Looking for small-town living that’s not too far from the city? Head down Highway 74 to these three charming towns that are close enough to enjoy the amenities of uptown, but filled with enough activities, restaurants and events to stand on their own.
We asked the pros at Helen Adams Realty all about what it’s like to live in these three charming small towns, and they had lots to say.
“Each of these towns offers an opportunity to live ‘near’ uptown, without being ‘in’ uptown,” says Helen Adams Realty Agent Beth Ebert. “An endearing quality of Matthews, Mint Hill and Indian Trail is their sense of community and family-friendly environment that is immediately felt. Sincerity, friendliness, and a little bit of a slower pace is felt within these quaint towns. It’s like living in a small town — without actually living in a small town.”
Helen Adams Realty Agent Tracy Jones says all three towns have seen added commercial growth in recent years, and short of needing to go to a large indoor shopping mall, you can find almost every big-box store you might need in the area of these small towns. And even better — Tracy says Matthews, Mint Hill and Indian Trail have also become known in recent years for some of their breweries, taprooms and wine bars.
All three towns are a short drive down Highways 74 or 51, or Interstate 485, but soon they’ll be even easier to get to.
“CATS is working on the development of a future LYNX Silver Line which would run from Belmont through Center City Charlotte and into the Town of Matthews with a potential extension into Union County,” Tracy says. “Highway 74 is also eventually due to be stoplight-free from uptown Charlotte all the way to Marshville. Both of these infrastructure changes will provide awesome opportunities for easy commutes for working in the city but living much further out of the city.”
So what’s it like to call Matthews, Indian Trail and Mint Hill home? Here’s what you need to know.
“If you are looking to escape city life and are yearning for a quaint area then Downtown Matthews is for you,” says Helen Adams Realty Agent Katherine Shermansky. “It provides several restaurants, a coffee shop, a donut shop, a wine bar, a Greenway and an original hardware store which brings you back in time. Let’s not forget the seasonal Farmer’s Market as well!”
Katherine says the town is unique because it’s actually in two counties — Union and Mecklenburg.
“Union County offers people more land on their property which is a draw for some folks, and it provides lower taxes than Mecklenburg County,” Katherine says.
Helen Adams Realty Agent Van Dang has lived in Matthews for most of her life, and she says you’ll love being her Matthews neighbor.
“It still has a small and quaint vibe downtown while still rapidly growing,” Van says. “I love seeing new businesses crop up like recent addition Moxie Mercantile, and I’m (eagerly) anticipating White Duck Taco Shop on East John Street.” (The cult-favorite Asheville taco shop is planned to open on August 29.)
Hungry? One of Van’s favorite hidden gems in Matthews is Pepero Korean.
“It’s inside a tiny Korean grocery store and is one of the best Korean restaurants around Charlotte,” Van says.
If you’re in the mood for sushi, Beth recommends New Zealand Cafe.
“This hole-in-the-wall sushi place sells some of the best sushi in the area!” Beth says.
Girl’s night? Tracy has the perfect recommendation.
“Charcuterie boards have been all the rage lately and if that is your thing, you cannot go wrong with a trip to The Loyalist Market in downtown Matthews, known for its wide variety and unique pairings of cheeses, meats, wines and more,” Tracy says.
When Van wants to get outdoors and get some exercise, she hits the Four Mile Creek Greenway, a great 2.26-mile paved path with boardwalks that connect Downtown Matthews to Squirrel Lake Park and linking neighborhoods in between. Once you get to Squirrel Lake Park, Tracy recommends walking the boardwalk into the water, casting into the pond to see what you can catch, or let the kids climb endlessly on the playground.
Tracy says Colonel Francis Beatty Park is one of the largest and most beautiful parks in Matthews with plenty of sports fields, shelters, a huge pond, and even a venue for an outdoor wedding. Her two favorite hidden gems (especially for kids) are Rice Park and Windsor Park.
