Places to Take Mom in the Queen City

From the farmer-and-artisan 7th Street Market to the sprawling grounds of Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden to Gallery Restaurant, these stops will make you Mom's favorite kid.

Sure, Mother’s Day is coming soon, but any day is a special one for that matriarch in your life when you take her to one of these Charlotte-area stops. This suggested itinerary allows you to treat her royally through the morning, afternoon and night.

Morning

Grab some cups of joe at Not Just Coffee, then check out the rest of the farmers and food artisans at 7th Street Public Market.

Not Just Coffee trains its baristas to offers a variety of brewing techniques, from pour-over methods to syphon pots to well-blended espresso beverages. It partners with Homeland Creamery and Counter Culture Coffee to craft its flavorful brews.

Once the coffee has awakened your senses, the rest of the 16 shops at 7th Street Public Market will, too. They include Orrman's Cheese Shop, which specializes in local and regional cheeses but also offers high-quality American cheese and a smaller selection from Europe; the Assorted Table Wine Shoppe, which boasts an international range of vintages from $5 to $500 a bottle, plus frozen ravioli, gnocchi, sauces and pestos from its local pasta factory, Pasta & Provisions; and, What's Your Beef, a butcher shop that sells dry-aged Angus, as well as premium, pasture-raised chicken, lamb, veal and pork.

Afternoon

Canal Garden

No need to get Mom any flowers when she can see thousands at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden. (OK: If it is Mother's Day, you’d better get her some anyway.)

Though its name is the singular "garden," Stowe is actually a collection of a dozen-plus gardens and groves as well as the 8,000-square-foot, five-story Orchid Conservatory. There's an Allee Garden that attracts kids because of its tunnel fountain, a Crepe Myrtle Grove that offers shade for summertime visitors and a Serpentine Garden with a long and meandering shape that features differently colored pools.

Always popular as a wedding venue, Stowe, which is about a half-hour drive from uptown Charlotte and near Lake Wylie, is home to special events throughout the year. Bring a bag lunch at noon time on first Tuesdays to hear presentations from special guests on a variety of topics or see the garden bedecked in holiday lights from Thanksgiving to New Year's.

Back by popular demand, meanwhile, from May 1 through July 12, is a ZimSculpt exhibition that Stowe had featured last fall. More than 100 Zimbabwean sculptures will be on exhibit, all set against a tropical backdrop. A marketplace featuring African art and jewelry and two Zimbabwean artists-in-residence are part of the exhibit.

Evening

Tuna crudo

In advance of the garden journey and return trip to town, you were smart to reserve a dinner spot at the Ballantyne Hotel’s Gallery Restaurant, which has earned Forbes four-star distinction.

The Gallery Restaurant delivers in both fine food and environment, with artwork provided by Shain Gallery—which has been named "best overall gallery" by Charlotte Magazine—adorning its walls.

Gallery's menu is farm-to-table in nature, with the restaurant partnering with two-dozen-plus local farms and purveyors and changing its menu seasonally under David Moore, chef de cusine. A recent dinner menu featured local pork belly among its starters, plus a choice of four salads and 10 entrées. Main dishes included NC Trout with fennel, asparagus, garden pea purée and trout roe porridge, as well as Cap Steak, featuring a black-garlic-rubbed cap of rib eye, with potato purée and smoked Kobe-shi-poached quail eggs.

Raise a toast to Mom in the Gallery bar, which offers a wide selection of wine, single-malt Scotches, whiskey and cocktails with a bar-food-focused menu, including such tempting selections as Shaved Prime Rib Cheese Steak.

Jay Bemis
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