It is the largest city in all of North Carolina AND the largest metropolitan area in the US that doesn’t have a zoo…causing me to exhale a sigh of relief. I hate zoos. Charlotte was also the very first location of America’s gold rush. Who knew?? The most confusing thing about this city to me was that their “downtown” is called “uptown.” Way to confuse the tourists. So my question is, would their “east side” be “west side”? Do they even have a “midtown?” It reminds me of the dialogue in a Dr. Seuss book. It would be titled; “The Downside Uptown Inside Out Town”. There were a ton of areas to explore in this little city and a public transit system that was super easy to navigate …even if down was up and up was down.
Charlotte is a major hub for American Airlines, so there are a ton of flights each day that come through there. The flight from NYC was an easy hour and 40 minutes and from the airport to “uptown” was a quick 15 or so minute ride.
Things to Do
View some artwork. There are several Art museums within an easy walk from one another uptown. The Mint Museum was a great way to spend an hour or two. There were several floors with a large variety of work. Some very modern and some really cool Romaire Beardon paintings, a Warhol and several by Thomas Cole. With my teacher discount, admission was just $10. The Mint Uptown (there is another Mint in Randolph) is open every day but Monday. Across the street is the Bechtler Art Museum. It was free to enter when I was visiting, but only 2 floors (one room on each floor) were accessible during my visit. If you only had time to visit one of them, my vote would be for the Mint.
Visit South End . This was a pleasant surprise! I decided to hop on the Blue line and take it to South End, I got off at East/West Blvd station following a recommendation from the sweet old lady at the tourist visitors center. When I first jumped off at my stop, I wasn’t exactly sure where to head to. I started to wander East on South Boulevard and soon came to a block of old repurposed textile mills known as Atherton Mills. They were transformed into coffee shops, stores craft breweries and restaurants. Plaques told of their history and old black and white photos helped to visualize it. Public artwork surrounded me. I spent a few hours enjoying everything from sampling spices at Savory Spice, to eating avocado toast while listening to live music at Trolley Barn Fermentory and Food Hall. This was an awesome part of the city that I am so glad I explored.
Grab something to eat at the 7th street public market . The market itself was not as large as I expected, but was a really cool repurposed building converted into a lively food court, wine bar and a few shops. Perfect place to stop for lunch!
Take a ride to SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord.. The Aquarium was a fun way to spend an hour or so about 20 minutes from uptown Charlotte. They had a mesmerizing shark tunnel, touch tanks and a ton of sea life. Oh! I can’t forget the turtle rescue center! There were several sea turtles going through rehabilitation when I visited. They had been sober for 3 weeks when I was there. Just kidding. Not that kind of rehab.
Shop at Concord Mills This was an amazing and extensive outlet shopping complex. I could have spent so much money here. I refrained from overspending only because I need the money for my next trip. And the trip after that. And the next one….
Enjoy a night out at a comedy club. We actually went to Blumenthal Performance Center comedy right “uptown” around the corner from our hotel. It’s a basic basement and folding chair venue with a rolling bar. My favorite kind of place. Especially the bar part. They should have invited me onstage to do stand up….I’m THAT funny. I would be my own best audience. The show was definitely entertaining!
Asheville, NC. This is a fantastic place to spend some time. It’s about a two hour ride from Charlotte and is home to the Biltmore.
Duck, NC. It’s a longer drive to Duck. More like 5 hours due east to the coast….but certainly worth it if you are up for a road trip! There is an awesome company where you can rent a pontoon boat for an hour or two and go out on your own. We rented a pontoon boat from Nor’Banks Sailing and Watersports for the sunset hours and had ridiculous fun out on the water! I even drove the boat for a few minutes. I’m an excellent driver. Excellent. Then there’s Duck Donuts. The original Duck Donuts. These are the most amazing donuts ever imagined and made to order!!!!!
Where to Stay
The Marriott Residence Inn Charlotte City Center– Fantastic location within walking distance to almost everything! The views from higher floors are also worth mentioning.
Where to Eat
Aria Tuscan Cicchetti– The food and atmosphere were both unbeatable.
7th street public market– A fun place to grab a slice of pizza, Chinese food, a glass of wine….another glass of wine.
RedEye Diner– Good place a 2 minute walk from the hotel with 50s decor and typical diner food.
SoHo Bistro– Not only is the food incredible, but the woman who works there (possibly the owner?) is hilarious.
North Italia– One of my favorite Italian chains ever! South End.
The Percantile and Creamery– yummy coffee by mall- Right outside the mall..for the most amazing ice cream sundaes.
If you are looking for a compact little city to explore and a place where you don’t really need a car, Charlotte might be a good city to visit. There were several outdoor adventures that were outside of the city that I wished I had time for (US National Whitewater Center) and The Nascar Hall of Fame located right uptown. If you go, just remember….uptown is downtown and downtown is up, South End has an East/West Blvd. where you need to walk east on south blvd to reach the Atherton Mills…and this is the end of my post….or is it just the beginning?
I am adding Charlotte to our North Carolina “to do” list! Thank you for sharing the highlights of the city with us.