Table Of ContentsCornelius, NC, proves that easygoing and luxurious lakefront living need not be far from the comforts of big-city life. This small-town-vibe suburb with a population of over 30,000 has one of the most convenient locations within the Charlotte Metropolitan area. In 2017, Cornelius made it to MSN’s Top 10 US Lake Towns List, taking the #5 spot. Niche.com also has nothing but great things to say about the town. It’s currently #3 among the Best Suburbs to Live in the Charlotte area. In this article, we’ve compiled a list of things that not many people know about this charming lakeside town. Do note that as expansive as this list may seem, we’re merely scratching the surface on why Cornelius is a great town to move to!
- Unique lakeside location Part of Mecklenberg County, Cornelius is located in the southwestern portion of North Carolina. It’s one of several towns in the area that sit on the banks of Lake Norman. Cornelius does have a bigger slice of the lake’s shoreline and has a relatively easier commute to neighboring Charlotte. This beautiful lakefront setting offers a nice change of scenery for city dwellers or those looking for a laid-back neighborhood to move into. With a wide array of properties available (luxurious waterfront homes, spacious single-family homes, and picturesque townhomes), there are a number of ways you can relax and live your best life in Cornelius. Plus, there are also various activities here that take advantage of the town’s unique geography — more on these later!
- Getting around is easy and urban pleasures are nearby Spanning roughly 12 square miles, getting around in Cornelius is fairly straightforward. Neighborhoods are connected via well-developed roads like Catawba Avenue, NC State Highway 115 and US Highway 21. With Interstate-77 running through the town and easy access to Interstate-485 to the southeast, it’s a breeze to go in and out of nearby cities like Charlotte (approximately 20 minutes or less) and Concord (approximately 25 minutes or less). This is one of the best things about living in Cornelius. If you want to shift the pace a bit, the urban setting is never out of reach. You can quickly drive to Charlotte and explore the city’s electric live music venues or see an exhilarating NBA game featuring the Charlotte Hornets. Or you can head over to the sprawling Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord if you have an appetite for NASCAR. Needing a dose of retail therapy? Explore the wide array of shops in Concord Mills, one of the largest malls in the Charlotte Metropolitan area. Drop by Birkdale Village in the nearby suburb of Huntersville and sample a wide selection of cafes and restaurants.
- Wonderful climate anytime, all the time Much like the rest of North Carolina, Cornelius enjoys great weather all year. It’s never too cold nor too hot for long stretches. On average, there are about 215 sunny days, 43 inches of rain, and three inches of snow per year. Most people will thoroughly enjoy the right balance of hot and cold temperatures here. Temps range from a low of 28°F to around 80°F. The coldest month is usually January while the hottest is July, which occasionally reaches the mid and high 80s. The tolerable weather all year round makes it more tolerable and convenient to explore lakeside establishments or get into different kinds of water sports and activities.
- Lake Norman is a history treasure trove Lake Norman covers a massive area of around 32,000 acres and is a part of four counties. However, in the 1950s, there was no such thing as a Lake Norman. On what is Lake Norman now used to be entire communities, roads, and other infrastructure. To make way for the planned man-made lake, people had to be moved to higher ground and some tall structures had to be demolished. Cowans Ford Dam was constructed between 1959 and 1964 by the Duke Water Company across Catawba River to harness hydroelectric power, secure a stable supply of freshwater, and mitigate uncontrolled floods. The idea for the lake goes further back though. In the 1890s, William States Lee, one of the engineers who worked on the first-ever hydroelectric plant in Niagara Falls, hatched an idea to replicate the project in the Catawba River. Over 60 years later, they got more than what they bargained for. Lake Norman has since become one of North Carolina’s most iconic tourist spots and a thriving lakefront community. Today, those old houses, churches, roads, and other relics from a bygone era are all underneath Lake Norman. The original Cornelius Family Cemetery and a portion of US Highway 21 are some historical sites that are now underwater.
