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.
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.
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