Dubbed "The Queen City," after Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III, Charlotte is an undeniably historic American city. Today, it is one of the top 20 fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the United States, and home to an endless array of interesting attractions, popular restaurants, and raging late-night hotspots.
Known for its fine dining and great nightlife, skyscrapers line the streets and provide a "big city" feel to this charming Southern metropolis. If you're visiting Charlotte during football or basketball season, be sure to grab tickets for a
It is easy to dine well in Uptown, with upscale choices like
This historic section of Charlotte combines a glimpse of the old with a taste of the new. Beautiful southern homes share the boulevards with tattoo parlors, cafes, art galleries, and record stores. "Historically hip" would be the best way to describe this Queen City neighborhood.
Plaza-Midwood provides enough food options to satisfy even the pickiest eaters. Some of the more notable establishments include
Located in the Northeastern part of Charlotte, University City is one of the most densely populated parts of the city. Comprising over 200,000 residents, University City also encompasses the campus of UNC Charlotte and all its students and faculty.
Join students, faculty, and more than 15 million other people and wander through the shops at
Just outside University City, NASCAR fans get their fill of heart pounding excitement at
The 1920s construction boom brought the commuter neighborhood of Myers Park, which is home to some of Charlotte's oldest houses. Lacking the usual grid design, the oak tree-lined avenues of Myers Park are curved to match the landscape, giving it a unique, relaxed feel.
Myers Park was originally a "streetcar suburb" because of the electric trolley that brought commuters to and from work. This same
NoDa, named for a section of North Davidson Street, is Charlotte's equivalent to NYC's SoHo neighborhood. Located directly north of Uptown, NoDa has been transformed from its textile-manufacturing past to an area that oozes creativity. With an extensive collection of art galleries, theaters, hip restaurants, and bars, it is easy to make this your home base. Citizens from all over the region flock to NoDa's twice-monthly
While you're in NoDa taking in the creations of Charlotte's best artists, take time to savor some of the Cajun and Creole dishes at
This area of Charlotte is crowded with seriously upscale shoppers looking to do some damage. Though mostly a residential neighborhood, SouthPark boasts its fair share of high-end stores. Drop by the
The restaurants in SouthPark tend to be a little on the fancy side as well, with such noteworthy fine dining establishments as
The historic area known as South End was once the site of many industrial buildings and cotton mills. Today those buildings have either been revamped or replaced by a number of restaurants, offices, shops and condominiums. These attractions are easily accessible via the
If you grab a slice at
The true-blue neighborhood feel of this Charlotte district makes it one of the more desirable areas in which to live. As with most sections of Charlotte, Dilworth is historically and architecturally significant. Just outside of the city limits, Dilworth was a "streetcar suburb" as well. Houses here date back to the early 1900s, and their architecture goes well with the tree-lined streets of the neighborhood. Businesses here fit right into the history-laden scheme of things as well. In an ancient building with history literally lining the walls, the
Elizabeth is yet another Charlotte neighborhood steeped in history. Originally named after Elizabeth College, an all girls' Lutheran university, Elizabeth began to rapidly evolve around the turn of the 20th Century. During that period, the completion of a trolley line transformed this particular part of Charlotte into a readily accessible section of the city. When one thinks of Elizabeth, they also tend to think of
Located on the south side of Charlotte is the area known as Ballantyne. In recent decades, this part of the city has been blessed with some heavy growth. Ballantyne homes are beautifully structured and historically significant to the city as a whole. This is yet another neighborhood in Charlotte that has done well by mixing the old and the new. Amidst the age-old residential parts of Ballantyne are new restaurants like the
Bohemian for a Day
NoDa is Charlotte's bohemian arts district, centered on the intersection of North Davidson & 36th. It's a convenient area; almost everything can be reached by walking a few blocks away from 36th on North Davidson, heading toward or away from Uptown. The entertainment in Noda is lively, the cuisine is stimulating, and the galleries are without peer.
If shopping is your thing, you will be glad to hear that the district is home to a number of legendary storefronts. Book lovers beware: RealEyes Bookstore, with its comfy ambience and community-oriented vibe, just may ruin you for any other bookseller. Fabric Art allows customers to have custom artwork or photography printed digitally on fabric. Customize everything from a silk scarf to a cotton t-shirt or even sofa upholstery. Relive the 60s at Sunshine Daydreams, a unique boutique specializing in locally-produced and often hand-made hippie-era products.
