Having grown up in the Charlotte area, I have to admit I usually blew by Belmont on my way to Crowders Mountain or Asheville. To me it was two exits on I-85 and Belmont Abbey College. That is all I knew about Belmont, NC and I thought that was enough. While I was ignoring Belmont, they were quietly becoming one cool place to live. Now I know better.
Here are the top five reasons I love McLean @ Belmont:
1) Downtown Belmont – Some towns around Charlotte have put themselves on a fast track to grow up, get some national chain retailers, several Starbucks and claim a better quality of life. All the while loosing their heritage and history. Belmont embraces who they are and continues to hold onto their small town roots. Downtown Belmont is a collection of local shops and restaurants centered around a well-maintained public park (Stowe Park). The parking is free. There is a brewery (Rivermen Brewing), Cherubs Cafe – a unique cafe that trains and employs those with challenges, a museum with many photos of Belmont’s prosperity during they heyday of textiles (Millican Pictorial History Museum) and more you can discover. You won’t find everything you need here but you will find something you are missing – a friendly, slower paced, gracious way of living.
2) Carolina Thread Trail – I try to hike a lot of trails around here so I get excited about the Carolina Thread Trail. Many years from now, this trail could potentially connect many points in Charlotte through a web of trails and greenways. For now, the trail is a series of independent trails along and through parks, along creeks and sidewalks. Seven Oak Preserve Trail is a part of the Carolina Thread Trail. The trail head for the 5 mile loop is next door to McLean @ Belmont. The trail meanders along the shore of Lake Wylie and connects into more trails at Stowe Botanical Gardens. Usually not very many people are on the this trail. Isn’t that what you really want?
3) Seven Oaks Cafe – This place is interesting and quaint. The Seven Oaks Cafe is in the heart of the McLean community but it really got here first (sort of). The cafe is in the original John Davidson McLean house. Dr. McLean practiced medicine and served his neighbors over 150 years ago at this same location. Today, it is a cute, popular cafe with occasional live music. My favorite is the Bacon Pimento Cheesini – an amazing housemade pimento cheese, bacon and tomato sandwich.
4) Right Side of the Airport – I don’t really fly too often but do appreciate all the connectivity our airport gives via the air. But the connectivity to the airport via the roads is challenging unless you live on the right side of the airport – the west side. It is much quicker, easier and almost enjoyable when you are catching a plane and you are not starting in Ballantyne. Leave McLean @ Belmont, make two left turns and two right turns and you are there. This won’t help much with airport parking but at least you will not be as frazzled from traffic when you get there.
5) Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens – I have to admit I know little about plants and flowers. But, I can appreciate when someone is so on top of their game. It is like watching well choreographed dance. That is Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden to me. Wonderfully executed and presented, the gardens are beautiful, relaxing and inspiring. To make it fun and exciting, the DSBG team host outdoor concerts, oyster roasts, guest speakers (not just on flowers!) and community events. That is where the gardens come to life and your new friends probably are. DSBG is right beside Overlake at McLean. (It might be easier to walk than drive there.)