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    Liberty East (5112 E Independence Blvd.) : It may not be much to look at, but this diner is my favorite spot for a Saturday morning breakfast. The food is good and the staff is friendly. I always go for the eggs and liver mush. 704-568-8640.

    McAlpine Creek Park (8711 Monroe Road) : Perfect spot for running, biking, playing soccer or sitting by the pond. The dog park is also a treat for dog owners. If you see a skinny foxhound sprinting around the perimeter, that’s mine. www.charmeck.org.

    Cinebarre (8008 Providence Road) : What’s better than watching a movie in a theater? Watching a movie in a theater while enjoying a meal and a pitcher of beer. The theater, in the Arboretum, shows first-run movies with in-theater food and beverage service. Get there early to snag a good seat. www.cinebarre.com.



Before I wrote this column, I asked friends on Twitter what comes to mind when they think of south Charlotte.

The responses weren’t surprising: Private schools, soccer moms, and Starbucks, to name a few. Those are some of the stereotypes for this area. And, like all stereotypes, there is some truth in them.

But there’s much more to south Charlotte.

The soccer moms are part of an active community that takes to the area’s greenways and parks. There are private schools, but there are also some of the best public schools in the county. And Starbucks serves as a gathering place for friends, part of what gives the area a community feel.

I moved to Charlotte in 2009 after graduating from college. I settled in University City, not knowing much about the city. In my two years living there, I was in south Charlotte more often. That’s where my friends lived, that’s where I went to dinner and where I spent my time on weekends.

So two years ago, I moved into an apartment here, and my wife and I rented our first house together in south Charlotte last summer. It’s about a mile from the house she was raised in, and we knew we were moving into a safe neighborhood with friendly people. She sees friends nearly everywhere she goes; living here, she says, is like living in a small community within the big city.

As a runner, it’s been a great place to log miles.

I trained for my first half marathon in south Charlotte. I ran on Four Mile Creek and Lower McAlpine greenways, where the scenic tree-lined paths calmed me and took my mind off the aching in my legs. I also ran at McAlpine Creek Park and its 5-kilometer cross country course, a path that hosts several large high school and college meets each year.

Sometimes I would take my foxhound over to the McAlpine’s dog park to tire her out, too.

If you prefer golf or tennis, there are courses and courts scattered throughout south Charlotte. There’s a disc golf course at Elon Park in Ballantyne, and even more sports and exercise options at the Harris and Morrison YMCAs.

The area has some of my favorite restaurants, where I reward myself after a hard workout, from sushi at New Zealand Cafe on Monroe Road to a burger at Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar in Ballantyne. There are also plenty of places to rehydrate, like Duckworth’s Grille & Taproom in Ballantyne.

It’s easy to get to other areas of Charlotte from where we live. I have a short commute to my job in uptown. We’re also a short drive from restaurants and bars in Plaza-Midwood, NoDa and uptown.

Those places are fun to visit, but south Charlotte is home, and we don’t plan to leave any time soon.

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