You don't have to go all the way to the coast to relax on the beach. Created when Duke Energy dammed the Catawba River in 1963, Lake Norman is the largest man-made lake in the state and one of two lakes in Charlotte area. (The other is Lake Wylie.) The lake has spurred tremendous growth in neighboring towns Mooresville, Huntersville, Cornelius, Denver and Davidson. Each offers a wealth of options for dining, drinking and exploring.
At the top of every foodie's list is Kindred in Davidson, which was named one the 10 top restaurants in 2015 by Bon Appetit. And the brains behind Kindred are opening a new spot on the water this fall called Hello, Sailor. Want some fresh produce to cook yourself? Check out Davidson's Farmers Market, Josh's Farmers Market in Mooresville, or the Huntersville Growers' Market. For some of the best pizza and burgers you’ll find in the Charlotte area, head to Merino Mill in Mooresville and dine at Alino Pizzeria, and Barcelona Burger and Beer Garden.
From a cup of Joe and pastry in the morning to a glass of wine with music at night, Summit Coffee in Davidson has it all. For local craft brews, stop by Primal Brewery in Huntersville, or head to Cornelius to check out D9 Brewing, Ass Clown Brewing Company and the newest addition: Eleven Lakes Brewing. Catch some live music at The Cabin, where guests arrive by car and boat.
For fun with the family, hike and picnic at Lake Norman State Park, or head to Carrigan Farms outside Mooresville, where you can do everything from fruit picking in the summer to hayrides in the fall. For a lakeside toes-in-the-sand experience post up at Ramsey Creek Park Beach. Craving adrenaline, fun and excitement? Visit GoPro Motorplex and rent a go-kart that can reach speeds of up to 55 mph.