This is the second in an occasional series on five things to do in various areas around Charlotte. Today's focus: around Lake Norman.
Here are my five picks. But there's plenty more to do north of the city. What would you have included? Drop me a line and tell me.
1. Lazy 5 Ranch, Mooresville
Along its 3.5-mile drive, the privately owned exotic animal drive-through park promises you'll see more than 750 animals from six continents. Think wild bison, lemurs, zebras, llamas, ostriches, camels, giraffes and wild pigs. You can feed many of them – not the zebras, though – if you purchase a bucket of feed at the front gate. Take a horse-drawn wagon tour or drive your own car. Admission is $8.50 for adults and $5.50 for kids ages 2 to 11. Add $3 for the wagon. Children under 2 get in free. For more information or wagon reservations:
2. Summit Coffee House, Davidson
You'll see all of Davidson dashing through here or lingering over coffee while chatting with friends or reading. Others are busy working on laptops, taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi that Davidson has made available citywide. Summit is more than just coffee. For 10 years, it has also served pastries, teas, wine and microbrewed beers in a 100-year-old building on Main Street. Info: www.summitcoffee.com.
3. Lakeside dining,
Restaurants with great lake views include North Harbor Club in Davidson, Rusty Rudder and the Landing, which has a water taxi, in Sherrills Ford. Or dine on the Catawba Queen replica Mississippi paddle wheeler or the Lady of the Lake 90-foot luxury yacht at the Queen's Landing entertainment complex in Mooresville.
4. Lowe's Motor Speedway,
The big NASCAR races are during race weeks in May and October. There's also a new drag strip. And for those who want to go full throttle, there's the Richard Petty driving school, but it's pricey – the Experience of a Lifetime is $1,299. But among the cheapest offerings: Feel The Thrill Tour. For $5 a person, you can visit areas that are off-limits on race days, such as the Sprint Cup garage, and ride along the speedway (in a van), feeling the full-tilt force of the 24-degree banking. Info: www.lowesmotorspeed way.com.
5. Birkdale Village,
This urban village has a variety of shops, cafes, restaurants and a movie theater. In summers, there's also music at the fountain. Retail offerings include chains, such as Banana Republic and Barnes & Noble, as well as independent shops, such as Payton's Closet, a children's boutique, and Potion, a makeup lover's dream. Restaurants include casual options, such as Qdoba Mexican Grill, and upscale treats, such as Dressler's Restaurant. Info: www.birkdalevillage.net.
Now, where should I profile next? E-mail your suggestions on where to go and what to do there: abald email@example.com.