• Chandler West

Insider's Guide to Planning your Mount Holly Staycation for Visitors and Locals alike

The second in our Staycation series, follow our writer Chandler West as she explores Gaston County from a visitor's point of view with the expertise of a local.


You don’t always have to go away to get away—which is great during the times of COVID. When you live in or near a vibrant city like Mount Holly, it’s easy to find the fun and excitement of a vacation without venturing much further than your own backyard. When you need a change of pace, but don’t want to bother with the hassle of actually traveling, planning a staycation (in other words, a vacation where you take some time to be a tourist in or near the place where you live) can be a great alternative.

Downtown Mount Holly - Chandler West, Gaston Outside

Mount Holly has so much to offer to residents seeking that special vacation feeling, from dining to the arts and beyond. We’ve rounded up some local places to stay, play, and eat to get those juices flowing as you plan your staycation—or it can double as a starting point for getting out-of-town friends and family acquainted with just what makes Mount Holly such a wonderful place to live (and maybe even talk them into checking out the local housing market).


Where to Stay


For some, a big draw of a staycation is that you don’t have to pack a bag and you can sleep in your own comfy bed after a day jam-packed with fun activities and good food. For others, though, it isn’t really a vacation without escaping the routines and responsibilities of home. For those in the latter camp, Mount Holly offers some excellent and unique accommodations.


Bed & Breakfast


Gina’s On Main

Photo Courtesy of Gina's on Main

156 N. Main St.


This adorable bed and breakfast sits atop a hill just a block away from downtown Mount Holly, positioning visitors in the perfect location for a day of exploring. The house was built in 1914 in the classical revival style and sits on 1.5 acres, with plenty of gorgeous gardens to admire. There are several gorgeously decorated suites to choose from. Owner Gina Hartsell-Davis also works as a wedding photographer. She was born and raised in Gaston County and loves to tell her guests about her favorite local attractions.


AirBnb


From downtown bungalows to guest houses, you can find tons of unique and comfortable accommodation options on AirBnb. If you’ve never tried AirBnb before, a staycation is the perfect opportunity to give it a go. This online marketplace of vacation rentals allows property owners to rent out a single room or a whole home. You can find options for a variety of budgets. Here are a couple of our favorites.


Mount Holly Cottage AirBnb

Photo Courtesy of AirBnb

This stylish cottage in Mount Holly has everything you need for a relaxing change of pace. You can pass some time watching hummingbirds sip from the feeders on the furnished front porch or snuggle up to watch a movie on the flat-screen television. This listing includes a fully equipped kitchen with a Keurig and a cappuccino maker.


Chez Zen Private Room

Photo Courtesy of AirBnb

Stay on the second floor of this private residence, in a room full of thoughtful touches and elegant furnishing— you’ll even have access to a swimming pool. Reviewers say the neighborhood is quiet and the room is comfortable and welcoming. The host provides free breakfast and can even make you dinner upon request.


Where to Go


Want to dedicate your staycation to soaking up sunshine and enjoying the great outdoors? Or maybe shopping for some souvenirs is more your speed. There’s no shortage of options for fun things to do in Mount Holly. These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg.


Play


U.S. National Whitewater Center


Photo Courtesy of USNWC

5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy., Charlotte

Open Daily 7 a.m.-10 p.m.

(Hours for activities may vary)


Just across the Catawba River is the U.S. National Whitewater Center, one of the top outdoor destinations on the East Coast, and it’s located just ten minutes from downtown Mount Holly. You can easily spend a full day, or even a full weekend adventuring here. There’s whitewater rafting, as the name suggests, but also ziplining, kayaking, rock climbing, a ropes course, and even ice skating in the winter. There are dining options that make it easy to make a day of it. You can enjoy a meal with a view of rafters and kayakers at River’s Edge Restaurant, or grab a bite from The Market Outdoor Bar or The Pump House Biergarten.


Shop


Mount Hollywood Vintage

Chandler West, Gaston Outside

126 S. Main St.

Tuesday-Friday, 12 p.m. - 7 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.


Mount Holly has a rich history. How better to connect with the past than with a little vintage shopping at Mount Hollywood Vintage?


You might find a dress from the 1950s, the decade when the American Yarn and Processing Company and the Efird Manufacturing Company merged to become American & Efrid, bringing numerous jobs to Mount Holly. Or maybe you’ll fall for a shirt from the 1990s, when the Freightliner Truck Manufacturing Plant was annexed into the city. The possibilities are endless.


Hike


Mountain Island Park

Chandler West, Gaston Outside

400 E. Central Ave.


Mountain Island Park features access to the Catawba River as well as several trails. There is a 1.6 mile walking path, which is part of the Carolina Thread Trail as well as several different loops of varying difficulty levels for off-road biking. This is a great place to get some fresh air and enjoy the natural beauty of the Catawba River, which flows 225 miles from the Blue Ridge Mountains through North and South Carolina.


Where to Eat


No staycation is complete without delicious food. From sweet treats to scrumptious dinners, Mount Holly has it all. Don’t miss these local favorites.


Queen Bee Bakery

Chandler West, Gaston Outside

108 S. Main St.

Tuesday-Friday, 11:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.; Saturday, 10:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m.


When you’re in Mount Holly and craving something sweet, Queen Bee Bakery is the place to go. Every day feels like a special occasion with their cakes, cookies, cupcakes, pies, and other desserts, all made from the highest quality ingredients. Browse the display case to see which treat from the kitchen calls your name.


South Main Kitchen & Tavern

Chandler West, Gaston Outside

128 S. Main St.

Tuesday-Thursday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.


One fun way to choose a place to eat on a staycation is to imagine what you would recommend to someone visiting your city for the first time. What’s a quintessential local spot? For many in Mount Holly, South Main Kitchen holds that distinction. This is a great place for North Carolina favorites like homemade pimento cheese dip and pulled pork barbeque.


Vasileio’s Italian Kitchen

Chandler West, Gaston Outside

200 S. Main St.

Daily, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.


A staycation is the perfect occasion for an indulgent, delicious dinner. In Mount Holly, you don’t have to travel far to experience the flavors of Italy and Greece (with enormous American-sized portions, of course!). Whether you’re in the mood for a hearty Italian-American dish like baked lasagna or fettuccine alfredo, or something more on the Greek side like a gyro plate or moussaka, Vasileio’s has you covered. This is an excellent location for a romantic dinner, but there are also lighter options if you want to go for lunch but want to stay active afterwards. The Greek salad is light yet filling with plenty of feta cheese and Kalamata olives.


Catawba Coffee Co.

Anna Naphtali, Gaston Outside

104 W. Charlotte Ave.

Monday 7 a.m.-5 p.m.; Tuesday-Friday, 7 a.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday 8 a.m. - 8 p.m.; Sunday 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m.


Catawba Coffee Co. is one of many awesome places in Gaston County to grab a cup of joe. Snag a table inside, where they often have live music on Saturday mornings, or outside under one of the big umbrellas, and indulge in a specialty latte or pastry while you make a plan for your day’s activities or reflect on your awesome Mount Holly staycation. The customer service here is top of the line, and the drinks and snacks are delectable. Don’t miss the nutella mocha. If you’re not a coffee drinker, Catawba Coffee Co. is still worth a trip for the excellent smoothies.

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