Uptown is the central business district of Charlotte. It is home to most of the city's major institutions, as well as being the historic core. It is also the geographic center of Charlotte, with the center point of the city at the intersection of Trade and Tryon Streets.
Technically part of Uptown, the four Wards were the original political divisions of the city. The axis that determines their boundaries is located along Trade and Tryon St., but few people consider the canyon of skyscrapers at the center of the city to really be identifiable as part of the Wards. Each Ward has its own distinct personality:
First Ward -- Very heavily residential, but beginning to feed commercially off ambitious projects such as the Trolley and Bobcats Arena. This area was almost entirely public housing for several decades, but was redeveloped with great success as a mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhood. Now it is a vibrant and well-kept neighborhood that seems quaint against the backdrop of skyscrapers nearby, and its attractiveness is verified by several major residential developments in the near future.
Second Ward -- Currently the city's government center, this area was the victim of a short-sighted urban renewal project in the 1960s. Previously, it had been the Brooklyn neighborhood: a largely impoverished but self-sufficient African-American district that was deemed unsightly and dangerous by city planners. Today, Second Ward is by far the most lifeless quarter of Uptown after working hours, as government workers disperse quickly and head to other parts of the city to live and play. A good place to find parking at night, but a bit of a social vacuum that can be a bit isolated.
Third Ward -- Unfortunately, much of Third Ward was lost to the decline of industry in the center city, but what is left still largely reflects a very blue-collar industrial heritage. Bank of America Stadium (home of the Panthers) is the Ward's most recognizable symbol, though the new Third Ward Park and proposed baseball stadium have provided good reason to believe that this may be a major center of growth in coming years. Third Ward's largest current development is the gleaming Gateway Village, home to many offices and the Johnson and Wales University campus. Straddling W. Trade St. between Third and Fourth Wards, Gateway Village is one of the city's most bustling areas during the daytime.
Fourth Ward -- The best-preserved part of Uptown, Fourth Ward is host to Charlotte's only remaining Queen Anne architecture. Shady streets and brick sidewalks make for some of the city's best walking, and the homes in this district are the object of envy. Fourth Ward Park is at the center of the neighborhood, and is a common ground for all kinds of city-dwellers. Several major condo projects have been proposed for this area, which will further densify it in the near future.
Almost all visitors arrive by car. Though Uptown is easily walkable and bike-friendly in most places, the I-277 loop makes travel into and out of the district difficult for anything other than auto traffic. There is also a brand new 10 mile stretch of the city's first leg of light rail. The LYNX light rail has already exceeded it's ridership expectations in its first year by thousands per day.
The largest artery in the area is I-77, which joins with I-277 to circle the city center. Most of the time these highways flow quickly; however, it is worth keeping an eye out for construction alerts. Roadwork, or even the most minor of accidents, can bring traffic to a crawl on the interstate. NC Highway 74 also forms part of the big loop; the eight-lane freeway becomes Independence Blvd. to the east and Wilkinson Blvd. to the west.
The city's Greyhound bus station is located on Trade St. near the edge of Uptown. It is a very direct, convenient walk from the center of the city.
Parking is usually abundant in the center city, though it has become something of an issue during large events that overload the area with cars. Visitors will immediately notice the large number of surface lots at the edges of Uptown, which makes finding a parking space relatively easy. However, these lots can be somewhat expensive; their prices will reflect their proximity to Tryon St. Savvy travelers can save money by parking in the cheaper lots ($3 near 277) and using a Gold Rush trolley to take a free trip to the attractions of their choice.
Parking decks are also available in most of the highrises near the center of Uptown. However, they are usually much more expensive than lots and often reserve spaces for regular visitors. If you are interested in taking panoramic photos, park on the top of the 10-story Seventh Street Station parking deck for an open-air view of the city and surrounding areas (but do it quickly, or security guards will shoo you away).
There are curbside parking meters along most streets inside the Loop, which are usually much less expensive than using a lot or deck, and are free on the weekend. However, these meters are usually deactivated during high-traffic hours. It is worth an attempt at finding a meter, especially if you are only making a brief stop.
Map of Uptown Charlotte.
Uptown Charlotte is very dense, and almost all attractions in this part of town are easily reached by walking. Remember that, as in the rest of the USA, traffic will approach from the left on a two-way street. Drivers are generally polite to pedestrians; with this in mind, remember that Charlotte does not have a long history as a large city. Stepping in front of a car is not a guarantee that it will stop.
