Charlotte Shopping, Dining & Entertainment Centers
These Charlotte entertainment complexes are ideal hubs for dining, shopping and fun for the entire family.
So you have family and friends in town for the holidays. We all know the routine: eat, couch, repeat. Fortunately, with the city’s eclectic array of entertainment complexes, there’s an easy way to spice up the scene and stave off cabin fever. To get you started, we’ve compiled a no-fail list of area shopping centers that are filled with food and fun for everyone. Just pick your spot, park your car and let the family go to town.
Take the entire family to Ayrsley Town Center, a complex that has rightfully earned the moniker the “Uptown of Southwest Charlotte.” Catch a double feature at the independent Ayrsley Grand Cinemas 14, where themed film showings (retro horror, anyone?) are all the rage. Grab a post-popcorn lunch at Harry’s Grill & Tavern—where you can also order a handcrafted cocktail—or Potorfino’s Italian Restaurant, where hearty portions of pasta please everyone. Shopping stops include Expressive Impressions jewelry, where something sparkly is sure to catch your eye.
Great for couples, Ballantyne Village is the perfect destination for a meal and a movie. With 20 different restaurants to choose from, you’ll find many favorites. Try exotic, spice-infused Indian fare at Blue Taj, pizza at Mellow Mushroom, and craft beers and classic American fare at Blackfinn Ameripub. After dinner, head upstairs to Regal Ballantyne Village Stadium 5. Have fashionistas in tow? Boutique offerings include GoldKloth Boutique, The Cheeky Bean, Abraham Joseph Fine Jewelers and more.
Life at Lake Norman is great for the kids when Birkdale Village is the destination. There’s a real Main Street feel here, with wide walkways, 60 retailers and an interactive splash pad fountain—a magnet for toddlers and teens alike when the weather is nice. Catch a movie at Regal Cinemas Birkdale 16 & RPX and then take the family for burgers atBig Daddy’s Burger Bar or smoky goodness at Smoke Modern Barbecue. Find trendy fashions at Fab’rik, Francesca’s, Bevello and Banana Republic, and then savor a glass of wine at The Cork Screw.
South Park’s go-to place to take visiting guests, Phillips Place is terrific for retail, al fresco dining and first-run films. Enjoy classic bistro fare at WP Kitchen + Bar, inspired by Wolfgang Puck’s culinary expertise, or head over to Upstream to savor bites from the Pan-Asian fusion menu. Specialty shops include Restoration Hardware, Paper Source and Dean and Deluca, while noted boutique retailers range from Taylor Richards & Conger to Luna, Ike Behar, Copper Penny and Orvis. Pick a flick at the Regal Phillips Place Stadium 10 or schedule a massage and manicure at Modern Salon & Spa to put an exclamation point on the day.
Nearby Fort Mill, South Carolina, is home to Baxter Town Center, a collection of specialty shops perfect for a sweet retreat. Indulge in amazing confections at CupCrazed Cakery, a winner on Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars.” Be sure to try the famous sweet tea-inspired cupcakes. Chocolate lovers will swoon over one-of-a-kind truffles and handcrafted English toffee at Chocolat Boutique. Trendsetters will find shelves full of stylish finds at Page 6 Boutique and The Children’s Cottage. Need to release a little creative energy? Swing into A.O.S. Acting Out Studio, which offers acting classes for kids and adults.
Providing the pulse for Charlotte nightlife, EpiCentre is aptly named for its heart-of-Uptown locale. Eat, laugh and bowl at StrikeCity, an upscale, colorful and high-tech bowling center. Let Tin Roof Charlotte’s live music beckon you with its laid-back vibe and popular dance floor. Rub elbows with NASCAR aficionados at Whisky River, Dale Earnhart Jr.’s rock and country music bar, complete with mechanical bull riding. Dinner and a movie is raised up a notch at Studio Movie Grill – EpiCentre 5, where upscale dining accompanies first-rate films and a cozy lounge encourages post-flick lingering.
A top South Charlotte dining and entertainment destination, this 270-acre multiuse complex is a shopper’s paradise. National retailers such as Old Navy, Target, Marshalls and Off Broadway are anchors here, though savvy shoppers also come for boutique shopping. Mud Pie Monograms & Gifts will customize almost anything, Waxhaw Candle Company has the perfect local gift for someone special and women find stylish apparel at Vestique.
