Living Here Guide

Huntersville: Sweet spot, placed perfectly

Look at a map, and it becomes immediately evident that Huntersville is right in perhaps the sweetest of the sweet spots as Charlotte suburbs go.

From its southernmost point, uptown is barely a 10-minute shot down Interstate 77. On its northern borders, you can dip your toes or launch your boat into the vast expanses of Lake Norman.

It’s ringed by attractive sites – nature preserves (Stephens Road and Rural Hill, both to the west); parks that are both bigger (Latta Plantation, to the south) and smaller (North Mecklenburg, to the north); and two shopping meccas: traditional Northlake Mall in north Charlotte and “lifestyle center” Birkdale Village, just a couple thousand feet from the lake.

But ditch the map and drive around Huntersville to get a real sense of all it offers.

There are nearly 50,000 people spread across 31 square miles of land, so it’s not exactly a small town. Yet parts have plenty of small-town atmosphere.

At the intersection of Old Statesville Road and Gilead Road is the “old downtown” area, which actually serves as a collision of old and new: Dated buildings house Lupie’s Cafe, Bella di Sera Formal Wear and Video Game World on one block, catty-corner from a not-so-modern Cashion’s Quik Stop. On the other corners, though, are newer, nicer brick structures that are home to Town Hall and the gleaming Discovery Place KIDS museum.

From there, you can walk to the old Post Office on Gilead, or to Huntersville Elementary School, or to Crafty Beer Guys – the new “It” place to hang in the warmer months, when you can lazily enjoy a craft beer or wine on the porch or the grass out front, in a child- and dog-friendly environment.

This section of Huntersville stands in stark contrast to busy Sam Furr Road, which is more heavily trafficked because it connects so many of its middle- and upper-class subdivisions to seemingly endless shopping opportunities: Target, Lowe’s, Home Depot, grocery stores, shoe stores, restaurant and bars galore, and Birkdale.

At rush hour, Sam Furr can be a real pain. And if you work to the south of Huntersville, getting home is routinely a chore. Interstate 77 usually clogs shortly after getting beyond the I-485 interchange, and can move at a snail’s pace through Exit 23 (Gilead), Exit 25 (Sam Furr) and often as far as Exits 28 and 30.

This is the only remaining stretch of four-lane interstate in Mecklenburg County. The state plans to (finally) widen it in the coming years, although the solution – toll lanes – has been a controversial issue.

Fortunately, there are plenty of places to find serenity in Huntersville. I love cycling on back roads out by Rural Hill, running trails in Latta Plantation, going ’round and ’round on foot or on the bike in Huntersville Business Park (which to me is one of the safest and most fitness-friendly loops in the county for such activities).

For more unique out-of-the-way adventures, Latta also offers a cool off-road Segway tour of trails and Mountain Island Lake that lasts three hours and costs just $35, and Paddle Core Fitness offers activities such as paddleboard yoga at Mountain Island Lake.

I can’t confidently say Huntersville is the best place to live in the Charlotte area. There are strong arguments for lots of other places, and you’ll find them elsewhere in Living Here.

What I can say is there’s no denying it sits in a geographical sweet spot – and that while this column isn’t likely to make non-Huntersville residents rush to move here, hopefully it’ll make you realize the town might be worth an occasional visit.