Cornelius, North Carolina, is a town on the shores of Lake Norman, just 19 miles North of Charlotte. Founded in 1893, Cornelius is a historic town and one of Charlotte’s most popular suburbs.
While her neighbor to the North, Davidson, seems to get most of the love and attention in the press, there’s a lot to love about Cornelius, too.
So, let’s explore a few of the best places to go and things to do in Cornelius!
Here are 31 things to do and places to eat & drink in Cornelius, North Carolina:
1. Win the morning, win the day at Waterbean Coffee – Cornelius
This is one of my favorite coffee shops around Lake Norman. Waterbean Coffee is located at The Peninsula Village shopping center near the entrance to The Peninsula subdivision.
Here you’ll find a comfortable and super-chill atmosphere, friendly baristas, and a vast menu of coffee, tea, and espresso drinks to lift your spirit.
This is a place I visit often to focus and write.
Address: 19420 Jetton Rd #105, Cornelius, NC 28031
Phone: (828) 305-9999
2. Have something sweet at Main Street Bakery & Coffee
It’s okay to take a break from the egg whites occasionally and indulge in a sweet pastry for breakfast. If you’re looking for a coffee shop to help you wake up and satisfy those sweet cravings, Main Street Bakery & Coffee checks all the boxes.
Opened by the same team that founded the original Main Street Craft Coffee (and co-working space) in downtown Huntersville, Main Street Bakery & Coffee might be your favorite new stop on the morning commute.
Address: 19905 W Catawba Ave #105, Cornelius, NC 28031
Phone: (704) 897-1717
3. Go beast mode at CrossFit Cornelius
Speaking of winning the morning, nothing gets the heart pumping like a good old-fashioned CrossFit beatdown. Crossfit Cornelius is one the top Crossfit affiliates in the Charlotte area and has grown tremendously over the years.
Owners Mike and Kristin Ratnofsky have built an amazing community of athletes within the walls of their custom-built gym in “Old Town” Cornelius. They were featured in episode #1 of The Best of LKN podcast back in May 2020!
Address: 19721 Smith Cir, Cornelius, NC 28031
4. Find your tribe at OG Fitness
Fitness for women, OG Fitness has stepped up to fill a need in the community for a women-only gym that is also woman-owned and woman-led.
Owner Nancy Rice has been a personal trainer and leading group fitness classes for more than a decade. She opened OG Fitness to offer dedicated training and help women of all ages reach their fitness goals.
Address: 10433 Bailey Rd unit L Cornelius, NC 28031
Phone: (704) 408-2752
Coach Sarah G. – OG Fitness for Girls
5. Get active at Northern Regional Recreation Center
Bring the entire family to Mecklenburg’s newest state-of-the-art recreation facility! It boasts fitness programs, athletics, aquatics, neighborhood events, wellness programs, nature walks, and more. There’s something for everyone at this magnificent addition to the community.
Pro tip: Sign up for a MeckPass and receive access to all 12 of Mecklenburg County’s recreation centers.
Address: 18121 Old Statesville Rd, Cornelius, NC 28031
Phone: (980) 314-6772
6. Find tranquility at Jetton Park
After a hard workout, restore some inner peace at Jetton Park. Located near the entrance to one of Lake Norman’s most luxurious neighborhoods, The Peninsula, Jetton Park offers numerous ways to enjoy nature at Lake Norman. Enjoy a picnic, hike on the park’s trails, or play tennis – these are just a few of the activities available at this tranquil park.
Address: 19000 Jetton Rd, Cornelius, NC 28031
7. Life’s a beach at Ramsey Creek Park
Visit the area’s only public beach (with a swimming area) and catch some rays at Ramsey Creek Park. In addition to the beach, visitors can enjoy volleyball, walking trails, the area’s best dog park, and a public access boat ramp.
Note: Entrance fees are collected during the Summer.
Address: 18441 Nantz Rd, Cornelius, NC 28031
8. Hit the Greenways with Pedego Electric Bikes Lake Norman
Rent an electric bike from Grace and Tom Kennedy at Pedego Electric Bikes. Located in the Antiquity Shopping Center near Old Town Cornelius, Pedego is just a few hundred feet from the entrance to the Antiquity Greenway.
Address: 19911 Zion Ave d3, Cornelius, NC 28031
Phone: (704) 997-5051
9. Grab lunch at a Lake Norman legend: Big Bite’z Grill
Known for its quick service and delicious food, Big Bite’z Grill is the place to go for a classic Gyro sandwich. That’s not the only thing on the menu, though. The menu is vast and features burgers, salads, fried seafood, and various sandwiches. Fair notice: this place gets busy at lunchtime!
Must-order: Gyro Sandwich with Beef and lamb
Address: 20430 W Catawba Ave, Cornelius, NC 28031
Phone: (704) 895-7728
10. Keep it healthy at Clean Eatz Cafe
For a clean-eating option, there’s no better choice in Cornelius than Clean Eatz Cafe. This fitness-centric cafe offers freshly prepared burgers, wraps, and salads that are as good for your tastebuds as they are for your waistline.
