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Family fun and personality

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/09/01/12/37/10CYmH.Em.138.jpeg|216
    Robert Lahser - rlahser@charlotteobserver.com
    St. Andrews Presbyterian College Pipe Band of Laurinburg drummer Sharon Patton, above center, performs for Clan Maclaren at Sunday's Rural Hill Scottish Festival & Loch Norman Highland Games in Huntersville. Each April, the event at the historic farm in Huntersville attracts visitors from all over the United States, Canada and even Europe to enjoy traditional festivities and athletic competitions. At right, Gary Lewis with Clan Steward shows how to throw a battle ax. Photos by Robert Lahser - rlahser@charlotteobserver.com
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/09/01/12/37/13wrIa.Em.138.jpeg|140
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    The Cowfish owners hope to mingle great burgers with the kind of fusion sushi they serve at eeZ Fusion & Sushi. EEZFUSION.COM
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/09/01/12/37/HvyB2.Em.138.jpeg|253
    Robert Lahser - rlahser@charlotteobserver.com
    Derrick Whisel of Pittsburg, PA, crawls through the mud pit making his way underneath barbed wire heading to the finish line as he competes in the Warrior Dash Carolinas held at Rural Hill in Harrisburg. Robert Lahser - rlahser@charlotteobserver.com

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  • Favorites

    Birkdale Village (Birkdale Commons Parkway and Sam Furr Road): Take a stroll through a shopper’s dream. Birkdale Village is a New England architecture-inspired shopping center. You’ll find the chic like bevello and Apricot Lane, as well as the mainstream like Banana Republic and Gap. It’s also lined with a variety of restaurants and cafes. www.birkdalevillage.net.

    Carolina Raptor Center (6000 Sample Road): Located in the Latta Plantation Nature Preserve, the center rehabilitates injured or orphaned raptors. Take a self-guided tour down Raptor Trail, which is home to over 25 species of raptors. Check the events calendar for the different bird presentations and feedings. www.carolinaraptorcenter.org.

    Discovery Place Kids (105 Gilead Road): Load up on hand sanitizer and get your head on a swivel while your little ones bolt around the themed exhibits at this children’s museum in downtown Huntersville. It’s a great place for kids to play and use their imagination. My 2-year-old loves riding the real firetruck in the I CAN Work themed area. http://huntersville.discoveryplacekids.org.



About three years ago, my wife and I decided to give up our townhouse in uptown Charlotte. Being blocks away from work and all the uptown amenities was nice, but we wanted a new area to start a family.

Huntersville seemed perfect for us. With a population of almost 50,000, it’s still relatively small – but with lots to do. I spend most of my free time with my wife and two children, so it’s important to have shopping, dining and activities that we can all enjoy together.

Uptown is only a 20-minute drive on I-77, making the daily commute tolerable, and it keeps options open if we get an itch to head down that way.

There’s no shortage of restaurants around me. A favorite of mine is eeZ Fusion & Sushi in Birkdale Village (near the movie theater). The obvious draw is the wide array of fresh sushi. They offer the basic sashimi and nigiri options, but specialty rolls like the Tropical Storm and Mango Tango make the visit that much sweeter. They also have an extensive menu of Asian-inspired entrees.

Birkdale Village also has a variety of other restaurants, ranging from Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar to JD Rockers Subs & Salads to Red Rocks Café Bar & Bakery. During the summer, I like to sit out on the patio of either Brixx Pizza or Fox & Hound and listen to live music on the Greens while having dinner or drinks.

If you’re looking to watch a game somewhere, I suggest Taco Mac across from the Birkdale Golf Club. I know it’s a chain, but the selection of craft and import beers has me hooked.

Another area with a bounty of restaurants is the NorthCross Shopping Center just off Exit 25 from I-77. After a day of shopping at Target or Kohl’s, stop by Taxco Mexican Grill for a chile poblano (my wife’s favorite) or Thai Emerald for some pad gra pow (spice it up if you dare).

Cooking at home tonight? Old Store Produce has a great selection of locally grown fruits and veggies. Most of the goods come from the farm across the street. They also sell a number of local jams, sauces, candles, etc. Ask about the Community Supported Agriculture program; it’s an incredible way to support farmers and receive a huge bounty of produce. Get details at http://oldstore.weebly.com.

A recent addiction of mine is ANY event at Rural Hill Farm off Beatties Ford Road. The historic site hosts a number of annual events, like the Scottish Festival & Loch Norman Highland Games, the NC Brewers & Music Festival, the Amazing Maize Maze and Warrior Dash. For a calendar of events, go to www.ruralhill.net.

If you head down the road from Rural Hill, you’ll hit Lancaster’s Bar-B-Que. It’s a spot with a plenty of personality and great food. The interior is lined with nostalgic metal signs and antique gas pumps. The barbecue pork dinner is their claim to fame, but also try the baby back ribs and fried pickles.

From October to mid-November, the 20-acre Carolina Renaissance Festival brings music and comedy shows on 11 stages, cottages filled with arts and crafts, a jousting tournament and food fit for kings and queens. It’s almost entertainment enough just watching the endless amount of costumed characters walking around as peasants, fairies and bards. More info at www.royalfaires.com/carolina.

A great way to get in touch with nature is the Latta Plantation Nature Preserve. It provides 16 miles of scenic hiking trails and a fishing area at Mountain Island Lake. There’s also an Equestrian Center that provides guided horseback rides.

Huntersville has more than enough to keep me and my family busy.

Jason is a page designer for the Observer.
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