Jun 4, 2021 - Suburbs

16 things to eat, drink and do in Cornelius, including pontoon rentals and brewery hopping

Cornelius, NC

Photo: Symphony Webber/Axios

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The vibrant lakeside town of Cornelius, just 30 minutes north of Charlotte, offers waterfront views and an abundance of local dining options.

It’s no wonder the suburb has attracted a lot of homeowners from out of state this year.

We’ve rounded up 16 fun things to do in the quaint town of Cornelius.

(1) Grab coffee at Old Town Public House (OTPH)

OTPH is a cozy coffee shop by day and a vibrant pub and music scene by night. There’s music every night but Tuesday, which is trivia night. There’s a rotation of the area’s best food trucks every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. You can check the OTPH Facebook page for the full rundown of upcoming events and food truck features.

Details: 21314 Catawba Ave. Open Monday through Wednesday from 7am to 11pm; Thursday through Saturday from 7am to midnight (next day); and Sunday from 2-9 pm.

Old Town Pour House, Cornelius
Vanilla Cinnamon Latte ($5.75).

(2) Find a unique piece at Oak Street Mill Antiques LLC

The space is 10,000 square feet of home decor, artifacts and other collectibles — think Sleepy Poet. You could easily spend a couple of hours perusing through the isles of the shop’s 50+ vendors.

Details: 19725 Oak St., Ste. 12. Open Monday through Saturday from 10am to 6pm and on Sunday from 1-5pm.

Oak Street Mill Antiques, Cornelius
Oak Street Mill Antiques, Cornelius

(3) Dock for lunch at Hello, Sailor

Lake goers can sail up and enjoy lunch or dinner by the water. Don’t have your sea legs? No problem, they offer dock-side pickup as well.

Details: 20210 Henderson Rd. Open Wednesday through Sunday from 11am to 9pm.

Hello, Sailor Cornelius

(4) Lay out by Ramsey Creek Beach (when it opens again. Which it will, right? Right?)

The waterfront park covers 46 acres and has a public beach area. It’s closed until further notice due to a lifeguard shortage. But it has boat launching and docks, a fishing area, 1.5-miles of walking trails, and many other amenities. For updates about beach access, check the Ramsey Creek Beach website.

Details: 18441 Nantz Rd.

(5) Grab some sushi from Cool Fish

Casual Asian fusion joint with tasty sushi rolls and filling poke bowls. The “Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy” roll made me feel just that. It’s made with shrimp tempura and avocado and topped with crab salad.

Details: 21726 Catawba Ave. Open daily from 11am to 2am (next day).

Cool Fish
Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy roll ($12.99).

(6) Rent a pontoon for a lake day with friends

The rental includes gas, a cooler of ice, water, snacks and water noodles.

Pricing: Monday-Thursday: half-day rentals are $419 and full-day rentals are $459. Friday-Sunday: half-day rentals are $459 and full-day rentals are $499.

(7) Cool off with a scoop of ice cream from Carolina Cones Ice Cream

The no-frills ice cream shop opened in 1981 and it looks like it hasn’t been touched since. Lots of nostalgia here, with booths and a menu board, games and figurines. Menu offerings include ice cream, soda floats, milkshakes, soft serve and slushies.

Details: 20801 N. Main St. Open daily from 10am to 10pm.

Carolina Cones Ice Cream Cornelius
Carolina Cones’ raspberry truffle ice cream.
Carolina Cones Ice Cream Cornelius

(8) Go brewery hopping

Local favorites include D9, Eleven Lakes, Ass Clown and Lost Worlds. Eleven Lakes is a local brewery that specializes in brewing traditional and contemporary ales. Ass Clown prides itself on crafting beers with bold and distinct flavors. And Lost Worlds serves up local beers in an archaeology-inspired setting.

(9) Get closer to nature at Jetton Park

The 105-acre lakefront park has picnic areas, 1.5 miles of walking/roller blade trails, 1.3 miles of bike trails, a playground, a tanning beach, and eight tennis courts among other things.

Details: Park near 19000 Jetton Rd.

More parks nearby:

jetton park

(10) Have dinner by the water at Port City Club

Port City Club touts one of the best patio situations in the area. Guests have multiple options when dining here — there’s a large main dining room for those who prefer to stay indoors, an enclosed deck that combines the indoor and outdoor dining experience, and an outdoor deck.

Order this: The calamari fritte to start, then go with the garida flatbread. It’s made with shrimp, lump blue crab meat, baby spinach, capers, red onion, roasted garlic, dill, bechamel sauce and barrel feta.

Details: 18665 Harborside Dr.. Open Monday through Saturday from 11:30am to 10pm and Sunday from 11:30am to 9pm.

(11) Enjoy a beer and meet a furry friend at Lucky Dog Bark & Brew

In addition to being a full-service bar, Lucky Dog Bark & Brew is also a doggy daycare and boarding facility. And of course, you don’t have to have a pup to hang out.

Details: 19607 Statesville Rd. Open Monday through Friday from 6am to 9pm and Saturday and Sunday from 7am to 9pm.

[Related story: 14 top doggy daycares in Charlotte]

Lucky Dog

(12) Catch live music at Boatyard Eats

Prices: Ticket pricing can vary depending on the band. Search the lineup online.

Details: 18418 Statesville Rd. Open Thursday from 4pm to midnight, Friday and Saturday from noon to midnight, and Sunday from noon to 9pm.

(13) Enjoy authentic Chinese takeout from NY Restaurant

This spot was recommended by a local so I had to check it out. It’s an unassuming restaurant located in a shopping center off of main street and the menu has dishes like beef with broccoli, shrimp fried rice, and lo mein.

Details: 20121 N Main St. Ste. D. Open Monday through Thursday from 11am to 10pm, Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 11pm.

NY Restaurant Cornelius

(14) Enjoy an intimate dinner at Barrel & Fork

The building that houses the restaurant was built in 1906 and the menu and prohibition-inspired cocktail bar pay homage to the age of the house.

Fun fact: There are a total of 20 tables, 13 interior and seven patio tables. The three dining rooms all are named after different gangsters. There’s the Bugsy room named after Bugsy Siegel, the Capone room after Al Capone and the Neese room after Elliot Neese. Barrel & Fork’s general manager Eric Carter tells me “folks that know us well know where they want to sit.”

Order this: The waygu meatloaf with bourbon mushroom gravy, or the veal parmesan with house-stewed Pomodoro sauce.

Details: 20517 N Main St. Open Tuesday through Thursday from 5-9pm, Friday and Saturday from 5-10pm, and Sunday from 10am to 2pm.

Barrel and Fork

(15) 2nd Friday Street Festival Series in Old Town Cornelius

These themed celebrations have live music, vendors and food. The next will take place on June 11.

Cost: Free.

Details: Oak Street Mill, 19725 Oak St. Second Fridays of the month from May through October, 6-10 pm.

(16) Go to Saeed’s for a fun night out

Behind a snow cone shop, you’ll find Saeed’s — a no-brainer destination for nightlife and an unofficial hangout spot for some of the biggest names in NASCAR. The karaoke dive bar has a bunch of activities like beach volleyball, pool, corn hole and ping pong.

Details: 20832 Catawba Ave. Open daily from 4pm to 2am.

Looking for more suburb and day trip guides? Here are all the Axios Charlotte suburb guides including Matthews, Waxhaw and Davidson.


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