Who said a graduation party has to be indoors? How does roasting marshmallows and making smores over a bonfire sound? For those who have just completed four years of high school or are moving on to the professional world with a college degree, it’s time for a little celebrating! Look beyond the backyard. Maybe, to the banks of Lake Wylie! Before the big day marked with caps, gowns and diplomas, put aside a little time for party planning. First, decide on a date and time, then pick the venue. Of course, price will determine the location. Here are some ideas for small and big budgets:
McDowell Nature Preserve
15200 Soldier Road
Charlotte, NC 28278
About six miles from Carowinds Theme Park is the oldest preserve in Mecklenburg County. McDowell Nature Preserve has over 1,108 acres of outdoor beauty! Copperhead Island is one of the 65 camping sites within this preserve. For $196, county residents can rent the entire island for a weekend night. It goes for $134 for a weekday camping adventure. If working with a small budget, chill out with some friends for a day. The island features six tent sites, volleyball court, horseshoe pits, an 80-person capacity picnic shelter, bathrooms, grills and a pier. Camping is primitive. That means campsites are not prepared! Bring food, water and chairs for the campsite. Dogs are allowed. Fish from the pier or the banks of Lake Wylie. Contact the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission for a fishing license.
1459 River Highway
Mooresville, NC 28117
Queen’s Landing is located in the Lake Norman area, about 20 minutes from uptown Charlotte. They’ve got two beautiful boats for any graduation excursion. The Catawba Queen is a Mississippi River Paddle Wheeler replica. Lady of the Lake provides a sleek, luxurious yacht ride. Captain Beasley says we can make it happen for any graduation party! For $21.50, Captain Beasley will cruise through Lake Norman, pointing out the homes of the rich and famous in Charlotte! There’s a VP executive who invented the Happy Meal marketing concept. There’s NASCAR driver homes from the Camping World Truck series. The most unusual is a real estate attorney with an airplane inside his home. Thinking about a DJ or band? There’s room aboard these boats. They can cater a gourmet meal with prime rib or the world-famous chicken salad! Try the lunch & sightseeing cruise for an even tighter budget. Pizza Cruise or Taco Tuesdays — there’s a way to celebrate.
Matthews Women’s Club
208 S. Trade St.
Matthews, NC 28105
The simple, well-groomed structure was built in the 1940′s for the local American Legion. It was later sold to the non-profit Matthews Woman’s Club. The organization has been a strong, prominent arm to the community for its fundraising and service projects. It is rented out for birthday parties, baby showers, business meetings, anniversaries and more. There are two spacious rooms capable of holding 55 people. It provides a kitchen with a dishwasher, stove and refrigerator. Folding tables and chairs are available for rental. Arrange for a caterer or prepare the food on the premises. Set up a sound system for dancing. Consider hiring a dance instructor, and the fun begins! The space can be decorated with streamers and fresh flowers, or choose a theme. It will provide the venue for a comfy, graduation bash.
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501 E. 36th St.
Charlotte, NC 28205
This is a spicy place to celebrate. Boudreaux’s, a Louisiana kitchen, is located in north Charlotte. It’s at the corner of North Davidson and East 36th in the NoDa area of town. They will suggest a DJ and band to hire for this special occasion, or just stop by with a handful of friends. Room rental for about 40 will leave space for a small performing group and dance area. Start out with the delicacy of gator bites. Alligators are found everywhere in the bayou’s of Louisiana. There’s she crab soup served with cornbread, shrimp praline, jumbalaya, shrimp and grits and bourbon-fried chicken with gumbo! Just some of the offerings! After dinner, take a stroll through the NoDa arts district for a gallery crawl!
Providence Country Club
6001 Providence Country Club Drive
Charlotte, NC 28277
If budget is not a problem, Providence Country Club will provide an elegant, formal celebration venue! Staff here makes every effort to meet the needs of the client. A beautiful ballroom space with a wrap-around veranda overlooks a fresh, green lawn. There are many options to customize a party. Choose a sit-down meal or a buffet with stations. The 25×25 dance floor is always popular with the guests. Make it a family event with kids and relatives. Have fun with a themed party and decorations, or keep it formal with white linens and floral arrangements.
Catherine Lash engagingly connects with people. She has learned that interested listening and thoughtful questioning are the means through which collaboration creates a story. She grew up traveling the world and learning military life in an Air Force family of seven. She currently lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her husband and three kids. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.