Best Charlotte Suburbs for Families
What you need to to know about living north, south, east and west of Charlotte’s city center.
(page 4 of 5)
Photo courtesy of Pineville Ice House
Pineville House Ice offers year-round ice-skating lessons, hockey and recreation.
Southside Towns and ’Burbs
Big-city amenities with small-town appeal
By Meagan Church
The southside communities of Ballantyne, Matthews, Pineville and Waxhaw combine historic sites with new construction. With a drive time of 20 to 40 minutes from uptown Charlotte, these towns may be small, but are mighty in amenities and offerings for residents.
Located southeast of uptown Charlotte, Matthews delights with historic charm alongside new development. Established along trading trails and a rail line in 1879, the town is home to over 30,000 residents with many neighborhoods nestled beneath the green canopy. The downtown boasts a year-round farmers market, craft-beer pubs, locally owned shops and eateries, a public library, and Matthew’s Playhouse of Performing Arts.
There are plenty of outdoor activities available thanks to the Four Mile Creek Greenway that connects downtown with Squirrel Lake Park, and Colonel Francis Beatty Park that has miles of hiking and biking trails, and a small lake for fishing.
The new Sportsplex features five multipurpose fields, playground equipment, walking trails and shelters, and is the home playing field for Charlotte Independence soccer.
What once was farm land is now a bustling business and retail community. Ballantyne has grown to a population of 23,500 residents in two decades. Technically located inside the Charlotte-city limits, the suburb is 20 minutes (without traffic hiccups) from the heart of uptown along major thoroughfares including Interstate 77 and South Boulevard.
Ballantyne is a popular golf destination thanks in part to The Golf Club at Ballantyne — an 18-hole championship PGA golf course that is open to the public. It also houses an outdoor mall, office complexes, shopping centers, chain and upscale dining options, boutique clothing stores, and newer construction homes and apartments.
Nearby Waverly is a walkable community with new single-family homes and townhomes, plus shopping, restaurants, health care providers, business and office space, a splash pad and other activities for families.
Active families can enjoy miles of greenways, Big Rock Nature Preserve, and Ballantyne District Park that features over 2 miles of mountain bike trails.
Pineville’s historic downtown features antique and home décor shops, a board-game hangout, bicycle repair shop, craft-beer pubs and a year-round farmers market. Incorporated in 1873 and formed at the junction of two major Native American trading routes, Pineville is home to nearly 9,000 residents. Home options range from historic to renovated and new builds, along with apartments and condos. Favorite spots for kids to hangout include Pineville Ice House, Skyzone, Sky High Sports and Carolina Place Mall.
Dating back to the 1700s, Waxhaw is one of Union County’s oldest towns with a current population of approximately 15,000. Depending on traffic, the commute from Waxhaw to Charlotte is about 40 minutes. Homebuyers can find a selection of properties ranging from charming bungalows to new construction, upscale homes. The downtown features antique shops, fine dining, and a farmers market that opens each Saturday. Bike, walk or run on the town’s greenways. Explore the massive Cane Creek Park that has boating options, miniature golf, disc golf and camping. Or meander on the iconic pedestrian walking bridge crosses the railroad tracks that run through downtown.
The Waxhaw community comes together to host annual events, including the Spring Kaleidoscope Fest arts fair, concerts by the tracks in the summer, movie nights, an Independence Day parade and fireworks, an autumn festival, and a Christmas parade.
Meagan Church a freelance writer. She lives in Charlotte with her high school sweetheart, three children and a plethora of pets.
Where to Explore
Cast a line with the kids at Cullman Pond, Kid Pond, 17th Hole Pond and Hawkins Pond in Ballantyne. A fishing license is not required to fish at the ponds, but only catch-and-release fishing is permitted.
Pineville Ice House features an NHL-sized rink for public skating, figure skating and ice hockey. It provides year-round classes, leagues, programs, and events for youth and adults skaters of all levels. It also has a pro shop and snack bar. Hours vary according to season, so check the website.
The Cross-State Suspension Bridge is a 170-foot bridge that connects the North and South Carolina Thread Trails. Hikers can access the trail at H.C. Nesbit Park in Waxhaw and hike 3.5 miles after crossing the state line. The trail is suitable for hikers, advanced mountain bikers and leashed pets. The Carolina Thread Trail is a regional network of greenways, trails and blueways that reaches 15 counties, two states, and 2.3 million people. Park at 1304 H.C. Nesbit Park Road.
ZABS Place thrift boutique in Matthews helps young adults with special needs harness their own special talents and prepare them to transition into rewarding careers. Founded in 2014, ZABS offers new and used items for shoppers, and accepts donations of gently used items. It also provides job skills training, entrepreneurial/micro-business, and Upscaling University programs for Specially Talented trainees.