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Secondary roads in Charlotte are notoriously difficult to navigate. In particular, visitors and residents alike are often befuddled by frequent name changes in the roads. To make matters worse, many roads in the city share similar names. Also, very few of the city's roads are based on a grid or similarly organized system; most of the roads outside the city core are winding avenues that follow the natural features of the land.  
 
Secondary roads in Charlotte are notoriously difficult to navigate. In particular, visitors and residents alike are often befuddled by frequent name changes in the roads. To make matters worse, many roads in the city share similar names. Also, very few of the city's roads are based on a grid or similarly organized system; most of the roads outside the city core are winding avenues that follow the natural features of the land.  
  
The city can be a delight to explore by car, but visitors are strongly advised to pick up a free map [http://www.mapcharlotte.com/charlotte_distribution.html]or purchase a road map upon arrival.
+
The city can be a delight to explore by car, but visitors are strongly advised to pick up a free map [http://www.mapcharlotte.com/charlotte_distribution.html]or purchase a road map upon arrival. A GPS unit with the most current updates can, of course, make travel in and around Charlotte immensely more enjoyable!
  
 
===By bus===
 
===By bus===

Revision as of 13:21, 22 March 2008

Charlotte is a huge city with several district articles containing sightseeing, restaurant, nightlife and accommodation listings — have a look at each of them.
Charlotte is the largest city in the Carolinas.

Charlotte, [1] is an ambitious and very rapidly growing city in the southern part of central North Carolina. It is the largest city in the state with a population of 664,332 (2007 estimate) residents within the city limits. As of 2006, the Charlotte-Gastonia-Salisbury combined statistical area (CSA) had a regional population of 2,191,604, and Charlotte is the county seat of Mecklenburg County. It is the center of finance, industry, technology, and entertainment for the region. Primarily known in the past as a business center, Charlotte is steadily developing its fledgling tourist industry; currently its central core is one of the most visitor-friendly districts in the Carolinas.

For information on the city's central district, see Uptown Charlotte.

Contents

Districts

  • Uptown. The literal and figurative "center of things". Uptown is Charlotte's central district, and the location of its somewhat oversized skyline. It is generally agreed that the word "uptown" refers to anything inside the I-277 loop, though some adjacent entities might describe themselves that way. Uptown is the center of Charlotte's commerce, culture, and government. As recently as the mid-1990s, the area was a virtual "office park" -- home to a lot of business but very few residents -- but is rapidly repopulating with highrise condos. The district is home to several Fortune 500 headquarters, museums, nightclubs, restaurants, parks, city and county government offices, theaters... pretty much anything you'd expect to find in a city center. Most of the bustle is centered around Tryon St., the "Main St." of the city. Note that most east-west streets are numbered, whereas most north-south streets have proper names. It is well worth noting that Uptown is statistically one of Charlotte's safest areas, due in large part to a large flow of human traffic at most hours.
  • NoDa. NoDa, short for North Davidson Street, is one of Charlotte's most eclectic and original neighborhoods. Also known as the Historic Arts District, NoDa is about two miles north of the center city. The district grew up around a large textile mill that closed in the 1970s, sending the surrounding neighborhood into a long period of decline. After artists began moving back into the neighborhood in the 1980s, they began to revitalize and preserve the old brick buildings and quaint mill houses. Even the old Highland Mill, next to the Johnston YMCA, is being renovated for both residential and retail/office space. Enjoy street level art galleries, several restaurants and other unique shops in the district. There is a "gallery crawl" every first and third Friday that attracts many visitors to NoDa.
  • South End. This neighborhood is located close to Uptown in the corridor formed by Tryon St. and South Blvd. It was previously a mill district located along the railroad tracks, but has gradually converted into a hip, semi-upscale entertainment/cultural district. The addition of trolley tracks and light rail connecting it to Uptown has helped spur expansive development here. Possibly the best place in town to take a walk with children, as the neighborhood features ice cream shops, a trolley museum and several kids-oriented stores. Also home to Charlotte's emerging design industry, South End features several galleries and a "gallery crawl" parallel to those in NoDa.
  • Plaza-Midwood. Similar in some ways to NoDa and South End, but a little rougher around the edges. Plaza-Midwood (named in part for its location along The Plaza) prides itself on its "old Charlotte" feel, and a grungy underbelly that has resisted gentrification. This neighborhood has quickly become a vibrant alternative to the upscale scene, and is home to several local institutions (including the legendary Penguin restaurant).
  • Myers Park. Once located altogether outside the city, Myers Park is near the heart of modern-day Charlotte. Its reputation as an "old money" neighborhood is accentuated by its cathedral-esque tree canopy and slowly winding avenues. It is home to some of Charlotte's oldest and most expensive homes (formerly country estates), as well as Queens University of Charlotte and Freedom Park. A driving tour of Myers Park is a popular way for tourists to get acquainted with the city, but bring a map; some of Charlotte's most difficult intersections are located here.
  • Dilworth. Charlotte's first "streetcar suburb", Dilworth has never lost its reputation as a desirable place to make a home. In recent years the neighborhood has blossomed into an upscale district dotted with eateries and galleries. The promise of increased public transit service has added even more development to this already walkable neighborhood.
  • SouthPark. An affluent district in south-central Charlotte, and home to the city's second-largest business district. SouthPark is a newer suburb whose development has mostly occurred in the last 40 years, but it has quickly developed into a semi-urban concentration of office buildings, highrise condos, hotels and entertainment options.
  • Elizabeth. Just outside of Uptown, Elizabeth reflects a transition between elegant Myers Park and gritty Plaza-Midwood. Its tree-lined streets and quiet residential blocks provide an air of relaxation, but its commercial blocks are among the city's most colorful. Sometimes characterized as "a poor man's Dilworth", Elizabeth is coming into its own as a center of activity.
  • University City. A sprawling 1970s-style suburban district, focused around the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. This area is located on the city's northeast side and encroaches somewhat into southwestern Cabarrus County. University City (or UC) is largely an area in transition, having formerly been mostly rural or affluent suburbs; today's growth patterns reflect an influx of minority groups and young families. Aside from the University and related research centers, this area is also home to Verizon Wireless Ampitheatre, a well-defined "downtown" cluster of hotels and retail centers, and many square miles of sprawling shopping centers.
  • East Charlotte. A somewhat ambiguous, but distinctive, area covering a large portion of the city's eastern end. East Charlotte contains the city's largest concentration of immigrants, and is mostly a middle- to lower-class area. Much of the east side is depressed and unattractive, but it contains some of Charlotte's most interesting cultural development. Virtually any kind of ethnic food can be found here, and much of the city's "street life" gravitates toward this area.
  • Ballantyne. The most recent large-scale development in Charlotte, Ballantyne is located at the far southern edge of the city. Sprawling and suburban in nature, it is noted for its luxurious "mini-mansions", upscale retail, large hotels and corporate buildings, and distinguised country club. Ballantyne is mostly residential in nature and hosts little tourist traffic (aside from visitors to the Ballantyne Resort).

Understand

Overview

Heavy growth in the past 20 years has made Charlotte one of the southeastern USA's largest and most successful cities. In many ways, the city is still trying to catch up to its own growth; visitors often comment that it seems understated in terms of culture and development. However, Charlotte is changing at a breathtaking speed. A very rapid influx of population and business investment has given it one of the most dynamic urban areas in the region.

Visitor information

Charlotte's official visitors' center is called "Main Street" (something of a misnomer, as there is no Main St.) and is located in the center of the city, at Tryon and 2nd St. Brochures, souveniers, and advice are available for first-time visitors as well as long-time residents. Along with the public library, this is the best place to go if you are looking for a concentrated source of information about the city. It is worth checking out the brochures for self-guided walking and driving tours.

History

Origins

This statue near the Uptown Holiday Inn honors Charlotte's namesake.

Charlotte's earliest settlers were Presbyterians of Scots-Irish descent who built a small courthouse, marketplace and village at the intersection of ancient Native American trading paths (the actual intersection is the Square formed by Trade and Tryon Streets) during the middle of the 18th Century. Both Charlotte and Mecklenburg County were named in honor of the Germanic wife of King George III of England. In addition, the main thoroughfare (Tryon St.) was named in tribute to the English Governor of the day. The establishment of a courthouse made Charlotte the seat of Mecklenburg County, and it was known for little more in its early days.

Revolutionary war

Charlotte's early residents were fiercely independent, in accordance with their rural Protestant heritage. The city was known as a hotbed of separatism well prior to the American Revolution, culminating in the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence (signed a year prior to the American equivalent). The Square was the site of a minor skirmish with Cornwallis' army, which led to the city's characterization as a "hornet's nest" of rebellion. Nevertheless, the city remained a relatively obscure village, and was dubbed a "trifling place" by visiting President George Washington.

