Monroe (North Carolina)
Monroe is a small city in North Carolina. It is in Union County, on US route 74. It has a close association with Charlotte, which is about 30 minutes away by car. Monroe's population is slightly under 35,000. Demographically, it has historically been populated by White and African-Americans; however, in recent years the city's Hispanic population has spiked dramatically.
Though Monroe has a small airport, the vast majority of visitors will arrive there by car. The primary artery through the city is US route 74, though there are smaller roads connecting it to other nearby towns.
Cars are the only practical form of transportation in Monroe. There is no public transit. Biking or walking is possible in some areas -- especially in the Historic Downtown -- but not recommended for visitors limiting themselves to the businesses and shopping found along the 74 corridor.
Monroe still maintains its historic downtown, though it has seen better days. The Union County Courthouse has an impressive bell tower, and is in a picturesque downtown district. The stores along Main St. bear the feeling of a 1940s town, and are reasonably well preserved. Also, the original Belk's Department Store can be found there.
There is a movie theater near the Monroe Mall on Highway 74.
Monroe is not a tourist center, and there is relatively little for a visitor to do there besides shop. The Monroe Mall and Union County Farmers' Market are probably your best bet aside from strolling through the downtown area. High-school football games are also an event of interest for those looking for exposure to Southern culture.
The historic downtown of the city has some shopping, and is worth visiting for a casual afternoon. Of particular interest are a number of independently owned boutiques, The Renn's Nest, the antique stores, and the day spas; including Reflections (http://reflectionssalonspallc.com/), and Emmy's, Mirage ( www.miragesalon-dayspa.com ) populate the Historic Downtown. More businesses are be arriving soon. A full list of the historic downtown's businesses can be found at .
Monroe's other shopping district can be found along the US-74 corridor. The Monroe Mall offers some department store retail, and has a few interesting stores. Other bog box and chain retail stores can be found at Poplin Place.
The strip along US-74 has many chain restaurants. If you are looking for chain food, there is no need to plan ahead; just drive down 74 and look for what you want.
For more personal dining, try exploring the historic downtown area. There are a few good cafes to be found there and on surrounding streets.
Grayson's Tavern is located at 106 N. Main Street (704-948-8887), right across from the Old Courthouse.
There are a variety of hotels along US-74 approaching Charlotte.
Almost all visitors will leave town via either US-74 or the Old Charlotte Highway (which, obviously, goes to Charlotte and becomes Monroe Rd. in Mecklenburg County). Driving west on US-74 will also bring you to Charlotte; heading east will eventually take you toward Wilmington and the coast. The next nearest town to the east is Wadesboro.