Charlotte, North Carolina has been mentioned a lot lately in “best of” rankings throughout the United States:
- No. 3 Top Moving Destinations, January 2015 United Van Lines of all states
- No. 1 Most Entrepreneurial Cities, December 2014 Global Trade Magazine of 50 cities
- No. 2 Fastest-Growing Big Cities in the U.S., December. 2014 U.S. Census Bureau of 34 cities
- No. 2 Best Cities for Recent College Graduates, April 2014 Apartments.com of 100 cities with highest apartment availability
- No. 4 Most Affordable Destinations for 2015, December 2014 Priceline.com of 15 cities
- No. 9 Best Cities to Start a Career, May 2014 Wallethub.com of 150 largest U.S. cities
Earlier this month, I decided to see for myself what all the hype is about! Even in my short day long trip, I was impressed with how modern Charlotte was, with city parks, sustainable transportation options, great restaurants, and fun nightlife.
Below are some highlights of “must-sees” and “must-dos” when you plan your next trip to Charlotte, North Carolina:
The Epicentre: What an amazing idea! It’s like a mall, but includes all entertainment options you could ask for in an open air space (restaurants, a bowling alley, piano bar, country bar, rooftop dance floor, and more!). I most enjoyed dancing to my favorite songs from the 90’s at the Howl at the Moon Piano bar and today’s hits at the 210 rooftop bar.
Fine Dining with a VIew: Experience all of Charlotte from the sky with spectacular views and delicious cuisine at Bentley’s on 27. I had a surprise dinner date here and was taken aback by the Charlotte sunset and cityscape, incredible French onion soup and goat cheese salad, French wines, and beautiful old-fashioned candles!
Run through the City Parks: When I first arrived to the city, I knew I had limited time and wanted to explore the surroundings. Running is a perfect way to do just that! I ran through the center city and the local parks, including Independence Park (one of Charlotte’s original city parks from 1904) and Arequipa Park (has a decorative fountain and beautiful mature trees). Charlotte strikes a nice balance between a modern city and nature preservation, with several trees and greenscapes scattered throughout the city. As a nature lover who also likes to be in the center of a city, I really appreciated the combination! The parks advertised several city events, which made me excited to go back and visit.
The Brewery Scene: Charlotte has several popular breweries, including NoDa Brewing Company, Birdsong Brewing Company, Heist Brewery, Growlers Pourhouse, and Salud Beer Shop. It also has one of the best beer gardens in America (VBGB), with a giant sized chess and Connect 4 and a frost rail to keep your beer cold. I enjoyed sampling some of the beers, including the very unique (and spicy!) Birdsong Jalapeno IPA at the Ri Ra Irish Pub. Charlotte’s tourism website has a whole beer city itinerary designed for you!
Nascar Hall of Fame: Feeling the need for speed? Charlotte is famous for its speed racing heritage. The Nascar Hall of Fame is one of the world’s most interactive and high-tech halls of fame in the world with four floors of 31 cars and close to 1,000 artifacts. In my quick trip, I was not able to visit this, but would love to go back and visit one day, especially with my Motor City roots!
I had a wonderful time in Charlotte and now understand why it is one of the hotspots in the U.S. I look forward to going back in the near future! If you have any other recommendations for a visit to Charlotte, please add them in the comments below!