Driving. Relative to most large cities, Charlotte's central district is fairly auto-friendly. Unless there is a major event, you should have no problem making your way around the district in a car (provided you have the patience to wait at frequent stoplights). However, be aware that "cruising" (circling the district repeatedly) is against the law and is being targeted by local police in an effort to reduce other criminal activity, especially at night.
Uptown is laid out in a grid, with numbered streets running east-west with few exceptions. Streets running north-south have proper names. From any direction, it is fairly easy to know where you are relative to the central intersection of Trade & Tryon St. If you are using a paper map, you might note that the street grid is technically aligned at a 45-degree angle relative to the compass; "North" streets technically go northeast.
Taxis. Taxis are fairly common in Uptown, and you can usually hail one from the curb. See "taxis" in the main Charlotte article for more information.
Gold Rush Trolleys, . One of the first things you should do upon arriving in Uptown is to get a map of the Gold Rush trolley system. These minibuses designed to look like historic streetcars circulate around Uptown during daylight hours along two lines (red and orange), and are totally free. Unfortunately they do not run during evening hours (a nod to local cabbies), but are definitely a fun and relaxing way to avoid sore feet and possibly parking fees.
Charlotte Trolley, . The Charlotte Trolley, an actual electric streetcar line, is a charming way to travel between Uptown and South End and is a great way to experience the southern end of Uptown. It's also worth talking to the conductors, who are usually fountains of local trivia. At the moment, the trolley only runs once an hour on Saturdays from 10AM-5PM and on Sundays from 10:30AM-5:30PM. Fare is $1.30 each way.
The LYNX Blue Line connects uptown with South End, and is a favorite among families and tourists.
By public transit
The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) operates buses throughout the city, including Uptown. The central bus terminal is located across Trade Street from the Bobcats Arena. 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). If you have not checked the departure time in advance, allow at least 30 minutes' wait for your route to arrive.
In addition, there is the LYNX Blue Line light rail service, which connects Uptown to the South End and neighborhoods further southwest. In Uptown, LYNX uses the same route and most of the same stations as the Charlotte Trolley line. Frequency varies from 7-10 minutes on weekdays to 20-30 minutes on weekends. Fares for LYNX are $1.30 one-way (seniors and youth receive a discount) and $4 for a day pass.
Rickshaws, +1 704-777-4508, . In the past few years, rickshaws have begun to appear in Uptown as an alternate mode of transportation. They are mostly a novelty for tourists, though they can actually be quite useful in avoiding the steep hills that slope away from the Square. They are recognizable blue carriages with a cyclist in front. At night they use blinking lights and bells to attract customers. Currently they run Wednesday through Saturday nights, 7PM-2AM. $3.50 for a one-way ride.
Carriages. Horse-drawn carriages are becoming increasingly popular as a romantic form of transport around Uptown. They can be rented for either short- or long-term trips, and will not require reservations as long as you can find one vacant. Typically they will only run during the warmer months, when tourists are present and the climate favors open-air rides. There are a few carriage rental companies available, including Southern Breezes Carriages, picks up on Tryon between 6th and 7th, +1 704-301-5111, .
Architecture in Charlotte
Charlotte's "biggest" attraction is its skyline. Dominated by the Bank of America tower (a Cesar Pelli masterpiece), the skyline is largely composed of striking modern towers. Tucked into the inner avenues are shorter, historic towers; however, only a few of these remain. The result is that Charlotte has a highly recognizable skyline that has been in a state of flux for about 30 years. Visitors to Tryon St. often note that the preponderance of huge towers makes it feel like a slice of Wall Street, though the illusion fades quickly only a few blocks away.
When visiting Tryon St. it is worth spending some time in the Bank of America lobby, which is dominated by three expansive frescoes by North Carolinian Ben Long. Another Long frescoe is inside a dome at the Transamerica building only a short walk down the street.
Another major architectural attraction is the Hearst Tower, which puts a modern spin on Art Deco. Its impressive facade and unusal profile have made it something of a cult favorite among students of architecture. It has often been said that the Hearst Building and Bank of America tower are a scaled-down version of New York City's Chrysler and Empire State Buildings.