Pre-Civil war

The first signs of economic prosperity came to Charlotte with the discovery of a huge gold nugget at the site of modern-day Reed's Gold Mine. This triggered the United States' first gold rush, and dotted Mecklenburg County with gold mines. The mines contributed low-grade gold to the city's street-paving program, which led to the joke that the streets were literally paved with gold in Charlotte. Eventually the city earned the establishment of a U.S. Mint for currency production on modern-day Mint St. Perhaps most importantly, the city positioned itself as a railroad hub. With several lines intersecting in Charlotte, the city became a major destination for farmers wishing to distribute their tobacco and cotton crops nationwide. These events presaged Charlotte's future as a city of commerce and distribution.

Civil war

Thankfully, Charlotte was mostly spared the wide-scale destruction of the Civil War. The city contributed troops to the Confederate effort, many of whom are buried in the Confederate graveyard at modern-day Elmwood Cemetery. Curiously, landlocked Charlotte briefly became the home to the Confederate Naval Yard near the end of the war, as a result of its railroad connections. Also, the city was host to the final full meeting of the Confederate Cabinet, and Jefferson Davis was standing on Tryon St. when informed of Lincoln's assassination (Davis' widow later retired to Charlotte). Generally, though, Charlotte was fortunate to play a relatively minor role in the devastating conflict. Its main casualty was the loss of the Mint, which was shut down for obvious reasons by the Union government.

Reconstruction

Charlotte has been noted as one of the South's most resilient cities in the wake of the Civil War. Having been spared the widespread destruction of cities such as Atlanta and Columbia, Charlotte was relatively free of obligations to rebuild infrastructure. It jumped quickly onto the "New South" bandwagon, increasing its ties to the railroads and mill industry. Some of the major mills established here after the War are still standing, and have mostly been converted into modern businesses and condominiums. Perhaps most importantly, Charlotte was a site of heavy financial investment by "carpetbaggers" (northern transplants who were eyed with suspicion or outright hostility). These upstart banks were the predecessors to Charlotte's modern banking giants.

20th century

At the turn of the century, Charlotte was still a small town in spite of its favorable position. But by the 1950s, it had exploded into the largest city in the Carolinas. Aggressive businessmen transformed the city into a financial juggernaut, and the distribution industry made a smooth transition from the railroad-dominated 19th century into the automotive 20th century. As the local textile and furniture industries faltered, Charlotte invested its energy into finance and transportation, enabling it to avoid the depressions suffered in many other Carolinas cities. By the 1970s, the city was into a full-scale economic boom. The population skyrocketed with immigration from around the USA and foreign countries. The city skyline began to transform as office towers sprouted on an almost yearly basis, and the suburbs pushed farther toward the county borders. By the end of the century, Charlotte had transformed from mill town into metropolis.

Today

It could be said that Charlotte's greatest struggle is with its own identity. The city remains tied to its roots as a giant of finance and transportation, but has diversified as it has grown. The rapid growth of the late-20th century lead to the unfortunate demolition of much of the city's historical infrastructure, giving Uptown a glittering feeling of newness despite its 250-year history. The city continues to focus on the development of its core, despite the explosion of suburban communities out of Mecklenburg County and into surrounding towns. One thing is definite, though: all indications are that the city will continue to grow for the forseeable future, making it one of the United States' most prominent metro areas in the next decade.

Population

North Carolina is one of the USA's most popular sites for relocation (both people and businesses), and Charlotte has been no exception. The city is full of "transplants" from the northeast and midwest, and a considerable immigrant population. Nevertheless, the city still has a sizeable population of locals who can remember when the city was still a medium-sized town centered around railroad distribution. Like most Southern cities, Charlotte has a large African-American population. Also, it has a significant community of Asian descent, and a very rapidly growing Hispanic population. What was once a white-and-black city has become increasingly colorful with each passing decade.

Orientation

Charlotte's physical arrangement reflects the growth trends of the 20th Century. Like most Southern American cities, it is "sprawled" over a relatively wide area for its size. Most of the city is suburban in nature, and most of those suburbs are less than 50 years old although some nearby towns such as Mint Hill date back well into the 1700s. These suburbs are encircled by the partially-completed I-485.

However, unlike many of its peers Charlotte has a very dense urban core that functions as an axis for its business and cultural life. The center of the city is therefore the primary destination for tourists and business travelers.

What is often lost in this arrangement is a diverse, colorful ring of "inner suburbs" that lie in the zone between the core and the new suburban development. Most of Charlotte's most unique neighborhoods lie in this ring, as well as most of the city's "underground" activity. As a result, these areas have a highly local flavor and are just beginning to be discovered by tourists.

Talk

The major language is English, and English will be more than enough to get around.

In recent years, the number of foreign-language establishments in Charlotte has begun to rise. In particular, Spanish-speaking shops and restaurants have become numerous on the city's east side. Also, there are a fair number of Asian establishments as well. There is a large shopping area called "Asian Corners", and a part of the east side nicknamed "little Hanoi". It is worth noting, however, that these areas make up a relatively small part of the English-dominated city.

Economy

Charlotte is first and foremost a city of business and commerce. Charlotte is the second leading banking center in the United States, with the headquarters of Bank of America and Wachovia. Charlotte is also a distribution center and has the headquarters for major companies. Fortune 500 companies such as Duke Energy, Nucor, Sonic Automotive, Continental Tire NA, SPX, Lowe's and Family Dollar are based in the immediate metro area. Charlotte is regularly listed as one of the USA's fastest-growing business areas, as well as one of the best places to do business in the nation.

Climate

Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Daily highs (°F) 51 56 64 73 80 87 90 88 82 73 63 54
Nightly lows (°F) 32 34 42 49 58 66 71 69 63 51 42 35
Precipitation (in) 4.0 3.6 4.4 3.0 3.7 3.4 3.8 3.7 3.8 3.7 3.4 3.2

Check Charlotte's 7 day forecast at NOAA

The temperature ranges from about 14 °F (-10 °C) to 104 °F (40 °C). On average, a summer high is about 90 °F (32 °C) and a winter low is about 32 °F (0 °C). Charlotte receives 43.52 in (1105.3 mm) of precipitation annually, most of which is in the form of rain (though there is some snow and ice in the winter). Charlotte is not as well equipped for snow and ice as more northerly cities; significant accumulations of snow (more than 2cm) or ice on the roads can disrupt activity city-wide. Usually, this includes the closing of local businesses and schools, and happens about once a year on average. Charlotte's inland location usually protects it from being hit directly from Atlantic hurricanes (the most recent exception being Hurricane Hugo in 1989), though it often receives heavy rains due to passing tropical systems.

Get in

By plane

Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT), [2] is located on the west side of town near Billy Graham Parkway. Bus route 5 (Airport) [3] goes there. The airport is a major domestic and international hub for US Airways [4], and also receives flights from most other major airlines. Though the airport has diversified somewhat in the past few years, US Airways domestic flights are still its primary source of traffic.

Don't worry if you get hungry at CLT – the airport is home to many restaurants and shops. While many of the restaurants are decently priced, the shops are not - charging upwards of $2 for a Coke.

For those who need to remain connected, free WiFI is available at the Bank of America Business center, located in the central concourse. The center has multiple electrical outlets, comfy chairs, and several restaurants nearby.

Taxis charge a flat $20 rate for a trip from the airport to Uptown (for one or two passengers; additional charges apply for groups).

By train

The Amtrak [5] station is located on North Tryon near Dalton, on bus route 11 (North Tryon)[6]. If you arrive by train, be aware that this area is relatively seedy. Though you will be safe in and around the station, it is not a good idea to "wing it" once you arrive. Try to pre-arrange travel from the station to your next destination; walking is not recommended.

By car

The interstate highways through Charlotte are Interstates 85 (northeast-southwest) and 77 (north-south). I-85 takes you to Burlington and Greensboro. N.C. 74 is also a primary route into the city, and links with I-277.

Note that while I-277 (inner loop) has been completed for some time, I-485 (outer loop) is incomplete and still under construction. The northwestern quadrant of I-485 is still missing, but the rest of the freeway is quite useful for circling the perimeter of the city.

Similarly, I-277 is very useful when moving quickly around the center city. However, it is important to understand that one side of the "loop" is actually I-77, which interchanges with I-277 in two places. It is easy to misread the signs and end up moving farther along I-77 rather than circling back onto I-277. When using the loop, be sure to follow signs for "Downtown" in order to stay on the correct path.

Secondary roads in Charlotte are notoriously difficult to navigate. In particular, visitors and residents alike are often befuddled by frequent name changes in the roads. To make matters worse, many roads in the city share similar names. Also, very few of the city's roads are based on a grid or similarly organized system; most of the roads outside the city core are winding avenues that follow the natural features of the land.