The main attractions in NoDa are the galleries. Twice monthly, the public is invited to visit NoDa's finest on the popular Gallery Crawl, when galleries and storefronts open up until late for an informal arts festival. Whether on the Crawl or not, the following are can't-miss stops. Green Rice Designs & Studio features art in a wide variety of media, from oil paint to computer generated. BEET Contemporary Crafts and Functional Art showcases functional art such as pottery, paper, toys, and even musical instruments. Blue Pony Studio and Press does not stop at displaying fine art for its customers; it also functions as a fully equipped printmaking studio. At SunStar Studio, in addition to enjoying the visual and performance artwork on offer, you may also attend any of a number of workshops focusing on the healing arts.
When hunger strikes, keep in mind that the cuisine here in NoDa is just as artful as the art. For brunch, stop in at Boudreaux's Louisiana Kitchen for a taste of New Orleans, complete with Cajun Bloody Mary's. For a caffeine fix, follow the locals into Smelly Cat Coffee House, a cozy neighborhood joint offering a comforting selection of coffees, teas, smoothies, pastries, and bagels. Addie's Jamaican Cuisine offers a tantalizingly authentic menu including oven-fresh jerk chicken, curry goat, and oxtail. Come happy hour, belly up to the bar at NoDa's quirkiest watering hole, the Dog Bar. Here, neighborhood canines are allowed to come in and relax alongside their cocktail-sipping human counterparts. Pizza lovers will marvel at the possibilities on the menu at Mellow Mushroom, a beloved regional chain that specializes in pies with names like "Magical Mystery Tour" and "Kosmic Karma."
Craving some entertainment? Moving Poets Theater of Dance is a dance troupe as innovative as they come, enhancing their routines with complex multi-media presentations. They take the stage regularly at the Hart Witzen Gallery's performance space. At Wine Up, treat yourself to a glass of wine and some live jazz (and feel free to shoot some pool afterwards). For more music, head on over to The Neighborhood Theatre where popular national touring acts like the North Mississippi Allstars and Aimee Mann take the stage regularly.
A Tale of Two Historic Neighborhoods
At Charlotte's inception, the Fourth Ward was the center of culture, taste, and high society. Though the neighborhood has had its ups and downs throughout the intervening centuries, today's Fourth Ward is a treasure trove of historically and architecturally significant homes, businesses and public amenities. Feast your eyes on prime examples of Victorian, colonial revival, Italianate, and even "Stick Style" architecture, some of which date back as far as the 1880s.
For those wishing to go even further back in time, wander through the Old Settlers Cemetery, Charlotte's first. Graves here date back to 1776. At Alexander Michael's Restaurant, one can continue the history lesson while chowing down on some tasty pub grub. Known to locals as "Al Mike's," this inviting bar and grill is situated on the site of a grocery store opened in 1891. After lunch, venture into the Charlotte Mecklenburg Fire Museum and Education Center. Situated within a former firehouse (erected in 1924), the museum features a turn-of-the-century horse-drawn pumper, a 1940s-era switchboard, a Mack Fire Engine, a number of memorials, and a well-stocked gift shop. If the kids are not utterly delighted with all of that, hustle them into Discovery Place, a fully interactive, cutting-edge science museum (and home to The Charlotte Observer IMAX Dome Theatre). After a sobering dose of science, it might be time for a jaunt into the art world. The Fourth Ward's McColl Center for Visual Art is part gallery, part studio space, all located inside a strikingly renovated 1920s-era church. Enjoy seasonal exhibitions as well as "Open Studio Saturdays," where local artists invite the public to watch them at work. After your hectic schedule of culture and history, drop into the aptly named Therapy Café for one of their infamous tiramisu martinis.
Having thoroughly relished the experience that is Charlotte's Historic Fourth Ward, hop the Charlotte Trolley to Charlotte's Historic South End. See the sights, take it all in, then decide which historic district you like best. The South End grew up during one of Charlotte's early periods of expansion. In the 1850s, railroads and streetcars allowed people and businesses to relocate further from the crowded city center. A great number of them ended up a few miles south, and a new community was born.
