Summer Fun

Chris Edwards

There’s something about summer that just demands that we make the best of it. Plus, if you have kids, you know that you can never have enough ideas for entertainment. That’s where we come in! There are 98 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day — and we have an idea for every one of them*


KEY TO SYMBOLS: ✪ = FREE: Won’t cost you a dime.    ✿ = FAMILY: This one’s great for you and your kids!

1 Cannonball off boulders at Carrigan Farms’ quarry in Mooresville. Or dive head-first — the lake is twenty-five feet deep. The quarry is not open on weekends. Be sure to check the website or call for daily availability. 704-664-1450,

2. Document your summer merrymaking like a pro — take the Intro to Digital Photography class ($160) at the Light Factory.

3. Rev your engines and take the kids to the Tuesday-night Summer Shootout Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway. There are car races on the track, but you can also expect weekly surprises, from school bus racing to a fireworks display.

4. Honor the "farm to grill to fork" movement by driving out to Proffitt Family Farms in Kings Mountain and picking up a few grass-fed steaks. Open 2-7 p.m. on Fridays. 704-7516455,

5. Pack some popsicles and head to the courthouse lawn in downtown Concord for the Thursday-night Union Street Live concert series. ✿ ✪

6. With multiple Yoforia and TCBY locations, a Pinkberry in the Arboretum, and now a Menchie’s on East Boulevard, this summer is the perfect time for a Charlotte-wide fro-yo tour. Challenge yourself. multiple locations ✿ For the full fro-yo challenge:

Ben & Jerry’s: Ben & Jerry’s carries fat-free frozen yogurt, too. Fill up on flavors like black raspberry, chocolate fudge brownie, and vanilla. They’re all natural, and they’re as good as B&J’s fattier offerings. multiple locations

Tasty Yo: Try the four flavors of this locally owned operation: original tart, blueberry accai, chocolate, and peach mango, and add a dose of syrupy drizzles and fresh fruit, nut, or candy toppings. multiple locations

Pinkberry: This is the chain that started the craze. The Phillips Place location is an evening hot spot. The original Pinkberry flavor is tart and sweet at the same time, and you can search out other fruit flavors as well as chocolate and a seasonal flavor. Then load on the toppings to make your own fro-yo creation.

7. Head over to The Green to catch the Charlotte Shakespeare Festival’s free production of Moliere’s Tartuffe on Wednesday through Saturday nights, June 2-19. If you show up an hour early, you’ll get the best spot and see a performance from a local performing artist.

8. Get the best view in the city on a hot-air balloon ride with Balloons over Charlotte. 704-896-5241,

9. Lace up and journey to the western highlands for the Braveheart 5K on June 18, at the Taste of Scotland Festival in Franklin. Treat yourself afterward to an early afternoon pint of Scottish Ale from Heinzelmännchen Brewery.

summer Fun

10  A concert series at NC Music Factory offers a great spot to mingle with music — catch Vertical Horizon and Tonic this month.

11. The cremesicle cocktail at Soul Gastrolounge is the perfect mix of childhood nostalgia and grown-up indulgence. Pair with a spicy Soul Roll and call it a well-earned night out.

12. Take your spirit of adventure and head to Rock Hill for the new Canaan Zipline Canopy Tour — a three-hour tour of the Catawba River area that includes trail hikes, hanging bridges, and no fewer than nine different zip lines.

13. Catch Annie Hall at the Mint Museum uptown on June 14 as part of the Music & Movies at the Mint series.

14. There are sheep, cows, and goats just waiting for a friendly visitor at Dan Nichols Park’s Petting Barn in Salisbury. ✿ ✪

15. Try to grab a patio spot at the River’s Edge Bar & Grill during one of the park’s Thursday-night Whitewater River Jam concerts — because a concert and a brew are both better with a view.

16. He may be performing on a Wednesday, but in the words of Wiz Kalifa himself, "live it up like it’s the weekend." Catch the Pittsburgh rapper on June 15 when he rolls up to Time Warner Cable uptown Amphitheatre.

