10 things you MUST do around Charlotte in July

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We’ve got good news. The fun of July doesn’t have to end after Independence Day. So, pull yourself out of that post-beers-and-burgers depression. From food truck Fridays to movie nights in the square, we’ve found the top 10 ways to play around town this month — no fireworks included.

(1) Catch a flick at Movie Nights in the Square

Skip the overly air conditioned theater this month. Blumenthal Performing Arts is presenting movie nights on Fridays and Saturdays this month in uptown’s Spirit Square at the corner of College and Seventh Street. The evenings include free popcorn, food and drinks for sale, and movies under the stars (activities start at 7:45 p.m. and the show starts at 8:45 p.m.). Bring your own lawn chair and look for a wide variety of popular films from “Step Up” to “Singin’ in the Rain.”

(2) Walk the plank to Pirates of the Queen City

Shiver me timbers, matey! Discovery Place is luring in landlubbers and old salts alike for this month’s Science on the Rocks on July 15. Heave ho and get ye uptown for a night of a rum runner obstacles, live jelly fish encounters, and a costume contest, savvy? (Special thanks to Discovery Place for giving me the opportunity to write an entry in pirate speak.)

(3) Sip and celebrate 500 Years of Reinheitsgebot

South End’s Olde Mecklenburg Brewery prides itself on only offering beer made from water, malt, hops, and yeast — just the way the 500-year-old German purity law, Reinheitsgebot, says it must be. Say cheers to fresh and authentic beer when the brewery celebrates the law’s big birthday with a weekend of beer, live music and fun in its popular biergarten July 22-24.

Olde Meck beer

(4) Line up and linger at Food Truck Friday in Plaza Midwood

If you’ve lived in Charlotte for long, chances are you’ve indulged in the city’s tasty food truck fare. One of the top spots to snag a bite from popular trucks like Maki Taco, Roaming Fork, or Boone’s BBQ is in Plaza Midwood at Food Truck Friday.

In honor of summer’s laziest month, pack a picnic blanket and relax in the grass as you sample decadent dishes (parmesan truffle fries, anyone?) and soak in the scene.

(5) Hit the trails after dark at the Whitewater Center

Leave it to the Whitewater Center to take something as challenging as a half marathon or 4-mile run and upgrade it by doing it after dark … on wooded trails. Up for the challenge? Bring your headlamp and your courage for the Friday night Tread Nightly run July 22. Feeling extra adventurous? Camp out post-run and wake up with the sun for the Tread Brightly run at 8 a.m.

(6) Pick and peruse at Finders Keepers Summer Showcase

This monthly Finders Keepers market at NoDa Brewing North End offers the chance to check out and purchase handmade finds from local vendors. But this is no ordinary shopping trip. On July 10 from 1-6 p.m., in addition to the wares you’ll find Pure Intentions coffee, TIN Kitchen fare, FuManChu cupcakes, and, of course, NoDa Brewing beer. Shopping is just the icing on the cake.

NODA

(7) Treat yourself at the new King of Pops Shop

If you’ve ever paused at one of the colorful King of Pops carts to purchase the sweet, frozen treats on an extra-hot day, then you know: Summer has met its match. And now, the popular brand has its own storefront in South End (2500 Dunavant St.) for whenever a craving for strawberry lemonade, watermelon mojito, or chocolate sea salt hits. You feel one coming on now, don’t you?

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(8) Chow down at Queens Feast

From July 22-31 some of Charlotte’s best restaurants are offering the chance to indulge in three courses for $30 or $35. Here’s how to do this right:

– First, make reservations. The best spots fill up fast.
– Second, make sure you’re actually getting a deal (read: don’t go to the burger place where you’d never spend $30).
– Finally, try the upscale local spot you’ve been hearing so much about.

A few of this summer’s best bets for that include Bonterra Dining & Wine Room, Passion8, and Aix en Provence.

(9) Sample fruit and fare at the Farmers Market

Getting your fruits and veggies is a lot more fun at the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market this month. Look for free fresh watermelon samples and watermelon recipes, along with live bluegrass music on July 8, while peaches get their turn in the spotlight on July 22 with free peach ice cream from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. For veggie lovers, there’s also National Fresh Spinach Day celebration with — albeit slightly less exciting — free spinach recipes on July 16.

(10) Blow out the candles for a brewery birthday

Free Range Brewing might be Charlotte’s most charming brewery. Owned by two brothers, the bright and family-friendly NoDa spot opened last summer and has become a fast favorite on the suds scene. On July 16 they’re celebrating turning 1 with food from ultra-local spots like Orrman’s Cheese Shop and Your Mom’s Donuts, live music from Forlorn Strangers, and plenty of their popular brews.

Photos: File photos

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