The city can be a delight to explore by car, but visitors are strongly advised to pick up a free map [7]or purchase a road map upon arrival. A GPS unit with the most current updates can, of course, make travel in and around Charlotte immensely more enjoyable!

By bus

The Greyhound [8] station is just northwest of Uptown Charlotte and is served by buses 8 (Tuckaseegee), 34 (Freedom Drive), and 7 (Beatties Ford).

Get around

By foot

Uptown Charlotte is very dense, and almost all attractions in that part of town are easily reached by walking. However, only a few other districts (such as NoDa and Dilworth) are truly pedestrian-friendly. Outer districts, such as Ballantyne and University City, are pedestrian-unfriendly areas. If you must walk, give some thought to the weather; summer days in the South are quite hot and it is easy to get dehydrated.

By car

  • Driving Uptown is laid out in a grid, with numbered streets running east-west with few exceptions. Streets running north-south have proper names. Charlotte's outer suburbs are often difficult to navigate. Most roads are built according to the natural lay of the land; once you leave the I-277 loop, you are likely to find it increasingly difficult to predict the direction (and often, the name) of the road you are travelling on. Therefore, it is a good idea to make certain your directions are specific and trustworthy before venturing into an unknown area. Otherwise, you will likely find yourself relying on the (usually) friendly natives for directions back to your starting point.
  • Taxis Taxi services are available to any part of Charlotte. There are several prominent companies, and unlike larger cities (for instance, New York or London) the design of the vehicles is not uniform. However, a taxi is always recognizable by a sign on the roof of the car. If the taxi is vacant, the sign will be lit up; if it has a passenger, the sign will be off. It is customary to give a tip to cab drivers, especially if they help you with luggage or other items. It is usually a good idea to inquire about the fare before boarding if you are planning to make a longer trip; Charlotte's sprawled-out nature can lead to high fares for trips outside the center city.

Cab fares in Charlotte are regulated by the city, and are consistent for all companies. The "drop charge" (pickup rate) is $2.00, and each 1/5th mile is $0.40. During weekday rush hours (7-9AM and 4-6PM), you will also be charged $0.40 for every minute spent in stopped traffic. For a direct one-way trip to or from the airport, the rate is a flat $20. You can save money by sharing a cab with a companion, but be aware that there is a $2 charge for each person after 2.

By public transit

Light rail

The LYNX Blue Line [9] light rail corridor is a rapid and efficient way to commute from Uptown to the southern edges of Mecklenburg County. It stops at major Uptown destinations (Bobcats Arena, the Convention Center), travels through South End, and proceeds along South Blvd all the way down to I-485. Frequency varies from 7-10 minutes on weekdays to 20-30 minutes on weekends. Fares are $1.30 for a one-way ticket (discounts for seniors and youth) and $4 for a day pass. Tickets are good for 90 minutes and allow for transfer to CATS transit buses.

Bus

The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) [10] operates transit service throughout the Charlotte area. Most bus routes start at the teal-roofed Transportation Center in Uptown (across the street from the Bobcats Arena) and go toward the suburbs like spokes on a wheel (roughly). Though they are generally clean and safe, they are usually not the most efficient way to get around the city. Bus fare is $1.30 for a one-leg or two-leg trip, $1.75 for an express bus (these run mornings and evenings and go to an outlying area without stopping), and 60¢ for a shuttle. Allow 45 minutes for a one-leg trip, 2 hours for a two-leg trip. Bus transfers can be used on the LYNX light rail and are valid for 90 minutes after issue. Also, be aware of the colorfully-painted buses in the suburbs that connect neighborhoods to primary routes.

Trolley

The Charlotte Trolley [11] is a replica streetcar system that operates on the LYNX line between the South End and Uptown. At the moment, the service is shut down until Spring 2008. The Trolley will stop at LYNX Light Rail stations and in addition to the LYNX stations will also make stops at its terminus at Atherton Mill, Tremont and 9th Street.

Other

  • Cycling Some parts of Charlotte are very friendly to cyclists, especially the south-central area around Myers Park and Dilworth. It is a good idea to research in advance to identify streets with designated bike lanes on the right-hand side of the road. Be aware that bicycles are subject to the same traffic laws as cars.

See

Itineraries

Museums

There are numerous museums and historic sites scattered throughout the city, especially in and near Uptown. In the next year or two, a new "museum district" will arise on the southern edge of the district; at roughly the same time, the NASCAR Hall of Fame will open near the Convention Center. See individual districts for a more thorough list of museums.

  • The Mint Museum of Art, 2730 Randolph Rd., +1 704-337-2000, [12]. Tu 10AM-10PM, W-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 12PM-5PM. Closed Mondays and major holidays. Charlotte's main art museum is located in the original building of the Charlotte Mint (see History), which was moved from its location at Mint St. Though its permanent collection is somewhat lacking, it regularly hosts high-quality traveling exhibits from around the world. Its primary strengths are American art and ceramics; colonial/pre-colonial art; and costumes and other decorative art from many countries. Not a must-see, but worth a visit if you are in Charlotte for more than a couple of days or have a special interest in art. $6 adults, $5 seniors and college students, $3 6-17, free under 5.
  • Discovery Place, on North Tryon between 6th and 7th, +1 704-372-6261, [13]. 10 AM-6PM or 9AM-5PM, except on Sunday when it opens at 12:30PM. One of the nation's most acclaimed children's museums. Focuses primarily on the sciences, though special exhibits (such as the recent exhibition of the Dead Sea Scrolls) may have a more general focus. Step into the rainforest, see and feel the fish, watch a hydrogen balloon explode and a frozen banana hammer. $7.50 for Discovery Halls, $7.50 for OMNIMAX, $13 for both.
  • Levine Museum of the New South, 200 E. 7th St., +1 704-333-1887, [14]. Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM, Sunday 12PM-5PM. An excellent introduction to the South's history and influences over the past centuries. Boasting an excellent standing exhibit with walk-throughs and hands-on experiences, this is a great museum for "new" and old Southerners alike. Highly recommended for visitors seeking an understanding of Southern culture and history. Closed Mondays. $6 adults, $5 seniors and minors, under 6 free, $17 family.
  • James K Polk Historic Site, 12031 Lancaster Hwy. (Pineville), +1 704-889-7145, [15]. Tu-Sa 9AM-5PM. From Interstate 77 south of Charlotte take Interstate 485 east (Exit 2). At the Pineville exit take U.S. 521 south through the town of Pineville for about one and one-half miles. The Polk Memorial is on the left. The museum offers tours and information about the home of U.S. President James K. Polk, as well as a reconstruction of his house. Monthly special events. Free.
  • Carolinas Aviation Museum, 4108 Airport Drive (at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport), +1 704-359-8442 (fax: +1 704-359-0057), [16]. Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 1PM-5PM. This is a big attraction for aviation fanatics. This museum features a wide variety of resources including historic and restored airplanes, air shows and a library (by research request only). Because it is located at Charlotte-Douglas, it is the only attraction in the city that can be reached by airplane. If you want to meet people working on restoring the airplanes, come on a Tuesday or Thursday. It is also a great place to watch takeoffs and landings at the airport!

Sports venues

Bank of America Stadium is home of the NFL's Carolina Panthers.
  • Bobcats Arena, 333 East Trade St., 1-800-495-2295, [17]. New arena located in Uptown, next to the central transit center. Venue for many large events, and home to the NBA Charlotte Bobcats and ECHL Charlotte Checkers ice hockey team. Box office is open in the main lobby during weekly business hours and 10am - 2pm on Saturday. Tours are available on a limited basis but must be made at least a week in advance. The team's official store opens onto the plaza facing Trade St., and sells a wide variety of team merchandise.
  • Lowe's Motor Speedway, 5555 Concord Parkway South, Concord, +1 704-455-3200, [18]. A 167,000 seat race track and host of several NASCAR and other racing events annually. It is not overly impressive from the outside, but if you can get in on race days it is an experience to behold. $5 for guided tours of the facility.
  • Bank of America Stadium, 800 South Mint St. (Almost no on-site parking; several lots are adjacent but fill quickly on game days), +1 704-358-7000, [19]. Typically open only on game days, though some special events are open to the public. Home of NFL Carolina Panthers team and the NCAA college football Meineke Car Care Bowl, the stadium seats about 75,000 for football games, and upper-level seats have a partial view of the city skyline. A team store is open at the main entrance throughout the year, selling souveniers and merchandise.
  • Cricket Arena, 2700 East Independence Blvd., +1 704-372-3600, [20]. Historic domed arena in southeast Charlotte on N.C. 74. Once the largest concrete free-standing dome in the world, it has played host to Elvis, Jimi Hendrix and many sporting events. Currently used for community events, conventions and smaller musical acts.
  • Memorial Stadium, 310 North Kings Dr, +1 704-353-0200. Located adjacent to the CPCC campus south of Uptown, with a spectacular skyline view. Generally used for smaller events such as high school and college football games and band competitions. In 2006 it was the site of the city's main 4th of July fireworks display.

