Charlotte, NC has moved into Phase One of re-openings as we push past the COVID-19 crisis. With Phase One, most retail businesses and parks and trails were able to open starting at 5:00 pm on Friday, May 8th. The stay-at-home order is still in place though, so they are recommending you only leave your home if you are visiting a business to support them or venturing out to stock up on essentials. In addition to the stay-at-home order regulations, there have been a few regulations on the Phase One openings - retail businesses can only operate at 50% capacity and you can only visit parks in groups of ten or less.
If you're anything like me, you're itching for things to get back to the "new normal" so we can get on with our lives, so I'm happy to see things are starting to come around, although slowly. Here's what is open during Phase One and how you can enjoy Charlotte while also supporting small business and the local community.
Parks & Trails
As mentioned above, you can enjoy parks and trails in groups of less than 10, so see below for some of my favorites in Charlotte. For more information, check out the NC State Parks website.
Lake Norman State Park boasts the largest manmade lake in North Carolina with one of the region's most popular mountain biking network - 30.5 miles of single-track trail. In addition, there is a 125-yard-long swim beach and bathhouse complex inclusive of a boat ramp and places to fish.
Crowders Mountain State Park is one of my favorites - absolutely breathtaking. The Companion Peaks at Crowders Mountain State Park—The Pinnacle and Crowders Mountain—offer hiking opportunities and 25-mile views of the surrounding piedmont. There are a total of 11 trails that range from easy to difficult, including the Ridgeline Trail, which links to Kings Mountain State Park and Kings Mountain National Military Park in South Carolina. This park also includes a nine-acre lake with spots for fishing or an opportunity to try canoeing with rentals available. I have to say, this location is also great for photo shoots too :)
The opportunities for adventure are endless at Morrow Mountain State Park - choose from hiking, camping, paddling, fishing, horseback riding, swimming or just taking in scenery on one of the highest points in the piedmont. There are more than 15 miles of hiking trails and 16 miles of bridle trails, reaching from the summit of Morrow Mountain to Lake Tillery. At Lake Tillery, you'll find a a boathouse offering canoes and rowboats for rent and bait for fishing. You can also launch your own boat from a boat ramp.
As part of Phase One, retail shops were able to open and operate at 50% capacity - meaning, they can only allow 50% of their capacity into their stores at a time. This is a great opportunity to support local and small. I highly encourage visiting the below.
Two Locations: South End and Concord Neighborhoods
Although this is a women's boutique, I have a a special lady in my life who happens to be quite stylish who has been scouring their site, so I know this is a good one. Keep in mind they will be taking social distancing measures very seriously - placing screens in front of registers, sanitizing on a regular basis, and all employees will be wearing masks and offering them to customers. Five customers will be allowed in at a time at both locations.
Now here is one that's perfect for the summer months ahead! This trendy eye-wear store/showroom is open, but with reduced hours and of course, the reduced capacity. The store has also implemented UV sanitizing light for when trying on the eye-wear to keep things as clean as possible.
Now, I'm a reader. I absolutely love books and having the opportunity to learn something new, so this one is exciting for me. Paper Skyscraper is a gift, book, and card store that has re-opened with limited capacity in the Dilworth neighborhood. They are allowing 15 customers in at a time and have face mask and hand sanitizing stations, where you can actually get a refill on your own hand sanitizer!
I can't forget about the delicious local bars and restaurants throughout Charlotte! Although they aren't opening their doors to the public during Phase One, many are still offering pick-up or delivery, so you don't have to skip out on your favorite date night spots - just order in! For a robust list of which restaurants and bars are open for business, check out this website.
As of now, Phase One is effective until later this week, but this will only be so if the city is deemed fit to move onto Phase Two. Until we know more, use this information to get out there and enjoy the outdoors and support your favorite local/small places. This is the best time of the year for the Queen City - don't let it pass you by!