Keep the entire family entertained at this happening Piper Glen hot spot. Check off the family’s must-see films at the Regal StoneCrest at Piper Glen Stadium 22 & IMAX. Screenings here include IMAX and live in-season Metropolitan Opera simulcasts. Mother-daughter and girlfriend groups can enjoy pampering at Polished Nail Bar or Voci Spa. If you’re looking for casual fare, pop into Smashburger, and for something slightly fancier and South of the Border, scoot up chairs at Cantina 1511. It may be chilly out, but it’s plenty warm inside Marble Slab Creamery, where you can treat the crew to ice cream with mix-ins.
Foodies flock to the Arboretum, especially for breakfast. Le Peep’s Restaurant wows with oversized pancakes, waffles and double-dipped French toast. Head to New South Kitchen & Bar for modern down-home dishes made with the finest North Carolina ingredients. Or swing to big band era sounds over prime steaks and seafood at Charlotte dining stalwart Mickey & Mooch. Home chefs adore Penzey’s Spices, a spice emporium that stocks an incredibly fresh and extensive collection. Movie and food lovers can even enjoy light meals and beer and wine, along with major flicks and indie shorts produced by local filmmakers, atCinebarre Arboretum Stadium.
Shop, dine and relish the options at RiverGate, the perfect destination for young families and empty nesters alike. Casual dining takes center stage here at Fuel Pizza and American Burger Co., while Riverblue Steak & Fish offers more refinement over delicate seafood and filet dishes. Create your own specialty board room designs, custom-painted ceramics and home craft projects at Art Space Studio. And pick up a selection of vino that will even impress your group’s resident sommelier at The Wine Shop. Wrap up the day with a healthy dose of personal time at Massage Envy or Beverly Nails.
his 60-year-old, comprehensive complex was the very first open-air shopping center developed in Charlotte. Get a workout at SWEAT Cycle Studio or Jami Masters School of Dance. Shop for women’s and men’s accessories and apparel at J.Crew Mercantile, exquisite home goods at Traditions Interiors & Accessories and gear for your next adventure at Ski Country Sports. Pick up home improvement and garden supplies at the beloved Blackhawk Hardware. Be sure to check out visiting and local author readings at one of the last independent book stores in town, Park Road Books. Then head over for an old-fashioned milkshake at Park Road Soda Shoppe, a Southern breakfast at Flying Biscuit Café or a plate of stellar oysters at RockSalt. Take in a movie at the Park Terrace Stadium 6 as a final stop.
At nearly 1.4 million square feet, Concord Mills is one of the largest shopping and entertainment complexes in the Southeast. There are more than 200 retailers here, with outlet hubs for brand names like Ann Taylor, Michael Kors, The Disney Store and Bass Pro Shops. Kids of all ages especially love the entertainment options, including Dave & Busters; SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord Aquarium, with its touch pools and interactive displays; The Speedpark at Concord Mills, an expansive amusement center with go-karts, 18-hole mini golf, a bungee jump and ice skating (through Jan. 16); and the 24-screen AMC Concord Mills 24. After all the excitement, Razzoo’s Cajun Café and Carolina Ale House are among the many dining options to enjoy.
Shopping Center Superlatives
With the surplus of shopping centers sprinkled around the city, we’ve filed down a few must-sees by specialty.
The best complex for…
Nestled in a district known for its shopping prowess, the shops at Morrison include renowned retailers like Capitol, Boem and The Impeccable Pig for women’s clothing, Shower Me with Love for adorable children’s apparel, and B.D. Jeffries for posh and polished home decor and accessories.
Here, culinary adventure awaits. Vivace Charlotte leads the way with inspired Italian trattoria fare such as handcrafted pizzas, homemade pasta and craft cocktails. Dressler’s Restaurant offers steaks, seafood and one of the best patios in town, and Pisces Sushi Bar and Loungebrings Asia to Charlotte through fresh sushi.
Indulgence meets relaxation and rejuvenation along the row of pampering havens that fill Promenade on Providence. Get your glow on at Ultra Tan, a hot stone massage at La Vida Massage, or a cut, color and waxing at Fresh Salon.
Keep the fun local. Take a cooking class with Charlotte culinary master Alyssa Gorelick at Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen. Dine on the freshest local vegetarian fare at Luna’s Living Kitchen. And shop homegrown produce, meats, cheeses and crafts from more than a dozen regional artisans within the market.
This article ran in the November 2016 issue of Charlotte Happenings.