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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 (pop. 10,784) 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 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.
Grab a milkshake at the Belmont General Store. The historic shop (circa 1889) has a legit throwback soda shop inside along with hardware, trinkets and everyday provisions. While some small town general stores feel gimmicky and designed just for tourists, this is still a practical place for locals. Address: 6 N. Main Street
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. Address: 1500 River Drive #100
Have a pint and a beer cupcake at Rivermen Brewing Company. The expansive brewery in an old mill features a full-service restaurant, including cupcakes made with beer — like their caramel porter cupcake. Address: 52 Ervin Street
Eat under the lights on the patio at The String Bean. The butcher, bottle shop and restaurant has been a Belmont staple for 10 years. Address: 106 N. Main Street
Sip craft cocktails behind the 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. Address: 23 S. Main Street
Eat modern Greek food at Estia’s Kouzina. They’ve got Mediterranean classics like mousaka, souvlaki and gyro in housemade pita bread. Address: 609 N. Main Street
Support Holy Angels with a meal at Cherub’s Cafe. The beloved restaurant provides vocational training and meaningful employment opportunities for the differently able. Address: 23 N. Main Street
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. Address: 21 N. Main Street
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. Address: 7 N. Main Street
Hang with the locals at Friends. The casual sports bar is the kind of place where everybody really does know your name. Address: 16 N. Main Street
Drink wine and eat tapas at Luna Hombre. The intimate wine bodega and tapas bar is located in the old Belmont Drug building (circa 1900) and is perfect for date night. Address: 31 N. Main Street
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. Address: 36 N. Main Street
Indulge in cocktails and dessert at Bar 10. The larger venue, 10 Catawba, is a popular wedding and event space, but the front bar is open to the public Tuesday – Saturday. Address: 10 Catawba Street
Eat Sunday brunch at Seven Oaks Cafe in the historic McLean House. The home was built in the 1850s and is beautifully preserved today. If the weather’s nice, be sure to sit outside on the porch. Address: 175 Armstrong Road
Get barbecue at Peace N Hominy. Order at the counter to dine in or carry out at this casual barbecue joint adjacent to Belmont’s Drug Store. Address: 403 E. Catawba Street
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. Address: 4 N. Main Street
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. Address: 23 S. Main Street
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. Address: 6500 S. New Hope Road
This article was updated September 2018.