- There’s an active boating community In Cornelius, there are a number of ways boat enthusiasts can enjoy what Lake Norman has to offer, whether they own a boat or not. For one, there are rentals all over town. Whether it’s jet skis, pontoons, cabin cruisers, or yachts, there’s bound to be something here that will fit well with your boating needs. If you’re in the market for a new boat or a second one, there are dealerships in Cornelius that buy and sell various types of vessels. Check out Lake Norman Marina or Marinemax to find a boat that’s right up your alley — or dock. Groups like the Peninsula Yacht Club and Freedom Boat Club offer access to a friendly community of boating veterans. It’s a great opportunity to get advice on keeping your vessel(s) in tip-top shape. And with a vibrant boating community comes other kinds of water-based activities, including paddle boarding, water skiing, fishing, and organizing yacht parties.
- There are over 10 parks and recreation facilities to explore
It’s not all water activities in Cornelius. There’s also a good mix of public parks and facilities here. Below are some that residents and tourists frequently visit:
- Bailey Road Park. Just off Highway 115 is this 66-acre park that offers a variety of recreational activities. There’s a basketball court, disc golf course, three picnic shelters, walking trails, and more. Leashed dogs are welcome.
- Jetton Park. With an area covering 104 acres, an amazing array of facilities are all within this waterfront park. There are tennis courts, picnic decks, a bike trail (1.3 miles), and walking trail (1.5 miles). The centerpiece is a waterfront hall that can be the perfect venue for special events like weddings, reunions, and even business meetings
- Ramsey Creek Park. While not as large as Jetton Park, Ramsey Creek’s 46 acres is up to par with amenities. Aside from picnic shelters and a playground, there’s a sand volleyball area, fishing pier, walking and running trails, and a couple of docks. Swimming in the beach is closed off to the public until further notice
- James Hoyt Wilhelm Park. Unveiled in 2016 and covering about six acres, this is the town’s newest park. It has a baseball and softball field, basketball court, walking track, and multipurpose field. The park is named after a World War II veteran who went on to become a Major League Baseball Hall of Famer. Fun fact: he began playing baseball in Cornelius High School!
- Smithville Park. Encompassing about nine acres, Smithville Park offers visitors baseball and softball fields, several grilling areas, and a playground. Unlike the other parks on this list, however, Smithville has a splash pad in its sub-facility called the Lake Norman Kiwanis Splashville Park. This new park feature is scheduled to open this May.
- Torrence Chapel Park. Covering 15 acres, this public space includes two tennis courts, walking trails, baseball and softball fields, and a batting cage, among other facilities. Torrence Chapel Park is also where the Lake Norman Little League Girls’ softball team practices.
- Legion Park. This seven-acre park in old-town Cornelius is steeped in history. You’ll find a historic marker along Spring Street that commemorates an old spring where the town used to source fresh water. The area also once served as an encampment for Revolutionary War soldiers.
- Robbins Park. Jointly developed by Cornelius, Mecklenberg County, and Westmoreland Lake LLC, this park features a unique set of facilities. A disc golf course, Gaga pit, and sand volleyball court are some areas that set it apart from the other parks in town. A nearby pond, meanwhile, provides an area for fishing.
- Yacht Club Park Playground. Relatively small at a mere 0.75 acres, the playground with its naval theme called “The Galleon” still gives children a unique and attractive area to enjoy the outdoors.
- Cornelius, NC, is a food haven
Gorgeous lakeside views are made only better by the plethora of excellent food options around town. Here’s a snapshot of the amazing gastronomic adventure that awaits you:
- Head over to Alton’s Kitchen and Cocktails for casual yet stylish dining. Indulge in generous portions of their culinary offerings. Aside from their signature cocktails and martinis, they also have a decent beer selection.
- With its “all fresh, no freezers” motto, 131 Main will redefine what it means to eat fresh. This local favorite has made a name out of making new dishes from scratch day in and day out. Whether it’s freshly caught seafood or locally sourced produce, each meal is guaranteed fresher and more savory than your average restaurant food.
- Looking for a more upscale vibe, with a premium on lakefront dining? Port City Club has all that and more. Whether it’s lamb burger, coffee-rubbed steak, seared Atlantic salmon, or any of their dishes on the menu, each one is cooked to perfection. This establishment is also vegetarian-friendly.
- Speaking of steak, pay a visit to Choplin’s Steak and Seafood, where you’ll find one of the best steaks in town.
- Quintessential southern dining and hospitality is right here in Barrel and Fork. Top-notch food goes well with an impressive cocktail, wine and bourbon selection. This is a go-to place to enjoy great drinks with great company.