Movies

  • Belmont Drive-In, 314 Mc Adenville Road (Belmont, NC), +1 704-825-6044. A traditional drive-in movie theater, located off NC-74 in the nearby town of Belmont. Very strongly recommended for visitors looking for "local color". Extremely cheap compared to a regular theater ($6 per car, regardless of how many people you cram in), welcoming of pets and kids, and serves pretty good concessions. Typically shows 2-3 movies in an evening, and you're free to leave at any time.
  • Discovery Place IMAX. Large domed theater in the heart of Uptown. Paid entry into Discovery Place is not required in order to see an IMAX movie. Mostly shows documentaries, with occasional feature films (most recently a Harry Potter movie). See Discovery Place under "Museums" for more information.
  • Phillips Place, 5970 Fairview Road, +1 704-556-6843. Large and comfortable, with 10 screens showing feature films. Located in the SouthPark area.
  • Ballantyne Village Theatre, 14815 John J. Delaney Drive, +1 704-369-5101. Brand-new theater in the southern suburb of Ballantyne. Noted for its bold decision to show independent films on only 4 screens, despite being part of the landmark Ballantyne Village shopping center. Pitches its product as a "luxury" experience with fine dining and other amenities nearby.
  • AMC Carolina Pavilion 22, 9541 South Boulevard, +1 704-643-4262. Very large, comfortable theater in the southern suburbs near I-485. Generally carries a variety of feature films, and shows blockbusters on multiple screens.
  • AMC Concord Mills 24, 8241 Concord Mills Blvd Concord, +1 704-643-4262. Large theater inside Concord Mills Mall (see "Malls" for details). Can be counted on to show any recent feature film, often on multiple screens. Convenient for combining a movie with a day of shopping and dining, without leaving the mall complex, and it makes an excellent date location.
  • AMC Northlake 14, 7325 Northlake Mall Drive, +1 704-643-4262. The newest and smallest of AMC's theaters in Charlotte. Attached to Northlake Mall in the northeastern suburbs.
  • Arboreturm 12 Cinema, 8008 Providence Road, +1 704-556-6843. Medium-sized theater located in the Arboretum shopping center (in the southern suburbs, near I-485). Very popular among young teens as a weekend hangout.

Do

Sports

Professional sports are one of Charlotte's most popular forms of entertainment. Though its roots are primarily in stock car racing, the city offers something for fans of nearly every kind of sport. In particular, its success in the NFL and NBA have given it widespread exposure as a growing sports hub:

  • Carolina Panthers (American Football). 800 South Mint St. (Almost no on-site parking; several lots are adjacent but fill quickly on game days), +1 704-358-7000, [21]. The local NFL team, playing uptown in the 73,000 seat Bank of America stadium. Due to a sudden surge in popularity, it is becoming more difficult to find tickets to home games. This is especially the case late in the season, when the team is expected to be in the playoff hunt. Scalpers roam the sidewalks in front of the stadium, so it is possible to find gameday tickets at a premium cost. It is technically illegal to charge more than a small percentage above the face value of a ticket, though this law is generally uninforced.
  • Charlotte Bobcats (Basketball). 333 E. Trade St., (park in adjacent lots and decks; they are generally easy to spot), 1-800-495-2295 (Tickets) or +1 704-688-8600 (Arena), [22]. Charlotte's new NBA team plays in a brand-new arena located uptown. Support for the team has been inconsistent due to an ugly divorce with the Charlotte Hornets franchise in 2002. Ticket prices are being lowered for the upcoming season, and it is generally not a problem to purchase a ticket on game day.
  • Charlotte Knights (Baseball). 2280 Deerfield Drive (Fort Mill, SC), +1 704-357-8071 (+1 803 548-8050 in South Carolina), [23]. A minor-league baseball side operating out of Fort Mill, South Carolina. The Knights play many home games in the summer, though its far-flung location makes it somewhat inconvenient to visitors. The organization prides itself on providing a family-friendly atmosphere, making this option a favorite for those with children. There are negotiations under way to build an uptown stadium for the team.
  • Charlotte Checkers (Ice Hockey). 333 E. Trade St. (It is usually easy to find parking in adjacent lots and decks for hockey games), +1 704-342-4423, [24]. Minor-league hockey team, playing in Bobcats Arena uptown. This is perhaps the best entertainment value in Charlotte, with very low ticket prices for a relatively upscale experience. Charlotte was the first city south of Baltimore to host professional hockey, and has had a team for most of the last 50 years. The team is an affiliate of the NHL's New York Rangers. $10-27.
  • Racing. Charlotte is the de facto hub of stock car racing in America, several NASCAR [25] teams call Charlotte home. The city's race track (Lowes' Motor Speedway: Charlotte; in Concord) hosts 3 NASCAR Nextel Cup races a season, including the All-Star Race [26] and the Coca-Cola 600. Also, Charlotte was recently chosen to build the NASCAR Hall of Fame, which will be located near the uptown Convention Center. Each year Charlotte hosts "Speed Street", a large festival featuring various racing-themed attractions and a long list of musical guests. Speed Street is one of the city's largest annual events.
  • Charlotte Eagles (Soccer). E.E. Waddell High School (Head North/West out of Charlotte on I-77, take Exit 4 to Nations Ford Rd.), +1 704-841-8644, [27] A minor-league semi-nomadic soccer team, currently playing at Waddell High School, in search of a home stadium.
  • Charlotte Rugby Football Club, [28] (Rugby Union). Local rugby side that in recent years has been the top side in the South and the Mid-Atlantic. And has recently joined the Super League, the highest club level in the American Rugby Union.
  • U.S. National Whitewater Center (USNWC) , 820 Hawfield Road, +1 704-391-3900, [29]. Offers year-round whitewater rafting and kayaking on the world's largest man-made recirculating river on class II-IV rapids. Flatwater canoe trips, mountain biking trails and a large outdoor climbing center are also available on-site.
  • Meineke Car Care Bowl , [30]. Annual NCAA college football bowl game held in late December at Bank of America Stadium. The game features teams from the ACC and Big East and was formerly known as the Continental Tire Bowl.

Parks

Charlotte has been noted for its "green" appearance, due to its extensive tree canopy and abundance of parks. See the individual district pages for listings of major city parks.

Music

  • The Double Door Inn, 218 E. Independence Blvd., +1 704-376-1446, [31]. Legendary for its blues history, and one of the city's most beloved institutions. Any long-time Charlottean will tell you the story about Eric Clapton's impromptu set at the Double Door; a framed newspaper article over the bar is proof. Hosts musical acts on most nights of the week. Very intimate, and more for the drink-and-watch crowd.
  • The Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson Street, +1 704-376-3737, [32]. Located in the NoDa district of Charlotte, The Evening Muse is noted for its' variety of music ranging from light folk to rockabilly, and open mic on Monday nights.
  • The Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd, +1 704-398-0472, [33]. Almost forgotten in Charlotte's mainstream entertainment scene, this veteran club has a shockingly prestigious music history -- Nirvana, the Flaming Lips, and REM have all graced the stage here. Though the interior looks like something out of skid row, there is a well-cultivated hipster vibe at the Milestone that is virtually untouched anywhere else in the city. Mention this one in conversation to gauge a friend's true cool-factor.
  • Tremont Music Hall, 400 West Tremont Ave, +1 704-343-9494, [34]. Tremont Music Hall is a premier stop for National Acts specializing in Modern Rock, Indie Rock, Punk, Hardcore, Metal, Emo, SKA, Roots Rock and others. Tremont Music Hall is a great place to see a band as you’re never more than 50 ft from the stage.
  • Amos' Southend, 1423 South Tryon, +1 704-377-6874, [35]. All types of bands play here especially cover bands.

Nightclubs

The city's nightlife is centered in Uptown, which is host to a wide variety of nightclubs. The largest concentration of clubs in the city is around College St. near its intersection with 5th St.; however, a quick check of local listing reveals plenty of alternatives for those who are seeking a more reserved atmosphere. See district listings for more details.

Golf

Golf is a major sport in the Carolinas, and is played nearly year-round due to the mild autumn and spring seasons. Listed below are public and semi-private courses that are likely to be accessible to visitors. Private courses are not listed, as they require personal invitation to play.

