Perhaps it isn’t the first city you think of when discussing a trip to the East Coast of the U.S., nor is it likely to be the first city that comes to mind when envisioning the Deep South. Yet the city of Charlotte, North Carolina, has just as much life, charm, and character as any other great city in the USA.
Charlotte is situated in the interior of North Carolina, about 450 km south of Washington, D.C. and 400 km northeast of Atlanta. It’s the largest city in the state, with around 2 million inhabitants in the greater metro area. The city is primarily a banking and finance city, but it has made a sway in recent years to be more tourist-friendly with an influx of craft breweries, world-class dining, and unique neighborhoods.
Recently, I spent a weekend in Charlotte. If I’m honest, I wasn’t expecting a lot, but the Queen City was full of surprises. Brimming with sports events and enthusiasts, a buzzing food scene, and interesting neighborhoods, Charlotte offered a rewarding and exciting getaway.
Image via Wikimedia via Daritto7117
After arriving at Charlotte’s international airport, I was able to rent a car easily. I find that the majority of North American cities are best to discover with your own transportation. Charlotte is no exception, with its sprawling neighborhoods and wide streets. The transport system in the city is quite good, with a trolley and light rail system that connects with most of the places a visitor would like to see. However, the first choice for most visitors would still be having your own set of wheels.
Staying in the heart of the city, otherwise known as Uptown Charlotte, is recommended for a first-time visit, as this is the area where you’ll find sporting venues, museums, theaters, and parks. Charlotte’s city center is often praised for being one of the safest for its size. Here, you’ll be able to find a wide range of accommodations on any budget.
Staying in the center also gives you easy access to the other popular districts nearby, such as NoDa, which stands for North Davidson Street. This is the historic arts district, and it has a more laid-back feel than the skyscrapers of Uptown as well as an edgy feel with its many art galleries and trendy shops. To the south of Uptown is the originally named South End neighborhood. The South End is quaint and has a high-end entertainment district.
What to Do
Spending a few days in Charlotte wouldn’t be complete without a visit to a sporting event. The city’s residents take their sports seriously. The downtown arena is home to the Charlotte Hornets NBA team and the Checkers AHL ice hockey team. The city also has an NFL team, the Carolina Panthers. The biggest sporting event is NASCAR, though. This has been a top sport for decades in the South, and Charlotte is just as passionate about the Indy car races.
Charlotte really is the new Old South, with its fine mix of diversity, culture, and history. It’s a great place for anybody looking for an exciting getaway.