Not all of Charlotte's architectural energy is spent on Tryon St. Most of the middle-ring neighborhoods have retained their historic styles. 1920s bungalows dominate the old mill-village neighborhoods, while large 19th-Century country estates are to be found in Myers Park. Though these are far more understated than the huge corporate towers Uptown, they are indicative of Charlotte's real architectural heritage.
Discovery Place, on North Tryon between 6th and 7th, +1 704-372-6261, . 9AM-6PM or 9AM-5PM, except on Sunday when it opens at 12PM. One of the nation's most acclaimed children's museums, Discovery Place focuses primarily on the sciences, though special exhibits may have a more general focus. Step into the rainforest, see and feel fish, watch a hydrogen balloon explode and a frozen banana hammer, or check out a movie in the IMAX Dome theater. $7.50 for Discovery Halls, $7.50 for OMNIMAX, $13 for both.
The Mint Museum of Craft and Design, 220 N. Tryon St., +1 704-337-2000, . Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 12PM-5PM. Third Thursdays 10AM-8PM. Closed Mondays and major holidays. An offshoot of the Mint Museum of Art that has a much more accessible location near the Square in the center of the city. Oddly, this "little brother" project has in some ways outpaced the art museum. Its collection is outstanding for a museum of its size, and its staff quite knowledgeable. Visitors often express surprise that the museum's "niche" can be so interesting, especially due to its contemporary design collection. $6 adults, $5 seniors and college students, $3 6-17, free under 5.
ImaginOn, 300 E. Seventh Street, +1 704-973-2780, . M-Th 9AM-9PM, F-Sa 9AM-6PM, Su 1PM-6PM. This new library/theater is fantastic for families. Very attractive and safe, ImaginOn appeals to both younger children and teenagers, and is a relatively quiet refuge for parents. The library features an extensive area for younger children on the ground floor, and a teens-only (no adults allowed) top floor. Also, the Children's Theatre of Charlotte  maintains cutting-edge facilities including a very comfortable theater. ImaginOn is truly underrated and should not be missed by those looking for an educational experience. Library use is free; theater ticket prices vary.
Levine Museum of the New South, 200 E. 7th St., +1 704-333-1887, . 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.
The Green, along Tryon St. between 1st and 2nd Streets. A fascinating literacy-themed park tucked between an historic church and a modern skyscraper. Children love the highly interactive landscaping (including ceramic sofas and a splash fountain) and adults can appreciate the literary references. Conveniently surrounded by restaurants and a small library branch. Free.
Afro-American Cultural Center, 401 N. Myers St. (in the former AME Zion Church on East 7th St.), +1 704-374-1565 (fax: +1 704-374-9273), . Tu-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 1PM-5PM. One of Uptown's most distinctive historic buildings. Features a regular schedule of cultural events and exhibits, including theater and gallery productions. $5 adults, $3 children under 12.
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, . 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 unenforced. $49-$80.
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), . 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 2003. Ticket prices are being lowered for the upcoming season, and it is generally not a problem to purchase a ticket on game day. $15-$85.
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, . 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.
Fourth Ward Park, . Though small, this central park is one of the city's most attractive. Tucked between the central business district and the Fourth Ward historic neighborhood, it is heavily traveled and safe at almost any hour. It features brick walking paths under shade, a gorgeous view of the skyline, and a booth with free maps for a walking tour of the Ward.
Marshall Park. Located in Second Ward near the government center, Marshall Park is a vestige of 1960s urban renewal. Though it offers an excellent view of the skyline and is a good place to eat carry-out lunch from nearby restaurants, it lacks the vibrance of some other city parks. Though it should not be considered dangerous, wise travelers will find a way around it at night.
Third Ward Park, . This park has recently been approved, and is not yet landscaped. It currently consists of a few blocks of grass near Bank of America Stadium. When completed, it is expected to be a center of development in Third Ward.
Time Warner Cable Arena, 333 E Trade St, +1 704-688-9000, . This venue has become the primary destination for big-name concerts in Charlotte, especially in the colder months when an indoor venue is necessary. The location in the heart of Uptown's entertainment district makes this a great place to catch a show. Even "nosebleed" seats aren't very far from the stage.
Brand-new Bobcats Arena has become a major concert venue.
BAR Charlotte, 300 N. College St. (the main entrance to the bar faces the alley in back of the building), +1 704-342-2557, . Open Th-Sa, 9PM-2AM. A survivor in the competitive nightclub market, this is now a mainstay on College St. More a dance club than a bar, this is always a hot spot on weekends. Dress code is enforced, and be prepared to dance. Recently, the club has opened on Monday nights for kids up to 18.
