Mooresville was a racing town. That’s about all I knew of the small city just north of Charlotte, North Carolina. Traffic was getting crowded on the highways which had grown from two lane to too many lanes. That’s exactly why I never expected Mooresville to be a quiet escape with friendly folks.
I had been road tripping through North Carolina along U.S. Highway 21 – starting in Wytheville, Virginia about a week earlier. After leaving Statesville behind and making a detour to do some hiking at Lake Norman State Park, I rolled into Mooresville in the late afternoon.
It was love at first sight driving down Main Street as I passed What-A-Burger – a wonderfully old fashioned drive in burger joint. It was a great start to two days in Mooresville. Here are some of my favorite travel photos I captured during my visit.
Downtown Mooresville was quiet – even as the onslaught of rush hour traffic began to flow through town. A traffic light at Main and Center would hold traffic like a dam until a sudden release allowed a few minutes of cars to zip through. The peace returned, and I went back to capturing photos like these.
Actual people walking, sitting, and chatting with each other! I have always believed locals strolling through downtown to be an indicator of the quality of the town. Young and old, male and female, they all strolled through town as each and every one asked, “How you doing?”
Telephone 223. I think their phone number was missing a few digits. I don’t know the story behind this gorgeous downtown mural – painted on the side of the Epic Chophouse building – but it certainly caught my attention. It wasn’t the only mural in town.
After getting coffee at Urban Grind Roasters, I found these two murals on buildings along Broad Street. I’ve always loved murals, especially when they are recreations or updates of vintage advertisements.
I began my walking tour of downtown Mooresville under a cloudless sky on a comfortable day. I didn’t make it far before finding the first store to enter. D.E. Turner & Company Hardware Store has been a staple of Mooresville for a very long time. Evidence came as I admired the antique cash register and a nice old gentleman shouted from nearby, “That used to be used in this store!”
Coffee is a requirement for road trips – at least for me – and Mooresville supplied the liquid energy in beautiful settings. Urban Grind Roasters (above) had a spacious setting with comfy seating while I enjoyed their coffee. The next morning, Hebrew Coffeehouse (below) became a favorite with a fantastic mocha latte – I returned twice more before leaving town.
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Google Maps is my favorite tool for planning a road trip. Sometimes, though, it can be a little wonky. According to the app on my phone, there was a coffee shop inside this building. The front, however, bore the name Welcome Home Veterans. British and Continental Army uniforms from the Revolutionary War hung on the wall. It was a small museum dedicated to veterans of all American conflicts.
It took only minutes to browse the museum before I heard a raucous in the back. I followed the jovial noise to find Richard’s Coffee Shop spread out like an old timey diner. A group of veterans sat at a long table enjoying a coffee. They were kind enough to let me sit nearby and listen to their stories. I could have done that all day.
Speaking of Google Maps, that is how I discovered the GoPro Motorplex located about twenty minutes outside Mooresville. I was eager to head over there on my second day in town. It took only ten minutes of instruction – and about fifty dollars – to get me strapped into a go kart and on the race course. I wasn’t alone – I raced with a group of half a dozen others – and then hung around after to see some more action.
I will always be a travel photographer first and travel writer second, but sometimes I am beyond thrilled to find both merge. I could not have been happier to come across What-A-Burger – a classic drive in diner that was about as picturesque as a Steven Spielberg movie. The next day, Ghostface Brewing & Pizzeria (below) was a fantastic lunch after racing at the GoPro Motorplex.
Beer Lab by Ghostface Brewing was one of the most interesting breweries I had ever visited. They like to experiment with beer and offer it to the general public for a modest fee – about five dollars a glass. During my evening there I made some new friends after discovering ginormous Uno playing cards. Several games – and several beers – later, I could not stop smiling. It was one of my favorite travel experiences of the year.
A trip to Mooresville is not complete without a visit to the North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame. The enormous warehouse museum was filled with classic racing cars, modern pace cars, and the complete history of NASCAR from bootleggin’ to current times.
My two days in Mooresville was at an end and it was time to continue my road trip along U.S. Highway 21 into Charlotte. But just as I was leaving downtown – I had to get another coffee – I spotted a sign for Main Street Antiques & Design Gallery. Fewer places had ever elicited such a jaw dropping reaction from me.
Square cubicles laid out for different artisans and antique resellers straddled either side of long aisles that never seemed to end. Each cubicle was stuffed with different types of artwork and antiques – begging me to take something home. The coffee sign was certainly my favorite and made me long for the days I actually had a home to decorate.
It was moments like these that made me want to put an end to endless road trips. But not this day. I left the sign hanging on the wall with a promise to return some day and hope it was still there.