Wednesday afternoon we hit the road for Charlotte, NC. I’ve lived in NC before but on the coast. I’d never visited Charlotte in my almost 2 years living there but absolutely love the state. NC is this wonderful mix of southern mentality (people hold the doors open for you and say “Thank You”) and 4 seasons. This trip was mostly to explore the area to see if it might be where we want to live in the not so distant future. Bry ended up getting off work early which timed perfectly with preschool pickup. We all arrived home at the same time, threw the last pieces of luggage in the truck and were on the road! It was timed great with the boys naptime and we had high hopes that they’d snooze the first few hours of the “7 hour” trip, but no such luck. They maybe got 30 minutes and were wide awake the rest of the time.
We cruised along and avoided traffic, taking several pit stops for a toddler and pregnant mama to potty and grabbed dinner at a Cracker Barrel along the way. Around bedtime, about 2 hours from our hotel, the boys finally crashed. We made it to check-in around 9:30, set up the pack n plays and all promptly passed out. Jax must have been excited to start exploring because he was up in the 4 o’clock hour despite missing his nap and having a shortened night of sleep. We made our way downstairs for the complimentary buffet breakfast at the hotel when they opened at 6 and then set out to explore.
Day 1 we decided to check out the U.S. National Whitewater Center. We heard great things about it and wanted to see what it was all about. We planned to explore some of the trails on the property. We were lucky to be able to enter the area and park despite the center itself not opening for several hours. We walked around the giant rafting pond which was really cool to see turned off, completely silent and the area totally desolate except for us. There weren’t a ton of signs for the trails so we just sort of kept walking around trying to find something that looked like what we wanted. We ended up stumbling upon the “Challenge Course” which was a series of obstacles tucked into the woods. The boys had a blast challenging themselves for awhile.
After awhile we kept going and ran into one of the trails.
It was really serene and featured some beautiful views.
We stumbled upon a footbridge that crossed the water and decided to see what was on the other side. The answer: absolute beauty.
That’s the Catawba River and it was massive! I’ve always been drawn to the water and the sense of peace that comes along with being near it.
We finished our hike back towards the rafting pond and let the boys out of the hiking packs to run off some energy.
Eventually we made it back to the car and set out to find some coffee and treats. A quick google search led us to CupCrazed Cakery in Fort Mill, SC which was one of the areas we wanted to explore. Apparently the cakery won Cupcake Wars so we definitely had to try it out. I went with a red velvet cupcake that was hands down the best cupcake I’ve ever had. Jax was a fan of licking all the buttercream off his cupcake…and scooping it off with a straw.
We found a nearby park and the boys ran around for awhile before we picked up some sandwiches from McAlister’s Deli and headed back to the hotel for naptime.
After naps we went down to the hotel pool and let the boys go crazy. They both love to swim and despite the water being fairly cold (even for an indoor pool), they splashed, jumped and kicked around for a solid hour before we had to drag them out to shower and find dinner.
We got burgers to go from Bad Daddy Burger Bar and ate back in our room. Restaurants + 2 toddlers = recipe for disaster. The burgers were good but the French fries were incredible! We spent the rest of the night running around the hotel room and eventually headed to bed.
Day 2, after another hotel buffet breakfast, we headed out to Lake Norman State Park. We found the Lake Shore Trail that offered an easy/moderate 3mi hike that ran along the lake.
We stopped quite a bit to take in the gorgeous surroundings.
We found this sandy cove and the boys had a blast throwing rocks into the water and building “the biggest sand castle you’ve ever seen!”
I was texting with Brittany from A Healthy Slice of Life and she recommended checking out downtown Davidson so we packed the boys back up and headed back to the car. We thought we’d explored the entire 3mi loop but ended up barely making it 3/4mi with all the stops we’d made. Oops! We definitely hope to go back soon to actually see the lake (this is just ONE of the coves!)
Per Brittany’s recommendation we grabbed coffee and treats from Summit Coffee in downtown Davidson. The nutella turnover was out of this world. So good in fact that we ended up going every day of our trip after discovering them.