Breakfast Club, 225 N. Caldwell St., +1 704-374-1982, . Tu and Th-Sa 9PM-2:30AM. An 80s-themed club that has caught on strong with the development of the entertainment district in First Ward. Relatively cheap, with "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" Fridays (free before 11am for ladies), this is one of the most shamelessly-fun clubs in Uptown. All ages welcome on Thursday nights. $3 admission.
Coyote Ugly, 521 North College St., +1 704-347-6869, . M-F 4PM-2AM, Sa-Su 12PM-2AM. Crazy bar (just like the movie) with girls singing, dancing and getting out of control. Don't forget to ask about a "Penalty Shot" or a "Body Shot", you won't be disappointed. 21+ Only.
Crush, 300 E Stonewall St, +1 704-377-1010, . M-Th 9PM-2:30AM; F-Sa 9PM-2:30AM. One of the city's newer and most successful clubs. Highly fashionable, Crush is often packed to the walls on weekends. The hip-hop dominated soundtrack and light show can make for sensory overload, but there is also a decent patio area to cool off. Decor is very "Miami", and the five bars make it pretty easy to get a drink. Dress code enforced.
The Forum, 300 N. College St., +1 704-375-8765, . Th-Su 10PM-until. This large club made a huge splash on the scene when it replaced Mythos. In a matter of weeks it joined the heavyweights of the city club scene in attracting long lines, beautiful people and well-reputed DJs. The multi-level layout allows for a variety of experiences, and the clientele is attractive and fun. If you're on the College St. scene, Forum is a can't-miss.
Grand Central, 101 North Tryon St., Suite 113, +1 704-348-7032, . M-F 4PM-2AM, Sa 8PM-2AM. Uptown's Grand Central. A taste of Manhattan in the heart of Charlotte. NY style bar with a house DJ every Friday & Saturday. No cover.
TILT on Trade (formerly the Liquid Lounge), 127 W. Trade St., +1 704-374-0111, . M-F 4PM-2AM, Sa-Su 7PM-2AM. Fashionable and tenured, TILT is one of Charlotte's most well-reputed clubs. House and industrial music keeps the crowded dance floor moving, but the bar and lounge are still comfortable and spacious.
Time, 514 N. College St., +1 704-373-2515, . 9PM-2AM daily. Thriving on the north side of Uptown, Time is something of a rival to Crush on the south side of the city. Hip-hop and trance music, with an extremely crowded dance floor. Be prepared to wait to get in if you arrive late. Though there is a dress code, for the most part Time is one of the least restrictive clubs in Uptown.
Velocity, 935 S. Summit Ave., +1 704-333-0060, . F-Sa 10PM-4AM. Huge warehouse converted into a gay/lesbian club. Known for its large area and variety of attractions inside, Velocity is reputed as one of the more entertaining clubs in the city. Very large dance floor, usually filled with a diverse crowd.
Driving Tours, . 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.
Walking Tours, 330 S. Tryon St., +1 704-847-3302. Main Street Charlotte is an information center in the middle of Uptown that offers guided walking tours around the center of the city. Also, they offer three brochures for self-guided tours.
Carriage Tours. Picks up in front of Discovery Place on Tryon between 6th and 7th Streets. +1 704-301-5111, . This is a slightly slower-paced and more unique alternative to a walking tour. The traditional horse-drawn carriages take you around Uptown and through the historic Fourth Ward neighborhood. Be sure to allow enough time for the casually-paced tour.
The CIAA Basketball Tournament 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 Uptown for a week of games, which are held in Bobcats Arena. Other events take place throughout the city, including a festival along Tryon St.
The St. Patrick's Day Parade 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.
In mid-May, Speed Street brings half a million people to Uptown for major musical acts and events related to the NASCAR All-Star Race, which is held at nearby Concord. 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.
The Taste of Charlotte 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. If coming in from another district, using public transit to park-and-ride is recommended.
Also in July, comic book collectors meet for the annual Heroes Convention at the Convention Center.
Charlotte Pride is a 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 collaboration includes not only cultural festivals and events, but also a day of free admissions to important cultural locations. The new Charlotte Film Festival is a collaboration between the city's most prominent theaters in and around Uptown.