  • Birkdale Golf Club, 16500 Birkdale Commons Pkwy (Huntersville, NC), +1 704-895-8038, [36]. Relatively new championship course located in Huntersville, north of Charlotte on I-77. Designed by Arnold Palmer, and includes practice facilities. Fees range from $40-63 depending on day and time. Tee times must be reserved at least 8 days in advance.
  • Carolina Golf & Country Club, 2415 Old Steel Creek Rd, +1 704-392-6363. Built in 1929. $25-30 for 18 holes, depending on day of the week.
  • Charles T. Myers Golf Course, 7817 Harrisburg Rd, +1 704-536-1692. $23-30 for 18 holes, depending on the day. Tee times must be reserved at least 7 days in advance.
  • Charlotte National Golf Course, 6920 Howey Bottoms Road (Indian Trail, NC), +1 704-882-8282, [37]. Located just southeast of the Charlotte city limits off NC-74. Fees range from $30-45, depending on time and day.
  • Eagle Chase Golf Club, 3215 Brantley Road (Marshville, NC), +1 704-385-9000, [38]. Located about 30 minutes southeast of the Charlotte city limits off NC-74. Fees range from $23-35 depending on day of the week.
  • Emerald Lake Golf Club, 9750 Tournament Drive (Matthews, NC), +1 704-882-7888, [39]. Located a few minutes outside the Charlotte city limits. Fees range from $30-60, depending on day and time. Lessons offered.
  • Firethorne Country Club, 1108 Firethorne Club Drive (Marvin, NC), +1 704-243-2433, [40]. Located just south of the city limits off I-485.
  • The Golf Club at Ballantyne Resort, 10000 Ballantyne Commons Pkwy, +1 704-248-4383, [41]. Part of the Ballantyne area's luxury resort. Reserve a tee time through the pro shop. Tee times must be reserved at least 2 days in advance.
  • Highland Creek Golf Club, 7001 Highland Creek Pkwy, +1 704-875-9000. Fees are $44-50 for 18 holes, depending on day of the week. Tee times must be reserved at least 3 days in advance.
  • Larkhaven Golf Club, 4801 Camp Stewart Road, +1 704-545-4653, [42]. Charlotte's oldest public golf course, located in the eastern suburbs. 18 holes, par 72. Rates vary from $30-40 for 18 holes, depending on the day and time.
  • Leatherman Golf Learning Center, 5845 S. Tryon St., +1 704-527-1123, [43]. Formerly owned by basketball star Michael Jordan, this is a facility for practice and instruction in golf. Offers services for a wide range of skills. In addition to a miniature golf course, the main facility includes a driving range with target greens, chipping greens, pitching areas, and more. Fees vary; calling ahead is encouraged.
  • North Carolina National Golf Club, 1000 Broken Arrow Drive, +1 704-873-4653, [44]. Located about 45 minutes northwest of Charlotte outside the town of Statesville, and very much worth the drive if you are an avid golfer. This championship course was well-received when it opened in 1997, and currently is semi-private and therefore accessible to visitors. 18 holes, par 72.
  • Oak Hills Golf Course, 4008 Oakdale Rd, +1 704-394-2834. Green fees are $22-28 for 18 holes, depending on day of the week. Tee times must be reserved at least 1 day in advance.
  • Olde Sycamore Golf Plantation, 7500 Olde Sycamore Dr., +1 704-573-1000, [45]. Semi-private course designed by Tom Jackson. 18 holes, par 72. Fees range from $50-70 for 18 holes, depending on day and time.
  • Paradise Valley Golf Center, 9615 N. Tryon Street, +1 704-548-1808. Fees range from $27-36, depending on day of the week. Tee times must be reserved in advance.
  • Pawtucket Golf Club, 1 Pawtuckett Rd, +1 704-394-5890. Fees are $22-30, depending on day of the week. Tee times must be reserved at least 7 days in advance.
  • Regent Park Golf Club, 5055 Regent Parkway (Fort Mill, SC), +1 803-547-1300, [46]. 18-hole, par 71 course straddling the NC-SC state line. Fees range from $30-65 for 18 holes, depending on day and time. Tee times must be reserved at least 3 days in advance.
  • Revolution Park Golf Course, 2661 Barringer Dr, +1 704-342-1946, [47]. 9-hole course built in 1937. Fees are $8. Tee times must be reserved at least 14 days in advance.
  • Sunset Hills Golf Course, 800 Radio Rd, +1 704-399-0980. Fees vary from $20-28. Tee times must be reserved at least 6 days in advance.

Tours

  • Driving Tours [48] Queen City Tours covers most of the center city and surrounding area. Note that they offer different types of tour service for different group sizes. This tour shows you Uptown, Dilworth and Myers Park.
  • Helicopter Tours [49] North Carolina Rotor and Wing offers a birds' eye view of The Queen City and its surrounding neighborhoods.

Annual Events

  • The CIAA Basketball Tournament [50] will come to Charlotte in early March for the next several years. Historically-black colleges from across the country bring their teams, alums and fans to the center city for a week of games... and accompanying parties and conventions. Games are held in Bobcats Arena. Other events take place throughout the city, including a festival along Tryon St.
  • The St. Patrick's Day Parade [51] is not on the scale of Boston or NYC, but always well-attended and a fun time to visit the Irish restaurants Uptown. The parade goes up Tryon St., and the best place to view is at the Square.
  • Southern Spring Home & Garden Show [52] has brought designers and experts to the city for nearly 50 years. Held in March, and located at the Merchandise Mart. $9 at the door, kids free.
  • In mid-March, Speed Street [53] brings half a million partiers to the center city for major musical acts and events related to the NASCAR All-Star Race. This event shuts down several major streets, and covers the entirety of Uptown with crowds after sundown. Parking is usually stretched to the limit, and hotels will be difficult to find. However, this is an excellent time for hard partiers to see the city at its most active.
  • Charlotte is not known as a horse-racing hub, but the Queen's Cup Steeplechase [54] gives the city an event to call its own. Located about 45 minutes from the center city in Mineral Springs. Held in mid-April.
  • There is no better time to visit South End than during the Art and Soul of South End Festival [55] in April. Several major events coincide to bring the district a variety of visual art, music and entertainment. Prices vary based on event, but most is free to attend.
  • The PGA Wachovia Championship [56] brings the world's best golfers to Quail Hollow Country Club for a weekend in April. As one would expect, there are plenty of wine-and-cheese events associated with the championship... as well as a noticeable upturn in Polo shirts at Uptown clubs.
  • The Taste of Charlotte [57] festival in June is far and away the best time to bring an appetite to the city. Tryon St. closes down for the weekend and many of the city's best restaurants are represented with samples of their signature dishes.
  • The Fourth of July Fireworks Display has shifted locations several times lately, but is always located somewhere in Uptown. This event draws nearly 100,000 visitors to the center city at once; be prepared to sit in gridlock, especially during the display when streets will come to a complete halt. Using public transit to park-and-ride from another district is recommended.
  • Also in July, comic book collectors meet for the annual Heroes Convention at the Convention Center.
  • The Black Gay Pride Festival has made inroads as an annual festival in July.
  • Charlotte Pride is a more general gay-pride festival in August. It has shifted locations, most recently to the Gateway Village area on the edge of Uptown. It has grown significantly since its inception.
  • September is one of the best times to visit the city. The city's Labor Day Parade along Tryon St. is modest, but a well-established annual event. The month-long Charlotte Shout [58] collaboration includes not only cultural festivals and events, but also a day of free admissions to important cultural locations. For over 40 years, Festival in the Park [59] has transformed Freedom Park into a massive marketplace and fair. The new Charlotte Film Festival [60] is a collaboration between the city's most prominent theaters in and around the center city. Also, the Yiasou Greek Festival [61] is a long-running tradition at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church that draws a huge crowd for its mouth-watering food and unique shopping opportunities.
  • The Public Library of Charlotte hosts the Novello Festival of Reading [62] in October. This series of readings and events brings well-known authors (such as Kurt Vonnegut, Ray Bradbury, Toni Morrison) to the city. Prices vary based on event, most of which are held at the Central Branch.
  • Scarowinds [63] is the city's most unique Halloween event. The Carowinds theme park turns ghoulish after dark, with special decor and events. Though it's a bit pricey, it never draws complaints of overpricing. $29, no kids.
  • The Carolina Renaissance Festival [64] is in late Fall. Located just outside the city, it is a family-friendly reenactment of Elizabethan times. Features a wide array of shopping and themed events. $15 for adults, $5 for children.
  • The Southern Christmas Show [65] in late November is one of the region's biggest holiday shopping events. The Merchandise Mart on E. Independence Blvd. hosts the event. $8 at the door for adults, $3 for kids. $6 per car to park all day.
  • EclecFest [66] is a fledgling November festival in NoDa, started by the owner of a local bookstore. A combination flea market and cultural festival, this event is a good way to get introduced to the stores and locals of NoDa. Parking is typically available on and around N. Davidson St.
  • The Charlotte International Auto Show [67] brings various dealers and buyers together. Located in the Convention Center and usually in November. Adults $8, kids free.
  • Carrousel Thanksgiving Day Parade [68] is one of the city's most beloved annual events. Televised regionally, this parade has run along Tryon St. for half a century. A great time to visit.
  • The large Charlotte Collectible & Antique Show [69] comes to Metrolina Expo on Statesville Rd. each December. The name says it all: shopping opportunities abound. $5, kids free.
  • For college football fans, the Meineke Car Care Bowl [70] is a chance to catch a great game as well as a football-themed festival. An ACC team and a Big East team close out their seasons in Bank of America Stadium. Price varies year-to-year.

