Top 6 covid-friendly places to go in Charlotte during the winter months

By Mona Dougani and Palmer Magri

With the summer months winding down, there’s still plenty of fun activities to partake in, just in time for winter break. These places are following social distancing guidelines to make sure their guests have fun while staying safe!

Hounds Drive-In

Hounds Drive-In is a perfect winter break activity for your friends and family. This spot is a hidden gem in Kings Mountain, North Carolina. Bring a carload of friends or family for $20 per vehicle, watch a variety of movies played at dusk, and choose from a reasonably priced concession stand with a variety of foods to please your movie hunger. 

Movies are updated each week, and Hounds Drive-In has a variety of live, in-person concerts coming up for the holiday season. Hounds has been practicing social distancing since the beginning when they opened in 2016. They will be open back up in time for winter break starting November 20th and 21st. 

Hounds Drive-In theater opened in the spring of 2016 and is one of the newest and most innovative drive-ins with a ten window concession stand serving guests an array of reasonably priced menu items and 26 restrooms on-site. This venue rivals any movie theater and is a great spot to bring your dogs, family or friends for an enjoyable experience. 

Chelsea Schwalb, an event coordinator at the Hounds, shared, “As far as Covid safety, we ask that all patrons wear a mask when outside of the vehicle, and we check to make sure everyone has a mask on when they enter the drive-in. Each parking spot has a designated space in front of each person’s vehicle to set up chairs for an enjoyable movie experience”.

Although live concerts have been on hold, Hounds has not let a global pandemic stop their creativity. Coming up in November and December, Hounds will hold a variety of socially distanced live concerts that you can enjoy from the comfort of your car or in your designated outside seating spots. some upcoming events at the Hounds Drive-in are: 

11.13.20 – EDM Concert – No Parking On The Dance Floor featuring Subtronics, Dirt Monkey, Level Up & Ace Aura 

11.14.20 – Comedy Show – Karlous Miller 

12.5.20 – EDM Concert – No Parking On The Dance Floor featuring NGHTMRE, Kompany, Wavedash, and Jordan Castle

12.18.20 – Country Concert – Colt Ford & Jimmie Allen

12.19.20 – Christian Christmas Concert – David Phelps & Kings Highway

Hounds drive-in theatre:

Optimist Hall

Optimist Hall, stated as the “Happiest Place on earth,” is a food hall with various dining options available to please a night out with friends or a study date alone at one of the coffee shops open. Located at 115 Brevard st, this spot has various vendors to quench your hunger. The best part is it’s just 10 minutes away from campus! 

“I like Optimist Hall because of all the different food options available,” said freshman Riley Tansley. “The atmosphere inside and outside makes it a great spot to spend the day or grab a quick lunch.” 

To provide a safe atmosphere for all guests, Optimist Hall has a limited capacity within the building, an expanded seat plan with a limit to 6 people per table indoors and picnic tables outside the course. Everything is six ft apart. Check out some free events to attend during winter break at Optimist Hall!

Saturday, November 14: Live Music with Jeff Brown

● 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm on Optimist Hall’s outdoor patio

Saturday, November 21: Guided Meditation with Mood House

● 9:00 am – 9:30 am inside Optimist Hall

● “Meditation for Stress-Relief” led by Mood House instructor Afeni Grace

● Reservations will be available on the Optimist Hall website; attendance is limited to 23 attendees

● A live guitarist will also accompany the class 

● Masks are required until guests are at their mat

Sunday, November 22: Family Fun Day: OH Happy Day 

● 11:00 am—1:00 pm; outside in Optimist Hall’s courtyard

● Will include family-friendly tenant specials, crafts, and a balloon artist

● Cookie decorating with Suarez Bakery

● Mocktails from Spindle Bar, Kiddie Smoothies from Village Juice Co., and other kid-focused 

● specials

Sunday, November 22: Pups on the Patio with Spindle Bar

● Details coming soon! 

Wednesday, November 25: Spindle Bar Game Night + Specials

● Details coming soon! 

Saturday, November 28: Live Music with Johnny Rockett

● 2 pm – 5 pm on Optimist Hall’s outdoor patio

Saturday, December 5: “The Beat” fitness class with Fit Atelier

● 9 am; on Optimist Hall’s outdoor patio 

● The class is called The Beat. A high-intensity dance cardio class developed and taught by professional dancer and cheerleader Allison Armstrong. 

Optimist Hall:

Skyline Drive-In at Camp North End

76 acres of Charlotte skyline and a movie sounds perfect! Camp North end has just what you need for your fix of film and Charlotte all in one. Camp North end, located 10 minutes away from Queens, is a creative hub for Charlotte artists and entrepreneurs, and a place to feel comfortable and have a great time. 

Whether it’s seeing art, checking out food options or enjoying time in a heated outdoor space, Camp North End has what you need for a safe time this winter. Camp North End takes serious precautions with keeping all guests safe as they reduce guest limits, maintain overly populated places and provide a safe and orderly distance from one guest to the other. 

Kadeeja Janneh, Marketing event coordinator, said, “When you come to Camp North End for a drive-in, make sure you check out some of our restaurants. Leah and Louise is ranked #2 for the best new restaurant in 2020 and is a spot to check out.” 

Camp North End Drive-In will take place Thursdays at 7 pm, and parking is limited to 60 vehicles. There are a total of 120 spots, but every car has an empty spot next to them to maintain social distancing. The movies shown are December 3: Frozen, December 10: Little Women, and December 17th: Elf.

