Distance from Charlotte: 22 miles
A half hour outside of Charlotte's city limits lies Davidson — half college town, half historic haven for those looking for a relaxing Saturday. Main Street offers a quaint stretch sprinkled with a book shop, vintage record store, and coffee house—not to mention a whole host of cute eateries beckoning townies and travelers alike.
Kick off your visit with the most important meal of the day. The small, caféstyle breakfast spot The Egg is dedicated to all things egg, but its menu doesn't stop there. You'll also find stacks of pancakes, topped with whipped cream, chilled fruit, or chocolate chips, and old classics like buttermilk biscuits and housemade gravy. But the real showstoppers are the Benedicts, stuffed with everything from smoked ham to lump crab meat, chorizo sausage, and fresh veggies. If you've got the bitty ones on board, you're in luck: there are pancakes in the shapes of cartoon characters, and the restaurant is completely kid-friendly. 231 Griffith St., 704-987-1885
STRAIGHT FROM THE ART
From the campus steeped in academic prestige, to book stores, crafts, and art that abound almost every shop, this town exudes an artsy, cerebral culture. One highlight is the Visual Arts Center, which houses a collection by Herb Jackson (abstract artist and Davidson College prof), Excavations. Included are his first canvas, which he completed at age sixteen, and his 1980s "Veronica's Veils" series, based on the story of Saint Veronica. Browse the Senior Art Majors Exhibition, and stroll the atrium, which features the 1886 life-size statue Jean d'Aire by French sculptor Auguste Rodin. Call ahead for hours. 315 N. Main St., 704-894-2000
During the school year, as you stroll the tree-lined campus, patterned by brick paths and canopied in old oaks, you'll feel a sense of Davidson College's easygoing campus life; bikes are left unchained, laughter and chatter seep out of open dorm windows, and Frisbees sail across the quad. Grab a book from Main Street Books or the public library and settle into an Adirondack chair beneath a shady magnolia and feel life slow down. Among the bevy of aged buildings and historical must-sees is the President's House, which is tucked away behind low-hanging trees and looks over Main Street. Be sure to stop by the site of the old campus chapel (now Shearer Hall), the arboretum, and Oak and Elm Rows, two original dormitories. The more athletic can serve up a game of tennis at the Stowe Tennis House or toss the old pigskin on one of the practice fields. 102 N. Main St.
GOT THE SCOOP
You don't have to be a Davidson native to have a Pavlovian reaction at the sight of that iconic Ben & Jerry's sign, signaling you to come in for a cone or cup of those can't-count-'em-all flavors of creamy goodness. 202 S. Main Street, 704-892-0604
MAIN STREET SHOPS
If you're a fan of one-stop shopping, try one-street shopping on for size. Among the slew of cute shops that cloak Main Street are standouts, such as The Bird's Nest, famous for music lessons, guitars and strings, and vintage records, and main Street Books, whose shelves are stacked with children's books, North Carolina literature and pretty paper goods, like black and white postcards. The Bird's Nest, 102 S. Main St., 704-9906378; Main Street Books, 126 S. Main St., 704-892-6841
The "Central Perk" of Davidson, Summit Coffee is a good stop for a cup of Joe to sip on aboard one of the storefront benches. This is the perfect way to unwind and refuel after a few hours of shopping and campus activities. 128 S. Main St., 704-895-9090
Though it finds itself in steep competition with the town's other notable galleries, Wooden Stone boasts especially beautiful artwork in a bevy of forms, like quilts and paper, glass and ceramics, metalwork and wood. 445 Main St., Ste. 200, 704-892-1459
Your cravings for caramel truffles and fudgey brownies can be cured! At Davidson Chocolate Company you'll find gourmet blends and delectable creations, all hand-crafted and created in this popular chocolatier's kitchen. 610 Jetton St., Ste. 150, 704-896-7245