Queen City in Rainbows; Charlotte’s NoDa District, Murals, & McGill Rose Garden

Charlotte’s Uptown Four Wards get a lot of coverage, but we had the most fun in Plaza Midwood and in the North Davidson “NoDa” District just a bit northeast of Uptown.

I love this area because nearly every building exterior or open space is covered in murals and mosaics, and each store or gallery is so vastly different from the last.

I love the specialty shops and open social spaces, the eclectic locals, and how so many people of multiple cultural/ethnic backgrounds appear to demonstrate reverence for each other.

An Old Mill Village
NoDa is part of Historic North Charlotte, and the land it covers was used in the 1800s as housing for workers at the textile mills located a mile or so north. Like the old Optimist Hall site, this was a Highland Park Mill, and the old Mecklenburg Mill was developed afterward.


North Davidson Street served as the main street through the planned development, linking the two mills in North Charlotte with downtown Charlotte proper, and the village had its own dedicated trolley line.

When the mills began closing in the 1960s and 70s, the neighbourhood was collapsing and deteriorating, many of its buildings were abandoned, and it almost caught the wrecking ball.


A New Lease on Life
A housing and neighbourhood association formed in the 1980s and a few artists began remodeling some buildings to use as their studios, but the first big step toward renewal came in the 1990s when they acquired low-interest loans from local banks to boost their efforts.


One building at a time, NoDa has become Charlotte’s most popular strip for arts and entertainment. The most happening stretch of North Davison Street runs between Matheson Avenue to the west and E. Sugar Creek Road to the east, and southward down to the Plaza Midwood neighbourhood.


Where to Eat & Drink
We went for lunch at Sabor Latin Street Grill after the bartender at a previous stop was like “Run, do not walk, to Sabor! Best food in NoDa!”


She definitely knew what’s up.

Our group shared several types of empanadas, tacos, a salad, and Birria. Everything was incredible! This is one of many Sabor locations around Charlotte, and they have counter service, dine in, or take out.


Reigning Doughnuts was a surprise, a literally hole (get it, like a donut?) in the wall. You walk up to the side of the building and choose from dozens of flavours and toppings, and the rest is magic.


Other restaurants that caught our attention were Cabo Fish Taco next to Sabor, Haberdish, Jack Beagle’s, and The Goodyear House.


For adult drinks, there are so many options like NoDa Brewing, Birdsong Brewing Company, Free Range Brewing, Growler’s Pourhouse, Idlewild, Protagonist Clubhouse, the quirky Chamber by Wooden Robot, the moody Petty Thieves and its rad occult vibes, and Heist Brewery.


We actually started our tour with a cocktail at the Great Wagon Road Distilling Company at the eastern starting point of the main drag, and leisurely made our way to the west end.


We really enjoyed the open-air design, comfy booth seating, how they mix elegance with cozy, and being able to watch the brewers on the opposite side of the taproom.

The GWR brand has nothing to do with the whole “wagon wheel” dusty country theme you might suspect, so don’t write them off!


Speaking of drag, Free Will Craft + Vine and Divine Barrell Brewing share a building across the street and host a drag brunch on weekends.

At Free Will, guests get a wrist band at check-in then pour their own wine and craft beer from taps in between playing games and other outdoor activities.

No dozens of people in line waiting for a lone bartender, just get your own and pay when you are done. I have seen this model in other pubs, and I like it.


Crown Station Coffee House & Pub, Smelly Cat Coffee & Roasters, and Mac Tabby Cat Café were adorable in entirely different ways.

Mac Tabby has a coffeehouse and café that anyone can enter for free, and the separate cat café has an admission fee for those who want to play with the adoptable cats.


Salud Beer Shop has an awesome mural by Nico Amortegui on its exterior. Salud is also known for selection of booze as much as their wood-fired pizza, homebaked goods and breakfasts you can enjoy in the upstairs dining room, the Cerveceria.

For live music, the Neighborhood Theatre and The Evening Muse are all great options, and many of the breweries I listed above also have live music events.

Super Abari Game Bar and Blind Pig are must-sees if you are into playing pinball, Skee-ball, other arcade games, and pool.


Independent Shops
I was excited to visit Curio Craft & Conjure and support one of NoDa’s many black-owned businesses, while the guys went into Mac Tabby across the hall.

Curio has a huge selection of crystals, books, and other spiritual resources to enhance your practice or help you learn something new.


Ruby’s Gift, Milk Money Vintage, and Pura Vida are great shops for vintage kitsch, local and global art, bath and body, home décor, clothing, accessories, and other fun items.



