The Town of Davidson, North Carolina, was established in 1837. A lesser-known town than some of its neighbors (it’s 20 miles north of Charlotte), it has a quaint, small-town feel, but plenty to offer with the motto, “College Town. Lake Town. Your Town.”
Founded by Presbyterians and named for General W.L. Davidson, considered a hero in the Revolutionary War, Davidson is home to the college of the same name, a liberal arts college with a presence felt throughout much of the area. Woodrow Wilson studied at Davidson College from 1873 to 1874. Also noted on campus, Prof. Henry L. Smith who, “pioneered medical uses for x-rays,” conducted experiments and made radiographs in February of 1896 in physics lab nearby. If you’re visiting the campus and want a memento, the Davidson College store on north Main Street has a full spread of merchandise.
Park It in Davidson, North Carolina
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You’ll likely want to park your car at the Village Green or Town Hall, to walk down the main streets and the campus, as well as some large and interesting sculptures.
The town brags of more than 12 miles of “greenways,” and bike lanes. They describe greenways as “linear parks with pedestrian and bicycle paths” allowing people to connect with places throughout town, while conserving green space and encouraging fitness. Families can bike, rollerblade, walk or more. One suggestion given to tourists and locals alike is the Randall Kincaid trail –starting at the end of South Street by the Davidson Elementary School (just before the covered bridge) and going for approximately 2.8 miles to just past the Historic Beaver Dam Park.
In the town you’ll also see signs for the nearby Fisher Farm, a 200-acre park known for walking, riding on the miles of mountain bike trails, and picnicking among the grass. The Spirited Cyclist Bike shop of Davidson may be able to help out if you’re in need of a bike or repair.
Visit Lake Norman
Davidson is located along Lake Norman–considered to be one of the largest lakes in the state. Lake Norman allows for boating, canoeing and kayaking as well as other water activities, fitness courses, walking trails and wildlife areas. You may find yourself in the midst of nature preserves, or wanting to stop and look for birds, frogs and other wildlife.
The Soda Shop opened in 1951 across from the college, and continues to be a tradition with both the locals and visitors. It harkens back to that era in both look and food choices, allowing a bit of nostalgia while you enjoy your Brown Cow Float. Breakfast, lunch and dinner can also be had at the popular “Toast” café, and if you’re a foodie willing to drive just a bit, further, a number of the town’s restaurants post notices for the “Tour De Food,” gourmet food tours given every Saturday in nearby Charlotte.
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Also on Saturdays, the Davidson Farmer’s Market provides fresh local eggs, meat, cheeses and produce, offer demonstrations emphasizing good nutrition and live music at times. The market is open from 8am to noon behind the town hall from spring through fall, and bi-weekly during the winter.
This college town offers plenty in the way of reading. In addition to the library, a charming building found on the town green, there’s also Main Street Books an independent bookstore with an old fashioned feel. In addition to is book selection they cater to young kids with “story time” activities certain days of the week. Park benches outside allow for a coffee from the Summit Coffee shop down the block while enjoying a book. ‘Cats on Main provides college texts in addition to other books.
And if you happen to be passing through at night wondering whether the town has any ghosts, you may enlist Ginny Henderson, a local history buff who tells stories and conducts the Davidson Ghost Walk. Tours begin at 7pm in front of the Soda Shop.