One of the most common questions I receive is: “I’m visiting Charlotte. What should I do there?” Since my suggestions vary based on what you’re into, I pulled together some ideas for four different types of travelers. (I got this idea from an in-flight magazine that did the same breakdown for Nashville.)
Where to stay: The Dunhill. This 10-story boutique hotel originally opened in 1929 as the Mayfair Manor and today is one of few hotels in North Carolina designated as a National Trust Historic Hotel. It is also home to the largest collection of original works by North Carolina artist Phillip Moose.
Morning: For coffee and a light bite for breakfast, stop by Rush Espresso in historic Brevard Court. The pedestrian cobblestone courtyard lined with restaurants and bars leads to the 100-year-old Latta Arcade. Spend the rest of the morning exploring Charlotte’s history from 1865 to present at the Levine Museum of the New South.
Lunch: It’s nothing fancy, but Green’s Lunch is Uptown Charlotte’s oldest restaurant. The classic diner, opened in 1926, is best known for its hotdogs served on fresh steamed buns but they’ve also got burgers, chicken sandwiches, salads and more.
Afternoon: Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture. Located on the site of the former historically black neighborhood of Brooklyn, the center “celebrates excellence in the art, history and culture of African-Americans and those of African descent.”
Evening: Go on a walking history tour. Carolina History and Haunts hosts $15 guided tours that depart from Hearst Tower every Friday and Saturday. (They also have special discounted $12 full moon tours. Check the site for 2016 dates.) Another option is Marie Boucher’s $5 Dark History walking tour. Tours take place every other weekend and dates can be found on Marie’s Facebook page. Close out the night with dinner at Alexander Michael’s in historic Fourth Ward. The restaurant is located inside the repurposed old Crowell-Berryhill Store, a grocery store that opened back in 1897.
Where to stay: Omni Hotel. They’ve got a ‘Sensational Kids’ program that includes a backpack filled with snacks and activities as well as cookies and milk delivered to the room on your first night.
Lunch: Pick up a picnic lunch at Something Classic Café in the Hearst Courtyard to enjoy outside at First Ward Park. For easy grab-and-go meals at Something Classic, kids can choose from PB&J, turkey and provolone or ham and swiss sandwiches. (They’ve also got hot kids’ meals. See the menu here.)
Afternoon: If the weather (or season) isn’t cooperating to allow for rooftop pool time back at the hotel, make a stop at IMAGINON, a free children’s library with hands-on activities for all ages.
Dinner: For a casual, family-friendly joint, head to Queen City Q. They serve up authentic southern barbecue from various regions, including eastern and western North Carolina and South Carolina. If you need an evening distraction before bed, stroll through 7th Street Public Market next door. You can stop by the Cloud 9 Confections counter for sweet treats to take back to the hotel.
Arts & Style
Where to stay: The Ritz-Carlton
Morning: Walk to King’s Kitchen & Bakery. Grab a fresh-baked pastry (they’re known for their croissants) and coffee at The King’s Bakery to-go counter. Stroll two blocks up to Romare Bearden Park to enjoy breakfast with a view in the 5.4-acre park named after the Charlotte-born painter. Walk up the Levine Avenue of the Arts to spend the morning exploring the Mint Museum and The Bechtler, which are located across the street from one another.
Lunch: Take a break between museums to visit Halcyon, an award-winning restaurant inside The Mint.
Nighttime: For evening entertainment, plan on dinner at Rooster’s and a show next door at Booth Playhouse. If theatre isn’t your thing and it happens to be Thursday, spend your time at the McColl Center for Art + Innovation, a historic church transformed into 30,000 square feet of artist studios and gallery space. If you’re still up for late-night adventures after the show or gallery tour, head to The Punch Room on the 15th floor of The Ritz.
Breakfast: Start your day with coffee from Not Just Coffee at 7th Street Public Market. Inside the market you’ll find a number of restaurants with locally sourced ingredients (like Pure Pizza, Local Loaf and Orman’s Cheese Shop) as well as produce, wine and chocolate vendors. Stock up on souvenirs and samples. For a grab-and-go food, get a breakfast sandwich at Local Loaf inside the market. But if it’s a weekend day and you prefer a a full sit down meal, brunch at The Asbury can’t be beat.
Lunch: We’re taking a detour out of Uptown for more food exploration in nearby South End. Hop on the light rail (buy a roundtrip ticket for $4.40 or an unlimited day pass for $6.60) to Atherton Market at the East/West station stop. Here you can get to know local farmers and artisans and sample many of the foods available in the market. Be sure to stop by Savory Spice Shop across the parking lot to stock up on edible souvenirs. Depending on how late (and how filling) your breakfast was, enjoy a light, fresh raw vegan lunch at Luna’s Living Kitchen or the best burgers and poutine in town at The Liberty.
Dinner: You can’t stay in a hotel home to the best new restaurant in Charlotte without enjoying a meal there. So after a hard-earned food coma nap back at the hotel, head downstairs for dinner at Evoke.