Mecklenburg County (North Carolina)
It's not uncommon to hear the phrase "Char-Meck" when refering to the area.
Charlotte has several smaller townships within it's sphere of influence.
Nature lovers will like Charlotte. The area, unlike most cities is very (with the stress on VERY) green.
Charlotte's central location is nice, you aren't too far from the mountains or beach. The closest (large) bodies of water and waterways are:
James K. Polk birthplace in modernday Pineville, South Mecklenburg.
Charlotte has many restaurants located in all parts of the city. Charlotte is very much a Carolina city, despite its outside influence, so try the barbeque. The specific kinds of restaurants you encounter will depend on what part of the county you're in. Central Charlotte is full of upscale bistros and pubs, whereas the areas around the interstates are full of fast-food and chain restaurants. If you're near a large body of water (Lake Norman or the Catawba River), expect to see more seafood restaurants. Also, older parts of the city (especially the historic inner suburbs) are full of "local flavor" restaurants which usually feature plenty of fried foods.
A local favorite is Cheerwine soft drink, you should give it a try. Other favorites include Sun Drop and RC Cola. As for beer, Char-Meck is nothing out of the ordinary. Liquor is available by the drink throughout the county, though some nearby small towns have wrestled with whether to permit it.
Be aware that liquor is only available through state-sanctioned "ABC" (Alcoholic Beverage Commission) stores. Therefore, traditional "liquor stores" do not exist. Wine and beer are available for purchase at any gas station or grocery store.
Southern Comfort rules apply. Though Mecklenburg County has grown rapidly and taken in many thousands of "transplants" from other parts of the nation, it is still relatively slow-paced and polite compared to many other urban areas. This is particularly the case in smaller towns like Matthews, Pineville and Huntersville.
BE WARNED: Locals have a good relationship with newcomers (they have little choice), but they do not like being perceived as "hicks" or "bumpkins". An extremely common complaint is that outsiders tend to compare the area unfavorably to other towns, which may unintentionally come across as condescending or rude. If you compare Charlotte (or its surrounding areas) to your hometown, be careful to do so graciously so as to avoid this impression.
Charlotte's crime rate is nothing to smile about, but you're unlikely to experience trouble.
Allergy sufferers be warned, because of its natural beauty Charlotte and it's surrounding areas will be hell on you during the spring. If you are sensitive to high pollen levels, you should consider coming another time, or bring meds.
Char-Meck does not have a high HIV rate.