Some come for the lake. From the summer days spent skiing and tubing to the spectacular sunsets on autumn evenings, there’s something magical about Lake Norman.
Some come for Race City USA. Home to more than a dozen teams in NASCAR’s elite Sprint Cup Series (with many more in nearby Huntersville and Cornelius), Mooresville draws people looking for jobs in the racing industry, and sometimes families from across the country hoping for a shot at high-speed stardom for a talented kid.
Some come for the property tax rate, which is significantly cheaper in Iredell County than Mecklenburg. With affordable housing (as long as you don’t want to live lakefront), Mooresville is close enough to Charlotte to work in the city and live in the country.
Of course, no one comes for the Interstate 77 commute, which can be a bear in the mornings with Iredell commuters trying to merge with those from northern Mecklenburg.
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Still, there’s a lot to like about Mooresville, and you don’t have to look closely to see why.
Those of us who live in the area know there’s more to Mooresville than meets the eye. Here are eight hidden gems you might not know if you don’t live here. And you might not know them even if you do:
1 Best breakfast: The Daily Grind (170 N. Main St.) has traditional breakfast fare at a reasonable price, in a two-story storefront in the quaint downtown district. The whole downtown is missed by folks who only see the Mooresville within a shout of the interstate, but The Daily Grind is worth the side trip. One waitress even remembered all the orders for our party of eight, perfectly, without taking a single note. I’ll be back just to see if she can do it again. 704-230-1405.
2 Best farmer’s market: Josh’s Farmers Market (189 Williamson Road) has been around since 1989, offering fresh, local vegetables, locally produced eggs and milk, organic specialty meats from Clearview Farms, fresh seafood from the Shrimp Connection and more. The market is family-owned, prices are competitive, at least, with grocery stores, and they remember you when you come back. You’ll want to. www.joshsfarmersmarket.com.
3 Best affordable golf: The front nine of Mooresville Golf Course, the town’s municipal layout (800 Golf Course Drive), opened in 1949 and was designed by Donald Ross, the same man who designed Pinehurst No. 2, where the 2014 U.S. Open was played. The back nine was added in 1977, and the course features a country-club feel at a muni price. www.mooresvillegolfcourse.com.
4 Best dinner cruise: Don’t have a boat but want to get out and explore Lake Norman? Dinner cruises out of Queens Landing (1459 River Hwy.) are for you. The paddlewheel Catawba Queen and the more modern Lady of the Lake offer lunchtime sightseeing cruises ($17 for adults, box lunch extra) and dinner cruises ($48 for adults including dinner; seniors and students cheaper). The cruises run from March to November. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll get a great Lake Norman sunset to go with your meal. www.queenslanding.com.
5 Best action-sport experience: The Pit, an indoor go-kart track (346 E. Plaza Drive), lets you stop watching the racing action and start participating. Available from everything from open racing to private events, and go-karts are only part of the allure. There’s also laser tag, a climbing wall, batting cages and more. If you’re lucky, one of the NASCAR stars who lives in the area might show up to race, just for fun. www.meetatthepit.com.
6 Best NASCAR/food fusion: Lancaster’s Barbecue (515 Rinehardt Road) is up a hill off a side street, and you might miss it if you’re not careful. Once you get inside, you can’t miss the Race City connection. NASCAR memorabilia fills the 10,000-square-foot restaurant, which features everything from pork barbecue to seafood. I’m a sucker for the whole fried okra. www.lancastersbbq.com.
7 Best tribute to a legend: Dale Earnhardt Incorporated (1675 Coddle Creek Parkway), the race shop that housed the team of late NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt, is open year-round (check the schedule at the website) and features memorabilia from his career and a history lesson on the 7-time NASCAR champion and inaugural class NASCAR Hall of Famer. The facility is so nice it was once known as the Garage Mahal. Worth a visit, even if you weren’t a fan. www.daleearnhardtinc.com.