Meet the owner of Clean Eatz Cafe in Cornelius in episode 33 of the podcast!
Must-order: Hammerhead Wrap – Salmon, spinach, bacon in a garlic herb wrap
Address: 17111 Kenton Dr Unit 101B, Cornelius, NC 28031
Phone: (704) 997-8618
11. Chill at Cool Fish
Known for an alternative vibe and excellent sushi, Cool Fish Lake Norman is also my go-to for delicious poke bowls!
Must order: Hawaiian Poke – Sashimi Tuna or Salmon, ponzu sauce, seaweed salad, cilantro, pineapple salsa, avocado, pickled ginger, red radish – so good!
Address: 21726 Catawba Ave B-2, Cornelius, NC 28031
Phone: (828) 761-0514
12. Go old-school at Ferrucci’s Olde Tyme Italian Market
Ferrucci’s is an authentic Italian deli and butcher shop. This is one of my favorite lunch spots.
You can choose an entree like lasagna or eggplant parmesan, or one of their excellent sandwiches.
Must order: As you would imagine, the Italian sandwich is one of the best around!
Address: 20910 Torrence Chapel Rd, Cornelius, NC 28031
Phone: (704) 896-3190
13. Taco Tuesdays at Osito’s Taco’s & Tortas
A family-owned business steeped in southern roots and a love for Mexican food, Chef Bobby serves up the best tacos in town.
Start here: The Osito – pickled brine southern fried chicken, collard slaw, grilled corn, pico, cheese, and Osito sauce served on a flour or corn tortilla
Address: 20700 N Main St, Cornelius, NC 28031
Phone: (704) 997-5773
14. Finding inspiration with Inspired at Lake Norman
Georgia and Mark Ferguson launched their dream business in the heart of “Old Town Cornelius” in early 2020.
Georgia designed the retail concept and filled it with artwork and gifts sourced from both local and national artisans.
You’ll find everything from unpretentious Lake Norman-inspired gifts to exquisite fine art in this century-old Cornelius home.
Address: 21136 Catawba Ave, Cornelius, NC 28031
Phone: (704) 997-5500
15. Fashion & Family at Nina’s Boutique
You can’t keep a great brand down, and Nina’s Boutique is a shining example.
Owner Elizabeth Lavan has built more than a magnificent fashion boutique in downtown Cornelius – she has shown what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur and community leader.
Follow Nina’s Boutique on Instagram @ninasboutiquelkn
Gentlemen: Make yourself comfortable, have a beer, and relax while your better half enjoys shopping at Nina’s.
Address: 21714 Catawba Ave A6, Cornelius, NC 28031
Phone: (704) 237-4091
16. Get fashionably idealistic at Lemonade Boutique
Tucked into the Jetton Village Shoppes near the entrance of The Peninsula neighborhood is one of Lake Norman’s most adored fashion boutiques.
Founder Tammi Murphy envisioned not only a space for purveying fine fashion, jewelry, and accessories but also a place for catalyzing equity in the industry and promoting positive change.
Cool factor: Be sure to ask the team about their beloved customer and community avatar, Elizabeth Leigh.
Address: 19826 N Cove Rd B, Cornelius, NC 28031
Phone: (704) 997-6059
17. Stay ahead of the trend at Luna’s
Christine Rinkert has a passion for fashion. Discover your inner AND outer beauty at this warm and inviting boutique in Old Town Cornelius.
Christine is also known to organize some of the area’s best pop-up shops and markets, so be sure to follow Luna’s on Instagram.
Shhh: Ask Christine about the After Dark collection.
Address: 20901 Catawba Ave, Cornelius, NC 28031
Phone: (704) 677-2335
18. Satisfy your sweet tooth at Sweet Cakes Bakery
For cupcakes, cookies, cake pops, and more there is no other place in Cornelius like Sweet Cakes Bakery. Stop by the shop and look at what’s in the case, or do your shopping online. Sweet Cakes offers local delivery and they ship some of their specialties nationwide.
Pro tip: Sweet Cakes specializes in custom cakes for special occasions, like weddings, birthdays, and corporate events.
Address: 20601 Torrence Chapel Rd #106, Cornelius, NC 28031
Phone: (704) 997-6130
19. Take in a show at Cain Center for the Arts
This highly anticipated performing arts center opened in 2023 and is named after its founding gift-givers, Ericka and Bill Cain.
Enjoy theatre, musical performances, magic shows, and other performances.
Address: 21348 Catawba Ave, Cornelius, NC 28031
Phone: (980) 689-3101
20. Rock & Roll at BoatYard Lake Norman
Speaking of musical performances, BoatYard is Lake Norman’s Rock ‘n Roll headquarters!
A custom venue was purpose-built for entertainment, BoatYard books some of the best rock talents in the Southeast.
Rock the night away with a full bar and some of the best bar grub in the area!
- BoatYard rocks Thursday – Sunday.
- A great venue for private events!
Address: 18418 Statesville Rd, Cornelius, NC 28031
Phone: (704) 997-6069
Cheers, to craft beer. There’s no shortage of craft beer options in Cornelius.
