In Charlotte, we’re fortunate to have a wealth of attractions like the U.S. National Whitewater Center, Carowinds and the Charlotte Motor Speedway that bring in guests from all over the world. But, if you’re the type of traveler who’s looking to experience the side streets and hidden gems of Charlotte in addition to the main street draws, we’ve got you covered.
In our “Live Like a Local” series, we’ll take a look at a new ZIP code that makes up a unique Charlotte neighborhood full of life and culture.
So make your way over to Belmont and experience Charlotte like a local in 28012:
Pair bites and beats at Nellie’s Southern Kitchen
Joining Charlotte’s ever-expanding culinary scene in June of 2016, Nellie’s Southern Kitchen is the brainchild of Kevin Jonas, Sr., patriarch of pop icons the Jonas Brothers. Marrying a medley of downhome flavors with Southern elegance—que vibrant hydrangea on every table—and proud family tradition, the spot was inspired by Jonas, Sr.’s grandmother, Nellie, who lived in Belmont her whole life.
Tucked along one of the quaint town’s main streets, Nellie’s invites diners in to enjoy rustic and industrial decor and a stage for live music performed by local artists and the wait staff, giving a nod to the family’s musical prowess. Everything on the menu, which spans chicken and dumplings to decadent dessert-style biscuits, is housemade. Plus, 90 percent of the ingredients are sourced within the state. After you’ve devoured hearty helpings of fried chicken, ask for a side of the fall seasonal favorite, Sweet Caroline—sweet potato casserole piled high in a cast iron skillet.
Explore the great outdoors at Goat Island Park and Greenway
Goat Island Park’s unusual name pays homage to the vegetation methods enacted by textile engineer Stuart Cramer, who released goats in the town of Cramerton—just under a 1/2 hr drive from Uptown Charlotte—to control its vegetation in the early 1900s. Today, the beautiful park and greenway is home to just about everything a lover of the outdoors could ever want. Free to the public and packed with kid-friendly fun, it’s a perfect retreat for family adventure.
The 29-acre park is nestled along the South Fork of the Catawba River. Along Goat Island’s gorgeous grounds, you’ll find a .7-mile paved greenway trail, which utilizes two pedestrian bridges that cross the South Fork. The park also boasts access to the water via two canoe and kayaking landings and features an observation pier, an 18-hole disc golf course, playgrounds, a fitness pavilion and an open-air amphitheater.
Savor exquisite spirits at Muddy River Distillery
Experts when it comes to local rum, Muddy River Distillery has been distilling fine spirits and giving them Carolina flavors along the banks of the Catawba River since 2011. Owners and North Carolina natives Robbie and Caroline Delaney work atop reclaimed floors using two custom-built stills—they’re called Liberty and Democracy. The Delaneys source premium ingredients to use in their handcrafted recipes. Within the 6,100-square-foot mill space, they churn out as many as 300 bottles of rum each day. Their products include: Silver Carolina Rum, Charlotte’s Reserve, Coconut Carolina Rum and Spiced Carolina Rum.
While you’re there, be sure be sure to take advantage of the guided tours, which include tastings (you’re required to tour in order to taste). Tours range in time and the depth to which the rum-making process is revealed. No reservations are required, and tour schedules are posted at muddyriverdistillery.com.
Written by Emily Farington Smith for Charlotte Happenings November 2016 issue. Updates by Sean Smith.