A January 2007 trip
to Concord by vampirefan
Quote: Please come and join me as I tell you about this lovely gem near where I live. If is a great option instead of Charlotte.
Getting around Concord is fairly easy. There are only a couple of major roads around Concord. If you are in the Concord Mills area, then you have just about everything you need. If you do get lost, just pop in and ask for directions. Folks here are very friendly and will be glad to point you in the right direction.
The barbeque here is pit-cooked. Let me just give you a short lesson on North Carolina barbeque. Now, folks all over think their barbeque is the best. Well, they are wrong, wrong, wrong! We here in North Carolina know how to do barbeque. Now, we don’t go for cooking some meat and then slapping sauce on it. That is just wrong. Nope, here real barbeque is cooked over an open fire and from anywhere from 8 to 12 hours, allowing the meat to gets is flavor from the smoke and juices. If you have great barbeque, you really don’t need to add barbeque sauce to it. But most folks do for that "extra flavor." Here we also have two types of barbeque sauce. We have Eastern, which is more of a vinegar-based sauce, and Western, which is a sweeter base sauce usually made from a molasses combination. At Sonny’s, you order your meat and then you have a choice of sauces to add if you’re inclined.
Pork rules here at Sonny’s. A pork plate from Sonny’s is just pure heaven. But you can also enjoy beef, chicken, or ribs. The meat will look pink, but that is okay. It is cooked and that is just how it looks. Make sure to order ice tea (Southerners just order it as tea, and real Southern tea is sweet) and try another southern specialty, hush puppies. Hush puppies are fried balls of cornbread. They are yummy and a great alternative to fries. Also try the barbeque slaw. This is a combination of cabbage, sauce, ketchup, and vinegar. It is really good. If you actually have room in your tummy afterwards, try their apple cobbler with ice cream. Your tummy will thank you!
The portions are plentiful (we always have extras), and the price is unbeatable. Most entrées are less than $10. Make sure to pick up a bottle of Sonny’s sauce for back home. I am sure one taste of Sonny’s BBQ and you will be hooked. Visit them at www.sonnysbbq.com for more information or a restaurant locator.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 2, 2005
Sonny's Real Pit BBQ
7820 Lyle Ln.
Concord, North Carolina
Hooters originally opened its doors to the public on October 4, 1983 in Clearwater, Florida. Little has changed at Hooters since that time. Today, there are 375 restaurants in the US and more in several other countries. Hooters has recently expanded their endeavors to include Hooters Air. Hooters is also very involved in charity. They have donated over $8 million dollars to such foundations as the Jimmy V Cancer Foundation, Make-A-Wish, The USO, and the Special Olympics. The Hooters Girls also make local appearances for many local charities. I don’t know about anywhere else, but they also have a big group walking in the Race for The Cure in Charlotte every October.
While the food is not gourmet, it is tasty and satisfying. They are very well-known for their hot wings. I am not a fan of anyone’s wings, but my husband says they are great. I do, however, love their grilled chicken garden salad and their raspberry vinaigrette dressing is oh so divine. Their baked potato soup hits the spot in the winter. And for desserts, nothing tops their chocolate mouse cake. The prices won’t break you here. And the men in your party will thank you. You can visit them at . Or just visit them here at Concord Mills!
7702 Gateway Ln.
Concord, North Carolina 28027
The shows offer reserved or lawn seats. The reserved seats are up under a semi-protective shelter, while the lawn seats are out in the open. For lawn seating, you can bring a blanket and enjoy the music under the stars. There is some seating space as you first go in on the left. This space actually offers better views than the last rows of the reserved seating. To help you better view the show if you get crappy seats, they offer two huge 30- by 40-foot screens.
They do have plenty of parking at the venue, so make sure you park there and there only. There is a movie theater nearby that does enforce towing if you car is left in the park lot too long. Inside you will find ATM’s, first aid, and refreshment and souvenir stands. The venue is accessible off of Highway 49 or 29, and you will find plenty of signs to head you in the right directions. There are hotels in both the university area of Charlotte or at Concord Mills. Neither, though, is within walking distance of the pavilion. There are a number of restaurants down Highway 49 or 29 for munchies. And the show does go on rain or shine. Only the worst of storms will cause the show to be canceled. If the show doesn’t go on or has to be canceled early in the show, refunds are available. Several years ago I went to see Billy Ocean. He had only sung one song when the winds and rain got so bad that they had to cancel the show and we were able to get refunded. Last year we saw Chicago and Earth, Wind, and Fire. Rains caused Chicago to have to end their show early and no refunds were given.