Here you’ll find brands founded by beer people from a wide range of backgrounds: garage brewers, marketing professionals, serial entrepreneurs, etc.
Come for the beer, stay for the people. Lost Worlds has the area’s most unique beer brand—a great place to host a private event, too.
Address: 19700-D One Norman Blvd, Cornelius, NC 28031
Phone: (980) 689-2467
One of the Lake Norman area’s most adored small businesses. Eleven Lakes doesn’t just brew beer, they craft community. Another great spot for a private event.
Address: 10228 Bailey Rd #201, Cornelius, NC 28031
Phone: (704) 998-9017
Drink one, don’t be one. A Cornelius OG, Ass Clown is home to some seriously outstanding hazy IPAs, fruited sours, stouts, and porters—a must-visit on the Lake Norman beer trail.
Address: 10620 Bailey Rd # E, Cornelius, NC 28031
Phone: (704) 997-8490
24. Gather at Old Town Public House
While OTPH isn’t a brewery, they do serve up many of the local craft beer favorites in a lively atmosphere.
You can also find rotating food trucks and live entertainment here, just like at a local brewery.
Address: 21314 Catawba Ave, Cornelius, NC 28031
Phone: (980) 288-4418
25. Don’t worry, be happy at Thigs Cocktail Bar
The bar with the weird name is located in Old Town Cornelius. If a trendy spot with craft libations is what you seek, Thigs Cocktail Bar is the place.
Address: 21234 Catawba Ave, Cornelius, NC 28031
Phone: (980) 689-4234
26. Whet your whistle at Bin 110
Here’s another upscale nightspot and the home of Lake Norman’s best bourbon whisky selection.
Pro tip: They love it when you ask if they have Blantons.
Address: 19712 One Norman Blvd Suite 110, Cornelius, NC 28031
Phone: (980) 689-5081
27. Catch a game at Jack’s Corner Tap
The official neighborhood sports bar of Cornelius, Jack’s is the perfect spot to watch sports, enjoy a cocktail or beer, and grab one of the best burgers in town.
Everything is served with a smile.
Notable: Jack’s is the home of one heckuva good Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich, too.
Address: 8301 Magnolia Estates Dr, Cornelius, NC 28031
Phone: (704) 892-4433
28. Indulge in excellence at New York Butcher Shoppe & Wine Bar
One of the most unique spots in the area. This place is more than a butcher shop. A curated wine & craft beer selection, bar, outdoor patio seating, and a pantry market.
Dine in or select quality cuts and seafood to take home and enjoy on the grill. One visit and you’ll understand why I love this place. Check out a full review of New York Butcher Shoppe & Wine Bar by Jordan Eicher.
Address: 20823 N Main St Ste C, Cornelius, NC 28031
Phone: (980) 981-1008
29. Go back in time to Barrel & Fork
Exquisitely prepared steaks, seafood, and other proteins, coupled with a magnificent cocktail program make Barrel & Fork a very popular destination. The exceptional staff is the icing on the cake.
Note: Reservations are a must on the weekends, even for bar seating. They turn tables fast here, so don’t plan on lingering after your meal.
Address: 20517 N Main St, Cornelius, NC 28031
Phone: (704) 655-7465
30. Savor the experience at 131 Main Restaurant
131 Main is one of the oldest and most loved fine dining brands in the Lake Norman area.
Here you’ll find a spacious dining room and bar, a comfortable and intimate atmosphere, and the best waitstaff in the business. That’s no exaggeration – the staff here are ninja-level.
The menu includes many of the traditional dining staples, and all are excellent.
Must order: Maryland Style Crab Cakes – two jumbo lump crab cakes, whole grain mustard sauce, fresh fries.
Pro tip: Steak lovers, try the Ribeye. Order it medium-rare. It’s perfect every time.
Bonus tip: Specials rotate daily, and if they have Haddock, order it!
Address: 17830 Statesville Rd, Cornelius, NC 28031
Phone: (704) 896-0131
31. Discover your inner sommelier at the Winestore in Cornelius.
Cleverly located at the entrance to The Peninsula neighborhood in the Peninsula Village shopping center.
Here you’ll find an amazing selection of curated wines from around the globe, along with expert associates who are both extremely friendly and helpful to wine newbies.
Address: 19400 Jetton Rd #204, Cornelius, NC 28031
Phone: (704) 892-5662
And the list goes on…
This is just a small portion of the dozens if not hundreds of exceptional small businesses and attractions you’ll find in Cornelius, North Carolina. Save this list and visit these places soon!
About the Author:
Jeff Hamm is the creator and producer of The Best of LKN, an online platform that highlights the best businesses, places to go, and things to do around Lake Norman, North Carolina.
He’s also the founder of Epic Journey Media, a marketing agency that specializes in serving local businesses.
And… a Real Estate Agent affiliated with Keller Williams Realty – Lake Norman.
When he isn’t editing podcasts, building websites, or writing blog articles & email newsletters, you can most likely find him taking walks with his dogs Sam and Maisy.