The Public Library of Charlotte hosts the Novello Festival of Reading  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.
The Charlotte International Auto Show brings various dealers and buyers together. Located in the Convention Center and usually in November. Adults $8, kids free.
Carrousel Thanksgiving Day Parade 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.
For college football fans, the Meineke Car Care Bowl 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.
For basic shopping, Uptown Charlotte has a couple of good grocery stores:
Reid's Fine Foods, 225 E. 6th St., +1 704-377-1312, . M-Sa 7AM-8PM, Su 11AM-6PM.
There are three pharmacies in Uptown:
CVS, 231 N. Graham St., +1 704-373-2930 (pharmacy: +1 704-373-2930). Daily, 8AM-10PM (Pharmacy Hours M-F 8AM-10PM, Sa 8AM-6PM, Su 10AM-6PM). There is also a smaller location on 231 N. Tryon St., +1 704-375-4930 (pharmacy: +1 704-375-4930). M-F 7:30AM-7PM, Sa 8AM-1PM (pharmacy: M-F 8AM-6PM, Sa 8AM-1PM).
Eckerd, 316 S. Tryon St., +1 704-377-0215. M-F 8AM-6PM.
The Shops at Founders Hall, 100 North Tryon Street, +1 704-716-8649, . M-F 10AM-6PM, Sa 10AM-4PM. Founders Hall, the atrium of the Bank of America Building, has several upscale shops, including Bank of America Heritage Center and Company Store, an unusual store selling bank memorabilia and featuring a small museum, as well as plenty of clothing and gift stores like Belle Ville, blis, Burke & Co., Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, Julie's Too, and The BookMark, an independent bookstore. The atrium itself is spacious and comfortable, and contains a few restaurants. It generally gets little traffic from outside the Bank of America complex, making it somewhat unknown (even among locals) as a shopping destination. Before 1PM on weekdays, you might consider touring the WBTV Studio, which hosts live morning and noon broadcasts.
The Overstreet Mall is part of the Wachovia complex at Tryon and 2nd St. It is not a "mall" in the traditional sense, but an indoor network of retail and service shops that connects several office buildings. Though it lacks the glamor of streetside shopping, it makes a good alternative to walking outside on cold or rainy days. Its most prominent entrance is through the Wachovia Atrium on the corner of Tryon & 3rd St., though several other entrances are convenient as well. Overstreet Mall's tenants include Dean & Deluca, Merle Norman Cosmetics, Blackberry Store, Just Fresh! Market, Julie's, Belk Express, the Center City YMCA, as well as plenty of restaurants and a variety of other services, including dry cleaning, salons, shoe repair, etc.
Center City Green Market opens on Saturdays from 8AM-1PM during the warmer months on E. 7th St. near Tryon.
This guide uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Green's Lunch, 309 W. 4th St., +1 704-332-1786, . M-F 7:30AM-4PM, Sa 9AM-2PM. One of Charlotte's oldest establishments, and Uptown's oldest restaurant at over 80 years. A relatively simple diner atmosphere, with city memorabilia covering the walls. Order your hot-dog or hamburger "Carolina Style", and don't forget that it's cash-only!
Fuel, 214 N. Tryon St. and 500 S. College St., . M-Th 11AM-10PM, F-Sa 11AM-11PM. A fast-growing, homegrown chain that started in a converted gas station (if you're curious, visit the original location on Central Ave. to see it for yourself). Fuel sells pizza by the slice, making it convenient and cheap to stop for a quick bite. There are two Uptown locations, both convenient to major attractions.
Simmons Soul Food, 516 N. Graham St., +1 704-334-6640, . M–Sa 11AM–9PM, Su 11AM–6PM. A more down-home alternative to Mert's, located not far away in the middle of the historic Fourth Ward neighborhood. The walls are covered with pictures of famous patrons, including star players from the Panthers, Hornets and Bobcats. Located in a shopping center that is full of African-American owned businesses.
Open Kitchen, 1318 W. Morehead St., +1 704-375-7449, . M-Th 11AM-10PM, F 11AM-11PM, Sa 4PM-11PM, Su 4PM-10PM. Once the only restaurant in Charlotte to serve pizza (back when it was considered an exotic delicacy), this restaurant continues to thrive on the outskirts of Uptown. It's not difficult to find three generations of patrons at a single table.