17. There’s no better place to enjoy a book and some bird watching than a shady spot by the rose bushes in Myers Park’s historic Wing Haven Gardens and Bird Sanctuary. ✿ ✪

18. Make your own maki at Cooking uptown’s sushi-making class on June 25. Hurry — spots sell fast!

19. Charlotte’s favorite family-friendly 4th of July festival, Presbyterian Hospital July Fourth Spectacular, is back at Memorial Stadium this year with threelegged races, tug-of-war games, and, of course, fireworks at Independence Park.


20  With a mat and the right pair of stretch pants, any garden can be a den of Zen. Sign up for a Thursday-night yoga class at Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens.

21. Taylor Swift at Time Warner Cable Arena on July 8. Make your teenager jealous (and maybe a little embarrassed) by getting your tickets before she does.

22. Spark some movie-style romance with a two-hour sunset trail ride at Latta Equestrian Center — dinner included!

23. Are you still hoping that hair bands get hot again? Looking for nothin’ but a good time? This night’s for you: Mötley Crüe, Poison, and New York Dolls play Verizon on July 12.

24. Go for a bike ride on the lush, shady Mallard Creek Greenway (and the adjacent Clark’s Creek path). At just over seven miles, it’s the longest bike path in Charlotte. Parking available at Mallard Creek Elementary School, 9729 Mallard Creek Rd., ✪ More bike-riding suggestions:

McAlpine Park Greenway: For an easier (and breezier) ride, hit the McAlpine Park Greenway. Great for beginners, the four-mile south Charlotte trail touts a small lake and 188 species of birds. It’s also a seasonal cross-country course for high school and college-level runners. Main parking available off Monroe Road;

Renaissance Park: This mountain biking course features two moderately difficult loops (seven miles combined). An inclined gravel road and a few log jumps complete the course. 1200 W. Tyvola Rd., 704-529-1827

Campbell Creek Greenway: For a delightful duo of sport and scenery, scoot down Campbell Creek Greenway’s four-mile trail, which is part paved, part gravel, and borders a headwater tributary that links it to McAlpine Greenway. Parking available off Margaret Wallace Road or the McAlpine Creek Greenway headquarters (off Monroe Road);

25. Get tickets for Next to Normal, at the Knight Theater July 12-17. It’s a dramatic, emotionally charged new musical about a … well, not normal family trying to keep it together.

26. Head into Vintner Wine Market in the Arboretum and ask for a seasonal draft. Snag a spot on the patio. Drink. Repeat.

27. Another round of Charlotte Restaurant Week is scheduled for July 15-24. Sounds like the perfect excuse to try a new dinner spot. Not that you needed one.

28. Embrace Tar Heel terroir with a trip to Winston-Salem’s RayLen Vineyards, where a $10 tasting gets you sips of all sixteen of their wines. The countryside is free.
For more on area vineyards:

29. Sometimes, spending another second in blasting AC is even worse than the humidity outside. Pack the kids’ beach towels and head out to Dilworth Spraypark for a cooling splash or three. ✿ ✪

Summer Fun


30 The final Harry Potter movie hits theaters on July 15. Leave the kids at home and see it with a bubbly cocktail from Mez at the EpiCentre Theaters.

31. Catch an indie flick (or four) at the Real to Reel International Film Festival in Kings Mountain, July 20-23. It’s just $6 a day (in advance), or $8 to pay on the spot, and screenings are in the 1940s Joy Performance Center.