Right in the heart of downtown, Stumptown Park hosts some amazing events throughout the year including the Matthews Alive Festival each Labor Day weekend (However, this year’s Matthews Alive has been canceled amid COVID-19 concerns).
If you want to drive around and look at houses, Katherine recommends the Brookhaven neighborhood.
“Brookhaven is one of my favorite neighborhoods. It has lots of amenities including a pool, basketball court, tennis courts, fitness center, playground and walking trails. Brookhaven is also in Union County with top-rated schools and lower taxes,” Katherine says.
Ready to buy property in Matthews? According to Canopy MLS data, the closed price per square foot average in Matthews is about $175 compared to $210 in Charlotte.
The bottom line: Beth says Matthews families love being able to live in a neighborhood yet have larger lots, larger backyards, and amenities like pools, tennis courts and walking trails.
“There are a ton of community activities for children — whether the interest is in sports, theatre, arts, dance, religious activities, or scouting,” Beth says. “There’s also tons to do for younger demographics, like going shopping, grabbing a delicious local bite, or enjoying beers after work.”
If you’re willing to travel just a bit farther from the QC, you can get some real bang for your buck in Indian Trail.
Over the past six months, the average price per square foot in Indian Trail has hovered around $160, Tracy says.
Though it’s smaller than Matthews, it still features lots of amenities like Crossing Paths Park, which has picnic areas, a playground and a walking track, and hosts many events from movie nights to community festivals.
Tracy says Crooked Creek Park features an ADA playground, disc golf, a dog park, bocce courts and so much more, but is known for its fun splash pad.
For lunch, Tracy recommends heading to The Bridge Restaurant for burgers, sandwiches, salads and more.
Or grab a margarita and some delicious Mexican cuisine at La Unica.
For house-hunting (or just driving through neighborhoods) in Indian Trail, Tracy enjoys The Enclaves at Crismark, Brandon Oaks and Lake Park.
Just northeast of Matthews you’ll find Mint Hill, a quickly growing town with parks, restaurants, walking trails and more.
For outdoor activities, Wilgrove Park in Mint Hill is a favorite of locals thanks to its jogging trails — ideal for walking with your human and furry friends. The park also features tennis and basketball courts, and its playground is suited well for small children, Tracy says.
Tracy also says to check out the 50-acre Mint Hill Veterans Memorial Park, complete with disc golf course, skating/bike path, horseshoe pits, and handball and beach volleyball courts among many other courts, fields, and more.
The newly opened Stevens Creek Nature Center offers learning opportunities and fun experiences for both children and adults, Tracy says. It sits on the 281-acre nature preserve called Stevens Creek Nature Preserve and offers beautiful hiking trails open sunup to sundown.
In Mint Hill, the median listing home price is $171 per square foot.
If a slower-paced way of life sounds like heaven to you, give these three towns a look next time you’re in the area.
“Having lived in a portion of Matthews just a few miles from Mint Hill and Indian Trail for over 20 years, I have enjoyed the small-town living Matthews, Mint Hill and Indian Trail offer in close proximity to the booming metropolitan city of Charlotte,” Tracy says. “These towns which have certainly grown in popularity in the last decade are wonderful places for families to call home, full of parks, places of worship, youth sports organizations, and more. The thing residents would say is their favorite thing about living in these towns is their small-town feel with all the conveniences of a major urban city within such close proximity.”
Do you have any other favorite spots in one of these three towns? Let us know in the comments!
Thank you to our contributors:
Helen Adams, a sixth-generation Charlottean, founded her residential real estate company in Charlotte in 1975. Her achievements as an entrepreneur and community leader laid the foundation for a thriving, multi-office real estate business, and today she has become a role model for women throughout the Charlotte region. Second- and third-generation family members, led by Jeff Adams, continue to successfully operate four offices serving Charlotte’s finest neighborhoods with a stalwart commitment to perfecting their craft.