This outdoor venue takes advantage of our beautiful weather here, so come and enjoy some music under our beautiful Southern skies!
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 2, 2005
Verizon Wireless Ampitheater
707 Pavilion Boulevard
Charlotte, North Carolina 28262
They also offer a ladies’ night out and will arrange birthday parties, a bead swap, and beading classes. They do have a website at www.thebeadladyinconcord.com. They are located in the lovely downtown Concord area, so make sure you stop by for amazing beading finds and then enjoy the lovely downtown.
The Bead Lady
1 Union Street
Concord, North Carolina 28025
Attraction | "Carolina's Renaissance Festival: Part 1"
Every fall brings the anticipation of one of the best festivals in town, the Renaissance Fair. The festival is akin to some sort of medieval amusement park. The festival sits on 20 acres of land located just outside of Concord on Highway 73. Signs are posted, so you can easily find your way. Or you can just follow the traffic. The fair does have its own permanent location, so once you come here, you will pretty much know your way around the following year.
They offer nine different stages with a variety of shows. Here you will see people swallowing swords, fire-breathers, animal shows, jugglers, comedy acts, and belly dancers. Make sure you bring single bills with you since the performers do pass around a hat at the end of the show. They have a petting zoo. They do offer elephant and camel rights. I am an animal lover, and these poor animals never seem to be very happy and I doubt they are treated very well, so I do not ride them or personally suggest them. You will see musicians walking around throughout the day, as well as a variety of actors. Again, most are expecting a tip.
One of my favorites is known as "The Green Man." The green man is a 12-foot walking tree man. Cliff Spencer designed this magnificent costume that weighs over 100 pounds and took him more than 400 hours to complete. The green man is actually an ancient archetype representing man’s connection with nature. Prior to this, Spencer was a ropewalker for 33 years. Cliff does this to support his foundation, The Walking Treeman Foundation, that emphasizes harmony with nature.
Another favorite of mine is Mother Goose. This wonderful couple has been rescuing geese for many years. The geese live in the couple’s home and are well taken care of. They use the festivals as a way to help bring about the plights of the geese that are often left homeless after man’s invasion into their territory. You can hold one of their geese or get a hug from one! Both Mother Goose and The Green Man support wonderful causes, so if you can, please help support them.
There are over 100 craft people at the festival. Everything from jewelry to headwear to costumes to very realistic armor can be found. Prices range from less than $10 for some jewelry to several thousands for some of the armor! There are a variety of food stalls on the premises. There is everything from a turkey leg as big as a child head to bread bowls full of stew or soup to sandwiches, pretzels, and more. Beer and wine are served as well. The prices are a little steep. You can leave and re-enter the fair. There are a number of restaurants located along Highway 73 if you prefer to dine outside and come back.
Carolina Renaissance Festival
16445 Poplar Tent Road
Huntersville, North Carolina 28078
Attraction | "Carolina's Renaissance Festival: Part 2"
The big see here is the joust. A series of three jousts are performed during the day (typically at noon, 2:30pm, and 4:15pm). Two knights fight to the death for the approval of the queen. The king, queen, and their court appear on the balcony and the jousting begins. Each subsequent joust leads to the next, with the last being the fight to the death. The jousts are harmless and campy but loads of fun. No real blood is shed here and it is apparent the fights are fake, so even wee ones shouldn’t be too upset. My 3-year-old nephew loved it. The knights, though, are very good horsemen and do possess great jousting skills, so that part of it is real. They knights are often quite hunky, ladies. You need to start heading to the arena about 30 to 45 minutes early to ensure a good seat. There are reserved areas for the handicapped, and there is a place for wheelchairs located at the very front of the arena. The jousts get very full, and if you are not handicapped and are sitting in a handicapped area, you will be asked to move, which you should do without being asked to in the first place!
