Flying down the 485 freeway through the suburbs of Charlotte, North Carolina, you might easily miss the exit marking my hometown. But if your a spirited adventurer keen on understanding the the patterns of southern charmed America, you’d better scan out the kudzu-dominated freeway ramp and take exit 44 for Mint Hill, North Carolina.
FINALIST 2013 FTF TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
You must begin by grabbing breakfast at Penny’s place- family owned since…forever I guess. Jim or Wanda will welcome you and sit you down at their very best booth. If it’s any day but Sunday, there will be a collection of old men in suspenders conversing over the main center table. Seeing that you are a newcomer, they'll most likely wave a hand for you to join their conversation. Vern will warm the atmosphere by relating a favorite tale of how his dog (Hootie) killed a copperhead. Then Bill might notice you ordered grilled cheese and proceed to explain the perfected process of concocting a tomato sandwich: starting with tomato and bread and ending with that unforgettable day in 3rd grade when his pet turkey screamed so “cute like” that his mother had mercy and the family contented itself with gravy, cranberry sauce, and leftover meatloaf.
After a few hours of chatting, Jim and Wanda will pull off their greasy aprons and hint that 2pm means closing time. In the unlikely circumstance that none of the men invites you to their front porch for sweet tea and grasshopper pie, you should head down highway 218 to your next destination:
No one in the whole wide Cabbarrus county could possibly deny that Daphne’s bakery is number one. Any brownie, cupcake, or lemon bar you choose will be the best brownie, cupcake, or lemon bar you’ve ever tasted.
The shop was opened two years ago by a pair of cousins, and has been a booming success ever since. Their secret? Butter (plenty of it) and great Aunt Daphne (southern hospitality personified ). Once your sufficiently stuffed with stories and baked goodies, roll over to the tiny house next door.
Mint Hill Historical Society
Sue Macdonald will welcome you into the one story house that serves as an office for the historical society. She’ll then lead you to their backyard to discover a fully restored assay office, country store, Doctor’s office, and one room school house. Between the fascinating array of donated artifacts and the enthusiasm of your tour-guide, you will walk out knowing more about southern history then you ever could have learned in an afternoon anywhere else.
Ask Sue where to head next and she’ll undoubtably point you to the Mint Hill Town Hall ( since Mayor Biggers is a good friend of hers). As you walk, watch out for your buddies from Penny’s place ( Bill particularly loves to cruise around town in his collectable model T ford; he’s sure to send a goodnatured honk your way).
At the town hall you’ll find information on any other attraction you may want to visit: a farmers market complete with fumbling bluegrass “band”, nature trails, frisbee golf courses, and a public library well stocked with good books and friendly people. There are plenty of places to go and things to do, but if I were you I would slow down and take the time to meet people. The citizens are the real attraction of our town. Walk into the hardware store, the creamery, or any restaurant and introduce yourself to an array of genuine hard working folks. To explore Mint Hill is to explore the the epitome of small town America.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.