We’re continually on the hunt for experiences that add richness to our lives. In the spirit of the revival of road trips, we are proud to feature a monthly section featuring destinations within driving distance of Charleston. We feel that our smart and savvy readers will find these trips interesting and entertaining.
Driving four hours South of Charleston, West Virginia brings you to Charlotte, North Carolina. Charlotte is a multi-cultural city with international flair, professional sports teams, and a fantastic culinary scene. Anything and everything you’d ever want to do can found right here. Here are my recommendations to make your weekend getaway in Charlotte one to remember!
WHAT TO SEE & DO IN CHARLOTTE, NC
Take in a Charlotte Knights minor league baseball game at the BB&T Ballpark or ride the rapids at the US National Whitewater Center, also great for hiking, mountain biking, and outdoor concerts. TopGolf is another fun attraction where anyone can play golf no matter their skill level.
If you are traveling with kids, Carowinds theme park and Discovery Place Science (a hands-on science center with an IMAX theater) will be at the top of their to do list. Bring a swimsuit, too, because Carowinds has amazing water rides in addition to the 60+ rides, shows, and attractions. Charlie Brown and his friends at Camp Snoopy are the hosts of the kids’ area.
Art lovers should check out the Mint Museum and Bechtler Museum of Modern Art (mid 20th century art) or take in a live performance at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. Upcoming shows include Betty Buckley in Hello Dolly, Frankie Valli and the 4 Seasons, and Shrek the Musical.
Quench your thirst with a coffee, French press, Italian soda, or tea from Central Coffee, serving Joe Van Gogh local artisan coffee. Try a beer tasting at one of Charlotte’s best breweries such as Heist, Sycamore, and Olde Mecklenburg.
Charlotte offers a lot of shopping–some of the best on the East coast. From vintage stores to luxury department stores, there are amazing finds in Queen City, which Charlotte is commonly referred to as. SouthPark Mall and Carolina Place Mall are two of the best known retail complexes, where Concord Mills and the Charlotte Premium Outlets have a combined 300 discount stores including Vera Bradley, Brooks Brothers, Coach, Puma, and Lindt.
Three special attractions unique to Charlotte are the Billy Graham Library, NASCAR Hall of Fame, and the Carolina Raptor Center.
WHERE TO EAT IN CHARLOTTE
There are over 2,000 restaurants in Charlotte so any and every craving can easily be satisfied. The best cheap eats are pupusas (corn tortillas stuffed with meat and cheese) and fried plantains from El Pulgarcito de America and Chevaps (Bosnian flatbread with sausage and homemade butter/pepper spread) at Euro Grille & Cafe.
Mexican food lovers will want to try everything at Three Amigos, best known for tasty margaritas and delicious gorditas. Southern BBQ and all of the tempting side dishes are appetizing at City Barbecue, where you can have all your favorites including pulled pork or chicken, beef brisket, sausage, and turkey breast.
Going to Charlotte for a special occasion? I recommend the amazon seafood from Upstream at Phillips Place. If you feel like splurging, opt for the chef’s tasting (omakase).
Satisfy your sweet tooth at Manolo’s Bakery, a Latin-inspired bakery with pastries, breads, cakes, and cookies from Peru, Cuba, Colombia, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. Manolo’s also falls into the cheap eats category with mouthwatering tamales, empanadas, and croquettes that should not be missed. For French-style pastries, Amélie’s French Bakery cannot be beat. Amélie’s goodies were even featured in the train scene of The Hunger Gamesmovie.
WHERE TO STAY IN CHARLOTTE
A recommended option for hotels in Charlotte is the swanky Hampton Inn & Suites at South Park. It is doubtful you’ve ever seen a Hampton as high-end as this one, with a player piano in the gorgeous lobby. Rooms feature kitchenettes, wonderfully comfortable beds, and luxury linens. It is within walking distance to Phillips Place, has an outdoor swimming pool, and free Wifi.
In Uptown Charlotte (which is actually the downtown area), relax in luxury at the Le Meridien, with a fabulous roof-top bar and within walking distance of many popular attractions.
For a resort experience, spend the weekend at Ballantyne, with premier Southern hospitality and the height of luxury. Here, you can escape to the golf course, pool, tennis courts, or heavenly spa.
CHARLOTTE DELIVERS FUN AND THEN SOME
Charlotte, North Carolina is packed with fun adventures just waiting to be had! From the many diverse neighborhoods to its high-end shopping, family-friendly fun to unique attractions, Charlotte is a city you’ll want to visit again and again.