As Charlotte, North Carolina continues to grow (ninth fastest growing city in the United States), colorful neighborhoods are popping up throughout the city. Each has a unique flavor and draws Charlotteans from both the neighborhood and beyond. Since the city is so young, these hot spots all seem to come alive after the sun goes down.
1. Party it up at the Epicentre in Uptown
Uptown is the heart of Charlotte. It’s where business, entertainment, and culture converge. Uptown is where you’ll find Bank of America Stadium (home of the Carolina Panthers), Time Warner Arena (home of the Charlotte Hornets), the NASCAR Hall of Fame, and various history and art museums. At night though, the city center comes alive with its many restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.
Us old timers remember, and probably long for, the days before the Epicentre was built and bars felt less corporate (some of those do still exist like Connolly’s on Fifth). Alas, even I have succumb to the fact that the Epicentre is a ton of fun with nightclubs like Suite, bars like Whiskey River, and entertainment venues like Howl at the Moon. There’s also a restaurant for every budget.
2. Party like a rock star at the NC Music Factory
Just outside of Uptown is the NC Music Factory. While you’re in town, be sure to see who’s performing at one of the entertainment center’s two venues that attract national talent – The Fillmore and The Uptown Amphitheatre. Or, if comedy is your bag, The Comedy Zone attracts big name talent that will keep you laughing all night long.
Even if nobody is performing, the NC Music Factory is still worth checking out. There are restaurant offerings from Asian fusion to Italian to Mexican. As for nightlife, the NC Music Factory boasts everything from country music to hip-hop clubs. All are in former industrial buildings that have been retrofitted for your entertainment.
3. Brewery hop through South End
South End has become the craft beer hub of Charlotte with seven breweries, one cider works, and one distillery. Visitors can spend an entire weekend just drinking their way through the neighborhood. Most are within walking distance of each other, but some will require an Uber ride. I can’t possibly think of a better way to spend the weekend… Must visits are Wooden Robot Brewery and Triple C Brewing.
If you don’t have time to visit all of the breweries, many of South End’s restaurants offer neighborhood craft forward beer menus like The Liberty, Mac’s Speedshop, and Craft Tasting Room.
4. Eat your way through Montford
Like South End is home to an amazing collection of creative breweries, Montford Drive has developed into a concentrated couple of blocks for food (and nightlife). The neighborhood street is worthy of a self-guided food tour, popping into the various restaurants for a shared plate and a drink.
Highlights include Duckworth’s for cheesesteaks, pizza, and craft beer; Good Food on Montford for modern tapas and craft cocktails; Maverick Rock Taco for, well, tacos; and Moosehead Grill for some of the best wings in Charlotte. When you need a break from eating, check out 10 Park Lanes for bowling or Jeff’s Bucket Shop for karaoke.
5. Hang out with the hipsters in NoDa
Historic NoDa is where Charlotte’s hipsters come out to play. The neighborhood is a hodgepodge of everything mentioned above plus art galleries and boutiques. For live music, there’s Neighborhood Theatre and Muse; for craft beer there’s NoDa Brewing, Birdsong Brewery, Free Range Brewing, and Heist Brewery; and for food there’s Cabo Fish Taco, Boudreauxs, and Crepe Cellar.
Charlotte by daytime
If you aren’t too drained from the night before, there’s plenty to do in Charlotte by daylight as well. Those museums in Uptown and art galleries in NoDa mentioned above aren’t opened at night and are worthy of visits. For the more adventurous sort, head to the US National White Water Center or Crowder’s Mountain.
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