Southwest of Charlotte is a beautiful, thriving town called Belmont. Located along the Catawba River, the area came to life in 1871 when the railroad was built. Originally called Garibaldi Station, it continued to grow as land nearby was donated to the Benedictine Monks and in 1876 they founded Belmont Abbey College. Incorporated in 1895, Belmont’s population mushroomed with the industrial revolution. Textile mills became the area’s lifeblood and by the 1930s over twenty were located in Belmont. As with most mill towns it went through a downturn in the 1980s and 1990s but thankfully has come back to life once again.
My husband, Cecil, and I finally made the drive down I-85 to check it out and it is now on our list of places to go whenever we need to get out of town. With plenty of public parking, Main Street is very walkable and pedestrian-friendly. You can find everything from antique stores to restaurants to a general store to a local coffee shop. The old Piedmont & Northern railroad depot now houses South Main Cycles.
Belmont has not one but two huge antique malls. Piccolo Antique Mall & Fine Consignments is located on Main Street and Catawba River Antique Mall (in a 109-year-old textile mill building) is only a few minutes away. Both seem to go on for days but are full to the brim with treasures.
At the other end of Main Street across from the coffee shop is a lovely park complete with playground and veterans memorial. It is also a part of the Carolina Thread Trail, a network of trails through 15 counties in North and South Carolina. Downtown Belmont seems to have everything but a used bookstore and a craft brewery. Oh wait – that’s coming! Rivermen Brewing Company is moving to a new location and will be re-opening this month.
After walking from one end of Main Street to the other we were ready for lunch. It was hard to choose a restaurant but we settled on The String Bean and we are so glad that we did. It is not only a restaurant but also a beer/wine market and butcher shop. The outside patio is very inviting with string-lighting and large, green canvases adding shade. My husband had the reuben sandwich and I had the BLFT sandwich. I love a good BLT sandwich but their spin on it with the fried green tomato was absolutely delicious!
After a wonderful couple hours downtown we made one last stop before heading home. Opened last summer the 10-acre Kevin Loftin Riverside Park is a wonderful place to have a quiet moment by the Catawba River. The park has a picnic shelter, playground, amphitheater, canoe/kayak launch, and observation deck complete with porch swings. Cecil and I enjoyed a few minutes swinging on the deck and watching the river flow by.
One of the things we missed this trip was the Belmont Historical Society but hope to visit it soon. Absolutely loved our visit to Belmont and am already looking forward to the next one!