Why Belmont, North Carolina Is One of the Coolest Suburbs in America

published May 22, 2019
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Credit: Hayley Lawrence/Apartment Therapy

Belmont was chosen as one of Apartment Therapy’s Coolest Suburbs in America 2019. We showcased the burbs nationwide that offer the most when it comes to cultural activities, a sense of community, and simply a good quality of life. For more on how we define “cool” and what exactly counts as a suburb, check out our methodology here. To view Apartment Therapy’s other Coolest Suburbs in America 2019, head here.

Located just 15 miles from Charlotte, North Carolina, the suburb of Belmont boasts an enticing mix of culture, outdoor recreation, and friendly neighbors. We’ve got our fair share of Southern hospitality and food, hipster coffee shops, and outdoor activities. The burb is situated between the Catawba River and Lake Wylie, and within driving distance of Crowders Mountain State Park, a favorite for day hiking, fishing, camping, and rock climbing.

Downtown Belmont was settled in the 1750s and was originally named Garibaldi Station. The name was later changed to Belmont, although the reason for the switch is uncertain. The population of Belmont is well below 20,000, but the suburb is growing as young professionals and families discover this hidden gem.

Median rent price:

$1061, according to RentCafe.

Median house price:

$320,400, according to Zillow.

Price per square foot (compared to city):

$140 in Belmont vs. $152 in neighboring Charlotte, according to Zillow.

Walkability score:

67 in downtown Belmont, according to Walk Score.

Median household income:

$62,201, according to Census data.


12,046, accoring to Neighborhood Scout.

What the suburb is known for:

Honoring its former name, the burb still holds an annual Garibaldi Festival, celebrating local art, crafts, and music. The Jonas Brothers’ dad, Kevin Jonas, Sr., opened Nellie’s Southern Kitchen in downtown Belmont, named after his mother, who lived in Belmont until she died in 2011. Nick Jonas and his wife Priyanka Chopra held a wedding reception at the restaurant in January.

Hidden gem:

This hidden gem really is kind of hidden. Outside downtown, with a subtle exterior, you’ll find Estia’s Kouzina, an authentic Greek restaurant. The menu is a little pricey for Belmont, but the food is outstanding. Where else in Belmont could you find grilled octopus?

Place that makes you happy to live there:

Downtown Belmont has the old charm of a movie set, especially when city hall is lit up for Christmas.

Favorite activity for families:

With several area parks, a favorite is a visit to the playground at Stowe Park in downtown, followed by a visit to the Cotton Candy Factory, or Cherubs Café, both of which are owned and operated by Holy Angels, Inc., a nonprofit “dedicated to caring for children and adults with intellectual developmental disabilities and delicate medical conditions.”

Favorite hangout for young professionals:

My favorite stop for creative cocktails is The Jailhouse, a cigar bar located inside the old Belmont jail. It’s a private club, and $12 a year buys membership.

Favorite outdoor lounge spot:

Located at a historic train depot, Station is a bar in a bicycle shop. Station’s outdoor space has room for 12 around a fire table, an outdoor bar, and televisions. Try the pizza cooked on the Big Green Egg, a charcoal grill with a cult following.

Favorite date spot:

For a date, or for a girls’ or moms’ night out, check out Luna Hombre, located under the downtown awning that still reads Belmont Drug Co. This cozy spot serves up wine, beer, and tapas.

Average commute/traffic report:

For now, the commute from Belmont to Charlotte is about a 30-minute drive, depending on traffic. You can take back roads to avoid major highways, which can get congested during rush hour. An extension of the existing Charlotte light rail to Belmont was recently approved and will connect the suburb to Charlotte-Douglas International Airport.

Credit: Hayley Lawrence/Apartment Therapy

Favorite place to get coffee:

Mugshots Coffee & Tea, which was started by two ex-cops, is the place to go for handcrafted coffee with a hipster vibe. The shop recently moved into a bigger space in downtown Belmont, which they shared with a bicycle shop in back.

Favorite bar for when you want to be around people:

When you want to be around people, head to the pubs. Sammy’s Pub and Glenway Premium Pub are within walking distance of each other. Glenway features outdoor seating, where you can enjoy a cold drink on a hot day.

