I’ve lived in SouthPark ever since I moved back to Charlotte about seven years ago. To me, it has the right mix of a social and food scene without all the commotion of living closer to Uptown. It’s an area that puts me in a nice spot – not too far from a night out in NoDa, while also being close to many of my childhood South Charlotte favorites.
We kicked off our “How to spend a perfect day” series in 2017 with a perfect day in NoDa, and continued it into the new year with a perfect day in Dilworth. This occasional series will serve as a user’s guide to different parts of the city, telling you what you should do, see, eat and drink in Charlotte’s most interesting neighborhoods.
How to spend a perfect day in SouthPark:
(1) If you need some coffee or tea to start your day, head directly to Mugs Coffee (5126 Park Rd) on the edge of the SouthPark area. Mugs is independently owned and serves many NC products, including Magnolia Coffee. I normally go with just a traditional coffee with a splash of whatever flavor sounds good that day, but I’ve heard it’s hard to beat their White Mocha.
Pro Tip: If you want to get that true “coffee house” vibe, head to Mugs the second Wednesday of every month for Free the Mic! Guerilla Poets Open Mic Night. Not only are there live poetry, story and comedy readings, but the event also features live artists and encourages the audience to do their own drawings.
Wednesday, join us as we Free the Mic! There will be live artists painting and we encourage you to paint, sketch or doodle with during the open mic as well! Sure to be a great night so bring your poetry, your stories, comedy, art, music and your fine selves! Every 2nd Wednesday at Mugs Coffee #openmic #livepainting #livemusic #mood #spokenword #poetrycommunity #poetry #free #thingstodo
(2) While Mugs is definitely one of those places where you could lose track of the time, you’ll want to enjoy your coffee and then go enjoy some breakfast at Café Monte (6700 Fairview Rd). If this is where you start your day, don’t worry because Café Monte has delicious French roast coffee. I normally like to stick with the French theme of the restaurant and order the Croque Madame ($13).
If you’ve never had a croque madame, just think of a fancier grilled cheese and ham, topped with a fried egg. The nice, lightly dressed side salad perfectly cuts the heaviness of the sandwich. I know you may be thinking “it’s too early for a sandwich,” but trust me, it works.
Pro Tip: Before you choose your entrée, make sure to immediately put in an order of the beignets ($6). They are warm, powdered sugar perfection, with a side of delicious jelly.
Late morning/Early afternoon
(3) Now that you’re full and caffeinated, it’s time to do some shopping. From Fabletics to the Disney Store, SouthPark Mall (4400 Sharon Rd) has enough store variety that you can easily find something for anyone. You can also pull a ‘Clark-Weis’ and quickly do an about face when you find yourself in that one section of the mall with Louis Vuitton and Tiffany and Co. I did recently find a great loose tea leaf infuser for my sister’s Christmas gift at Teavana.
(4) If you’d prefer to get your fitness on, sign up for a class at Flywheel Sports (2907 Providence Rd). Hard to find a better, more exciting workout than hoping on one of their bikes and enjoying a high-energy cycle class for 60 minutes.
A friend of mine recently signed up for one of their ‘Beats’ classes by accident. The whole point of that particular class is to pedal along to the rhythm of the song. My buddy isn’t the most rhythmically inclined person, so that class sure was interesting … yeah, let’s go with interesting.
Pro Tip: After your class, go to Juice Bar right next door for a nice, healthy post-workout pick-me-up.
(5) I normally like to go a little bit lighter for lunch, especially after a big breakfast. Yafo Kitchen (720 Gov. Morrison St.) offers up some build-your-own Mediterranean cuisine that won’t leave you feeling sluggish the rest of the day. My preferred choice is the Chicken with Hummus Bowl ($9.99) and I add my personal favorite toppings. I do highly recommend getting a side of mac and cheese or Brussels sprouts. I know it may sound strange to get mac and cheese at a Mediterranean restaurant, but this is one of my favorite spots for it in town. The Greek yogurt they add makes it extra creamy.
Pro Tip: Make sure to order the bowl in a to-go container, even if you are eating it there. It is a lot of food and you will almost certainly want to take some home.
(6) By this point, you will probably want some time out in the sun. Park Road Park (6220 Park Rd) is an enjoyable spot to stop and unwind for an hour or two. Grab a seat on the pier of the park’s 11-acre lake or enjoy a stroll through one of its many walking trails. If you’ve got kids, they can burn off some energy at the park’s playground.
Pro Tip: Park Road Park’s playground is called the Newtown Memorial Playground and is dedicated to the teachers and students who lost their lives during the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
(7) Since this is the ‘perfect’ day, we are going to spare no expense for dinner. A true gem in SouthPark is Barrington’s Restaurant (7822 Fairview Rd). This quaint space sits in the same Fairvew Road shopping center as Foxcroft Wine, Caribou Coffee and Brixx, but the entrance can’t be seen from the street. In my opinion, this is one of the best restaurants in town. The menu changes some with the seasons, but might I recommend the Seared Organic Chicken ($23)? Never has a seemingly basic chicken entrée with mashed potatoes and spinach been done so well. The chicken is covered with a garlic pan sauce that takes it to that next level, while the mashed potatoes are the creamiest I’ve ever had.
Pro Tip: Like the entrees, the dessert menu frequently changes. However, if the German Chocolate Cheesecake is on the menu, grab it and grab it quickly. It took all of one bite of this dish to skyrocket it to the top of my favorite dessert list.
(8) You won’t even have to get in the car to enjoy a nice drink after your amazing dinner. Foxcroft Wine Company (7824 Fairview Rd.) is just a few steps away from Barrington’s and provides an ideal setting to continue your night with friends or date night.
Pro Tip: The SouthPark location was recently remodeled and will reopen on Jan. 9. Make sure to swing by and check out the new look!
(9) Now that you’ve enjoyed a night of great conversation over a bottle, or two, of wine, it’s time to treat yourself to a treat from your childhood. The two-story SouthPark McDonald’s (6428 Fairview Rd) drive-thru is open 24 hours and the late-night hour is perfect for a simple sundae.
While this is not a local establishment, the building’s design is well-known to the area. As a child, I remember being absolutely mesmerized when I first saw this double-decker building. I had never seen anything like it before in my life. Every McDonald’s I had ever seen had almost the same exact look, so seeing something like this truly stood out in my mind. Something to contemplate late-night.
Now get out and enjoy this perfect SouthPark day!
Photos: Guerilla Poets, Cafe Monte, SouthPark Mall, Flywheel Sports, Yafo Kitchen, inospina, Barrington’s, Foxcroft Wine Co