When looking for places around Columbia to visit, you would be missing out if you never considered Concord, North Carolina. Approximately 30 minutes north of Charlotte, Concord is historically a mill town which most of us know for the Concord Mills Mall and the Charlotte Motor Speedway. While it is home to several touristy attractions such as Bass Pro Shops, SeaLife Aquarium, and Great Wolf Lodge, downtown Concord is also worth a visit.
I wanted to head up to Concord to celebrate my brother’s birthday with him. So my daughter, my mom and I headed up for the weekend. I would highly recommend avoiding Friday evening traffic in Charlotte (we were unable to avoid rush hour) but other than that it was an easy drive.
On Friday evening, the four of us ate dinner at Gianni’s Trattoria located in the heart of downtown Concord on Union Street. Located in a historic building, Gianni’s offers Italian cuisine. A cozy atmosphere just added to the great food! The menu included several classic Italian dishes such as spaghetti and meatballs and chicken picatta. There were other Italian-inspired options as well. The food was incredible and the service top-notch! I would certainly return for their caprese salad appetizer.
On Saturday we began our day with some breakfast at the hotel, and a trip to the pool. We swam for a little while until it was time to get ready for lunch. My brother recommended a place called The Smoke Pit which was oh-so good. Located on the Concord Parkway not far from my brother’s house, this was some of the best BBQ I have ever tried. A casual restaurant, they offer several styles of BBQ including ribs, pulled pork, brisket, and sausage. You couldn’t go wrong here! BBQ plates, salads, sandwiches and baked potatoes were all on the menu.
I ordered a pulled pork plate with french fries and fried okra. My daughter got the mac ‘n cheese, and my mom and brother got a BBQ salad and sandwich. They offered several sauce flavors including mustard, vinegar, spicy and sweet. Each was absolutely fantastic! Not to mention, the staff was incredibly friendly and the portions were enough to have extra meals at home.
After lunch we headed to The Basement Arcade Bar on Union Street. I had never been to a place like this before and thoroughly enjoyed it. Filled with classic and updated arcade games all you had to do was pay an entrance fee and all games were free play. A wonderful reprieve from the hot weather outside it was a fun place to hang out. They offered drinks and snacks for sale as well.
Once we finished up at the arcade bar we found another local business next door, Goldberry Books. A beautiful little bookstore connected to a coffee shop, Goldberry Books is a unique place to browse the shelves. My favorite aspect of the store was the beautifully done children’s room, a cozy space to look at a wonderful selection of books with comfy couches and play area for the kids. We ended up purchasing a book my daughter loved!
At this time, we were starting to get drained and I was tired of corralling my child. We headed across the street to a European style bakery before heading back to the car. The French macarons were utterly delicious. We drove around looking at the unique houses near downtown Concord. On our way to an antique mall my daughter fell asleep so we decided not to wake her up to venture inside. Next time!
There is also a cat café and several other shops within walking distance of the arcade bar. Historic buildings with a few interesting murals added to the charm of the town.
After taking a nap in the hotel room we ate dinner and called it a night. The next morning, we made our way back to Columbia after stopping in Fort Mill, SC to have lunch with my sister-in-law who lives in the area.
All of us really enjoyed the trip and the new experiences that Concord had to offer. I would highly encourage anyone to check out this delightful little town for their next out of town trip.