Things to do

3 to See in Charlotte's Optimist Park

Neighboring Belmont and First Ward, under-the-radar Optimist Park is low key no longer.

Photo by Kyo H Nam Photography - 15th Street Market

Growth in the form of small business incubator Area 15 and Optimist Hall, Charlotte's much-anticipated food hall concept, continue to drive people to the neighborhood. While exploring, try these three favorites—one old, one new and one adoptable, too.

Mac Tabby Cat Cafe

Looking to spend time with a furry feline that might even come home with you? Spend the purr-fect afternoon at Mac Tabby Cat Café, where you can hang out with the coolest cats in the city. No need to bring your own furrball to the party; this place has about 12 adoptable cats at one time in the Cat Lounge. The cat to human ratio is kept even here, and reservations are highly encouraged even though walk-ins are welcome.

Photo by Kyo H Nam Photography - Mac Tabby Cat Cafe

If you find yourself needing a little refreshment afterward, head to the cafe for coffee from Pure Intentions Coffee or kombucha from Lenny Boy Brewing Company. Just don’t let Garfield get into the IPA. If you dig the vibe, plan to stop by during special events: Yoga with cats, live music (soft tunes to respect powerful ears) and painting classes pop up on the cafe's schedule often.

15th Street Market

Who doesn’t love a round or 15 of ping pong while sipping a cold, local beer on tap? (Amid a makeshift art gallery, no less.) In August, Optimist Park resident Adam Cozzolino opened 15th Street Market because he thought the neighborhood needed somewhere to go for hangout essentials: beer, snacks, coffee, games and community. Since then, the shop has been stocked with locally made beer, kombucha, pastries, art, home goods and, of course, games. Head over here for a sandwich and chips while trying not to topple over the enormous Jenga set. If an urgent work email comes in during your play date, no worries: Log onto the free Wi-Fi to take care of business, and head back into the important stuff—playing with the mammoth Connect 4.

Photo by Kyo H Nam Photography - 15th Street Market

Abari Game Bar

With more than 30 classic arcade games and a menu of craft beers, cocktails and housemade sodas, Abari Game Bar, open until 2 a.m., has long been a late-night hangout for the gaming set. Grab a few of your friends for a rousing game of Ms. Pac-Man, Mario Bros or even Frogger. If you’re more of a pinball person, get into Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones Pinball Adventure and Twilight Zone.

Photo by Kyo H Nam Photography - Abari Game Bar

For the classic game console lovers, relax on a couch and get into your favorites. When you need a break in the action, choose from the nine craft beers on tap or a variety of sodas.