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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.
Having recently moved from Charlotte to Davidson I can safely say that this small town is pretty much perfect. So, if you’re thinking of checking it out — for the day or something a little more permanent — here’s a list of a few of our favorite things to do.
(1) Grab a coffee (or a cold beer) at Summit Coffee
Owned and operated by Davidson grads, Summit offers sustainably grown coffee (or tea). From sun up to sun down, you’ll find folks of every age grabbing a drink on the go, hanging with friends, or working on the next great business idea or book.
Beer: In the afternoons and into the evenings, Summit adds beer to the mix, which customers can enjoy inside or out back by the downtown playground or while listening to live music most weekend nights.
Coronavirus restrictions: As of early June, Summit is open until 7 p.m. every day and operating at reduced capacity given the current situation with coronavirus. All staff members are wearing face masks, and they ask customers to do the same.
(2) Eat, drink, and be merry at Kindred
Owned and operated by Davidson’s own Joe and Katy Kindred, this restaurant isn’t just a small-town gem, it’s a nationally recognized gold standard in what a restaurant can and should be. Kindred focuses on local and seasonal ingredients made with love and served by the best in the business.
Agenda pro tip: Order a “Barkeep’s Choice” and the bartender will surprise you with a cocktail of his/her choosing.
Coronavirus restrictions: After months of takeout only due to coronavirus, Kindred reopened to dine-in service at 50 percent capacity on June 2. The dining room will be open for dinner on Tuesday through Saturday, by reservation only for three seatings at 5 p.m., 7 p.m., and 9 p.m.
(3) Build your own bowl at Davidson Ice House
The new kid on the block, sort of, Davidson Icehouse is located in the South Main part of town in what was formerly the actual Davidson ice house, built in 1922.
Menu design: The restaurant prides itself on “inclusive dining” a concept created by owner Jenny Brulée. At one time or another, Brulée’s four daughters had four vastly different eating needs — everything from no restrictions to vegan to vegetarian to gluten free and everything in between. As a result, Brulée began prepping meals by cooking a variety of ingredients and serving them in separate bowls so her girls could choose what worked for them. The idea took off, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Coronavirus restrictions: As of early June, Davidson Ice House offers pickup and outdoor seating on picnic tables spaced six feet apart.
(4) Stroll the campus of Davidson College
Founded in 1837 and situated on 665 acres of land, Davidson College is home to about 1,850 students from 48 states (and D.C.) and 47 countries. But if you don’t know a Wildcat personally, there’s still tons to enjoy on this campus. A stroll through the area boasts a sculpture by Jaume Plensa, lifesize stickwork by Patrick Dougherty, and so much more.
(5) 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 — but if you’ve only got time to try one thing, I can’t help but recommend the sandwich for which this spot is named (or is it the other way around?) — the ham, brie, and pickled peach sandwich on challah bread. It’s salty, sweet, and just the right size. For a bonus, add one of their homemade pastries and call it a day.
Coronavirus restrictions: The Pickled Peach remains open for curbside pickup and delivery only, including brunch kits on weekends.
(6) Buy local at the Davidson Farmer’s Market
Davidson Farmer’s Market runs year-round, open Saturdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. from April through November and twice monthly the rest of the year. (Note: Due to COVID-19, Davidson Farmer’s Market has not yet reopened.)
Local favorites: Barbee Farms (you’ll never meet a kinder family than the one Tommy and Anna Barbee have built, and their friends and employees are like family), Raceway Berry Farm flowers, Una Alla Volta cheeses, and Ren Bee Farms honey.
Coronavirus impact: Davidson Farmer’s Market remains closed due to coronavirus. With its relatively small footprint, there’s no way to maintain six feet between vendors the market said in a statement. It is still organizing produce box pick-ups, though. Follow along on Instagram for more details.
(7) Get outside on the Davidson Greenway
Whether you like to walk, run, scooter, or bike, the Davidson Greenway is the perfect way to get outside and enjoy nature 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.
(8) Learn something new at Main Street Books
To say I love this place is a gross understatement. I’m a reader. And I’m a writer. And Main Street Books is my home away from home.
Owned and operated by Adah Fitzgerald who bought the bookstore in 2015 from its original owners, Main Street Books fosters a community of readers. In addition, MSB hosts a handful of regularly scheduled events and programs, open to readers and writers of all ages.
Coronavirus restrictions: Main Street Books is open with a reservation-based shopping system right now. Book a 40-minute time slot online here.
(9) Attend an event or performance at Davidson College
From world-renowned writers and speakers to local heroes, Davidson regularly opens its doors to any and all who want to expand their horizons or challenge long-held beliefs.
My favorite so far was the 2020 Reynolds Lecture — a sold out event with a world-renowned author Bryan Stevenson who got me thinking about the ways I can get involved in my community and start affecting change.
Coronavirus restrictions: In-person events aren’t happening now, but the college has a handful of virtual cooking classes scheduled for June. Classes are two hours and will be led by different chefs each week.
(10) 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.
Coronavirus pivot: You can buy yarn and craft kits online, and tune in for virtual meetups with other crafty people to learn new techniques or just chat and craft.
(11) Go shopping at Moxie Mercantile
The second location for owner Michelle Castelloe, Moxie is the perfect place to find that little something for a friend or co-worker (think candles, home accessories, gift-y books) or yourself (think jewelry, handbags, and more).
(12) Cheer for the home team at a Davidson College sporting event
Though probably best known for their Men’s Basketball team who most notably produced the Golden State Warriors’ own Steph Curry, Davidson is a Division 1 school in the Atlantic 10 Conference and home to nearly 20 different teams competing on the national stage three seasons out of the year.
(13) Catch a show at the Davidson Community Players’ Armour Street Theater
Founded in 1965 this nonprofit theater runs a five-show season annually as well as a handful of camps and other classes for children of all ages throughout the year.
Coronavirus impact: For the first time in 55 years, the summer season is canceled due to coronavirus. Without shows running, DCP is unable to generate revenue. You can donate to its Encore Fund here to show support.
(14) Celebrate the season at Christmas in Davidson
I know 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.
(15) Keep in touch with a little help from the stationery shop, Elisabeth Rose
With prime real estate in the heart of Davidson, Elisabeth Rose sells paper products like notecards, notepads, and more.
Additionally, the shop sells accessories, holds a variety of classes throughout the year, and assists in making custom wedding announcements and invitations.
Coronavirus pivot: Connolly recently started offering a “Work From Home Candle” which has been wildly popular; as of now it’s in stock, but it’s sold out before. The candle is fig, lavender, and linen scented and costs $45.
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