Learn

  • Johnson C. Smith University [71] - A historically African-American university located just outside Uptown. The centerpiece of the historic Biddleville community, J.C. Smith's campus is a picturesque gateway to the north/west side of the city.

Work

Charlotte is a city that thrives on big business. Its most visible employers are Wachovia (the city's largest employer), Bank of America, and Duke Energy. Though the Uptown area has the largest concentration of business offices, the entire metro area has sprouted office/industrial parks. In particular, the gleaming midrises of SouthPark and Ballantyne are worth noting if you're in those areas. There are several Fortune 500 companies located in Charlotte and its surrounding towns.

Buy

One of Charlotte's biggest weaknesses is the relative lack of retail shopping in the center city. Though this will change somewhat in the near future, you will generally have to venture into the suburbs to do your shopping. As with most American cities, most retail is located in malls and shopping centers, though some areas (especially the inner suburbs) have stores along the streets.

  • Metropolitan Midtown [72] Just outside the central business district, this redevelopment of the former Charlottetown Mall now includes an urban Target and the first Home Depot Design Center store in the country. Coming soon to the center are retailers Best Buy, Marshall's, TJ Maxx, Home Goods, Staples, and possibly a bookstore.
  • Concord Mills [73]. Though not technically located in Charlotte, this is the largest shopping destination in the region. Only minutes from the Charlotte city line. Over a linear mile of outlet-sized stores; if you can think of it, you can buy it here. 200 factory-size stores, a 24 screen theatre, large NASCAR-themed race track/arcade, and many restaurants, this Mall's motto is "Eat. Drink. Play". This is the largest tourist attraction in North Carolina.
  • Carolina Place Mall [74]. Large mall near the southern city line, convenient to the southern suburbs and South Carolina. This is a somewhat more middle-class alternative to SouthPark, and extremely popular among teens in the southern part of the city. Its location off I-485 puts it in the middle of traffic, but also locates it near a large number of other shopping centers and restaurants (though the food court is more than adequate to feed a family). Anchors include Belk, Dillard's, Sears, J.C. Penney, and Hecht's.
  • Eastland Mall [75]. An older Charlotte mall, a good place to go for bargains at the Dillard's Clearance Center and Burlington Coat Factory. The center features an ice skating rink inside the mall.
  • Northlake Mall [76]. Brand-new mall in north Charlotte, convenient to the University area. On the same price level as Carolina Place. Anchors are Belk, Dillard's, and Macy's. Includes an AMC movie theater.
  • SouthPark Mall [77]. Charlotte's largest and most upscale mall, located in eponymous neighborhood of Charlotte approximately 6 miles south of center city. Stores include Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Dillard's, Macy's and a flagship Belk, and many shops and botiques are unique to the Carolinas such as Louis Vuitton and Burberry.
  • If you are looking to shop outside the commercial retail sector, try exploring some of the districts just outside the I-277 loop. In particular, the Dilworth and Plaza-Midwood areas are good places to visit unique, funky stores. East Blvd. (upscale) and Thomas St. (downscale) are both good places to find unusual items.
  • There are several market-style locations scattered across the city. There is a "green market" [78] during the warmer months on E. 7th St. near Tryon, the EclecFest market [79] (every second Saturday) behind the Neighborhood Theater on N. Davidson St., and many flea markets in and around the city.
  • Wal-Mart - The nearest location to Uptown is on Wilkinson Blvd. Starting on I-277, head west on NC-74 and look for it on the right. While you're at it, there are several restaurants in the area that will make the excursion worthwhile. There is also a Kmart store for those less inclined to go to Wal-Mart, which is on nearby Freedom Drive.

Eat

For the most part, Charlotte's culinary tastes are in line with the rest of the American South. Standards such as grits, sweet potatoes (yams), and greens are common in kitchens and restaurants. Southern food is typically high in fats and carbohydrates, so dieters should be careful to stick to higher-end restaurants that serve a more cosmopolitan fare. Otherwise, dig in and enjoy the richness of the Southern diet.

Many of Charlotte's older restaurants are owned by Greek families. Often, you will unexpectedly find Greek items on the menus of restaurants that otherwise serve American fare.

North Carolinians have long been fiercely competitive about their barbecue, and Charlotte's eateries reflect that heritage. Outsiders beware: Carolinas "barbeque" is chopped and sauced pork. The sauce will depend on which region it comes from (east or west), and it all works well as a sandwich (though you usually get to choose between sandwich or plate). Barbecue sandwiches are invariably served with slaw (either a vinegar-based red slaw, or a mayonnaise-based white slaw) on the meat, though it will be left out or on the side if you request. This is a local custom and one of the many things that makes Charlotte and more generally NC interesting.

"Carolinas style" hamburgers and hot dogs are typically served with mustard, chili, and cole slaw, though some restaurants will vary their toppings slightly to create a "signature".

Krispy Kreme donuts are produced in nearby Winston-Salem, and are widely available. Also, Lance Snacks is based in Charlotte.

The dominant local grocery chains are Harris Teeter and Food Lion, both owned by N.C. companies. Harris Teeter is relatively expensive but more upscale. Food Lion is a middle-class favorite, and usually has an extensive ethnic section. Other groceries include Bi-Lo, ALDI, Lowes Foods, and Bloom (a high-tech spinoff of Food Lion). The city is also dotted with dozens of ethnic groceries, especially Hispanic, Indian and Vietnamese.

Drink

Liquor is available by the drink in the city of Charlotte. However, some smaller towns in the region prohibit liquor sales. If you plan to explore nearby counties, there is a chance you may encounter a "dry" area. Open containers of alcohol are never permitted on the street; if you order a beverage you must finish it before leaving the restaurant or bar. If you want to buy liquor by the bottle, you must do it at state-run ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Commission) stores, rather than at traditional liquor stores. Beer and wine are available for purchase at most markets, grocery stores and gas stations.

Cheerwine, a cherry-flavored soft drink, is a local favorite. Sundrop [80], available in a unique citrus blend and cherry-lemon, is based out of Gastonia, NC and is a favorite among locals. R.C. Cola is also a "traditional" Southern soft drink.

If you are not from the American South, be aware that sweet iced tea is the predominant non-carbonated drink. When ordering tea, you will need to be specific if you want un-sweet tea, otherwise it will be sweetened. Diabetics should take particular note of the distinction, as a glass of sweet tea is roughly as sugary as a glass of soft drink.

Sleep

If you are not driving or renting a car during your visit, it is highly advisable to try to find lodging near the center city. Otherwise you will be stuck paying cab and bus fares, and you will find it quite difficult to move around as freely as you'd like. Most of the city's large hotels are located either uptown, near the airport, or in the University area. There are also some luxury hotels appearing in Ballantyne, and there are the typical options off the highways and interstate exits.

Budget

  • Super 8 Motel, 11300 Texland Blvd, +1 704-588-8488. Upside: immediate access to I-77 and I-485. Downside: train tracks run nearby. Give some thought to this one especially if you’re planning on going to Carowinds, which is only a few minutes’ drive down the interstate. Continental breakfast. $28-150.
  • Microtel Inns & Suites Charlotte (Airport), 3412 S. I-85 Service Road, +1 704-398-9606, [81]. A good low-fare option for business travelers planning to fly into the city. Immediate access to I-85 lets you get about the city quickly. $45-55.
  • Red Roof Inn, 3300 Queen City Drive, +1 704-392-2316. Nothing fancy, but cheaper than most hotels in the area. This is an economy chain, so the rooms are sparse but clean. Immediate access to the airport and surrounding amenities. $52-60.
  • Microtel Inn & Suites, 6309 Banner Elk Dr., +1 704-227-3377. Located immediately off I-77 (Exit 16B) on the northwest side. You sacrifice location for a cheaper price, but the hotel itself is of acceptable quality. Features a pool and business center. $45-70.
  • La Quinta Inn & Suites, 4900 S Tryon St., +1 704-523-5599. Reasonable prices and a location that works for air travelers. From the hotel, you have a short drive to the airport and a straight shot through SouthEnd into Uptown. Fitness center, pool, hot tub. $50-115.