Part of the fun of the Renaissance Festival is dressing up. Most of the guests are dressed up. You will see many families in matching costumes, all the way down to little babies! You won’t feel out of place if you decide to don Renaissance garb. If you do want to wear a costume, I highly suggest buying one before you come here. You can rent one or buy one here, but you can probably buy a cheaper one outside the fair. Rentals start at $150, and most costumes to buy start at $200. Just check Ebay, a local costume rental store, or the Internet for costumes. If you know someone who sews, the major pattern companies such as McCall’s and Simplicity carry a variety of costumes for the whole family. Plan well in advance and be on the lookout for cheap fabric. My costume last year called for 13 yards of fabric, and I stumbled across some beautiful fabric at Wal-Mart for $1 a yard! If you are coming during the first part of the festival, you will want to choose lighter fabrics since it is still warm here. If you come later on, then you will want a costume of heavier fabrics, such as velvet.
In addition to costumes from the period known as the Renaissance era (1400 to 1600), you will see a variety of historic costumes. Most of these costumes come from period movies out at the time. Since the success of The Lord of the Rings, there have been a number of elves and hobbits. Harry Potter has inspired a number of English schoolboy sightings. I also saw two guys last year dressed up as my favorites, Professor Snape and Lucus Malfoy, played to delicious perfection by Allen Rikeman and Jason Isaacs in the Harry Potter movies. They got away before I could get a picture. There have been a number of pirates since Pirates of The Caribbean. And I did find one guy who looked close enough to Johnny Depp for me. You will see many Neo’s from the Matrix trilogy. Gladiators inspired by Troy and Alexander abound, as well as hunks from Braveheart. You will also, for some unknown reason, see a lot of people dressed in Victorian costumes.
Just a note, the festival attracts a large number of people who practice paganism, Wicca, or vampirism. You should know these religions and lifestyles have nothing to do with they way they are portrayed in the movies. People who practice paganism and Wicca mean no harm to anyone. It is simply a nature-based religion that celebrates nature and the seasons. Vampirism is just simply a lifestyle that someone chooses. People who live this lifestyle do not go out and attack people on the neck top turn them into immortals who can turn into a bat! Despite my travel review name, I do not practice vampirism myself. I just happen to like the actors who show up in vampire movies (like Gerry Butler)! But I did study both while in college. My reason for mentioning this is because it sometime freaks people out who think these people are out to harm others. Someone I went to the festival with last year got very upset over the number of Wiccans and vampires she saw, so I am just trying to educate people about this.
There are bathrooms located on the grounds. I will warn you, though, they are porta-potties. They do have sinks to wash your hands. I carry a small travel-size package of handy wipes with me since I tend to pet most of the animals around and it can get dusty and dirty sometimes. There are also ATM’s on the premises. But most shops accept Lord MasterCard and Lady Visa as they call them. There are changing areas for tots. There is a huge souvenir shop located just inside the gates. There is a first-aid station in case you get sick. There is a great photo shop where you can have your picture taken in Renaissance garb, but make sure to bring your camera and film for the abundance of photo ops. And the parking is free. Just make sure to note where you came in since the parking lot is quite huge and you can come in from several directions. You can also have a Renaissance wedding or Renaissance party here. Just go to the website above for more information.
Opening weekend offers half-price deals. You can find the coupons in the Concord Tribune or the Charlotte Observer. The following weekend is a great weekend to come since that is race weekend and most people are at the races. After that, the crowds tend to get bigger. Check Harris Teeter (a grocery store) for discount coupons.
The festival offers plenty of fun for the whole family. Do come and join the fun here at the Renaissance Festival.
The first 5 years we were married, my husband and I lived in Charlotte while I attended college. After I graduated, we moved to Mt. Pleasant, which is about 20 minutes from Concord. I have lived here 4 years, and since this town isn’t very big, I thought I knew most of the places around. Last year I opened up the paper and this picture of some of the most amazing tulips you have ever seen just popped out at me. I went on and read the article and found out about the Memorial Gardens. I asked my husband if he knew about them, and he said he had never heard of them. Here, only a few minutes from where John worked, was this amazing garden and I had never heard of it. They were having an open house the next day. I couldn’t wait for Saturday to get here. I eagerly awoke on Saturday and headed to downtown. I was simply speechless by what I saw. To say this place will leave you awestruck is putting it mildly.
The history of this beautiful mecca dates back over 200 years. The First Presbyterian Church purchased the land in 1804 for use of its sanctuary. The originally building, built in 1810, was a 12-sided log structure. A newer brick building was constructed in 1837. They later built another building on West Depot Street. Over time, as the congregation moved away to its new building, the cemetery became neglected.
