Best of the Burbs: North
If you want weekend brunch at family-owned Toast, show up early to avoid the line of patient diners wrapped around the little mustard-colored house. They're likely waiting for their turn to have made-from-scratch raspberry and walnut pancakes. Sweet cornbread will satiate your appetite until your French toast, omelet, crepe, or flapjack hits the table.
100 Huntersville-Concord Rd., Huntersville, 704-875-7840
Shopping for the impossible person or for hostess gifts for a group that spans three generations? Check out the delightful offerings in roomy and funky BeBe Gallini's. You'll find candles, sassy onesies (above, $22.50), painted furniture, artwork, frames, handmade jewelry, bags, greeting cards, scented lotions, T-shirts, yard art, pet products, and home goods among this hip spot's wares.
19725 Oak St., Cornelius, 704-894-0096
The Roasted Pepper Queso in the Double Dip might look like your mama's pimento cheese, but even if she makes the best pimento cheese this side of the Mississippi, it can't beat 131 Main's mildly spicy version. Guacamole—with chunky avocados and a mild citrus taste—stars as the other half of this combo. Scoop them up with just-right tortilla chips—not too thick or too thin—and you'll have a hard time stopping for dinner.
17830 N. Statesville Rd., Cornelius, 704-896-0131
This downtown coffeehouse in a hundred-year-old storefront has heart, soul, and a loyal following. Coffee choices are free trade, organic, and shade grown, and other options include Italian soda, hot teas, and the world's most decadent hot chocolate. Daytime, you'll find college students cramming and townies in meetings downstairs, upstairs, and on the back patio. At night, Summit doubles as Davidson's version of Cheers with live music, wine, and beer.
128 S. Main St., Davidson, 704-895-9090
The Tea House
The century-old bright pink house on Highway 115 might seem an unlikely place for the hottest lunch spot in the 'burbs, but The Tea House is so happening that reservations are required for lunch and afternoon tea. Featuring more than thirty loose-leaf teas that can be served hot or iced, the menu offers sumptuous soups, salads, and sandwiches, delightful bite-size cupcakes, and traditional tea fare like scones. Three themed rooms, like Alice in Wonderland and the British Colonial, set the mood for you.
20517 N. Main St., Cornelius, 704-896-9813
Fiore Home and Garden
There are bouquets and then there are masterpieces, and Leigh Webb and her staff raise flower arranging to an art form. Your Cinco de Mayo centerpiece won't just be bright. It'll have hot peppers and jalapeños peeking out to surprise you. Once you pick up one of the Valentine's bouquets of hot pink Gerber daisies and full coral roses, you'll never go back to red roses with baby's breath. Have a wedding to plan? You'll love the signature look they'll craft for your big day.
202 S. Main St., Davidson, 704-655-2650
Signs welcome visitors to pedestrian-friendly Davidson as soon as they drive in, and the greenway is proof that the town is putting its money where its mission is. When the southeast portion of the greenway opened last year, runners, walkers, and dogs rejoiced. Go for a run while enjoying the knee-friendly blacktop, lush greenness, and gurgling creeks along the way. With more routes planned, you might never have to suck down car exhaust again.
Outing for kids
Lazy 5 Ranch
Tired of Thomas the Train, Disney princess, and Elmo birthday parties? Book a horse-drawn wagon for your kid and her pals at Lazy 5 Ranch, where they'll feed deer, antelope, llamas, giraffes, zebras, water buffaloes, yaks, pot-bellied pigs, and ostriches during their 3.5-mile safari ride. They'll laugh, and you will, too, but pack some Wet Wipes for cleanup after the animals literally drool for their dinner.
15100 Highway 150 E., Mooresville, 704-663-5100
Pie in the Sky
Dishing up pizza in downtown Mooresville for more than twenty years, Pie in the Sky pizza is a local and longtime favorite with no flash or flair but plenty of flavor. Start with the garlic bread and follow up with pepperoni pizza for a satisfying fill in this family-friendly restaurant.
125 N. Main St., Suite 2, Mooresville, 704-663-7189