By Kiara Harlow
My family lived right outside of Uptown Charlotte in Biddleville for eight years, until we moved to the ‘burbs last fall. And as much as our family has loves our new set-up, I miss hopping around Uptown with my kids. I loved being able to walk, bike, or take the streetcar to our favorite places.
Since moving out of the city, lots of fellow moms have told me they would like to break out of their usual rotation and check out Uptown, but it seems confusing and expensive. So if you’ve been thinking about making a day trip into the city but don’t want to break the bank, you’re in luck, because you have a local here to give you the inside scoop!
First things first: Don’t get nervous, but we’re gonna do a lot! It’s all fun and very low key. Promise! And I’m going to help you figure out exactly what to do!
Here’s a detailed game plan
- Plan to arrive Uptown by 10 a.m. and park on N. Brevard. Ideally parallel park so that First Ward Park is on your right; you’ll be looking at ImaginOn. This is ideal because the kids can get out on the sidewalk abutting the park, and you’ll only have to cross the street once to get to the library.
- All the parking Uptown is controlled through an app called ParkMobile. To minimize frustration in the heat with kids pacing impatiently, download it before you leave home and update your license plate and payment information.
- Once parking is taken care of, head into ImaginOn. Family storytime is at 10:30 a.m.. This one has lots of babies and little kids, but all ages are welcome. There’s another one that draws an older crowd at 11:30 a.m., but I’m still a fan of the early morning one to keep the flow of our day.
- After storytime and grabbing a few books to get us through the week, we just need to cross the street and hit First Ward Park. It has lots of space to toss a football or play soccer, a fun rope climbing dome, a super fun splash pad, and incredible views of the city. Photo opp time!!
- The one thing it’s lacking is shade, so grab a table early or get your tan on! (Or pack some sunblock, if you’re going to stay a while.) After the kids frolic for awhile, you can let them drip dry on the four block walk to the streetcar (or change their clothes, if that’s the kind of girl you are).
- Don’t forget to extend your parking now!
- My favorite route to the streetcar is to walk one block headed away from the city on 7th Street and then around the Spectrum Center along N. Caldwell (we sometimes spot basketball stars.) Once you get to E Trade, you can catch the train at one of the many stops. Hop on and head away from the city center. You’ll pass by CPCC, Elizabeth Creamery, Viva Chicken, and the hospital. Hop off just as you cross over 7th Street at Hawthorne’s Pizza.
- Hawthorne’s is a delicious stop. But humor me, and keep walking.
- Cross back over 7th Street and ditch the sidewalk in favor of wandering along the paved path away from the street traffic. There is a brand new playground and a beautiful garden filled with butterflies as you meander up the hill. Once you exit the park, it’ll feel like you’ve entered a residential neighborhood, but take a left on N. Caswell Road and go just a few more blocks until you get to Rosemont Market & Wine Bar. Here, you can have a quick and delicious lunch, grab a coffee, and even enjoy a bottle of wine. It hits all the perfect summer notes!
- If you have a taste for something else, there’s a Showmars, Starbucks, and American restaurant called Caswell Station within 100 feet. Once lunch is over, you just retrace your steps back to the car and enjoy all the quiet of sleeping children on a warm summer afternoon. And even if they acted like wildlings the entire day, hopefully you got enough sweet photos and made enough sunkissed core memories to entice you do it again sometime soon!