In 1930, Sally Phifer Williamson, whose mother was buried here, was taken aback at the condition of the cemetery. She began restoring the cemetery and changed it to the Memorial Gardens. She continued worked until here death in 1937. After that, her son, Marshal, took over care of the gardens. He died in 1966. The gardens continue today in part from a generous grant from the family.
The gardens no longer serve as a cemetery. Members of the church who have been cremated can have a plaque on a memorial wall in a new part of the gardens. Today, these three acres serves as a serene place for those who enjoy God’s handiwork. The gardens are open year-round, with the best times to go being in the fall and spring. In March and April, the place bursts anew with the more than 1,400 tulips that have been planted from the previous year. In the fall, the warm colors vibrate from the mums that are planted. You will also find 100 different kinds of azaleas, magnolia trees, boxwoods, fountains, waterfalls, beautiful views, beautiful ancient trees, and beautiful white marble markers.
Make sure to stop at the graves still left. You will find quite a few graves of confederate soldiers buried here, including Alexander Franklin Hurley, Sgt. Mathew Goodson, and David John. General Stonewall Jackson’s sister-in-law is buried here. There is an unknown Indian grave. Circus performer George Yeaman of Scotland is buried here after being killed from a fatal fall from his horse while performing in nearby Salisbury. The oldest grave is that of Joseph Shinn, who was buried in 1804.
You can pick up a yellow guide when you first arrive. The gardens are open Monday through Saturday from 9am to 5pm and Sunday from 1 to 5:30pm. Admission is free, but donations are accepted. The Jones York room can be rented out for special functions. Just call 704/782-6106 for information. The place is absolutely wonderful for wedding, prom, or other formal pictures. Please call and make prior arrangements, though. And if you have a professional photographer with you, please be mindful of their behavior. Last year, I attended their open house and the place was overrun by overzealous prom kids, their parents, and photographers. The hogged up the most beautiful spots and ran off anyone who came near. The staff received so many complaints afterwards that they may eventually require advanced reservations to take any kind of formal pictures.
Though only 3 acres, this place is simply one of the most beautiful places I have been to. Since then, I have returned many times over. Once you here, take in some of beautiful downtown Concord. There are a number of wonderful shops located here, and down on Church Street you will find a magnificent collection of restored homes.
The history of the park itself only dates to 1930. Construction began then to turn this into a public park. By 1937, over 3,000 acres had been acquired, most of it donated by private citizens. By the 1940s and 1950, administrative facilities had been added. In the 1960s and ‘70s, work continued and the park began restoring the home of Dr. Francis Kron. Kron was born in Russia in 1798. He went to France to study and met and fell in love with Mary Catherine Delamonthe in 1823. They boarded a ship to America. Five months later, Dr. Kron was teaching French at the university. In 1834, the Kron's permanently established their roots in what is now the state park. You can tour this house today.
Once you arrive in the main parking lot, you can take one of several trails along the Pee Dee. The trials extend 15 miles. Here you will find a boat dock. In the summer, bring your boat or rent a canoe. They also have a restaurant here in the summer, and you can swim here. Along the trails you will see some beautiful trees, plants, bridges, and some amazing views of the Pee Dee. In the fall, the places blazes with the warm colors of the fall sky. If you go back out of this parking lot, you can go to the picnic area. Here you will find several places for a picnic and restrooms. This is also a beautiful place to come to and look around. The overlook looks out over the magnificent mountains and towns below.
Now, with all of this history, it should not surprise you that some of the history has a ghost or two attached to it. Dr. Kron, who I mentioned in part one, also served as the local doctor. He was the only doctor for miles, and his practice was said to amass him a small fortune. Kron died in 1883, but something strange happened one night in the fall of 1878. Kron asked his handyman Don Compton to take a large keg out to a field for him. As he was rolling the keg, he noticed it was filled with gold coins. Later that night as he was sleeping, he was awakened to the sounds of chanting. Returning to where he took the keg, he saw a blazing fire and Kron and two Indians dancing and chanting. Compton fled the home, never to return. Later on his deathbed, he reveled what he saw to a family member. His nephew and friends tired to find the buried treasure by using a conjure woman. She warned them danger would befall them. When they tried to dig up the treasure, they were surrounded by sprits. They were so frightened, they never tried again. Many people still believe there is buried treasure hidden here. Today, you can no longer dig since it is a state park. But would you really want to see if Dr. Akron’s treasure was indeed guarded by the underworld? To read about this story and 99 other spine tingling stories, check out North Carolina’s Hundred Haunts by Daniel Barefoot. Barefoot is a local author who also just happens to be a state representative! You can find his books at bookstores or www.amazon.com.
