Charlotte, North Carolina. Chances are that you’ve heard of it before. If you’re an avid traveler, you’ve probably even been in Charlotte for an hour or two as you switched planes to points elsewhere. Charlotte is more than just the seventh most trafficked airport by aircraft movement though. It’s also a great place to explore with plenty of attractions to visit and flavors to taste. In fact, many visitors stay, making the Queen City the ninth fastest growing city in the United States.
The next time your itinerary includes a layover in Charlotte, do yourself a favor and book an overnight. Why not even make Charlotte the destination itself?
A vibrant and safe downtown
A couple of weeks ago, I overheard a conversation in the lobby of an Uptown hotel. The guest asked the concierge if Uptown was safe to walk at night. The concierge almost fell out of his chair laughing, as he assured the guest that the streets of Uptown were perfectly fine to walk, even at night. In fact, a good number of young and wealthy residents of Charlotte live in the many high-rise apartment and condominium buildings that define Charlotte’s skyline. Thus making Uptown not only safe but also filling it with plenty of popular attractions.
Uptown is where you’ll find Charlotte’s “big city” attractions like professional sports teams and the city’s arts district. It’s also the city’s main entertainment center. The Epicenter offers bars, restaurants, and shops to match anyone’s budget and interests. But don’t get stuck in the massive complex (that tends to be chain heavy), be sure to explore the streets of the compact Uptown and try some local favorites like Dandelion Market, Connolly’s On Fifth, and Duckworth’s Grill and Taphouse.
An exploding craft brewery scene
A recent article in Fortune named Charlotte as the new hub for craft beer, arguing that its 20 breweries rival that of cross state craft brewery powerhouse Asheville. There are two beer centric neighborhoods with plenty of breweries within walking distance of each other that are worth visiting.
In South End, you’ll find the city’s first craft brewery, Olde Mecklenburg Brewery. OMB is known for their German style lagers and beer garden. Other breweries of mention in South End are Triple C Brewing for their neighborhood vibe, Lenny Boy Brewing for its sour program, and Wooden Robot Brewery for delicious farmhouse ales. NoDa is the other brewery-laden neighborhood. Local favorites include NoDa Brewing, Birdsong Brewing, and Free Range Brewing. The neighborhood also boasts many funky art galleries.
A nature lover’s paradise
Beyond a vibrant metropolitan scene, Charlotte has plenty of outdoor spaces. During the summer months, locals flock to one of the three lakes that surround the city to escape the summer heat with boating and other water sports. When the summer heat finally fades, Crowders Mountain is a popular spot for hiking.
The US National Whitewater Center is another popular outdoor destination. Not only is it where the United States Olympic White Water Team trains, it’s also a spot for novices to brave the rapids. Beyond white water rafting, the US National Whitewater Center also has zip-lining, ropes courses, hiking trails, biking trails, and good local food and beer. If you’re in town on a Thursday night, stop in for live entertainment during the River Jam.
A city worth exploring
As I look back on this post, I was reminded why I proudly call Charlotte home. What I listed is just the tip of the iceberg on all there is to do in Charlotte. What didn’t make the list is the NASCAR Hall of Fame, historic sites, best BBQ restaurants, local wineries, etc. You’ll have to visit to experience the rest!
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