To know: In 1991 developer Johnny Harris saw 1,756 acres of farmland in south Charlotte and had an idea. He wanted to turn that land into offices, residences and shops for up to 12,000 people in what Observer writer Doug Smith called “one of the most ambitious (developments) ever envisioned for Charlotte-Mecklenburg.” Now Ballantyne has experienced meteoric growth, covering 2,000 acres in deep south Charlotte centered around the 4.5-million square foot Ballantyne Corporate Park.
To eat: Charlotte favorites like Cantina 1511, JJ’s Red Hots, Viva Chicken and Midwood Smokehouse have opened up locations down here. Family-friendly Inizio Pizza Napoletana crafts pies with flour and water from Italy, then tosses them into Italian ovens at high temperatures for just 90 seconds. Meanwhile, The Blue Taj is a must for Indian cuisine. If you’re in need of a low-key option, DeSarno’s Italian Market is your next stop for take-and-bake, while Get Fit Foods is serving up ready-to-go healthy meals. If you’re craving a progressively Southern approach to new American cuisine with an upscale spin, try The Gallery Restaurant at The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge for breakfast, lunch, weekend brunch or dinner.
To drink: Wine lovers can flock to Arooji’s Wine Room and Vintner Wine Market, while those looking for a pint can head to Duckworth’s and Growler USA. Rush Espresso and Amelie’s French Bakery & Cafe will keep you caffeinated. But the swankiest spot to grab an after-dinner drink is the Gallery Bar, with its vast wine, Scotch, whiskey and cocktail selection.
To do: Pause to check out the “The Monuments of Ballantyne,” four tall archways at the intersection of Ballantyne Commons Parkway and Johnston Road that represent transportation, technology, finance and the human spirit. Golfers can book a tee time at The Golf Club at Ballantyne, a public PGA course. For a nature (or fitness outing), explore the horseshoe-shaped Lower McAlpine, McMullen and Four Mile Creek Greenways, which stretch for 5.8 miles. If you’re looking for more of an adrenaline rush, Carowinds and Fury 325, the world’s tallest and fastest giga coaster, is just a few miles away.