Morrow Mountain is a great place for the whole family. It is perfect year-round. Spring and fall offer cooler temperatures. The summer abounds with an array of activities. And since we don’t have harsh winters, it is also a perfect time to explore without crowds. For more information, try www.stateparks.com or http://www.ils.unc.edu/parkproject/visit/momo/home.html.
The store is anchored by the Bass Pro Shop, TJ Maxx, Burlington Coat Factory, Off 5th, AC Moore, and Books A Million. There is also currently a Circuit City. But this space has gone through several retailers since its opening. Inside you will find such chains store as Bed, Bath, and Beyond; Black and Decker; Bath and Body Works; and Black Lion. You will find discounted designer duds at such places as Ralph Lauren, Liz Claiborne, Old Navy, and Anne Taylor. There is a food court serving up burgers, pasta, subs, barbeque, and pizza. Chili’s Too and Macodo’s are terrific alternatives to fast food. Here you will also find a carousel for the kiddies. Jeepers is a 26,826-square-foot mini theme park geared towards the under-12 crowd and their parents. Jillian’s is geared to the over-18 crowd by offering big-kid fun. Chefs will want to check out Mikasa, Waterford, or the Corning Wear outlets. There is an AMC movie theater featuring stadium seating. Make sure to bring your Movie Watcher card if you belong. You can Build-A-Bear while you’re here. Or pick up some new tunes or the latest DVD at FYE.
Since this is NASCAR country and you are only minutes away from Lowe’s Motor Speedway, it should not come as a surprise to see the NASCAR Speedpark. This 7-acre theme park is a must for all ages. It offers miniature golf, go-cart racing, and speed tracks outside. Inside you can find a NASCAR merchandise shop, simulated rides, and the Pit Stop Grill. They do keep later hours on the weekend, staying open until midnight.
Here are my favorite places to visit:
Books A Million is a great place to check out the latest bestseller or browse the magazine racks (always my first stop). They have a coffee shop located inside, too. They have a terrific selection of books. I highly recommend their travel section. They do offer a discount card club. They have their own website at .
AC Moore is a crafter’s paradise. They have candle-making essentials, beading, silk flowers, wood items, paints, scrap-book supplies, and more. The selection of scrap book supplies here are wonderful. They have a huge variety for all scrappers, and they have all sizes of paper. They always have some great sales going. Look around the rest of the store and you will find an array of items you can use for scrap books. I also bead and make candles, and their supplies for these hobbies are unbeatable. They also have issues of the latest craft magazines. They have a huge assortment of yarns also perfect for scrap books. They have a website at .
Group USA offer some beautiful fashions, bridal gowns, and evening dresses, as well as accessories. Unfortunately, their plus-size selection is limited. They have some truly beautiful evening gowns at great prices. For an even better deal, check out their sales rack. I purchased a beautiful periwinkle blue gown for $10! The only problem was that a strap needed sewing. I also purchased a beautiful hot pink gown for $20. Both my friend and I examined the gown over and never found anything wrong with it.
Kirkland’s has some of the most beautiful and unusual home decorations around. This place constantly changes, so there is something new every time you come in. They also have a huge array of ethnic-inspired home decor. I purchased a beautiful silk Indian inspired throw for $12! In the summer you can find some marvelous things for your garden. At Christmas you will marvel at the variety of Christmas decorations you can find here. Check them out at .
The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory is heavenly. They offer a huge assortment of chocolate products here. From the outside you can even watch these delectable goodies being made. They even have a nice offering of sugar-free treats. They have several designer apples. I love the one covered in chocolate and then dipped in Oreo cookies. Yummy! And they have huge strawberries dipped in chocolate, a great treat for your sweetie! You can visit them at .