Corral the kiddos and caravan to the free Matthews Summer Concert and Movie Series. June 4: Back to the Future. June 18: Megamind. August 20: Tangled. On-site food and drink concessions. Movies start at 8:30 p.m at Stumptown Park, 120 S. Trade St., Matthews, 704-321-7275,

Grab your free popcorn at Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte and settle into a seat for the Cult Movie Mondays series, presented by Theatre 650 and the Light Factory. Free admission; movies start at 8 p.m., doors 7, last Monday of the Month. 650 E. Stonewall St., 704-342-2551,

The Charlotte Film Society’s 2011 series continues with a June 11 screening of the Argentine psychological thriller The Headless Woman. Scoot into a seat at Theatre Charlotte. Movies start at 7:30 p.m., doors 6:45. $8 for nonmembers. 501 Queens Rd.,

32. Iron House, the newest novel from acclaimed mystery writer John Hart, who is a Davidson grad and Salisbury resident, comes out in July. If his previous work is any indication, this one will be a hit.

33. Catch a cooking demonstration from a local chef at Davidson Farmer’s Market. Once you’re inspired, shop the thirtyfive-plus produce, poultry, and meat stands.

34. Here we go again! Mamma Mia! is coming to the Belk Theater July 26-31.

35. If you can’t find music to suit your tastes on July 28, then you’re just not trying. American Idol Live (with eleven acts) plays Time Warner Cable Arena, the Vans Warped Tour (with dozens of bands) plays Verizon, and a Rolling Stones tribute band plays Alive After Five.,

36. An all-new evening fireworks show means Carowinds is open until 10 p.m. July 1-August 7. 14523 Carowinds Blvd., 704-5882600,

37. Fro-yo may be all the rage right now, but there’s no denying the creamy goodness of a fullcalorie scoop of ice cream. Hit up Elizabeth Creamery and stroll along Elizabeth Avenue. 704-332-7776 ✿

38. Cool off with a glass of crisp white wine at the Ritz-Carlton’s Urban Sip — it comes with a free penthouse view.

39. Take advantage of the Gantt’s new International Black Cinema film series, free with admission on select Sundays. It features 1920s Parisian bombshell Josephine Baker on July 10 and August 14.


40 Hit up the Cook-Out drive-through on Freedom Drive for a banana chocolate shake, find a parking spot at Bryant Neighborhood Park, and take in a great uptown view with your (equally great) shake. 2540 Freedom Dr., ✿ More great shake spots:

Big Daddy’s: There’s a reason that milkshakes and burgers come in pairs; they’re a perfect match. And burger go-to Big Daddy’s boasts gotta-have-’em milkshakes. Go for an oldie but a goodie, like the classic chocolate.

Pike’s Old Fashioned Soda Shop: There seems to be no shortage of great shake spots on South Boulevard. But there’s no better treat than posting up on a stool at Pike’s Old Fashioned Soda Shop at Tremont and Camden in South End. Pile the whipped cream and cherries onto a black cherry milkshake and you’ve got summer in a tall glass. With extra in the metal container. Kids love this joint. 704-372-0092,

Mattie’s Diner: Take yourself back to carefree summer days spent sipping on strawberry shakes. Now shake it up a little, and stick your straw in a few nonconventional flavors, like s’mores or peanut butter and jelly. With no-close weekend hours, you can satisfy your sweet tooth from sunup to sundown. 915 Hamilton St., 704-376-1020

Mr. K’s Soft Ice Cream and Drive In: In its tiny old outpost in South End, which is always busy, Mr. K’s blends up everything from blueberry to butterscotch, mocha, and pineapple milkshakes. But follow the motto if you don’t find a flavor to fit your cravings: “Anything you can dream, we can make.” 2107 South Blvd., 704-375-4318

Zack’s Hamburgers: Wash down a mountain of onion rings and a barbecue sandwich with a cold milkshake at this delightful little South Boulevard dive. Get your daily fruit intake with a banana, strawberry, or cherry shake, or shake up your routine with a root beer–flavored one. 4009 South Blvd., 704-525-1720

41. Split a plate of risotto fritters or pita and dip with a special date under sparkling lights at Nolen Kitchen’s patio.

42. Two words: sandal season. Shake your foot shame and get a quick, affordable pedicure at Polished Nail Bar — free drink included.