Favorite alone spot:

A little further down the road is Rivermen Brewing Company, where you can belly up to the bar, or sit outside at a picnic table and enjoy the sunshine. Treat yourself to the pretzel-and-beer cheese appetizer.

Signature food:

There’s a tie between the fried Oreos at The String Bean and Nellie’s fried chicken. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could always try both!

Favorite boutique:

For new and consigned women’s and children’s apparel, stop into GiGi’s Consignment Boutique on Main Street. This mother and daughter operation has been in business since 2010.

Most walkable area:

The most walkable area is downtown Belmont. The sidewalks aren’t quite wide enough for large groups, but there’s lots to take in on a stroll.

Favorite bike trails/parks/outdoor stuff:

Kevin Loftin Riverfront Park is the newest and coolest park in Belmont. Its 10 acres includes a treehouse-like playground, canoe and kayak launch, public boat launch, walking paths, an amphitheater, picnic shelters, leisurely bench swings, clean restrooms, and two fishing piers.

Credit: Courtesy of Hayley Lawrence

Favorite spot for an Instagram:

With flowers, fountains, and an orchid conservatory, Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is the top spot for locals and visitors to take selfies.

Favorite brunch:

For a hearty Southern brunch, check out Nellie’s for staples like chicken and waffles; shrimp and grits; or biscuits and gravy.

Favorite free activities:

In addition to multiple well-maintained parks with playgrounds, the city puts on several annual free events, including a Fourth of July celebration, a summer concert series, and a Christmas village.

Favorite grocery store:

Harris Teeter opened its first Belmont store in the fall of 2017, complete with its own Starbucks kiosk and gas station. The bright, clean, friendly environment makes it Belmont’s new favorite grocery store. For locally-sourced items, Belmont’s Specialty Foods downtown features snacks, giftable foods, to-go items, and more.

Favorite place to take an out-of-towner:

Weather permitting, Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden has something for everyone, including an orchid conservatory, walking trails, beer garden, and children’s garden. The garden hosts special events, group tours, and weddings.

Worst place to find parking and easiest place to find parking:

Parallel parking off S. Main Street may be a challenge for some, but unless there is a special event, public parking lots off S. Main and Glenway streets have ample parking.

What the neighbors say:

Neighbors say they appreciate Belmont’s community feel, charm, proximity to Charlotte, and affordability.

“We moved from Charlotte to Belmont for the small town feel within the big city reach and love it here!,” says resident Olivia Cantwell.

Favorite annual event:

The City of Belmont hosts many annual events, which are all favorites. During the Christmas Village event, schools, city departments, and other sponsors decorate live trees, which are put up in Stowe Park. It’s super festive!

What I miss about the city living in a suburb:

I miss the walkability, diverse cuisine, city sounds, and stores and restaurants that are open on Sundays and Mondays.

What I never miss about the city:

I never miss the stop-and-go traffic, constant construction, and road closures.

Credit: Hayley Lawrence/Apartment Therapy

Favorite local home store:

People are raving about Meraki Interiors, a little shop downtown, that works with and supports artisans to source globally pieces with a modern, bohemian vibe. You can even shop the store online! Owner Erica Steppe designed the VIP room for Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra’s Southern-themed wedding reception.

Favorite local diner:

If you’re looking for an old-school breakfast at a great value, White’s Restaurant is where it’s at. Open for breakfast and brunch only, closed Sundays.

Favorite salon/spa:

Located in a historic building downtown, William Henry Signature Salon & Spa offers everything from hair cuts and color, to massages, to manicures and pedicures, to waxing.

Favorite resale and antique store:

Catawba River Antique Mall is one of those places you can get lost in for hours, looking at booths of antiques and handmade items. They even sell gift bags, so it’s a one-stop shop.

Why do you think your suburb is cool?

Coming from a super cool millennial hotspot in Charlotte, it was hard to transition to small-town living. However, when I come back home to Belmont after working in Charlotte, I feel at peace with the quietness and old-timey feel. Plus, Charlotte’s light rail has been approved for extension into Belmont, which will make us feel even closer to the big city and increase our property values.

Credit: Apartment Therapy