Before you do anything else, learn the history of the trolley you rode in on, at the Charlotte Trolley Inc. museum and gift shop. Speaking of shopping, shoppers will also delight in the South End's wide array of boutiques. Eileen sells women's fashions, accessories, gifts and art, all with a personal touch. Many items are locally produced and hand made, and despite its upscale look, Eileen strives to price nothing above $100. Black Sheep caters to a decidedly different clientèle. Billed as an "urban boutique," the place specializes in clothing, art, and skateboards. If you're feeling outdoorsy, find your way down to Latta Park, at the east end of Park Avenue. This leafy neighborhood park was one of the original attractions here in the South End, luring families from all around the region. Today, its 31 acres are no less attractive. Devote a few hours to its picnic area, playground, spray ground, athletic fields and courts, recreation center, and many trails. After so much activity it will surely be, yet again, time to eat. The Pewter Rose Bistro traffics in "internationally American" cuisine, which features fresh local ingredients presented with a somewhat worldly flair. In search of a meal a little more down home? Price's Chicken Coop supplies locals with all the fried chicken they can eat, complete with family-style portions of slaw, potato salad, and hush puppies. For dessert, consider that Pike's Old Fashioned Soda Shop claims to serve "the best milkshakes this side of the Mississippi." Stop in and see if they're right. If milkshakes are not your cup of tea, grab a cup of tea and some biscotti at Tea ReX, a beloved premium teahouse housed in a historic former cotton mill.
Charlotte is a city rich in history. The city's lodging and hospitality offerings give both the business and leisure traveler countless options ranging from the most humble to the ultra swank. Whether it is four- and five-star hotels, luxe-plush resorts or simple and basic B&B's, Charlotte has them all.
Over the years, this neighborhood has developed into a close-knit community that thrives with bohemian culture and business. Many of the stores are homey restaurants or alternative art and music shops that flourish because of the area's diversity. The nearby VanLandingham Estate includes a bed and breakfast at the historic Harwood Home which sits on five acres of well-tended grounds.
Despite the name, this neighborhood is located in the center of Charlotte's business sector and has the majority of the city's skyscrapers. There is also a large selection of hotels and inns featuring 19th-century Queen Anne architecture. Decadent interior design and lavish service set the Dunhill Hotel, the Omni Charlotte Hotel, and Charlotte Marriott City Center, apart from the bustle of surrounding business. The Blake Hotel is ideal for conferences as it is centrally located to many of the largest attractions.
A popular choice among young professionals, this former “streetcar suburb” of Charlotte has maintained its popularity because of its traditional atmosphere and architecture. Just minutes outside of the center, the Morehead Inn is known for its unique Southern hospitality and service, and is a favorite for private parties.
This area has experienced a great deal of growth in the past few years and is a mix of residential and high-end commercial development. Featuring a spa, exercise facilities, and Golf Club at Ballantyne Resort, the Ballantyne Resort Hotel offers a full range of activities for the business or leisure traveler. The Staybridge Suites Charlotte-Ballantyne provides business travelers all the comforts of home in a convenient location.
Formerly the home of Elizabeth College, this neighborhood has preserved many of the impressive houses and buildings that once made it renowned as an exclusive residential area. One such example is Chez Arlaine Bed & Breakfast, a converted home built in 1910 with four private rooms in a verdant garden setting.
The historic trolley system of Charlotte has its roots in South End. Currently this system is under construction to build a new light-rail called Lynx. Ascot Inn is an ideal choice for a romantic getaway for two, and has the added bonus of being close to shops and restaurants in the Uptown area.
NoDa is the primary arts district for Charlotte, where many galleries and performance arts venues have appeared in place of former textile manufacturing plants. Concentrated on North Davidson Street between 35th and 36th Streets, there is little in the way of accomodations in the area. It may be best to visit during the day and evening and head back to a hotel in nearby Uptown for the night. Days Inn Charlotte Central would be a solid choice.
This is the place to go for upscale shopping and luxury services. The Charlotte Marriott SouthPark maintains a one-to-one ratio of employees to guests, making it one of the best places for a relaxing retreat. The Hampton Inn & Suites Charlotte/South Park offers the all the amenities of a full-service hotel, including take-away breakfast baggies for the traveler on the go. Just a few minutes away is Ms. Elsie's Caribbean Bed & Breakfast, which retains tropical tradition and soul in the middle of city bustle.