43. Grab a few friends and take in a breath of fresh air and a cool view (and maybe a bucket of beer) on Gin Mill’s rooftop patio. For a guide to rooftop drinking in Charlotte:

Boardwalk Billy’s: Pop open a couple of icy brews on the rooftop patio at Boardwalk Billy’s, which plants you right above all of the action on Dilworth’s main drag. Best of all? With a raw bar and seafood to boot, you’ll feel like you’ve hit the beach without leaving the city streets. multiple locations

Presto Bar and Grill: For finer fare and the opportunity to enjoy cooler air on a hot night, head over to Presto Bar and Grill. Pick a spot on the rooftop patio and sip on one of twenty-two fruit martini selections, like the caramel appletini, as you survey Trade Street in all its evening glory. 445 W. Trade St., 704-334-7088

Phoenix Charlotte: For a sky-high kind of night, sip on cocktails and watch the stars on Phoenix nightclub’s sofa-laden, wood-planked rooftop terrace. This in-the-air lair overlooks the so-called “District 300” section of nightclubs along North College Street—and it does it with cool, Cuban-inspired décor. 300 N. College St., 704-375-8765

Loft 1523: A great view and a great martini (try the Big City Dog) to go with it? You can’t go wrong, so gather a group and go up to Loft 1523’s second-story patio. It’s not technically a rooftop view, but once you get up there and get a glimpse of Elizabeth and the skyline,
you’ll realize why it’s so popular — and why it garnered our BOB in 2007 for Best View. 1523 Elizabeth Ave., 704-333-5898

44. The performing arts department at CPCC knows no summer break. Shows on board for summer theater programming this year are Hairspray, Alice In Wonderland, Deathtrap, and Hello, Dolly!

45. See the stars of soul when Sade and John Legend determine just how much swooning Time Warner Cable Arena can handle on July 31.

46. On the patio at South End’s Mac’s Speed Shop, the buffalo sauce is almost as hot as the motorcycles parked outside. Cool off the whole experience with a cold beer.

47. Take the kids for a horsedrawn carriage ride and a trip through the petting barn at Lazy 5 Ranch. You can even grab a bucket and feed goats, pigs, and kangaroos on the way.

48. Hey, squinty! Get yourself $20 sunglasses at K-La in Phillips Place. 704-643-7800

49. Pick up a pizza at Brixx or a cup of ice cream at Coldstone and sit in on one of the free concerts at Blakeney Shopping Center on Friday and Saturday nights. It’s also a great excuse to catch up on window shopping. ✿ ✪



50 Pile your bucket high with berries at Jo’s Blueberry Farm in Mount Pleasant. Just $4 a quart. Just don’t wear white. 704-4086995,

51. There’s no heat antidote more effective than a cup of Italian ice or frozen custard from Rita’s Water Ice. There are spots at Galleria Commons and The Shoppes at Ardrey Kell right now, but be sure to swing by the new Plaza Midwood location, too. ✿’

52. Visit a library. Read a book. You know it’s been a while. ✿ ✪

53. Celebrate American and Charlottean heritage with picnic at Independence Park—Charlotte’s oldest park. Bring a volleyball! 300 Hawthorne Ln.,

54. Feel the NASCAR thunder while watching a race on the sixty-four-foot-wide screen at the Hall of Fame’s Belk High Octane Theater.

55. At Pure Taqueria in Matthews, there are ten margarita options with sixty-plus tequilas—you do the math. Some house-made guacamole to take the edge off is advisable, too. 704-841-7873, For more great margaritas:

Cabo Fish Taco: Looking to catch a buzz without breaking the bank? Try the $4 “El Cheapo” Margarita at Cabo Fish Taco. Or catch a wave, specifically the “Perfect Wave,” the house special, concocted with Blue Agave tequila, Cointreau and Grand Marnier. 3201 N. Davidson St.,
704- 332-8868

