Do we really need to tell anyone else about Lincoln County?
Oh, OK, my editor says we do. I will let you in on the secret, as long as you don’t tell anyone else.
Lincoln County is a manageable distance from Charlotte. I live in the eastern part, where it is 21 miles and 35 minutes door-to-door to my office at The Charlotte Observer. It has fine public schools, little traffic compared to its neighbors and very good house prices (unless you choose to live on Lake Norman, in which case you’ll spend a whole lot but be rewarded with a spectacular view every day).
We won’t dazzle you with nightlife or fancy restaurants. We won’t be able to put you up in a luxurious hotel. We are a place that still gets excited when a new grocery store opens. Ingles debuted a store in 2014 on Main Street in Lincolnton – with a Starbucks inside, no less! – and people swooned.
But as far as places to live, it’s hard to beat. I’ve lived in Lincoln County since 1997. My wife and I are raising four children together, and we consider it a safe, slow-moving place to do just that. We have to go to Birkdale Village in Huntersville when we want to go to the movies, but we have a Wal-Mart and a Lowe’s very close by and plenty of family-friendly places to eat.
Lincoln County is a little obscure when you think of the places that ring the Charlotte area, which is OK with the people who live here. That obscurity extends even to the county’s namesake. You’re thinking the place was named for Abraham Lincoln, right? Nope. It was named for Benjamin Lincoln, a general in the Revolutionary War.
The county does boast some serious history. For two weeks starting around the end of July to mid-August each year, the Methodist faithful gather for food, fellowship, music and “old-timey preachin’” at what is the oldest camp meeting in North Carolina – Rock Springs Camp Meeting, which dates back into the 1830s in its present location. The services are free and open to all. (Don’t miss the milkshakes at “The Shack” concession stand.)
But on a day-to-day basis, what you will find in Lincoln County is an area that is at least a dozen years behind neighbors like Huntersville and Mooresville in terms of the sheer number of big-box stores, chain restaurants and traffic jams. You still see wild turkeys or groundhogs occasionally on the side of the road. And when a new grocery store opens, it’s still a very big deal.
It’s a great place to live. Just don’t tell anybody.
Scott, a sports columnist for the Observer, has lived in Lincoln County for 18 years.
Wander around Lincolnton’s downtown: It looks just like what you think a traditional small-town county seat should look like, with a pretty courthouse anchoring small shops on both sides. Try the hot dogs at City Lunch adjacent to the courthouse. It has been owned by the same family since 1957, and you won’t find a friendlier (or cheaper) place to eat. Search “City Lunch Lincolnton” on Facebook for specials like “three hot dogs for $2.”
Eat at Chillfire in Denver: There were doubts when Chillfire Bar & Grill opened that the Denver community could support an upscale restaurant in that location. But Chillfire has thrived. The parking lot is packed every Friday and Saturday night. Try it for lunch if you’re in a hurry or want a slightly less expensive meal. Due to the sleek decor, you’ll be hard-pressed to believe it is housed in an old Blockbuster Video building.
Plan to celebrate the Fourth of July at East Lincoln High School: Since 2001, the Denver Area Business Association has sponsored a gorgeous fireworks show – almost always held on the football field at East Lincoln High. The free fireworks show is generally held the Saturday before July 4 and attracts thousands to walk the track, mingle and buy junk food from vendors. The 2014 version drew 14,000 people to the football stadium and included a free concert by country music star Lorrie Morgan.