Mid-range

  • AmeriSuites Charlotte/Airport, 2950 Oak Lake Boulevard, +1 704-423-9931, [82]. Convenient to the airport, and primarily aimed at business travelers. Pool, family rooms, fitness center, breakfast buffet. $79-99.
  • AmeriSuites Charlotte/Coliseum, 4119 South Stream Blvd, +1 704-357-8555, [83]. Formerly this hotel’s main attraction was its proximity to the Charlotte Coliseum. Since the Coliseum’s closing in 2005, it is now primarily a business hotel with relatively convenient access to the airport. Offers a complimentary airport shuttle and has rooms designed for business travelers. Fitness center, breakfast buffet, pool. $89-119.
  • Best Western Independence Hotel, 2501 Sardis Rd N 28227 +1 704-845-2810,[84] Newly renovated in 2006, this hotel is a great find! Located in Charlotte just 7 miles from center city off Independence Blvd, or I-74. Beautifully appointed rooms all offer a mini fridge, microwave, coffee maker, and free high speed Internet access. Also on site business center, fitness center, guest laundry, and free breakfast in the morning! All indoor corridors and free parking. $83-145.
  • Fairfield Inn Charlotte Airport, 3400 Queen City Dr., +1 704-392-0600, [85]. New and pleasant, with clean, spacious rooms. Free Wi-Fi, pool (in season), exercise room, reasonable breakfast buffet. Free airport shuttle, but if you arrive here without your own wheels, pretty much the only eating option within walking distance is a Cracker Barrel. $89.
  • Morgan Hotel & Suites, 315 E Woodlawn Rd (southwestern suburbs), +1 704-522-0852. If you don't mind staying outside the center city, this offers everything you need. Immediately accessible to I-77. Also, located just off South Blvd. with easy driving to SouthEnd and Uptown. Kids 12 and under stay free. Valet parking, pool, continental breakfast, restaurant, workout room. $84-111.
  • Renaissance Suites, 2800 Coliseum Centre Drive, +1 704-357-1414, [86]. In the past, this hotel was situated ideally for sports and other events. With the closing of the Charlotte Coliseum, it remains a decent option for visitors who don't mind a 10-15 minute drive to other locations (about 20 to Uptown).
  • The DoubleTree Charlotte Airport, 2600 Yorkmont Road, +1 704-357-9100 (fax: +1 704 357-9159), [87]. Formerly called the Wyndham Garden Charlotte Airport Hotel it is located about a mile from the now-defunct Charlotte Coliseum. The DoubleTree nevertheless offers an extremely high standard of accommodations. Huge rooms, landscaped garden area, and no expense spared on the details (they use Bath and Body Works for their bathroom supplies) make this an excellent buy for visitors staying in the airport area. Continental breakfast, fitness facility, restaurant, pool, airport shuttle. $85-200.

Contact

The city of Charlotte has mandatory 10-digit dialing, so you must include the area code even on local calls. Charlotte has two area codes: 704 and 980.

There are some public pay phones scattered around the city, but they are becoming increasingly rare with the predominance of cell phones. It is not safe to assume you will be able to find a pay phone at any given time.

All ZIP codes in the city of Charlotte begin with 282. The central district's code is 28202.

Stay safe

Though the crime rate is not astronomical, Charlotte is still a city -- don't let your guard all the way down. If you are uptown, the biggest worry is auto theft/break-in, which is hardly rampant. Violent crime is relatively rare in the central district, as well as the affluent southern side of town. The most dangerous areas are the west and east sides.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police (CMPD) almost always maintain a visible presence in crowded areas. If you have trouble, look for an officer. Note that in certain parts of the city the police are deployed on bikes as well as cars.

Stay healthy

Breathing

Charlotte is not a good allergy city, due to the abundance of flowering trees and greenspace.

Smog has become an increasing concern in recent years, as the city becomes more populated and in turn hosts more auto traffic. Local authorities monitor ozone levels and make public announcements[88]when "vulnerable" groups (children, the elderly, etc.) are at risk. These announcements are carried on local television, radio, and newspapers.

Smoking

North Carolina is known as "Tobacco Road", and cigarettes are almost ubiquitous in Charlotte. However, smoking is prohibited in most indoor public areas, including public transportation and many restaurants. It is still legal to smoke on the street, though you may want to be considerate of others if you are in a crowded area. Smoking is permitted at most bars and nightclubs, and most restaurants have designated smoking sections. At concert venues (such as Bobcats Arena) there are outdoor decks for smokers.

In general, it is a good idea to be polite about smoking... whether you smoke or not. If you smoke, try to do it in an area in which others won't be bothered by it. If you are a non-smoker, be aware in advance of whether you will likely be bothered by smoke in a particular place. In North Carolina people tend to be much less sensitive to smoking than in other parts of the country, so you will likely be received with a bit of bewilderment if you make a scene about it.

Cope

Libraries

Library branches are scattered across the city, and vary in size and function. Typically there are street signs nearby to direct you toward the nearest branch. Also, there are substantial libraries at each of the local universities.

Newspapers

  • Charlotte Observer [89]. The Observer is the city's primary newspaper and its only daily periodical. It is standard for a newspaper in a medium-sized city. Politically it is often perceived as left-of-center, though the slant is not very strong and unlikely to be perceived by visitors. The Observer is widely available in stores, boxes and by subscription. $0.50 on weekdays, $1.50 on Sunday.
  • Creative Loafing [90]. Weekly "alternative" newspaper distributed for free at most stores and restaurants. CL has the city's best weekly entertainment and restaurant index, and is widely used by both locals and visitors as a handbook to city nightlife. Free.
  • Rhinoceros Times [91].' Conservative weekly newspaper distributed for free at many stores and restaurants. Despite its relatively limited circulation, RT has grown quickly and has become something of a gadfly in local politics. Free.
  • Charlotte Weekly [92]. Probably the most politically-neutral of the weeklies. The Weekly enjoys wide distribution, but seems to prefer a relatively low-key role in local reporting.
  • Charlotte Business Journal [93]. Weekly edition devoted to reviewing the city's business climate. Its thorough reporting often "scoops" other sources, and the CBJ can make surprisingly interesting reading even for those uninterested in business affairs. Available primarily at bookstores and other newsstands, though boxes can be found on the street Uptown.
  • La Noticia [94]. Spanish-language weekly newspaper. This has become the primary voice of the Hispanic community in Charlotte. As of now it has no English-language edition, so its circulation is relatively confined to eastern Charlotte. Free.
  • Charlotte Post [95]. African-American weekly that enjoys a devoted following but a relatively low circulation. Found mostly at institutions with a high percentage of black consumers, such as restaurants and churches on the west side. Free.
  • Mecklenburg Times [96]. Focuses on the workings of County government, especially politics and business issues. In-depth review of court decisions and related issues.
  • Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal [97]. Narrow, detailed coverage of the sports-business industry. Available primarily through newsstands and Uptown boxes. Weekly editions.
  • NASCAR Scene Daily [98]. Part of Street & Smith's, but focuses only on NASCAR-related news. A weekly newspaper, despite its title.

International visitors

Compared to large tourist destinations, Charlotte has a relatively small international population. Locals are usually quite friendly toward foreign visitors, especially those who are able to speak English. Speakers of other languages may find the language barrier more difficult to break than in "international" cities (though Spanish-speakers will likely have an easier time). It is recommended that international visitors keep their passport handy at all times.

Charlotte's sister cities are Arequipa (Peru), Krefeld (Germany), Baoding (China), Voronezh (Russia), Limoges (France), Wroclaw (Poland), and Kumasi (Ghana).

  • International House, 322 Hawthorne Ln, +1 704-333-8099, [99]. International visitors to Charlotte are strongly encouraged to begin their visit at the International House. Though it is worth the trip south of Uptown to visit the historic neoclassical mansion and meet the friendly staff, the IH can also be very helpful in finding interpreters, translated documents, travel information, etc.
  • Immigration and Naturalization Service, 210 E. Woodlawn Road (Suite 138, Building 6), [100]. 7:30AM - 2PM M-F.
  • Armenian Cultural Association of the Carolinas, +1 704-334-5353 x239.
  • Bosnian Organization, +1 704-921-9080.
  • Cambodian Community Association, +1 704-566-0155.
  • Chinese American Association, +1 704-593-0897.
  • Eritrean Community Organization, +1 704-563-9000.
  • Ethiopian Community, +1 704-343-6629.
  • Filipino-American Community, +1 704-541-5944.
  • Ghana National Association, +1 704-567-2510.
  • Haitian American Club of the Carolinas, +1 704-537-1785.
  • India Association of Charlotte, +1 704-948-7664.
  • Iranian Group, +1 704-321-3578.
  • Islamic Society of Greater Charlotte, +1 704-568-0907.
  • Japan-America Society of Charlotte, +1 704-687-2727.
  • Korean Association of Charlotte, +1 704-376-8820.
  • Laotian Cultural Center, 2208 Rowan Way, +1 704-393-3588.
  • Laos American Association of North Carolina, +1 704-393-7363.
  • Metrolina Phoenician Club, +1 704-846-2269.
  • Taiwanese-American Association of Greater Charlotte, +1 704-847-6340.
  • Vietnamese Community Association of Charlotte, +1 704-568-8744.

