By Emily Farrington Smith
Welcome to Gold Hill
Visiting the historic village of Gold Hill, North Carolina, located in Rowan County about 30 minutes from Charlotte, is like taking a step back in time to an early 1800s gold mining village. The wood-plank sidewalks may remind you of the Wild West, but in actuality, gold was discovered here a full decade before the California Gold Rush even began. While the town is technically unincorporated, the 16 official residents of the historic village have taken it upon themselves to preserve Gold Hill’s unique, must-see landscape.
Where to Eat
The village may not have more than one restaurant, but that’s where the old adage “quality over quantity” speaks volumes. Down South Cafe and Catering specializes in homestyle country cooking. Think ribs, barbecue, chicken and classic Southern sides. Make sure you start your meal with an appetizer of Munchers, hashbrown-hushpuppy combinations that are stuffed with cheese, fried and served with homestyle ranch. As a healthier option, stop by J.J.’s Produce Market for fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables picked daily from Gold Hill fields. To satisfy your sweet tooth, pick up a treat at Bakery Baskets and Gifts, which whips up cakes, cookies, candies and breads in handmade baskets.
What to See
You don’t become known as the “richest gold mining property east of the Mississippi” without plenty of gold mines, the remnants of which have now been turned into the Gold Hill Mines Historic Park, which boasts 70 acres of self-guided walking trails, historic artifacts, and lots of area for picnics and play. Visit E.H. Montgomery General Store to pick up a tour booklet, enjoy a history lesson or catch live bluegrass music every Friday night. River Pines Art is open on weekends for the occasional pottery or jewelry-making demonstration. Be sure to add May 7 to your calendar for Gold Rush Day, when the village comes alive with arts and crafts vendors, food, tours and live music, all to celebrate Gold Hill in its heydey. And don’t miss the Gold Hill Trail Trolley, which takes you through town in style and echoes the town’s gold mining history.
Where to Shop
Cute shops in refurbished buildings are the rule in Gold Hill, not the exception. The Gold Hill File Store is filled with antiques, home décor and more, and is housed in a former 1906 general store. Find country garden accessories, like gnomes and birdfeeders, at the aptly named Country Garden shop. Southern Belles & Pearls offers handmade gifts, and the Feelin Station Artisan Studio houses unique, handcrafted jewelry. Finally, Back Home is the place for lovely home decor, florals and gifts.
This article ran in the April 2016 issue of Charlotte Happenings.
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