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Belmont, our neighbor west of the Catawba River, offers a drastic change of pace and refreshing escape from the city just 15 miles outside Uptown.
The small waterside town (population just over 12,000) exudes a mix of old school charm and New South swagger, especially on the Main Street drag where you’ll find everything from a trendy craft cocktail bar in an old jailhouse to a casual dive bar where friends are like family.
The historic general store (circa 1889) with its iconic ice cream counter is just down the street from the Jonas family’s sleek Southern restaurant with a rooftop bar. (Yes, that Jonas family.) The small town, located down I-85 South just past the Whitewater Center, is even home to its own craft brewery and the oldest legal rum distillery in the Carolinas.
Here are 20 of our favorite things to do in Belmont, NC.
(1) Fuel up at Mugshots Coffee
The tiny cafe from two former law enforcement officers features direct trade beans from small farms and home-brewed kombucha. It’s near the railway tracks. The maple latte is nuts. 102 South Main Street
(2) Tour Muddy River Distillery.
Located right on the Catawba River, the oldest legal rum distillery in the Carolinas offers $8 tours Saturdays at 1, 2 and 3 p.m. The local spirit is on a number of cocktail menus throughout Charlotte. 1500 River Drive, Suite 100
(3) Eat modern Greek food at Estia’s Kouzina
They’ve got Mediterranean classics like mousaka, souvlaki, and gyro in housemade pita bread. 609 North Main Street
(4) Support Holy Angels with a meal at Cherub’s Cafe
The beloved restaurant provides vocational training and meaningful employment opportunities for the “differently able.” Go with the sampler (choice of three sides) with potato salad, chicken salad, and broccoli slaw. 23 North Main Street
(5) Post a pic of your cocktail at the Belmont Cocktail Club
Belmont Cocktail Club, inside the former Belmont Drug Co. store (same signage), offers Instagrammable craft cocktails and food. It’s got a little bit of a Palm Springs vibe, which is crazy because it’s in downtown Belmont. 31 North Main Street
(6) Eat under the lights on the patio at The String Bean
The butcher, bottle shop, and restaurant has been a Belmont staple for more than a decade. 106 North Main Street
(7) Sip craft cocktails behind bars at The Jailhouse
The whiskey bar and cigar lounge is located in the old town jail built in 1969. There’s no way it’s not haunted, but it’s such a cool experience. Find the entrance behind Old Stone Steakhouse. 23 South Main Street
(8) Make your own cotton candy at the Cotton Candy Factory
Cherub Cafe’s sister candy shop supports the same Holy Angel’s mission with a sweet, hands-on experience. The cotton candy machine takes a few minutes to heat up, then just add the pink or blue sugar and watch the fluffy deliciousness just stick to the paper cone as you twirl it. 21 North Main Street
(9) Eat meat and drink whiskey at The Lodge
You’ll find antlers on the wall and menu items ranging from barbecue bison buffalo balls to venison chili nachos to “buffaloaf.” It’s located behind The String Bean. 101 Kenwood Street
(10) Enjoy Southern food and rooftop views at Nellie’s
The sleek restaurant from Jonas family patriarch Kevin Sr. pays tribute to his grandmother, Nellie, who lived in Belmont until she passed in 2011. The banana pudding is Nellie’s original recipe. 36 North Main Street
(11) Drink an IPA at Jeckyll & Hyde
It’s opening soon! This Matthews-based brewery recently renovated the 12,000-square-foot, 1930s building next door to Nellie’s. There are TVs inside, and you’ll find a beer garden setup with picnic tables outside. 10 Catawba Street
(12) Grab a burger and beer at Sammy’s
This popular neighborhood pub in downtown is a Belmont staple. 25 South Main Street
(13) Shop global gourmet goods at Belmont’s Specialty Foods
The adorable, old school grocer has products lined floor to ceiling with rolling ladders for employees to use. 35 North Main St
(14) Hang with the locals at Friends
The casual sports bar is the kind of place where everybody really does know your name. 16 North Main Street
(15) Visit Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens
The 380-acre garden features a beer garden, fountains and water accents and an orchid conservancy home to unique tropical plants. 6500 South New Hope Road
(16) Have a steak dinner at Old Stone Steakhouse
The steakhouse in a restored century-old police station has been serving Belmont for more than a decade. 23 South Main Street
(17) Take a stroll through Stowe Park
It’s on main street and is the perfect spot for kids (or dogs) to go crazy. 24 South Main Street
(18) Go antique shopping
(19) Hang out at the Station, a bar inside a bike shop inside an old train depot
Got all that? The historic P&N Railway Depot is home to South Main Cycles, a bike shop with its own on-site bar. 4 North Main Street
(20) Rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard.
Located on the Catawba River, Riverside Paddle and Row rents kayaks and paddleboards for $25 for 90 minutes. Call in advance to book. 1500 River Drive
Looking for more suburb and day trip guides? Here are all Agenda suburb guides including Matthews and Waxhaw.