With coffee and treats in hand, we walked around the Davidson College Campus for a bit then headed to a tot lot for the boys to play. Despite the playground being about 2ft x 2ft, it had a slide and a fire pole, basically all our 2 boys needed. They spent an hour sliding down the fire pole and slide, running around and letting loose. Brittany suggested grabbing lunch from The Pickled Peach which was right next to the tot lot, so when lunchtime came around we walked over there to grab some sandwiches to eat on the way back to the hotel for naptime. Bry ended up ordering this really unique and delicious slow braised beef sandwich with pickled radishes and I had to go with the sandwich featuring the pickled peach, since it was the name of the restaurant.
It had ham, pickled peach and brie and was grilled between challah bread. It was really different and incredibly yummy! We all crashed during naptime. Once refreshed we headed to the Dilworth area of downtown Charlotte to explore Freedom Park. We walked near the duck pond for a bit before heading over to the large playground to let the boys play. They have this old locomotive for the kids to play on as well and Andrew spent a solid 15 minutes just sitting on the seat of the train.
We played and explored until dinnertime, then ordered Cowfish and picked it up to eat back at the hotel. I can’t give a good review of the food since they didn’t have many non-raw items that I could eat. But the boys devoured their PB&J sushi which definitely says something of my two picky toddlers. Bry thought his food was delicious as well. Once the boys went down to bed we had some chocolate truffles from The Pickled Peach we’d picked up earlier and then fell asleep ourselves.
Day 3 started off much colder. Jax woke up with a cough so we decided to head to the Discovery Place Kids museum in Huntersville. Because it was only 8 miles from Davidson, we had to stop back at Summit Coffee for more refreshments. The museum was perfect for our kids ages. It’s on the smaller side but still offered plenty to keep them entertained for 2+ hours.
Once Andrew started to get fussy, we went out in search of lunch. We picked up sandwiches at a nearby deli and tried to get back to the hotel before naptime. Unfortunately, both boys crashed 4 minutes from pulling into the hotel parking lot and Jax declared naptime over. Andrew, however, slept for a solid 3 hours! After Andrew woke up we went back to Freedom Park and walked around the duck pond then crossed over the bridge to Little Sugar Creek Greenway which reminded us a lot of one of our favorite trails by our house. We really liked the Dilworth area, however the cost of living is totally unattainable for us (there are a ton of recently built mansions that have completely driven up the prices of the neighborhoods–some of the houses go for well over $1M).
We picked up dinner from an Italian restaurant called Luciano’s and ate back at the hotel. I’m fairly positive the boys’ favorite part of our hotel was the elevator.
The kids were in a really funny mood and spent dinner running around the suite, eating pizza. Andrew double fisted his and spent 10 minutes laughing and watching himself dance and eat in the mirror. Jackson kept grabbing the pizza box, taking it by the door, then coming back and announcing “the pizza box man is here!”. They ended up devouring their entire 10″ pizza. Bry and I shared chicken parmesan, a scallop and artichoke appetizer, each got salads and had a slice of chocolate pudding pie and cheesecake for dessert once the boys went down. The desserts were really good but the best part of the dinner was my balsamic salad dressing. That sounds incredibly strange but I made Bry try it too and he agreed it was ridiculously good.
Day 4 was our last day. We had our last hotel breakfast and then packed up the car to head home.
We stopped by Amelie’s in downtown Charlotte for coffee and treats as it’s rated one of the best places in the area. I’ll be honest, it has nothing on Summit Coffee.
After feeling less than satisfied with Amelie’s subpar sweets, we drove back out to Davidson, which is our favorite place in the area so far and definitely somewhere we could see ourselves living. We grabbed yet more nutella turnovers from Summit coffee and then headed nearby to a neighborhood that we could potentially move to. We drove around, stopped at another playground to let the boys play and then hit the road back home. The trip home was interminably long. It felt never-ending and we didn’t end up crawling through our front door til 7:30.
It was a wonderful weekend that flew by far too fast, and before we know it, it’s Monday morning again and back to the grind.