Two of our favourite stops in Charlotte, North Carolina are both northeast of the main “Uptown” part of the city. I have already written a few blogs about Charlotte’s First & Fourth Wards, Second Ward, Plaza Midwood & Belmont, and the NoDa District, so I thought I would give these two spaces a blog of their own.
Optimist Hall and Camp North End are both artful mixed-use spaces for working, eating, shopping, and socializing. They are both local, one of a kind, and constantly evolving, whether it is the vendors, guests, events, art on display, or the structures themselves. Each visit is a new and different experience.
OPTIMIST HALL was once a booming textile mill village in the 1800s and it remained in use until 1975. It was known as the Highland Park Gingham Mill , and alternatively as Highland Park Mill #1, and it was the largest in Charlotte.
From 1977-2016, the former mill was the production site of Admiration Pantyhose, and they are very proud to boast that the future owner of Spanx came in for a consultation back in 2000.
After Admiration closed in 2016, the old bones sat for a few years until a developing firm converted them into what it is today, Charlotte’s first food hall and mixed use space.
Vendors here are selected with purposeful diversity and offer a variety of global cuisine.
From Zuku Japanese, Botiwalla Indian, Bao & Broth Asian/Ramen, Mezeh Mediterranean, Felix’s Empanada’s, Enat Ethiopian, Suarez Cuban Bakery, Ava Italian, Dumpling Lady Szechuan, and Velvet Taco, local favourtes and burger/deli shops, they have a bit of everything.
I made a beeline for Undercurrent Coffee while the guys went straight for Collier Candy Company.
We stopped by Fonta Flora Brewery, Spindle Bar, and the Billy Sunday cocktail bar to admire the décor, but felt 8 am might be a little too early to sample their brews.
There is a beautiful gift and stationary store called Archer Paper Goods, Pet Wants pet store, and Paradiso Plants.
Paradiso Plants also furnishes the building with all of its gorgeous greenery, literally giving life to the place.
We were quite content to sit by one of the large windows and people watch for a bit while we had our morning coffees and snacks. Optimist Hall is at 1115 N. Brevard Street, and is open from at least 8 am until 9 pm most days.
CAMP NORTH END is 1.4 miles from Optimist Hall, and just a mile or so from Uptown. Where Optimist Hall is more polished, sleek, and contained in, or just outside of, one main building, Camp North End has more of a Burning Man meets railyard vibe.
Some of the businesses are inside the largest main building, some are in garages, some are outdoors or in trailers, some are in old shipping carts.
There is a lot of space indoors and outdoors, so just take your pick of which environment you want to hang out in.
It was previously a Ford Model T and Army missile production site, and you can see some of the old relics on display out front.
Outside of the main building, there are two main “districts” of the site, the Mount District and the Boileryard District.
Mount is more for outdoor events and sitting down to socialize, and the Boileryard is more for wandering around with a drink in your hand and checking out murals.
The whole site was in various stages of construction and development, so the lines were not clear and they often overlap. I would love to go back again soon and see how it has changed.
Mount led us around to the right, through various patios, gardens, retail shops, restaurants, food trucks, and exhibits.
The Boileryard wound more around to the left side of the site and to a huge parking garages.
Camp North End is spread out across multiple buildings of varying size, and countless murals are painted all across its 76-acres. Look for the mural loop in the Boileryard or follow this mural walking tour.
Enjoy these photos of some of the murals we found:
Camp North End is located at 300 Camp Road, and this map shows more detailed information about its layout and ongoing developments, as I am sure much has changed since we were there.
You can check out a full list of the vendors, businesses, and other organizations they currently host by visiting this link on their website.
In the area for a while? Follow me to Charlotte’s First & Fourth Wards, Second Ward, Plaza Midwood & Belmont, and the NoDa District!
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