Surrounding Concord Mills you will find plenty more shopping and dining options. Located just in front of the mall on the property you will find a Shake N Steak, Over the Border, TGI Friday’s, Chicago Uno, The Roadhouse, and Razoos. Next to the mall you will find a strip mall that features a buffet-style restaurant. Directly across the mall you will find a Mayflower restaurant. You will also find a strip mall called King’s Crossing, which features a Radio Shack and Jarred Jewelers. A Toys R Us is located in the back. An Applebee’s, Red Lobster, and Olive Garden are in front. Across the bridge you will find another huge shopping area. Here you will find a Garden Ridge, BJ Wholesale Club, and Harley Davidson Store. You can dine at Sony’s, Caribbas, Ruby Tuesdays, Iron Thunder Saloon, or at a number of fast-food stores. Across from them you will find several hotels, including a Wingate Inn and Comfort Inn. Here you will also find a number of restaurants, including a Texas Saloon, Quaker State, and Hooters.
This is one of the fastest-growing areas. There is constant construction and work on new areas going on even as I write, so there is no telling what will go up next. Both Lowe’s Motor Speedway and Verizon Wireless Amphitheater are only minutes away. If you are not a race fan, then this area should be avoided at all costs Memorial Day weekend and the second weekend in October. It also gets pretty crowded at Christmas, so come relax and shop a spell.
Bruton Smith first built the speed park in 1959. On June 19, 1960, the first World 600 occurred. Today, this speed park is one of the top parks in the country. The Coca Cola (formally the World) 600 is in May and the Quality 500 is in October. This racetrack has continued to grow by leaps and bounds to better accommodate the legions of NASCAR fans. Today, 167,000 fans can sit and watch their favorite drivers in comfort. The Smith tower is a 7-story complex that houses its administrative offices, the ticket office, the Speedway club, and a souvenir shop. If you are a big fan, then you will be happy to know they even have condos at the track! In 1992, a state-of-the-art lighting system allowed them to become the first race track to host night racing. In 2000, they opened up a dirt track on the opposite side of the highway.
During the rest of the year, the track plays host to smaller races and other forms of racing. They also host a number of car shows throughout the year. For the ultimate fan, you can drive like a NASCAR driver (or those who would like to at least drive like a race car driver once) at the Richard Petty Driving School. Here you can just ride along with a driver (though not a NASCAR driver) to actually squealing tires in one of those bad boys. You can go to www.1800bepetty.com for more information. This track has actually been featured in several movies, including Speedway, Stroker Ace, and Days of Thunder with cutie Tom Cruise.
The park is centrally located on Highway 49. They have a motorcar museum nearby, NASCAR illustrator Sam Bass has a shop located nearby, and several smaller NASCAR shops are located nearby. Tom Johnson RV is just across the way, offering a wide variety of RV’s. You are within walking distance of Concord Mills. Go on down 49 either way a bit and you will find Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, and a host of other stores and restaurants.
If you are here for one of the major races, there are a number of hotels in the Concord Mills area within walking distance. They also have camping. These fill up VERY fast. We always see the campers long before we see anybody else. You will need to make your reservations WELL in advance. If you try to just drop in and hope for a hotel… well, all I can say is good luck. There is not a hotel to be found within 50 miles of this place. I worked at a nearby hotel over the summer during college one time. By the time I left in August to return to school, about 90% of the rooms for the following May races had been reserved!
NASCAR was once considered a sport for the white redneck. The sport and its fan-base have grown in its diversity and sophistication. Today, you will find that people of all walks of life love NASCAR. The races have a family feel to it, and parents and little tykes have a ball here. When you drive down by the raceway, you can see a football-tailgating atmosphere. If you are not here for one of the major races, be warned that traffic here is a nightmare. I am not a race fan and try to avoid this area during race week at all costs. The area around Lowes is growing to meet the demands of the fans. The racetrack is also growing, and unlike other sports centers, they are growing without help of taxpayers’ dollars.
To purchase tickets or for more information on the park, you can go to "www.lowesmotorspeedway.com">. For information on hotels, you can go to "www.cabarruscvb.com">.
In the late ‘80s, concerned citizens got together and voiced their concern. A group was put together, and they started seeing about becoming a member of the Main Street program. In 1999, Concord was added to the list of Main Street members. This program provides assistance and low-interest loans for towns to revitalize their downtown areas, making them part of the city’s economical development.