Tic Toc Coffee Shop, 512 N. Tryon St., +1 704-375-5750. M-F 7AM-3PM. Easy to miss among the skyscrapers and bistros of North Tryon St. If you're uptown for the day, this is a good place to step away from the crowd and have a cup o' joe.
Showmars, 101 N. Tryon St., +1 704-333-7469 (alternate locations at 214 N. Tryon St., 130 W. 3rd St., 201 S. College St., 600 E. 4th St.), . M-F 6AM-4PM. These are the most central locations of the home-grown chain that has made a name for its excellent Greek "fast" food. Don't be put off by the odd concept or gaudy neon signs; this chain is successful for a reason. Mouth-watering Greek fare and excellent sweet tea.
Cosmos, 300 N. College St., +1 704-372-3553, . M-F 11AM-2AM, Sa 5PM-2AM. A survivor of the days when Uptown rolled up the sidewalks after sundown, Cosmos has thrived as a hip spot to grab dinner before the clubs open. Artsy decor and creative entrees have kept the doors open, and now Cosmos reaps the benefit of its location near the heart of the entertainment scene. Prices are slightly higher than average, but there are lower-priced options available.
Brixx Pizza, 225 E. 6th St. (also has locations in SouthPark, Dilworth and Huntersville), +1 704-347-2749, . M-Sa 11AM-1AM, Su 11AM-11PM. Critically acclaimed and very family-friendly, Brixx goes far beyond the norm with its pizza selection. Lots of variety on the menu, including pasta dishes and full-size salad options. Very conveniently located at the bottom of the massive 7th St. Station parking deck, and only a couple of blocks from Bobcats arena. Very busy on game days, but the service is quick.
Mert's Heart and Soul, 214 N. College St., +1 704-342-4222, . Lunch daily 11AM-3PM; Dinner Tu-Su 3PM, Brunch Sa-Su 9AM. Upscale soul food located very near the city's entertainment center. Charlotte's most prominent African-American owned restaurant, Mert's is a favorite among people of all walks of life. The hip decor matches its proximity to clubs and Bobcats Arena. Don't count calories.
Ri Ra, 208 N. Tryon St., +1 704-333-5554, . M-Sa 11:30AM-2AM, Su 11:30AM-12AM. As authentic as Irish pubs get without requiring plane tickets; Ri Ra has come up with the clever idea of physically relocating Irish pubs to the United States. A highly authentic menu and beer selection complement the warm surroundings and reasonable prices. Very convenient to nightclubs and the arena. Be ready to fight for a seat on St. Patty's Day.
SoHo Bistro, 214 N Tryon St., +1 704-333-5189, . M-Th 11AM-10PM; F-Sa 11:30AM-11PM; Su 11:30AM-10PM. Big-city visitors might smirk at the lack of Chinese options Uptown, but SoHo Bistro does its best to help fill the void. Not the kind of place to stop for a cheap box of noodles, but excellent if you're looking for a quality lunch or dinner.
French Quarter Restaurant, 321 S. Church St., +1 704-377-7415. One of the best restaurant locations in all of Charlotte, as part of historic Latta Arcade. Give some thought to passing by this restaurant, even if only to grab a drink. The ambience and service are both excellent, and the food quality is very high.
Rock Bottom Brewery, 401 N. Tryon St., +1 704-334-2739, . Open M-Th 11AM-11PM; F-Sa 11AM-12AM; Sun 11AM-9PM. Aside from its beer menu, this place has developed a reputation as one of Uptown's better places to grab a bite to eat. The burgers have an especially high reputation. Note that the kitchen closes a couple of hours before the bar.
Bentley's on 27, 201 S. College St., +1 704-343-9201 . M-Th 11:30AM-2PM, 5:30PM-9:30PM, F 11:30AM-2PM, 5:30PM-10:30PM, Sa 5:30PM-10:30PM. If you're looking for a "wow" factor with your meal, this is it. Bentley's offers upscale dining from the 27th floor of the Grant Thornton building uptown. Panoramic views of south Charlotte accompany your meal. Has a reputation for being a bit overpriced, though for obvious reasons.
Alexander Michael's, 401 W. 9th St., +1 704-332-6789. M-Th 11:30AM-10PM, F-Sa 11:30AM-11PM. If you're touring Fourth Ward, a stop at "Al Mike's" is a must. The building is nearly a century old, and has probably never looked better. The menu is somewhat expensive but the food is good, and the beer selection is one of the best in the city. A slightly dim, pubbish atmosphere creates ambience. Kids are welcome but this is probably a better place for a date.
