Go for convenience, accessibility, and selection. Those are the perks of Charlotte's best malls and shopping centers. You can get in and out quickly and see a ton of things. Loads of local shopping options include high-brow and low-brow stores, along with food offerings should you need a drink or a bite along the way. Check out the wide variety at places like Concord Mills or Noda. Indoors or outdoors, there's a bounty to be had.
Waxhaw Historic District
In the 1960s, Waxhaw made the conversion from a sleepy little cotton town to an antique village for folks wanting to escape the busy streets of Charlotte. Though the village's "big sister" has inched ever closer over the years, Waxhaw has managed to maintain both its small town charm and sense of integrity. Today, the buildings that line both sides of the tracks feature close to two dozen antique stores and a handful of locally owned eateries and goody shops. Make the short drive to Waxhaw and rediscover what makes Small Town, America such a treasured commodity.
Part of the intrepid Ballantyne area on the south side of Charlotte, the Village offers a neat, clean collection of high-end retailers, eateries and personal services set in an attractive, pedestrian-friendly environment. A mixed-use development, Ballantyne Village also boasts a number of luxury condos and office spaces, giving the place a distinct "downtown" feel. In the evening, stop by the Village Theater, an arthouse-style independent cinema that serves imported beer and wine.
If you think of yourself as a serious shopper, then Concord Mills may pose a good challenge for you. Among this enormous mall's more popular tenants are the Polo Ralph Lauren Factory Store, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th Outlet, Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, Bed Bath & Beyond and Nine West. Concord Mills also features a 24-screen movie theater and more than a dozen places to eat. (704-979-3000)
This large, modern shopping mall is very nearly a destination unto itself. Indeed, Carolina Place is one of the most popular places to shop in Mecklenburg County, and folks from the neighboring South Carolina counties of York and Lancaster also visit the mall frequently. Anchor stores include Dillard's, Macy's, Belk, JCPenney and Sears; in addition to those, Carolina Place also features more than 140 name brand specialty shops like Aeropostale, Abercrombie & Fitch and Godiva Chocolatier. (704-543-9300)
Belk, Dick's Sporting Goods, Dillard's and Macy's anchor this modern, bi-level shopping complex, located north of Charlotte and just off I-77. Northlake's variety of specialty shops (from Ann Taylor Loft to Borders, the choices are legion), attractive design, and easy access make it a popular year round destination, and the developed areas surrounding the mall give shoppers further options. A 14-screen AMC theater features a variety of current releases. (704-921-2000)
The centerpiece of some of Charlotte's most exclusive real estate, SouthPark is synonymous with fashion and style in the Queen City. Long considered one of the top malls in the Southeast, SouthPark has continually reinvented itself, always keeping pace with current trends and discovering new ways to reinvigorate the shopping experience. Among the mall's specialty shops are Anthropologie, Apple, MontBlanc, and Origins; its anchor stores include Belk, Dillard's, Macy's, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus. (704-364-4411)
This cozy Main Street-style development features a variety of mixed-use dwellings, from luxury apartment and office to retail, restaurant and entertainment space. Billed as an "urban village," Birkdale recalls the vibrant town centers found in many European countries, one that encourages folks to leave their cars parked, stroll the tree-lined sidewalks, and scan the racks of places like Pier 1, Victoria's Secret, Barnes & Noble, and Gymboree. Also in Birkdale Village is a 16-screen movie theater. (704-895-8744)
Park Road Shopping Center
Since it opened in the mid-50s, Park Road Shopping Center has served as a community icon for folks who live in neighborhoods south of Uptown like Myers Park, South End and even Dilworth. This quaint, crescent-shaped center has only gained charm as it has aged, and it continues to offer today's shopper a terrific mix of shops, restaurants and services. From hardware to soda shop fare, few modern shopping centers have Park Road's sense of style.
StoneCrest at Piper Glen
This wide-open shopping center, located just off I-485, is a great place to spend an afternoon. The recipe's simple: Drive to Rea Road, park your car and let your feet navigate you from store to store, restaurant to coffee shop. Designed to be pedestrian friendly, StoneCrest features landscaped areas, fountains, wide sidewalks and old fashioned streetlamps.
North Davidson Street Arts District
North of Uptown, this revitalized area is quickly establishing itself in Charlotte's art circles thanks to unique galleries, performance venues, coffee shops, and eateries. If you're looking for original artwork in the Queen City, NoDa is the place to find everything from textile and heritage art to black-and-white stills and sculpture. After shopping, catch a show at the Neighborhood Theater or grab a bite to eat. NoDa's gallery crawls, held the first and third Friday of each month, are a terrific introduction to the district.