Here’s a typical weekend day in the Rothacker household:I get up early and head over to the Harris YMCA, a sprawling, seemingly constantly renovated fitness center that’s just five minutes from home. I know half the people there. Later that morning, the whole family hits the rec baseball complex, just five minutes up the street. We know just about everybody after six years playing in the same league.In the afternoon, we might take a bike ride down the greenway that runs through our neighborhood. If it’s summer, we head over to the neighborhood pool and hang out with friends. And that night, if we’ve managed to secure a sitter (a teen from the neighborhood), we’ll go to a restaurant in SouthPark; hopefully we have a reservation because just about every place is hopping. More than likely we’ll run into somebody we know – we’re just 10 minutes from home.Notice a theme here? To me, south Charlotte living is about having everything I need within a 10-minute radius. If we want to go out to dinner, we have plenty of hip local eateries right around us. (In fact, it would take about 15 minutes to find a TGIF or Applebees.)SouthPark mall is the epicenter of South Charlotte, and while that may sound horrible to build life around a mall, it’s not like that. Small centers have cropped up around the high-end shopping mall where eclectic businesses have thrived. There’s also an Earth Fare and the soon-to-open Whole Foods (and I so wish Trader Joe’s would open a fourth Charlotte location here, too).The YMCAs in Charlotte really are terrific – vanquish the old images of dated cement buildings. The Harris Y and its adults-only Harris Express anchor the SouthPark area, while the Morrison Y and its fabulous water park draw thousands in Ballantyne, a thriving community in deep South Charlotte. We have top-rated public schools in south Charlotte, and some of the county’s best private schools. It’s hard to go wrong if you have kids. If you work uptown, it’s 20 minutes to get there if traffic is moving. Of course, many folks don’t have to go to uptown because SouthPark and Ballantyne have become key employment centers.South Charlotte is also beautiful. We wanted a neighborhood that felt established, with lots of trees, and that’s what south Charlotte has. No clear-cut fields of starter homes here. Our immediate neighbors range from young singles to families to empty nesters. The greenway runs along Little Sugar Creek (not as lovely as its name suggests, but still nice). I guess the best part is that it’s easy to get to know folks. South Charlotte isn’t transient. So if somebody asks you if you know so-and-so who lives in south Charlotte, you probably do.
Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012
From food to fun, everything’s close
‘Must’ list 1. Rooster’s (6601 Morrison Blvd., across from SouthPark mall) is cheerfully noisy and cozily lit. It specializes in wood-fired cuisine. Must-haves include the chicken and the corn. I also love the mussels when they are on special. 704-370-7667; www.roosterskitchen.com. 2. See and be seen with your picnic basket at the Summer Pops concerts at Symphony Park (next to the mall – see, I told you everything revolves around that place). In June and part of July, Sunday evenings are to be spent sipping wine and eating fried chicken while listening to the Symphony belt out audience-friendly tunes. 704-972-2000; www.charlottesymphony.org. 3. The Big Rock Shelter (near Stonecrest shopping center) is this out-of-the-blue mass of granite about the size of an 1,800-square-foot house. It’s great fun to climb around and under. You have to work hard to find it: It’s on Elmstone Drive, off Elm Lane, south of Interstate 485. Park on Elmstone across from Thornhill neighborhood rec center and look for signs marking the trail.
Jen is innovations editor for the Observer.
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email email@example.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less