LaVecchia's, 225 E. 6th St., +1 704-370-6776, . M-Th 5:30PM-10PM, F-Sa 5:30PM-11PM. This upscale seafood restaurant deserves its reputation as one of Uptown's best. Very convenient to the arena and the 10-story 7th St. station parking deck. The prices are a bit high, but you enjoy first-rate seafood, live jazz music and excellent decor.
The McNinch House Restaurant, 511 North Church St., +1 704-332-6159, . Tu-Sa 6:30PM-12AM. An award winning restaurant in Charlotte's historic Fourth Ward neighborhood. The restaurant has operated since 1988 and serves a highly choreographed seven-course Continental and Southern dinner in a turn of the century Queen Anne Victorian Home. Well known for pairing wines with the courses. More than a dinner, it is truly an event. Reservations required, valet parking available.
Therapy, 401 N. Tryon St., +1 704-333-1353, . M,Tu,Th 7AM-11PM; W,F 7AM-2AM; Sat 5PM-2AM. If you're in the middle of a head-splitting barhop, the name "Therapy" will make sense to you. The bar is low-key, quiet and very urban-chic. It's got the features of both a cafe and a martini bar, and the clientele reflects that blend. A cool, quiet place to recover or prep yourself for a late night of sensory overload.
Blue, corner of 5th and College (inside the Hearst Tower, with a streetside entrance), +1 704-927-2583,. Open M-Th 5PM-10PM, F,Sa 5PM-11PM. Trendy but not overbearing, this bar has gained a reputation among Charlotte's high-rollers as a place to rub elbows. A bit lower key than some of its neighbors, this is a good place to relax and have a signature blue martini. Cocktails in the $10 range with $6 martini specials.
Dixie's Tavern, 301 E. 7th St., +1 704-374-1700 (fax: +1 704-374-1710), . M-Sa 11AM-2AM. One of the city's most appealing restaurant-bar combos. Good cajun food and reasonable drink prices make this a great place to begin a night of Uptown bar-hopping. Frequently has live music acts, and occasionally hosts large events in the parking lot.
Fox & Hound, 330 N Tryon St, +1 704-333-4113, . Daily 11AM-2AM. This bar has quickly gained a reputation among the hard-partying Uptown crowd as a place to shoot pool, get good beer and be able to have an audible conversation. Somewhat casual, but still very trendy and safe.
Rock Bottom Brewery, 401 N. Tryon St. Suite 100 (look for the red neon sign), +1 704-334-2739, . M-Sa 11AM-2AM, Su 11AM-11PM. $3-$5/pint. A local franchise of a small national chain, several beers are brewed on site. It's also a restaurant with pretty decent food.
Hartigan's, 601 S. Cedar St., . M-Sa; lunch only Mondays; 12PM-11:30PM during the week, till 2:30PM on weekends. "Irish" pub located on the edge of Uptown near the football stadium. A good place to grab a sandwich for lunch, Hartigan's has solid traffic as a bar after sundown. Upstairs is mostly casual dining and drinking; downstairs is Charlotte's best-known all-lesbian bar. Gay-friendly, but very welcoming of straight clientele.
CANS, 500 W 5th St., +1 704-940-0200, . Daily, 11AM-2AM. In a tastefully-renovated historic mill building, CANS has become one of Uptown's trendiest bar/restaurant combos. Surprisingly family-friendly during the daytime, it becomes a crowded hangout for 20-somethings at night. Beer is served in cans (hence the name) and the menu includes sloppy joes and tater tots, but this is definitely not a low-brow hangout. Try the specialty drinks.
The Corner Pub, 335 N Graham St., +1 704-376-2720, . Tu-Sa 5PM-2AM, Su-M 5-12AM. Simple, unpretentious, and friendly. The Corner Pub is exactly what it sounds like, and feels disconnected from the trendy crush of College Street nightclubs. A great place to go for easy, uncomplicated drinking in a neighborhood atmosphere.
Buckhead Saloon, 201 E 5th St., +1 704-370-0687. A combination dance club/music venue, Buckhead keeps a large crowd most nights of the week. Less pretentious than the nearby dance clubs, but faster-paced than the typical sit-down bar. Generally the music is second-rate, but that's not really the reason people come here anyway.
