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Explore McAdenville This Weekend

If you’re looking for a getaway not too far from the Queen City, McAdenville is the perfect location! Explore the city’s history, food, outdoor activities, shopping and much more.

Story by Michaela Duckett

Welcome to McAdenville

Incorporated in 1883, McAdenville, North Carolina, is a tiny, charming mill town located on the South Fork Catawba

River, less than a 30-minute drive from Charlotte on Interstate 85. It was named after Rufus Yancey McAden, president of McAden Mills, the town’s cotton factory. During the holidays, the 700-resident town of McAdenville welcomes thousands of guests eager to enjoy the famous Christmas lights display.

Where to see

Nationally known as “Christmas Town USA,” McAdenville has been credited with inventing the tradition of decorating outdoor evergreen trees with holiday-themed lights. The custom has grown tremendously since it began in 1956. Today, virtually every inch of the town is trimmed with hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights at work. The spectacular display attracts more than 300,000 vehicles cruising through for holiday cheer. 

Visitors are drawn to the town’s tranquil lake, which is at its heart. The lake features a fountain shooting currents 75 feet high, plus a 46-foot-wide lit image of Old Man Winter blowing snowflakes into the air. Along the holiday tour, favorite vignettes includes a nine-foot-tall, 70-foot-long display of Santa and his reindeer and a life-size nativity scene.

What to do

To explore more of the town’s cultural beauty, check out the Christmastown Thomas Kinkade Signature Gallery, filled with Kinkade’s luminous works, both on display and for sale. The selection of art includes many of Kinkade’s hard-tofind Disney pieces as well as his more sought after earlier works. The gallery is open limited hours Thursday through Saturday.

Take in the town’s history as told by its buildings, which feature notable Victorian and Italianate architecture. Owing to its rich roots, the McAdenville Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Where to dine

Embrace the close-knit local vibe and grab seat at The Little Village Restaurant on Main Street. The no-frills diner dishes out breakfast, lunch and dinner. A favorite among regulars is the Hungry Man Special, which includes two eggs, two small hotcakes, grits, gravy, a meat choice (bacon, livermush, sausage or bologna), toast or biscuit, and tea or coffee for $7.99. For dinner, the country-style steak, chicken casserole and meatloaf steal the show.

Take a post-meal stroll along the scenic South Fork River Trail located on the Pharr Yarns Preserve. Suitable for hiking and mountain biking, this out-and back trail totals just over 4 miles roundtrip and connects McAdenville with the quaint town of Lowell.


This article ran in the December 2015 issue of Charlotte Happenings.

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