.
Learn something new at Main Street Books
Owned and operated by Adah Fitzgerald, who bought the bookstore in 2015 from its original owners, Main Street Books fosters a community of readers through events and programs, including a book club and writing club. And let’s not forget the abundance of books lining the walls.
Pro tip: Grab a new book and break it open over coffee at Summit.
Details: Main Street Books is located at 126 S Main St.
- It’s open Monday-Saturday 10am-6pm and Sunday 11am-4pm.
Sip on nostalgia at The Davidson Soda Shop
The Davidson Soda Shop opened in 1951 and remains a popular spot for students, residents and visitors alike. The timeless spot serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus an array of sodas (naturally) and ice cream.
Details: The Soda Shop is located at 104 S Main St.
- It’s open Monday-Friday 10am-8pm and Saturday-Sunday 8am-8pm.
Get crafty at Hearts on Fiber
Located in the South Main part of town, Hearts on Fiber is family-owned and operated. From hand-dyed materials to classes of all kinds, this shop has everything for your next fiber-art project.
Details: Find Hearts on Fiber at 208 S Village Lane A (near Whit’s and Yoga on Davidson).
- It’s open Tuesday noon-8pm, Wednesday-Saturday 10am-5pm, closed Sunday and Monday.
Eat, drink, and be merry at Kindred
Owned and operated by Davidson’s own Joe and Katy Kindred, Kindred isn’t just a small-town gem, it’s a nationally recognized restaurant — Joe, the chef, has been James Beard semi-finalist multiple times, and Kindred was named the best restaurant in North Carolina by Southern Living in 2018.
- The Kindreds also own Hello, Sailor, a waterfront restaurant in Cornelius and Milkbread, an all-day cafe with locations in Davidson and Plaza Midwood.
[Go deeper: 30 best restaurants in Charlotte, right now]
Pro tip: Order a “Barkeep’s Choice” and the bartender will surprise you with a cocktail of their choosing.
Details: Kindred is located at 131 N Main St.
- It’s open Tuesday-Saturday fro 5-10pm.
Find your new favorite wine at Side Bar Bottle Co.
After dinner at Kindred, head over to Side Bar (it’s walkable from the restaurant), for a nightcap or a bottle to-go. The Instagrammable bottle shop specializes in handpicked wines, local beer and snacks with weekly events, like Tasting Tuesdays, Trivia Wednesdays and Live Music Thursdays.
- Find upcoming events and more on their Instagram.
Details: Side Bar is located at 208 S Main St.
- It’s open Tuesday-Thursday 4-9pm, Friday 4-10pm and Saturday 2-10pm.
Catch a show by the Davidson Community Players
Founded in 1965, this nonprofit theater runs a six-show season annually, including two summer shows held at The Duke Family Performance Hall on the campus of Davidson College. They also host numerous workshops and productions for children and teens through their youth division, The Connie Company.
What’s next: “Mary Poppins” will run through July 2, 2023, followed by “The Explorer’s Club,” premiering July 20.
- Get the full show lineup here.
Celebrate the season at Christmas in Davidson
Yes, it’s seasonal, but it’s amazing. The three-day-long event, held annually on the first weekend after Thanksgiving, Christmas in Davidson brings visitors from miles around to share in performances by local school groups and organizations, vendors, horse and carriage rides, letters to (and from!) Santa and more.
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