Make sure you purchase your tickets in advance If you miss out on the Drive-In option, don’t worry, Camp North End has more! Mistletoe weekend in December with live performances, holiday decor, and more. Follow Camp North End on Instagram @campnorthend. 

Coffee, Coffee, and more Coffee in Charlotte!

Charlotte might be the banking city, but with 48 coffee shops, Charlotte is taking over the caffeine frenzy. There are varieties of coffee in every part of Charlotte that Starbucks doesn’t stand a chance against. Queens students love three notable coffee shops: Smelly Cat Coffee & Roastery, Waterbean Coffee and Cocoa in the Director. 

Smelly Cat Coffee

Smelly Cat Coffee, located on North Davidson St. in the Charlotte art district of NoDa, is a cozy coffee shop that roasts ethically sourced coffee beans, offers homemade syrup and has an in-house cocktail bar. 

Though indoor dining is closed, Smelly Cat has a pickup window that is open seven days a week. To learn more about this progressive coffee shop visit,

Waterbean Coffee

Waterbean Coffee, said to be a “Bean Above the Rest,” has four different Charlotte locations and even one Vietnam location. The coffee shop has gained press attention and even won the “Best Coffee Shop” award in 2017. Waterbean is a certified organic coffee shop, and it shows. 

“Waterbean has a great aesthetic, and the one on Metropolitan Avenue has a lot of natural light, which is great for getting work done while not feeling trapped inside,” said junior Amaya Farr. “As someone who has tried a lot of different coffees and coffee shops in Charlotte, theirs is one of the best.”

With the COVID-19 pandemic, Waterbean is still open for indoor and outdoor seating all days of the week, but masks are required. Visit for more information. 

Coco and the Director

One of the most uniquely designed coffee shops in the city of Charlotte is Coco and the Director, located on W Trade St. in Uptown Charlotte. 

The coffee at Coco and the Director is locally roasted, meaning that a large amount of money earned goes back into the Charlotte community. Along with coffee, Coco and the Director also has an assortment of baked bread and pastries.  

“The vibe is super dope, and the lighting is low key, and it’s artsy,” said junior Naomi Matthusen. “They have art, and they have tiered seating where you can sit on the ground on cushions, and they have good coffee and pastries.”

To learn more about Coco and the Director, check out their website

The Charlotte Christmas Village

Izzy Harvey (Left), Vicenza McEvoy, Amaya Farr, and Kaylee Broome (Right) enjoying Hot Chocolate at the Charlotte Christmas Village in December of 2018.

Wishing you could spend Christmas in Europe? The Charlotte Christmas Village will bring the traditional European-style Christmas Village to Charlotte for its fifth consecutive year. The village, previously located in a parking lot on the corner of 7th St. and Tryon St., will now be in Truist Park starting November 27. 

As in previous years, the village will feature an extensive menu of traditional European cuisine, including bratwurst, schnitzel, strudel, along with the gluhwein, hot cider, beers and hot chocolate, as well as a unique shopping experience.

This year, the Christmas Village has partnered with the Charlotte Knights, Charlotte’s MLB team. In addition to the village, the event will also include “Light the Knights,” a holiday walk-through light experience.

With cases rising, the Charlotte Christmas Village requires face masks and face-coverings to be worn at all times, except when eating or drinking, for all attending safety. 

To attend this affordable and fun experience, perfect for the holidays, visit Tickets for the Christmas Village are $7, and tickets for both the Light the Knight experience and Christmas village are $10. To purchase tickets, click

The Mint Museum 

New Vinyl Lumbar on the windows in the Mint Museum Uptown

New Vinyl Lumbar on the windows in the Mint Museum Uptown. 

For a therapeutic escape from reality, the Mint Museum of Charlotte, with locations on Randolph Rd. and Uptown on S. Tryon St., features artwork from permanent collections as well as from temporary exhibitions. 

“We are a place where people can come enjoy art, and learn about art,” said Michele Huggins, Media Relations and Communications Project Manager at the Mint Museum. “There is always a message behind the art. It is a way to look back at history. It is a way to look at how society is changing. It is a way to look at different perspectives from different demographics.”

The museum has three new exhibitions on display, two at the Uptown location and one at the Randolph location. 

“New Days, New Works,” an exhibition at Mint Museum Uptown, features more than 80 works of art, which includes sculpture, photography, paintings and ceramics from international artists. Another new exhibition at the Uptown location includes “In Vivid Color,” which focuses on the perceptions of color and emotions color provokes. “Classic Black,” an exhibition at Mint Museum Randolph, features more than one-hundred ceramic objects with a focus on the black basalt sculpture made by Josiah Wedgwood.

The museum is currently running at 25 percent capacity and has limited its live events. All visitors and staff are required to wear masks, and signage and sanitization stations are available throughout the museums. 

Though the museum has had to pivot because of COVID, the Mint still offers free entrance Wednesday nights from 5-9 pm. On Friday’s at the Uptown location, there is also a “Night Out at Mint Museum,” a COVID-safe live-event featuring art, live music, and a cash bar for those 21 and over. 

Those interested in attending the Mint Museum are encouraged to purchase tickets online at, though walk-ins are still welcome as long as the museum has not reached max capacity. Through December 31, there is free admission for front-line workers. For more information and questions, visit

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Published by students of Queens University of Charlotte, 1900 Selwyn Avenue, Charlotte, N.C. 28274.