Cedar Street Tavern, 120 N Cedar St., +1 704-333-3448, . Su-W 11AM-Midnight, Th-Sa 11AM-2AM. Like the Corner Pub, Cedar Street Tavern is primarily a neighborhood bar. Friendly service, reasonable prices and an approachable crowd make for a good low-key drinking atmosphere.
Johnson & Wales University - The most centrally-located university in the city, only blocks from the central business district. This culinary arts university is only a few years old, but has already spurred major redevelopment in Third and Fourth Wards, with its location in the Gateway Village complex.
Uptown Hilton, 222 E. 3rd St., +1 704-377-1500 (fax: +1 704-377-4143), . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 12PM. There are Hiltons scattered across town, but this one has the swankiest location. Part of the complex containing Wachovia Bank's national headquarters, this hotel offers access to an indoor mall and YMCA (reportedly, rooms there include a complimentary guest pass), and is directly across the street from the Convention Center. Excellent views from the upper floors, except those facing the adjacent office tower. Fitness center, restaurants, pool, parking deck. $75 - $199.
Courtyard by Marriott City Center, 237 S Tryon St., +1 704-926-5800 (fax: +1 704-926-5801), . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 12PM. For value and location, this might be the best deal in town. Located only two blocks from the Square, literally around the corner from the Bank of America and Wachovia headquarters. Immediate access to an array of restaurants, clubs, and other attractions. $89 - $170. Pool, breakfast buffet, parking deck ($10/night).
Marriott City Center 100 West Trade St, +1 704-333-9000 (fax: +1 704-342-3419), . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 12PM. A good value with immediate access to the center of the city. Only short walk from the Convention Center and many other attractions. Location is excellent for nightlife, as it is on one of the safest and best-lit blocks in the city. A bit pricy, but surprisingly luxurious for its price range. Valet, restaurant, pool, parking deck. $99 - $169.
Dunhill Hotel, 237 N. Tryon St., +1 704-332-4141 (fax: +1 704-376-4117), . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 12PM. If you're thinking high-class, this is your best bet. Listed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation, this is one of only a handful of historic high-rises in Charlotte. Its attractive location on Tryon St., 19th-century decor, and high-end restaurant (the Monticello) make this a favorite for honeymooners and other romantics. $199 - $269.
Omni Hotel, 132 E. Trade St. +1 704-377-0400 (fax: +1 704-347-0649), . Check-in: 3PM, Check-out: 12PM. It doesn't get more central than this; the shard-shaped Omni is located directly on the Square. Aside from its excellent views and relatively affordable package deals, the Omni is also located on top of an indoor mall area. In addition, it is connected to the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center and features a rooftop pool with excellent skyline views. Most rooms have great views, except those on the backside of the building. Business travelers tend to favor this one for location. Pool, sauna, fitness center, restaurant, airport shuttle, sauna. $99 - $229.
Residence Inn by Marriott, 404 S Mint St., +1 704-340-4000 (fax: +1 704-358-1211), . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 12PM. A favorite for visitors to Panthers games. Features a large number of suites, making this a favorite of celebrities who are in town for the game. Most rooms face the stadium and it is a short walk to the game and surrounding amenities. The hotel is only 5 years old, so the rooms have a very “new” feel. Restaurant, fitness center, continental breakfast. $144 - $289.
Westin Hotel, 601 S. College St., +1 704-335-2100 (fax: +1 704-375-2623), . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 12PM. Charlotte's largest hotel, and one of its best-located. The distinctive shape of the hotel gives an indication of its prominence in connecting Uptown and South End, both of which are within walking distance. An added bonus: the streetcar stops right at the base of the hotel and the Gold Rush trolley passes close by. The in-house restaurant has an excellent reputation. Fitness center, pool, grand ballroom. $119 - $209.
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 cental district's code is 28202.
The main branch of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Library is located on North Tryon St., a short walk from the central Square. It is easily recognizable by its green copper roof, and the authorial quotes which adorn its columns. Among its resources is an internet cafe which offers free visitor access. On the third floor is a special library of local and regional history, including old maps and photographs of the city. The library is one of the best places to get directions if you need them.
Permanent public restrooms are relatively rare in Charlotte, though portable restrooms are usually provided for major public events. It is generally o.k. to duck into a bar or restaurant to use the restroom, though it is considered good etiquette to make at least a trivial purchase to compensate the business.
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