Loco Lime: This Mexican mainstay mixes up some inventive “Loco-ritas,” such as Spicy Jalapeno Margaritas and Beer-ritas (add Dos XX amber beer to the blender). The real fiesta comes on Margarita Mondays, which feature those Loco-ritas and Jalapeno Margaritas half-priced. multiple locations

Prickly Pear: After you sip on the signature namesake margarita at this Mooresville restaurant, which is flanked with actual fresh, prickly fruit, treat yourself to the Dessert Mirage Margarita. Served with Sauza tequila and raspberry liquor, it’ll leave you wanting seconds — of dessert. 761 N. Main St., Mooresville, 704-799-0875

Pacos Tacos and Tequila: Come on; it has “Tequila” in the name. No wonder; there are more than sixty different types, and they’re carefully chosen for the cantina’s seven specialty cocktails. Those chilly wonders partner well with grilled chipotle barbecue shrimp tacos. 6401 Morrison Blvd., Ste. 8-A, 704-716-8226

Vida: With rare tequilas behind the bar (like Cazadores), you better believe Vida vies for a margarita mention. Order the Bull Rita, Millionaire’s or Skinny (zero calorie sweetener will have you fooled), and you might just happen upon the best margarita you’ve had in your vida. 210 E. Trade St., Ste. 104-A, 704-971-8432

56. Browse CPCC’s summer course catalog and pick something you’ve never tried before — anything from a cooking class to a swing dance lesson. All for around $100.

57. New season, new outfit! Head over to Ivy & Leo for a trendy, budget-friendly summer dress or blouse.

58. Bocce is quite possibly the perfect summer sport, because you barely have to move. The Kings Drive portion of the new Little Sugar Creek Greenway has two courts. B.y.o. pallino! ✪

59. OK, this is cool, literally: Charlotte’s Ice Sensations offers ice-carving classes. You’ll be the star of your neighborhood block party.


60 Charlotte loves it some Cirque, and the artsy acrobats from Canada are back August 3-8 with Alegría at Time Warner Cable Arena.

61. Yee-haw! It’s rodeo time in Troutman August 5 and 6, where the Southern Rodeo Association is gathering for two days of bareback riders, bull riders, and barrel racers.

62. It’s just $14 for a four-person family to catch a summer blockbuster at the Badin Road Drive-in movie theater. Plus, you can b.y.o. snacks.

63. For the best produce picking and people watching in Charlotte, head to the Center City Green Market at Trade and Tryon on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Pick up a jar of local honey or a bag of locally grown peaches while you’re there. ✿ ✪

64. Pack a picnic and take your sweetheart out to the Airport Overlook off Old Dowd Road. Set your iPod to play Gary Allan’s "Watching Airplanes." Let the magic happen. ✪

65. Relive that college road trip with Guster at the Time Warner Cable uptown Amphitheatre on August 9.

66. There are fun, quirky, easy beach reads available by the stackful at Paper Skyscraper. And there are tougher reads too.

67. It’s a Monday night, sometime after 10 p.m. You’re bored. You’re in luck. The Double Door has a killer soul/funk/rock house band: The Monday Night All-stars.

68. Shoot down the seventysix-foot Daredevil Drop at Wet ‘n’ Wild Emerald Pointe. A long drive, to be sure, but a worthy adventure for the largest water park in the Carolinas.

69. A welcome breeze from the north will blow into Charlotte on August 17, when Kenny Loggins accompanies the Boston Pops for a concert at Charlotte Knights Stadium.

Summer Fun


70 Crawl into an inner tube for a ride down the Dan River with Dan River Adventures. Depending on the conditions, the rides can last between two and four hours, so wear your strongest SPF.

71. Rent a Jet Ski on Lake Norman — $99 on a weekday, $129 for a two-hour weekend ride.

72. Enjoy a prosciutto pizza and a glass of rosé at Vivace’s outdoor lounge, overlooking the newest part of the Little Sugar Creek Greenway.