Deriving its name from its proximity to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and University Research Park, this area is also close to Concord Mills, one of the largest tourist attractions in North Carolina. Comfort Inn UNCC is a great match for both vacation and commercial travelers and provides amenities for longer stays. The Hilton Charlotte University Place sits on lakefront property and offers extensive meeting space and several ballrooms.
Considered one of the most desirable residential areas of the city, Myers Park is filled with some of the city's oldest houses, enormous oak trees, and classic architecture. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Duke Mansion is an excellent embodiment of this style and offers personal service in a luxurious setting.
Charlotte is a regional center for museums, art, music, theater, sports, and other cultural and entertainment activities. The city's diverse population is able to support a variety of entertainments, some of which are the envy of the entire country.
Since the team's inception in 1993, the NFL's Carolina Panthers have called Charlotte home. The Panthers wow crowds on many a Sunday on the field at Charlotte's Bank of America Stadium. For basketball fans, the NBA Charlotte Bobcats and the WNBA Charlotte Sting keep audiences on their feet year round at Charlotte Bobcats Arena. Charlotte, of course, is one of the prime destinations for NASCAR fans. Racing enthusiasts can go hog wild at the world famous Lowe's Motor Speedway.
The Charlotte Symphony Orchestra has entertained the people of Charlotte for decades, performing a lengthy series of classics (from Tchaikovsky to Wagner) every year at historic Ovens Auditorium, and the architectural marvel Belk Theatre (where even the cheapest of seats are never more than 135 feet from the stage). Opera Carolina, based in Charlotte, performs four epic productions at Belk Theatre each year (from "Porgy and Bess" to "La Boheme"), as well as an annual holiday production of "Amahl and the Night Visitors," and an extensive series of Education & Outreach productions all over both North and South Carolina.
Giving Belk Theatre a run for its money, Tremont Music Hall likes to say that here, "you're never more than 50 feet from the stage." At such close range, audiences are continually bowled over by their favorite national touring rock bands (like X, MXPX, and KMFDM). The Visulite Theatre, hosts rock bands as well (such as the Reverend Horton Heat and Birdmonster), this time in a retired movie house setting. The Milestone Club provides Charlotte with easy access to the underground music scene, playing host to punk and metal bands from all over the world, not the least of which are the Melvins and Green Milk for the Planet Orange. For folk aficionados, The Evening Muse just might be a home away from home. Up-and-coming singer-songwriters like Gary Jules and Dan Bern take the stage at this intimate venue, where the walls are adorned with the works of local artists.
The Comedy Zone brings Charlotte the most sought-after national touring comedians, from Dave Chappelle to Jerry Seinfeld. The Charlotte Comedy Theater, on the other hand, is a local improve troupe dedicated to making their community laugh.
In the refurbished remains of the historic Charlotte Mint lies the Mint Museum of Art, home to a number of exciting collections, from ancient American art, to Spanish Colonial, European, and contemporary. For a more bohemian experience, one can venture into Charlotte's "NoDa" arts district, where galleries and art studios like Hart Witzen Gallery and the ArtHouse line the boulevards. On the first and third Fridays of each month, art lovers are invited to visit such establishments on NoDa's famous Gallery Crawl.
The Afro-American Cultural Center works to preserve African American art, culture, and history, and present it to audiences for educational purposes as well as sheer enjoyment. The center features two galleries which include within them the permanent John and Vivian Hewett collection of African American Art, which features over fifty works by African American artists. The center also hosts many programs throughout the year like workshops and lectures. Housed partly in the original 1936 hangar of Charlotte's original municipal airport, the Carolinas Aviation Museum is an aviation nut's dream. Their collection includes everything from a replica of the Wright Brothers' 1902 Wright Glider to the Grumman F-14D Super Tomcat, made famous by the film Top Gun. Also on display are a startling array of jets, helicopters, ordnance and missiles, rockets, and even spacecraft. The Levine Museum of the New South bills itself as an "interactive history museum," and, as such, uses a wide variety of multimedia exhibits to tell the story of the South since the end of the Civil War. The museum tells this story from many different perspectives, with an eye toward creating greater understanding and painting a more complete picture than traditional history books have attempted.