I never had a reason to visit Lincolnton, NC, until I needed a traffic ticket dismissed. In December, I was stopped in Lincoln County for an expired registration and license tag. More recently, I made the 45-minute trek to the Lincolnton courthouse with the expectation of showing my updated registration to the district attorney and immediately heading home.

Instead, I stayed several hours, and not in line or in jail. My ticket was dismissed within minutes, and then I toured the town. I wonder now if law enforcement’s job is to write tickets so that out-of-towners visit this charming place.

I stopped at small shops that were selling artwork, wine, pottery, woodwork, books and gift items. My favorite was Art on Main, the UMAR arts shop, because of its colorful displays of jewelry, artwork and knitted products. If you have a day to explore a quaint town not far from Charlotte, I recommend Lincolnton on any day except Sunday and Monday when most shops are closed.

Here are a few ideas to plan your visit:

Things to do

Visit the Lincoln Cultural Center. Get tickets to a theater or music event. Plan your visit around the art crawl in May or the annual pottery market in July (keep an eye out for the specific details on these events.)

Permanent art exhibits include Japanese Art Blocks and former Lincolnton resident, James Harrill’s original paintings. 403 E. Main St.

Bike or hike the South Fork Rail Trail of the Carolina Thread Trail. Combine an outdoor adventure on one of these trails with a slow-paced walk through town. Views of the Catawba River and historic Laboratory Mill are along the route. Find the 1.8 miles trail at 2648 Laboratory Road.

Places to shop

Peruse the shops along Main Street. Most are family-owned businesses with locally made art, décor and gifts.

Art on Main

The Owl’s Nest. Shop for antiques, local art, eclectic décor and gifts. 233 E. Main St.

Art on Main. This is a UMAR arts studio and shop. They are a nonprofit organization that promotes community inclusion, independence and growth for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 202 E. Main St.

North State Books. You could seriously get lost in this bookstore and never be seen again. The owners will search high and low for the book you need. They did for me. 109 Court Square.

Southern Charm Winery. This is a family owned winery with shop on Main. Wine tastings any time they are open, $5 for six wines and you keep the glass. 235D E. Main St.

The Leprechaun Treasure House. This has been open for 50 years under the same family. Browse the antiques and find your special treasure from Lincolnton to bring home with you. 202 E. Main St.

Salty Petal Inc. Think flower shop filled with creative gift ideas. 235A E. Main St.

When you get hungry

There are a surprising number of places to eat in this little town. All are within walking distance of the courthouse, if you happen to be making a trip there.

City Lunch. This Lincolnton staple has been around since 1927 and is known for its home-cooked breakfast, lunch and dinners. I was advised to try the hotdogs. (704) 472-3994, 113 SE Court Square.

Court Street Grill. The menu has a wide variety of sandwiches, salads and wraps. Open for lunch and dinner. (704) 732-3242, 113 W. Court Square.

Fausto Coffee. Coffee, specialty drinks, baked goods and plenty of seating can be found here. The window seats are like beds. Bring a book and stay awhile. (828) 289-6735, 116 NE Court Square.

Fausto Coffee

Graffiti’s. Lunch and dinner is available with American-style food and the menu is heavy on seafood. (704) 240-9218, 101 Court Square.

Harvest Moon Grille. Serves clean food (no pesticides) from farms within a 100-mile radius. Complete with sandwiches, salads and the chance to order breakfast all day. (704) 735-4199, 331 E. Main St.

Check websites for hours. If you have your mind set on a particular restaurant, locals recommend calling ahead to confirm hours. One Lincolnton resident warned me that sometimes shops close for the day without notice.

It’s still worth the day trip.

Photos: Vanessa Infanzon

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  1. Huh… so the headline seems to indicate that law enforcement is overly strict in Lincolnton, but the real takeaway is that Lincolnton is a nice little town where they occasionally do enforce the law? And here I am another sucker falling for this clickbait.

  2. So are you above all the other citizens of North Carolina? Keep your vehicle inspection and tag current and you never have to look in a court room in this state. We have great law enforcement in our little town, seems like you are like most liberals (you think you are above the law, and get mad when the police do their job.) Before you turn into a keyboard Rambo and start downing a person for doing their job, just obey the law.

  3. I ll never visit for the same reason I was down town turned left into a parking spot crossing over the lane going other durection went into the store and a police officer gave me a ticket for a U turn ?? I said wasn’t it a left turn where he said I crossed over double yellow lines and should have gone down a block made a left at light and came back around on the other side of road to park. It was nuts I still don’t understand why I was given a ticket. I’ll never shop down town Lincolnton again.

    • Because that is an actual law everywhere. You can’t cross single or double solid lines! If you want on the other side you take a back street to get turned around or make a trip around the courthouse (in Lincolnton).

  4. To bad some of you visiting folks failed to learn the traffic laws of NC before visiting in our little town. Are you misplaced Yankees who think they know better than us “po’ ol’ Southerners” so you make up your own laws? Don’t complain. We’ve found obeying these laws keep us safe and do you, too!

  5. Good article but the officers … they were just doing their jobs… if the person was driving with a dead tag they should have stop them or at least I would hope that they would… I have been there done that…if I had not of let mine die it would not have ever been a problem…

  6. Lincolnton sucks I married my 1at husband moved to Lincolnton he lived 17 yrs died with copd and cancer I married again He’s from Vale Out a few miles from the town of Lincolnton I’ve lived 25 yrs here I’m originally from Lenoir I hate Lincolnton I wish I could go home im never gonna be happy here I wish I could go home to Lenoir ima die in Lincolnton and never get back home

  7. Bad way to introduce a new town, but I guess it’s a version of “if it bleeds, it leads”, no? It’s not very hard to keep up with your license and registration and kudos to the officer doing his job. Otoh, we drive through Lincolnton occasionally and didn’t know about most of the offerings there. Thanks for that.

  8. I live in lincolnton, and although I work in Hickory I never get a chance to walk the streets. I loved the article and don’t see what all the complaining is about. I guess it’s just unhappy people looking for a negative story.
    I’ve done the illegal parking on Main Street. You just have to be slick about it

  9. I left my experience shopping in downtown Lincolnton above in comments. For all the attackers listen don’t hate on people for commenting on a article about the same thing getting tickets in Lincolnton. I live in Maiden a few miles away and for the most part the police here give a warning to someone who makes a simple mistake that is obviously so small that 5 dollar tickets are given. Why bother with 5 dolars tickets to out of towners simply in Lincolnton to shop and spend money. What they get is like in my case someone who will never shop downtown Lincolnton again. Don’t cry about revitalization of downtown Lincolnton if the cops just run everyone off. So next time I read lie I have so many times about revitalization plans for poor downtown business point the finger at ur own Barney Fife cops giving 5 dollar tickets to shoppers -hint just warn em thy will thank u and return to shop never making the same mistake and a lot more is gained .that way in taxes paid at the register, gas bought at Lincolnton stores and maybe lunch at a Lincolnton restaurant. Think about it. Or not Go Blue Devils

  10. I personally think that our LEO’S should more strict than they are. Laws are in place for a reason, those that feel entitled, or above the law do us a favor and move to Charlotte.

  11. I think most of you complainers are missing the point… The majority of his story is about what a nice town Lincolnton is. At least he came back to make things right. You complainers are the ones that would keep me away from visiting Lincolnton.

  12. My favorite downtown shop is HiLites. They offer high quality items at a lower price. The salespeople are very friendly and helpful. They offer beautiful style clothing in a large variety of sizes.