Today, downtown Concord is once again buzzing with shoppers and guests alike. There are more than 75 businesses that are part of the downtown area of Concord. New businesses have developed, historical buildings have been renovated, and life has been breathed back into this once-forgotten beauty. Today, you can enjoy some of the best ice cream in town at the Cabarrus Creamery, munch on some delightful baked goods at Chef’s Choice, take a karate lesson at Concord Academy of Martial Arts, get a new do at Charoz Hair Salon, check out something old at the Concord Antique Market, enjoy some barbeque at the Red Pig, jump start your creative juices at the Bead Lady, or buy a guitar from Randy at Mullis Music, just to name a few of the many things you can do here.
Also, check the historical Concord Hotel. They offer a terrific Sunday brunch. There were also several scenes from the movie Shallow Hall starting Gwyneth Paltrow and Jack Black filmed here. Every third Thursday of the month, you can come uptown for Union Street Live from 6 to 9pm for a free concert. There is a summer reading program for children. They even have a wonderful walking tour. You can download a copy of the tour at www.concorddowntown.com. While here, make sure you check out the stunning Memorial Gardens (you can read my separate entry on that). Also take a leisurely stroll down Union Street in either direction to find beautifully restored homes.
Downtown Concord offers a nice break from the touristy Concord Mills. It is a pleasant place to walk, sit a spell, and enjoy some very nice neighbors!
The biggest attraction here is, of course, Concord Mills. But Concord has much more to offer. Take the time to come into downtown and enjoy the beauty here. Here you will find a magnificent collection of restored historic homes and quaint shops. Take the time to enjoy the beauty of the Memorial Gardens. Check out a show at Verizon Wireless Pavilion. In the summer you can check out one of the parks and hear the Charlotte Symphony as they perform. Take a walking tour of downtown Concord. Or enjoy one of the several public parks here. In the fall, enjoy the Cabarrus County Fair. You can also enjoy the popular Renaissance Festival. There are a number of things going on at the Cabarrus Area, including a major bike show. This was the show that stunt rider, "Indian" Larry, was tragically killed at last year.
Concord is home to Barber-Scotia College, a top-rated African-American college. Concord is next door to Kannapolis, the home of the late racing icon Dale Earnhardt. In the summertime you can catch a game of the minor AA league Kannapolis Intimidators. Concord has been prominently featured in the movie Shallow Hall starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Jack Black, as well as several made-for-TV movies.
Shopping is plentiful here. We have Concord Mills and the area surrounding it. There is the Concord Mall closer to town. There are numerous shopping areas that have been built all over. There is a new area off of Dale Earnheart Boulevard. Here you will find a Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Hobby Lobby, and dozens of restaurants and stores. They also have plenty of hotels here, too. The Downtown Concord area offers shoppers a variety of merchants, like music stores, jewelry shops, and bookstores to name a few.
While we have plenty of restaurants here, gourmet cuisine is not found. Folks around these parts like things simple. We, of course, have every manner of fast food known. We have the usual assortment of chain restaurants, from TGI Fridays to Chili’s. We do have some wonderful small family-owned restaurants that offer some great fare. For the best burgers in town, try a What-A-Burger. They use fresh ingredients and their handmade onion rings are the best. They have several locations around. The Mayflower Seafood Restaurant has been serving the locals for more than 20 years. They have a wonderful variety of seafood. If seafood is not your thing, then try their chicken or steaks. They have a new restaurant that just opened across from Concord Mills, or try their original location on Concord Parkway. Get here early, though, or be prepared to wait. But if you do have to wait, it will be worth it.
Religion plays a large part in the community. We have a great number of historical old churches. Our diversity in religion, though, is lacking. Many people here, as in most Southern communities, are Baptist, with Southern Baptists being the most prominent. Here you will also find Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and so forth. There are a small number of Catholic churches here and only one Jewish temple.
This is the actual home to Lowes Motor Speedway, so racing rules here. There are a number of racing shops here, including Hendricks Motor Sports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Brett Bodine, and Dale Earnhardt. There are a number of race-related merchants, including well-known race illustrator Sam Bass. Nearby in Kannapolis you will find the Dale Earnhardt tribute and memorial. You can catch the Backing Up Classics museum located near the racetrack.
Whatever you choose to do, I think you will find Concord a great place to visit or maybe to even live. Here you will find all the big-city amenities while enjoying a slower pace of life. For more information, visit www.cabarruscvb.com or www.ci.concord.nc.us.
Charlotte, North Carolina