73. Spend a day in one of the quaint small towns ringing our city. Need suggestions? See page 58. ✿

74. Cruise cliffside on the u.S. National Whitewater Center’s new Canopy Tour. It’s a threeto four-hour experience that includes zip lines, rappelling, hiking, and sky bridges.

75. While you’re there, try to catch one of the Moonlight Micro Brews Cruises — a flat-water paddle along the Catawba River followed by a bonfire, beer tasting, and dinner.

76. Knock the dust off your dreary décor by browsing the International Collectibles & Antiques Show at Metrolina Tradeshow Expo, during the first weekend in July.

77. It’s not exactly a convertible, but you can still feel the wind in your hair with an uptown ride in a Charlotte pedicab. Get a quick ride to dinner for $5, or do a city tour for $20.

78. Catch a game (and, if you’re lucky, a foul ball) at Charlotte Knights stadium — tickets start at just $7.

79. Catch a live jazz concert at the Mint Museum uptown’s (air-conditioned!) First Friday event. Kids can saddle up to an arts and crafts project, and you to the cash bar.


80 Kick back with a cold cocktail, a plate of oysters on ice, and maybe some fresh sashimi at upstream’s outdoor lounge area.

81. Eat a basket of popcorn shrimp at the Lake Norman Midtown Sundries while watching the boats chug by.

82. Cool off in the air-conditioned movie theater at UNCC’s student union, where the movies are classics and the tickets just $2.

83. Row, row, row your (rental) boat down the New River with Zaloo’s Canoes. You can rent a kayak, canoe, or inner tube and cruise down the New River.

84. OK, it’s clear that your golf game needs some work. But also? It’s hot outside. So check out the high-tech indoor learning center run by the acclaimed Dana Radar Gold School inside the Charlotte Athletic Club uptown.

85. The UK loved the Southern band Kings of Leon for years before the U.S. discovered their alternative rock tunes. Make up for America’s lost time when the four brothers come to Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on August 9.

86. Is there a more perfect summer activity than cornhole? Well, probably. But still. Best bets are Philosopher’s Stone Tavern in Elizabeth (704-350-1331) or Connolly’s on Fifth in uptown (704-358-9070).

87. Stage lights! People! All at the Journey concert at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on August 21. With Foreigner and Night Ranger.

88. Run through a sprinkler. You know you want to. ✿ ✪

89. On August 27, Kid Rock plays Verizon with opener Sheryl Crow. Rock and roll does not get any more American than this.



90 Bet you’ve never been to the smokin’-hot Bill Hanna Jazz Jam, which happens every Tuesday night at the Double Door. Time to fix that.

91. It’s hot. Stay inside. Fix a drink. ✪ Need some cool drink ideas?

92. There’s more to Lake Norman than Jet Skis and warm canned beer. How about a nice, relaxing dinner cruise with the folks from Queens Landing?

93. No one’s celebrating the arrival of cold weather, but the August 31 release party for Olde Mecklenburg Brewery’s Mecktoberfest might be a worthy exception. For more local brew suggestions:

94. Has your kid ever stumped you by asking how water gets to the faucet, or what happens to it after it goes down the drain? Show them at the Blue Planet Water Environmental Center. Lee S. Dukes Water Treatment Plant, Huntersville, 704-621-0854 ✿

95. If you haven’t seen the N.C. mountains via motorcycle, you haven’t seen the N.C. mountains. Charlotte’s Blue Strada Motorcyle Tour and Rentals organizes tours and offers rentals.

96. Levine Museum of the New South has updated its core exhibit, Cottonfields to Skyscrapers, to interpret the past twenty years. Go see what history has to say about the present.

97. Head to downtown Monroe to visit the rambling Treehouse Vineyards. Tour the grounds, pet the horses, but don’t leave without an icy cold muscadine cider slushie ($3). For $2 more, add a few shots of wine and make it a "wine-a-rita."

98 Because everything’s more real in IMAX, get an insider’s look at the humanitarian response in Haiti with Rescue. Opens June 17.

Categories: Feature, The Buzz