How to spend a perfect day in the Ballantyne area, from brunch to cocktails

This content originally ran on CharlotteFive.com.

Ballantyne, which started out as 1,756 acres of south Charlotte farmland before morphing into a burgeoning village of its own, is booming with restaurants and activity options alike. Whether you live in Ballantyne or are just passing through, here’s your guide to a perfect day in the area:

Early morning

(1) Start your morning with a hit of caffeine from Rush Espresso (14825 Ballantyne Village Way, #135) which opens daily at 6 a.m. An iced chai perhaps?

(2) Need to get your zen on? Enlighten Yoga (9852 Rea Rd Suite D2) down the street in the Blakeney shopping center offers more than 65 classes weekly, from yoga basics to hot yoga. Many weekdays offer an 8 a.m. option. Go for it.

Breakfast

(3) It’s breakfast time. Grab a table on the patio at Stewart Pennick’s Terrace (14815 Ballantyne Village Way, Suite 150) and order from the menu spilling with Southern cuisine. Try sweet indulgence: the red velvet waffle with cream cheese drizzle is decadent (and made salty with fried chicken on top, if you so choose). If you’re brunching, a Bloody Mary is a must (the mix has quite the kick here).

Late morning/Early afternoon

(4) Cross the street and pass Mellow Mushroom, then head down the grassy slope to walk off that waffle with a look at the four Monuments of Ballantyne (at the intersection of Ballantyne Commons Parkway and Johnston Road). They resemble giant stone portals to another world — but simply stand for transportation, technology, finance and human spirit, as crafted by Yugoslavian artist Boris Tomic.

(5) Need to relax even more, despite that morning yoga class? Step into the Zen Den at the Modern Acupuncture location at Blakeney (9882 Rea Road, Suite D) that opened last year. You’ll be prompted to learn about the process first — acupuncture, a holistic health approach traditional to Chinese medicine, is the insertion of needles into the skin with the intention to stimulate blood flow and the body’s natural healing response. You’ll share your ailments with your acupuncturist, lie back in a puffy chair while needles are (gently) inserted into your skin, and, if all goes well, you’ll morph into a blissed out blob. Hopefully with some alleviated symptoms (or just a sense of being well-rested). It’s just $29 for an initial session.

The Zen Den at Modern Acupuncture

Lunch

(6) You’ve worked up an appetite with all of that relaxing, so stick around the Blakeney shopping center and find a patio seat at Brixx Wood Fired Pizza (9820 Rea Road). Fun fact: This is one of the many chains born in Charlotte. The first Brixx opened in 1998 across town in Dilworth, and now there are 29 more locations across the region. Enjoy a lighter bite: The Americo pizza is classically simple (with sliced pepperoni, mozzarella and mushrooms on a tomato sauce base) and the Spinach Salad is crisp and bright (with roasted red peppers, feta, croutons, pistachios and fat-free honey-chipotle dressing).

Afternoon

(7) Enter the great outdoors via the Lower McAlpine Creek, McMullen Creek and Four Mile Creek Greenways. This strip is a 5.8 mile stretch of asphalt, gravel and boardwalk surfaces, and it even passes under Interstate 485 at one point (so trippy). Park at 5803 Bevington Place to get started, so when you come back from the horseshoe-like pathway, you can stop for a post-hike snack (looking at you, oatmeal raisin cookie) at Great Harvest Bread Company (6420 Rea Road).

Drinks/Dinner

(8) Stop at the Gallery Restaurant’s bar (10000 Ballantyne Commons Pkwy) at The Ballantyne Hotel for a cocktail. Ask for a whiskey flight (the bar features more than 200 whiskeys).

French Revolution cocktail at Gallery Restaurant. Photo by Gallery Restaurant

(9) Spice up the evening at The Blue Taj (14815 Ballantyne Village Way, #170). Expect gourmet Indian cuisine and customizable spice levels. You must: Start with the Mango Chickpea Chaat (this is a fun dish to split with a special someone) and an order of naan with your vegetable korma.

Let your meal (and your full day) sink in. Ballantyne is busy, but not late at night, and that’s just fine. This isn’t the EpiCentre — get to bed.

Photo: Jason E. Miczek – Charlotte Observer