Consulates

  • British Consulate, 301 South College Street (9th floor), +1 704-383-3944, [101]. The Consulate in Charlotte is primarily interested in business affairs; however, it can also be helpful in connecting British citizens with their Embassy in Washington, D.C. and supplying important documents. Do not, however, expect full embassy services unless you are in a true emergency.
  • Mexican Consulate, 4424 Taggart Creek Rd, +1 704-394-2190.

Worship

Like most cities in the American South, Charlotte's communities have historically been centered around Protestant Christian churches (though this is changing as the city diversifies and urbanizes). A complete list of worship sites is impractical; below is a list of major congregations. Be aware that smaller Christian churches can be found with ease in any part of the city.

There are many foreign-language places of worship in the Charlotte area. For information about them, contact the International House [102] at +1 704-333-8099.

Baha'i

  • Baha'i Faith Charlotte Community, 843 Eastway Dr, +1 704-563-2323, [103]. Located in a converted home in eastern Charlotte, near NC-74.

Buddhist

  • Cambodian Buddhist Society, 219 Owen Boulevard, +1 704-596-6628, [104]. In a residential neighborhood, this community is made up mostly of Cambodian refugees. Most communication is in Asian languages.
  • Charlotte Community of Mindfulness, 1931 Selwyn Avenue, +1 704-583-1279, [105]. Meets in Room 27 of the Myers Park Baptist Church building for weekly meditation.
  • Charlotte True Buddha Temple, 1601 E. 4th St., +1 704-788-6278. Services are held in Chinese, though many members speak English.
  • Chau Lien Hoa, 6505 Lake Dr., +1 704-537-1126, [106]. Services are conducted in Vietnamese in this large (and growing) temple.
  • Wat Lao Buddharam, 1824 Todville Road, +1 704-597-5037, [107]. Laotian community of Buddhists in a relatively large temple grounds. Services are in Laotian.

Christian - In alphabetical order, with one church listed from each major denomination. Contact the church office for information about other locations.

  • Ascension Lutheran Church, 1225 E Morehead St, +1 704-372-7317, [108]. Located in the picturesque Dilworth neighborhood, very close to the I-277 loop.
  • Calvary Church, 5801 Pineville-Matthews Rd., +1 704-341-5320, [109]. Large non-denominational church in south Charlotte, probably the city's largest single congregation. Stadium-style building is one of the largest structures in the southern part of the city.
  • First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1048 E. Morehead Street, +1 704-334-1973, [110]. Located in a large, Federal-style historic building in the Dilworth neighborhood.
  • First United Methodist Church, 501 North Tryon Street, +1 704-333-9081, [111]. Based in an historic neo-Gothic building in the center of the city. Very convenient if you are staying in an Uptown hotel.
  • First United Pentecostal Church, 4929 N. Sharon-Amity Rd., +1 704-535-1000, [112]. Located in the eastern suburbs.
  • Hickory Grove Baptist Church, 6050 Hickory Grove Road, +1 704-531-4000, [113]. Just off of busy Harris Blvd., this church has one of the largest membership base in the area. They also have a north campus.
  • Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 600 East Blvd., +1 704-334-4771, [114]. Ornate cathedral located in the middle of Dilworth. Worth visiting even if you don't plan to worship.
  • Little Rock AME Zion Church, 401 N Mcdowell St, +1 704-334-3782, [115]. Uptown location with a distinctive modern steeple. One of several AME Zion churches in a small radius.
  • Myers Park Presbyterian Church, 2501 Oxford Pl., +1 704-376-3695, [116]. Long-tenured church in a landmark Gothic building, located in the historic Myers Park neighborhood.
  • Revolution Charlotte, 3400 Tuckaseegee Road (at The Milestone Club), [117]. "Church for the rest of us."
  • St. Peter's Catholic Church, 507 S Tryon St, +1 704-332-2901, [118]. Not to be confused with St. Peter's Episcopal only a few blocks away. Immediately next door is a small park with shops and restaurants.
  • St. Peter's Episcopal Church, 115 W 7th St, +1 704-332-7746, [119]. Historic church near the city's major tourist district. One of the oldest continually-operating religious communities in the city.

Hindu

  • Hindu Center of Charlotte, 7400 City View Drive, +1 704-535-3440, [120]. The city's largest single Hindu community, located in the eastern suburbs off NC-74.

Islamic

  • Ash-shaheed Islamic Center, 2717 Tuckaseegee Rd., +1 704-394-6579. Primarily an African-American Islamic community, located on the city's west side.
  • The Islamic Center of Charlotte, 1700 Progress Lane, +1 704-537-9399, [121].
  • Islamic Society of Greater Charlotte, 7025 The Plaza, +1 704-536-2016. Located in the eastern suburbs and composed largely of Eastern immigrants.
  • Masjid Ali Shah Center , 1230 Beatties Ford Rd., +1 704-377-9010, [122]. Smaller community in western Charlotte, composed of a mix of African-American and Eastern families.

Jewish

  • Temple Israel & Temple Beth-El, 4901 and 5101 Providence Rd., [123] [124]. Conservative and Reform (respectively) temples located virtually adjacent to one another in the Myers Park neighborhood. Part of Shalom Park, which also includes the Jewish Community Center, Jewish Day and High schools, the Levine-Sklut Resource Center (a library), and several other Jewish community resources.
  • Congregation Ohr HaTorah, 6619 Sardis Rd., [125]. Orthodox shul connected to Chabad-Lubavitch of the Carolinas. Also home of the Jewish Preschool on Sardis.

Sikh

  • The Sikh Heritage Society of Greater Charlotte, 4909 Fairvista Dr., +1 704-948-7664, [126]. Small Sikh community, primarily composed of Punjabi Indians.

Get out

Charlotte benefits from a highly centralized location in the Carolinas, giving visitors the option of driving to either the beach or the mountains if they choose. Cities within day-trip range include Asheville, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and the Raleigh/Durham area. If you are interested in seeing smaller Southern towns, consider a short drive to Matthews, Davidson, or Huntersville; all are within 15 minutes' drive on the interstate.

  • Concord Mills - see Malls.
  • Lowe's Motor Speedway, [127]. Located just out of northern Charlotte in nearby Concord, off I-85. Home of near-constant racing events including NASCAR's All-Star race and the Coca-Cola 600. Occasional home of concerts and other special events. Among other special attractions, includes the opportunity to drive around the track or attend racing school.
  • Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden [128]. In Belmont (just west of Charlotte), this is one of the most acclaimed attractions in the area. The natural beauty and serenity of the gardens make it a favorite for romantic day trips and family outings. Guided tours offered.
  • North Carolina Zoo [129]. Located in Asheboro, about 60 miles northeast of Charlotte. The largest zoo in North Carolina, featuring over 200 species of animal and many more botanical species. Highlights include gorillas, elephants, lions and an aviary.
  • Reed Gold Mine [130]. Pan for gold in the USA's first gold mine. Very kid-friendly and educational, besides being pretty fun. Located in Cabarrus County, about 45 minutes from Charlotte.
  • Schiele Museum of Natural History [131]. A surprisingly high-quality museum in Gastonia, just west of Charlotte. Includes a planetarium, an aviary, and many special events and exhibits.
  • Southwest of Charlotte are the Catawba lands. See how this Native American tribe used to live and lives today.
  • South of Charlotte along Route 16, in Waxhaw, is the Mexico Museum. Items of cultural and historical interest include pottery, costumes, and photographs.
  • Carowinds [132]. Large theme park with a focus on movies. Many roller coasters and other such attractions; coasters include Top Gun, The Hurler, and the beloved Thunder Road. Give strong consideration to eating beforehand, as concession prices are very high. Go south on I-77 and get off at the state line. Bring sunscreen as most of the park is unshaded.
  • Chimney Rock Park [133]. Part of the highly scenic Blue Ridge Mountains in the Appalachian chain. One of the region's most visited parks, primarily because of its unusual rock formations and waterfalls.
  • Nantahala Outdoor Center [134]. About 3-4 hours west of Charlotte in the heart of the Appalachians. Excellent whitewater rafting and tubing for all experience levels; the river runs particularly well after big rains. Charlotte's own rafting center (the U.S. National Whitewater Center) is currently under construction, but will struggle to match the natural splendor of the Nantahala. Also an excellent place to hike, bike, birdwatch, etc.



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