NoDa Company Store looked like a blast, but was not open for some reason. It is dog friendly and has an overall island party hut vibe mixed with funky wooden signs and graffiti art, while the inside has a more modern style.

We walked around the NoDa Hood Market, checking out all types of vendors, and watching street performers sing and dance and play drums all along North Davidson Street and many of its smaller side streets.


In addition to drag brunches and street markets, NoDa is notorious for its dramatically costumed pub crawls, gallery crawls, holiday festivals and parades, community street clean-ups, and NoDa Garden Walks.


Talking Walls Charlotte is a major player in the art scene, specifically with murals, and NoDa Can Jam has a cool Instagram where you can see some behind-the-scenes looks at upcoming works.

Art Walks Clt has this self-guided mural tour of NoDa, and NoDa.org has another one. History South has this detailed self-guided historic tour that will naturally take you past lots of street art at the same time.

It is also worth checking out NoDaRioty, the Historic North Charlotte Neighborhood Association’s arts and entertainment committee.


William Puckett is known for being the first muralist to create works on a substantial amount of space in Charlotte, and his mural Als ich Chan: A Tribute to NoDa on the side of Jack Beagle’s is a loving ode to the people of NoDa.

Another mural by Puckett, Matheson Bridge, is around 14,000 square feet and mural tells about the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence.

His work Chanson of Papillon can be seen above the Neighborhood Theatre.


The most vivid and eye-catching murals we saw are by an artist named Osiris Rain. He owns Osiris Rain Studios and is the founder of both Can Jam Clt Mural Festival and the North Carolina Academy of Art. Super impressive.


The two images below are from his gigantic mural Bloom, as it was too large to fit in one photo without trees or buildings blocking the view.



We live in East Tennessee so it was a joy to see our gal Dolly in this mural by Dustin Moates.


Matt Moore‘s Watering Hole is a strange little number is painted on the exterior of Bargarita. Even though it reminded us of the creeps in Squid Games, it was very intriguing.

I would be remiss to mention that aside from Osiris Rain, Matt Moore is the muralist you will hear about and see works by most often around Charlotte. They all do amazing work.


Alex DeLarge‘s ode to Keith Lamont Scott, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor is located on the side of the NoDa Market & Deli building, with a baby yoda at the opposite end.


Terry Hanney‘s 60-feet long mural around the Dog Bar was pure sunshine, and everyone (well, other visitors) was stopping to take photos in front of it.


Treazy‘s Rise, Connect, and Protect mural on the side of Crown Station Coffee was astounding. I lament that my photos do not do it justice, but it is so striking even from the far end of the street.


There was some sort of convention in Charlotte with hundreds of people in purple shirts occupying absolutely every bit of space imaginable, so I had some trouble getting a good shot of each segment.


No clue who painted this, but we thought it was cool.


Abel Jackson‘s collaboration with Big Trouble Studios, Self Love, is over on 36th Street.


You will also see mosaics covering the district’s trash bins and other surfaces by artists like Brenda Pokorny.


There were SO MANY, I do not want to spoil it for you. Just park somewhere and follow your senses, you will find them everywhere.


“You Will Find Me If You Want Me, In the Garden…”
When you reach Rosie’s Wine & Garden at the west end of the district, get your drink of choice and wander the McGill Rose Garden behind it.


McGill’s is a public garden with over 200 types of roses, and also functions as an event venue for rent.


You can enter from the parking lot next door through a large gate during public hours. If you wish to visit after public hours, you can still enter through Rosie’s until they close.

Treat this as sort of a secret speakeasy entrance, be mindful and polite, and consider making a purchase at Rosie’s first versus going in and straight to the garden.


In the area for a while? Follow me to Charlotte’s Plaza Midwood, Optimist Hall & Camp North End, First & Fourth Wards, and Second Ward.


© Copyright Fernwehtun, 2015- Current. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Fernwehtun and Fernwehtun.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

4 thoughts on “Queen City in Rainbows; Charlotte’s NoDa District, Murals, & McGill Rose Garden

  1. Pingback: Uptown Charlotte’s First & Fourth Wards; Independence Square & the Freedom Walk | Fernweh

  2. Pingback: Highlights of Uptown Charlotte’s Second Ward; Logtown, Historic Brooklyn, South End, & LoSo | Fernweh

  3. Pingback: Charlotte’s Plaza Midwood & Belmont Neighbourhoods | Fernweh

  4. Pingback: Charlotte’s Optimist Hall & Camp North End | Fernweh

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s