Sometimes your work schedule does not pair with your friends, and you only have one day to enjoy. Why not take a solo trip to the town next door? Especially if you have never visited the town. While it is not a trip to Europe or New York City, and you may not discover yourself on this brief expedition, it is still an adventure. For me, living in the Charlotte/Rock Hill/Fort Mill area, Belmont N.C. is that town.
Why a Day Trip to the Town Next Door?
Even the smallest trip can be satisfying. Trips like these are quick and economical. No need to spend money on airfare or a room. Just get in the car and go.
It is a small town with a population of a little more than 10,000. It once was a small railroad stop known as the Garibaldi Station. The name of the town changed to Belmont after it became a Roman Catholic religious community.
Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens
My original plan was to stop into town first, and to grab a cup of cappuccino. I, instead, decided to go straight to the gardens as I woke up later than expected. There were two reasons for this, driving to the town, then the gardens, then to town again would be a hassle and would add an unnecessary trip. There was also the heat to consider, visit the gardens before it became too hot to bear.
Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens is 380 acres of nature and beauty. They host events year around. It is located only 20 miles away from Uptown, Charlotte. The perfect one day get away from the hassle of the city, and enjoy a nice stroll full of flowers, water fountains, insects, and nature. There is plenty to see at Daniel Stowe, including a woodland trail, a tropical greenhouse, and multiple themed gardens.
Before any trip, even a short one, I would recommend doing your research and ask around what places to visit. My research led me to discover that the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens was currently hosting a Butterfly Bungalow. I considered the possible macro photos I could capture of the insect for a small added cost.
The tour through the gardens started at a greenhouse with a beautiful, relaxing water feature. I stood there for a minute or two listening to the soothing sounds of flowing water. Walking around the glass structure, I came across a tree with pointed things protruding from its bark. This tree is known as the silk floss tree, and it is native to the subtropical forests of South America. These sharp features of the tree are prickles to deter wild animals attempting to climb it.
I then reached the Butterfly Bungalow. One of the benefited aspects of taking a trip like this during the school week, is the lack of children visiting the area. There was a family there; however, their stay was short. One of the children did pick up a Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar in which an employee had to return it back to the bungalow. It was an intriguing insect as its dots create an illusion to make it appear as a snake’s head. I feel in love with the creature and took tons of photos.
While the Butterfly Bungalow recently came to an end, there are more events planned at the gardens. One highly recommended event for adults would be the beer garden, which will take place every weekend during the months of September and October of this year.
The walk through the gardens continued. It was a peaceful day, and I found myself to be alone most of it. It was also quite hot as it was over 90 degrees; An arch of water provided the perfect opportunity to cool down.
Belmont is a simple, small town with plenty to do. The streets are full of coffee shops, bars, and restaurants. After enjoying the gardens, the heat made me crave a beer. A friend recommended the String Bean. As a vegetarian, I recommend the Black Bean Wrap. I also had a Wiseman Coffee Blonde Ale, which was light enough to quench my thirst. For solo trips, do not waste your money on an expensive restaurant. The String Bean was perfect as it is a market and bistro with an excellent selection of wine and beer.
For dessert, one can satisfy their sweet tooth at the Cotton Factory. The location and style are not only instagrammable, but also full of wonderful treats. You can spin your own cotton candy or purchase it in premade packs. I, of course, turned my own as I recorded it on Snapchat. It came to me as a surprise that the cotton candy was bigger than my head. Also, the Cotton Candy Factory provides training and employment opportunities to those who are disabled.
To summarize, the town is full of many captivating aspects. For those who are into getting a pic for the gram, there is a train car in the town for the perfect selfie. But the heat continued, and it was time to head home despite the river district remained unexplored.
Pros to a Solo trip
- Being off schedule is not that much of a big deal. You are on your own. No one will nag at you for oversleeping and heading out later than planned.
- Can take all the photos you want. There is no limit, well, except on your memory card, and no complaints.
- It is easier to decide on what to eat. No rock, paper, scissors, and no settling on another person’s choice.
- You go at your own pace. If you want to stay or leave early, it is all up to you.
Cons to a Solo Trip
- No one to take your selfie. Asking strangers to take your photo can be a game of perfection or a blurry mess.
- No one to remind me that I am white; therefore, I need sunscreen. Okay, maybe I should have thought this one through before I turned into a red crab.
- No one to share a beer with. Let’s be honest, having a beer by yourself and staring at your phone is not ideal. Sometimes one needs conversation.