15 of the best stops along the Charlotte Rail Trail, from sipping to dining to shopping

Not Just Coffee Jazz Jam. Photo by Kyo H Nam courtesy of Charlotte Center City Partners)

The LYNX Blue Line first opened in 2007, and in March of this year, it was extended through NoDa to UNCC, making much of the city accessible to the Charlotte Rail Trailfor the low-ticket cost of $2.20 per trip or $6.60 for a day pass.

The Rail Trail is a linear urban park that connects the edge of Uptown to LoSo (Lower South End) with a walkable, bikeable, or scooterable pathway along the light rail. It is one of my favorite spots in Charlotte and truly a way to enjoy some of the crown gems of the Queen City without getting into your car.

Here are a few stops along the Rail Trail where you can shop, eat, drink, and more (along with a map):


3609 South Blvd.

Nearest light rail station: New Bern

Stop here for: “Chic” yet “affordable designer brand name women’s and men’s apparel, shoes, jewelry, accessories and home decor…tailored to those who are trendy, fashionable and young at heart,” according to the website. Yes, it’s run by Goodwill—but expect items from Michael Kors, Tory Burch, Kate Spade, Prada, Coach, and more.

Harris Teeter

2717 South Blvd.

Nearest light rail station: New Bern

Stop here for: Weekend breakfast at the omelet station (a great deal at $4.99), your Starbucks fill, or happy hour beer and wine. It may just be a grocery store, but it’s an awesome grocery store. And the vintage styling makes it that much cooler.

Pro-tip: Take advantage of the daily specials: Sunday ($4 mimosas), Monday (1/2 off glasses of wine), Tuesday ($3 drafts), Wednesday ($3 Charlotte beers)

Canine Cafe Charlotte

125 Remount Road

Nearest light rail station: New Bern

Stop here for: Artisanal petit fours, cannolis, tarts, and daiquiris for your pet; supplies from grooming tools to toys; and even “Pawty Cakes” for your four-legged best friend’s birthday.


2173 Hawkins St.

Nearest light rail station: East/West

Stop here for: Really good Japanese fare from the people behind Ru San’s. The vibe here feels like NYC—in the middle of South End. Try it mid-week as it tends to be busy on Friday and Saturday nights. My next order: the chirashi ($16). It looks like a bowl of ocean.

Pro-tip: For a special occasion, pick from their selection of Japanese whiskies—they’re all the rage right now.

Not Just Coffee-Atherton Mill

2000 South Blvd.

Nearest light rail station: East/West

Stop here for: Very, very well-made coffee and espresso drinks with beans from a NC roastery and dairy from a NC creamery. And be sure to check out their last two Atherton Jazz Jams. It’s BYOB so, for the price of one beer ($5 that goes directly to the bands) you get to hear some of the best improv jazz in the city while drinking your turmeric prickly pear gose homebrew.

O-Ku Charlotte

2000 South Blvd. #510

Nearest light rail station: East/West

Stop here for: Some of the best sushi in Charlotte in a hip setting with industrial windows, massive back-lit mirrors, and a super-friendly staff.

Pro tip: drop by Monday or Wednesday between 5-7 p.m. for half-priced sushi rolls—but get there early because it’s popular.

O-Ku salmon tartare. Photo by Ben Jarrell

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

1920 Camden Road

Nearest light rail station: East/West

Stop here for: Its grand opening party at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 9, for FREE ice cream. Expect flavors ranging from brown butter almond brittle to salted peanut butter with chocolate flecks to non-dairy options like dark chocolate truffle.

Girl Tribe Co.

1800 Camden Road Suite 102

Nearest light rail station: East/West

Stop here for: All things for the fairer sex. From Panthers and Hornets gear to children’s clothing to bridal to graphic tees—this shop has half the population covered. Co-founder Sarah Baucom calls Girl Tribe Co. “a woman positive shop” and points out that many of their wares are made by other women owned businesses.

Pro-tip: Follow on Facebook for inside info on Girl Tribe pop-ups and join their massive tribe of Instagram followers (23K+) to see their clothes off hangers and on real people.

Courtesy of Girl Tribe Co.

Price’s Chicken Coop

1614 Camden Road

Nearest light rail station: Bland

Stop here for: The best fried chicken in the city, the world, and maybe the universe. My cravings for this mouth-watering chicken have led me to return to San Francisco with eight pieces in tow—through the X-ray and everything. The entire plane hated me as I crushed Price’s at 30,000 feet.

Pro-tip: Be like Jay and sit on the hill across the street to enjoy your meal immediately.

Futo Buta

222 East Bland St.

Nearest light rail station: Bland

Stop here for: All four pillars of Japanese ramen. But one of my favorite pre-ramen things to do here is to share a few small plates like smoked pork belly steamed buns ($10), shishito peppers ($5), and hamachi crudo ($12).

Pro-tip: If you or one of your dining companions is gluten-free, order the ‘Fire & Ice’ ramen, substituting the Japanese fried chicken for salmon, and have it served with a side of rice instead of noodles.

Futo Buta Ramen. Photo by Ben Jarrell

Elder Gallery of Contemporary Art

1520 South Tryon St.

Nearest light rail station: Bland

Stop here for: Fine glass art and paintings from artists featured worldwide. Their panel discussions are always a hit and on the first Friday of every month, the Elder Gallery is part of South End Gallery Crawl when you can receive FREE admission along with several other museums and galleries.

Wooden Robot Brewery

1440 South Tryon St., Suite #110

Nearest light rail station: Bland

Stop here for: Belgian farmhouse inspired beers. Their ‘Overachiever’ pale ale, ‘What He’s Having’ IPA, and ‘Good Morning Vietnam’ coffee vanilla blonde ale take up three out of nine spots amongst Charlotte craft beer drinkers’ favorites, begging the question: is this the best brewery in the Queen City?

Amos’ Southend

1423 South Tryon St.

Nearest light rail station: Bland

Stop here for: The return of a beloved music venue. Details on the opening date are still unclear but apparently, Charlotte is “getting its soul back.”

Midnight Diner

115 East Carson Blvd.

Nearest light rail station: Carson

Stop here for: Late-night eats and midday breakfast after a late night. Open 24-hours, Midnight Diner dishes out greasy-spoon delectables like chicken and waffles (2 wings/$10.99) and Philly cheesesteaks ($11.99) to Uptown workers during the day and to Uptown inebriates in the wee hours.

Morehead Tavern

300 East Morehead St.

Nearest light rail station: Carson

Stop here for: Date night. On most Friday nights, ‘The Tavern’ hosts live ‘Jazz N Soul’ music. And, after the summer, keep an eye out for their jazz jam sessions on Tuesdays (formerly at the Double Door Inn), hosted by Bill Hanna. I hear it’s great music to listen to with your future wife. 


  1. GW Love So is located closer to Scaleybark Station. A quick walk to an awesome shop. A stone’s throw away. New Bern Station is a long stop away.


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