- You don’t need to own a boat to explore Lake Norman while chowing down a good meal. Book a dinner cruise on the Catawba Queen for an unforgettable dining experience with friends and family.
- Michael Jordan has property in Cornelius, NC You don’t need to be into basketball to know one of its legends, Michael Jordan. He hails from North Carolina and is one of the big names owning property here in Cornelius. Jordan has a lakefront villa in Jetton Park, which he reportedly purchased for $2.8 million in 2013. The property had an initial listing price of nearly $4 million. This six-bedroom and eight-bedroom villa has its own private dock and amazing views of Lake Norman. It’s also located by the seventh hole of The Peninsula Golf Club, which is particularly convenient for Jordan — also known to be an avid golfer even during his heydays in the professional basketball scene. It will be recalled that Jordan led the Chicago Bulls franchise to six NBA championships (1991-1993 and 1996-1998). After closing the chapter on his NBA playing career, he embarked on a new one — this time, as owner of the Charlotte Bobcats team (now the Charlotte Hornets).
- Employment opportunities abound Since the mid-1960s, the Cornelius economy has been growing consistently. Aside from tourism revenues brought about by the development of Lake Norman, several major companies have offices in and around this lakeside town, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Microsoft, UNC Charlotte, and Rubbermaid. With such an exciting job market, it comes as no surprise that Cornelius has one of the highest incomes in the area. According to 2019 figures from the Census Bureau, the median household income in Cornelius is just over $90,000.
- The housing market can get competitive It’s a seller’s market in Cornelius, similar to most places in the country at the moment. Homes are getting snapped up more quickly amid a record-low supply of homes. Data from Realtor.com shows that the median listing price in Cornelius is approximately $400,000 in May 2021 — a year-on-year increase of around 6.7%. Meanwhile, the median sales price hovers around $387,000. A highly skilled real estate agent can certainly get you a favorable deal, but with the current market climate, it’s not unusual for some listings to go well over the listing price during the actual sale. Being ready to buy beforehand can give you the upper hand over other buyers. And equally important is having a local real estate agent by your side. These two big factors can put you in a much better position to negotiate the best terms and get the home you desire.
Tips to make your move to Cornelius, NC, stress-free
- Tip # 1: Get to know the existing COVID-19 measures As you plot out your moving plans, make sure to take into account any updates on the COVID-19 restrictions where you currently live and your moving destination. Like the rest of North Carolina, Cornelius has been gradually easing restrictions on travel, mass gatherings, as well as rules on wearing face masks while outdoors. By June 1, most venues and establishments here can operate at 100% capacity.
- Tip # 2: Create a checklist and set up a timeline Run through all the things that you currently have and list them down. Start packing the ones that are already in storage (e.g. out-of-season clothes, outdoor gear). Next in line would be breakables and decorations. Save heavy furniture, little trinkets, and mementos for last. This is a great time to declutter your space and do away with old or unused items. You may consider donating these or holding a garage sale, as well. Visualize each step of your move and plot these out on a calendar, spreadsheet, Gantt chart, or anything else that works for you. That way, you can keep track of everything and know when each item needs to be packed and ready.
- Tip # 3: Allocate an hour or two a day for packing Putting off packing for too long can make the task incredibly daunting. The trick is to start early, putting in just a little bit of effort for one to two hours per day. Find the schedule and time allocation that works best for you. Start clearing out one room or filling up one box at a time. These small steps will eventually snowball into significant progress. Check off items in your to-do list or moving timeline to get a good sense of accomplishment — a subtle yet effective motivation boost to get the task done soonest.
- Tip # 4: Don’t fill boxes to the brim In the hustle and bustle of moving and last-minute sweeps, it’s tempting to place relatively smaller items in the top portion of boxes that are just about full. In many cases, this is fine, but there is also a risk of going over the weight limit. That can cause your belongings to burst out underneath when lifting these boxes. As much as possible, avoid overpacking stuff into one single box. It’s worthwhile to use a separate box for items you pack at the last minute. Always aim to make each box easy to carry.
- Tip # 5: Ask for help For some, moving to a new home is easy and straightforward. It can be a different case for those with more stuff to pack. Hiring a moving company or asking some friends or family to help out can make all the difference. Remember that moving is more than just packing up your stuff and relocating to a new home. It’s an important life event that can be physically and emotionally taxing.