Mooresville is one of the most lovely, yet easily overlooked tourist havens in North Carolina. Just a short drive from the city of Charlotte, this quaint small town on the shores of scenic Lake Norman offers attractions for the whole family. It’s home to racing sports, with many NASCAR drivers living in and around the area for part of the year; shopping centers; and plenty of fun and games for kids. When you stay at a Mooresville vacation rental, look forward to enjoying the old-fashioned Americana atmosphere. Take a look at the most exciting things to do in Moorseville.

1. Have a Cup of Coffee at Hebrews

Start your day in Mooresville with a cup of coffee (or tea) as your drink of choice. Conveniently located right in the heart of downtown, Hebrews (get it?) is a locally-owned java shop able to whip up your favorite flavored coffee without an overpowering dose of syrup, and their cotton candy frappuccino is a delightful surprise on a humid summer afternoon.

2. Go Antiquing Downtown

Right after your morning coffee fix, stroll over to the Main St. Antiques and Design Gallery, which is just a short walk across downtown on the picturesque main drag. Set aside extra time to explore this hangar-sized outlet; it’s a lot larger inside than it is on the outside, and the entire shop floor is covered with charming antiques that run the range of Mooresville’s storied history.

3. Go Antiquing Just Outside of Downtown

Before you head back to your vacation rental in Mooresville, if you have any energy or time left after your last antique-hunting excursion, make a point of stopping by at Lake Norman Antique Mall. Doing business out of a somewhat more modest storefront than the larger mall downtown, this shop has cultivated a cozy, personal feeling that’s reminiscent of the overdecorated apartment of a maiden aunt. This shop specializes in raiding estate sales, so there’s always a delightfully unorganized bulk lot on the floor to dig for treasure in.

4. Enjoy a Cold One

Stop by the Lake Norman Brewing Company for locally produced beer, lessons in how beer is made, samples of the locally produced beer, tours of the beer factory, and to, well. Pick up more beer. Beer is big business in Mooresville, and the town is rightfully proud of both the microbrews produced on a small scale by locals and the larger, industrial works Lake Norman represents. Call ahead for tour availability.

5. Tour the Lake

Lake Norman is, well, a lake. And you can explore the natural splendor of the area’s native waterfowl and well-preserved wetlands aboard a fully modern passenger cruiser, the Lady of the Lake. If full speed is too fast for your lazy afternoon, you can opt instead for a more leisurely stroll across the water aboard the Queen’s Landing, an authentic vintage paddlewheel boat from the days before propellers. Both ships are owned and operated by Queens Landing Tours, and both are available for both day tours and private charters.

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6. Visit With the Animals

At some point during your stay, you simply have to pack up the kids and shoot down to the Lazy 5 Ranch. This attraction is billed as a petting zoo but is really more of a local safari. Take the kids to catch a wagon ride, pet the less-exotic goats and sheep, drive through the open parts of the park and wait for a giraffe to stick its head in through your window and steal your peanuts.

7. Indoor Racing at the Pit

Stock car racing is THE thing to do in Mooresville, and the kids can get a taste of it at The Pit Indoor Kart Racing. Staff at The Pit are well trained and take safety seriously for all the kids, who are free to rip through a series of challenging courses as soon as their safety gear is on. Rates are reasonable for a several-hour visit, and private functions can be booked in advance.

8. Talk Shop With the Other Racing Fans

JR Motorsports is the only game in town for serious racing fans who need their officially licensed gear and NASCAR viewing supplies, ideally with a chance to meet some heroes of the sport. Leading lights of the NASCAR community, and sometimes their whole families, have been spotted in this professional-quality pro-shop, and it’s just the place to get your picture taken with one of the legends while you’re picking up a themed jacket or cap.

9. Tour a NASCAR Museum

Once you have your official NASCAR attire, swing by Penske Racing South Facility for a tour of car racing history. Inside this unassuming building, a large elevated catwalk takes you around the huge display floor, where you can view perfectly preserved cars — including The Intimidator — real trophies won by your favorite drivers, and countless pieces of authentic NASCAR memorabilia. The gift shop attached to the museum is something to behold for any real NASCAR fan.

10. Visit the Hall of Fame

Your (200 mph) trip down racing memory lane isn’t over after the Penske visit. Try to schedule a trip to the NC Auto Racing Hall of Fame, which is also in Mooresville. Here, instead of strolling along a catwalk, you and your family get down close to the cars and really take your time exploring. The hall is run by volunteers, the entry fee is minor, and donations to the house nonprofit are always welcome.

11. Take Up Farming

After all that racing, slow things down with a hayride through Carrigan Farms, a working local farm/family tourist attraction in Mooresville. Here, you and the kids can play hide-and-seek in the pumpkin patch, see where milk comes from, and feed some animals of varying temperament. Watch out for the llamas; they spit.

12. Visit the History of North Carolina

After the farm, you can drop the weary younger children off back at your vacation rental in Mooresville, and take a stroll down to the Memory Lane Museum with the teens in your party. Here, in addition to the requisite NASCAR memorabilia, learn about the history of Mooresville and witness live presentations covering the local lore and high points of history in the area.

13. Support the Troops

North Carolina has been a bedrock of old-fashioned American patriotism throughout its history (except that one time), and the Welcome Home Veterans Living Military Museum expresses this as clearly as anything else could. This large attraction features multiple displays of militaria and martial-themed gear, as well as guided tours and live shows about the nation’s military history.

14. Solve a Mystery

Race City Escapes is a great place to while away an afternoon solving a murder mystery worthy of Holmes himself. Live actors (who strategically become dead characters) bring each show to life with gaudy 1920s-era costumes and rapid-fire delivery worthy of a Cagney film. The plots are kept clean enough for older kids, who can really get into the act themselves and might even scoop you on solving the crime.

15. Indulge on Local Pizza

Everybody knows spinach is good for you. They also know pizza is delicious. Alino Pizzeria brings them together with unique veggie pizzas, which are served alongside more traditional and kid-friendly dishes such as pepperoni and various fried cheesy things. This charming restaurant in Mooresville is just what you need for a zero-hassle dinner with the kids before heading back in for the night.

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