The small town of Cornelius (population 26,000) straddles I-77 just 30 minutes north of Charlotte. To the east is a traditional Main Street district and to the west is Lake Norman. It’s one of my favorite places to go to get out of Charlotte because it’s close but feels far away. And there’s a lot to explore there, from antique shops and boutiques to breweries and bakeries.
Unfortunately, this round up comes with a disclaimer: It barely scratches the surface of all there is to see, do and eat in Cornelius. I got a flat tire and had to cut my day short. So before you send me a list of the hundred places I missed, just know that I know. But don’t worry, Cornelius. I’ll be back.
This is a perfect place to visit on the weekend when you’ve got time to wander around aimlessly. Just check your tires first.
Avalilly’s – 21241 Catawba Avenue – The sister store of Charlotte’s Fresh Boutique on Providence has a selection of women’s clothing and accessories.
Bebe Gallini’s – 19725 Oak Street – Light, airy gift shop full of jewelry, art, clothing and more.
COCOCO – 19725 Oak Street #5 – The Comfortable Couch Company creates customizable furniture made in their small plant in Newton, NC. They’ve got two showrooms, one in New York City and this one in Cornelius.
Maddy’s Fatty’s Bakery – 19905 W. Catawba Avenue – This bakery features an impressive selection of cupcakes, cookies, cakes and more, including a separate case dedicated entirely to gluten-free and vegan goods. They competed on the 10,000th episode of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars.
The Marketplace – 19725 Oak Street – Christian fair trade store that sources goods from around the world to empower artisans with economic mobility.
Mark Twain sculpture – 21105 Catawba Avenue – The life-size bronze statue by sculptor Jon Hair is located in front of the public library. Twain is reading a copy of Huckleberry Finn. Great photo op.
Oak Street Mill Antiques – 19725 Oak Street – This 10,000-square-foot mill is a treasure trove of antique goods from 50+ vendors.
Old Town Public House – 21314 Catawba Avenue – OTPH is so cool. I’d move in to this craft beer bottle shop if they’d let me.
The Pick-It Furniture Co. – 21348 Catawba Avenue – Massive 58,000-square-foot furniture warehouse with $3 million in inventory. Endless maze of furniture.
Skilstak Coding Arts – 21347 Catawba Avenue – This isn’t exactly something to stop and explore but I wanted to include it because I think a coding school tossed in among the antique mall and thrift shops on Catawba Avenue makes for a unique dynamic of old and new.
Veterans Monument – 21445 Catawba Avenue – The wall, located at Town Hall, features names of Cornelius veterans.