Charlotte has gone from a quiet southern city to one of the fastest growing urban areas in the USA. Companies locate here because of its accessible downtown, great residential life, affordable real estate and a great climate. Charlotteans are thrilled with the attention the city is getting.
The light-rail system is expanding, making the entire city easy to navigat.
The arts are flourishing. The Bechtler Museum, The Mint Museum (Uptown) and The Harvey B. Gantt Museum Center for African American Arts and Culture form a triad of entertainment just a walk from each other.
The food scene — from food trucks and local cuisine to fine dining — is diverse. Charlotte chefs support their local farmers. And the food ranges from great southern barbecue (Mac’s Speed Shop, for example), to classic southern fried chicken (try Price’s–but it’s take-out only), to Mexican, Vietnamese, Indian, Greek diner fare.
The live music scene is thriving in bars, nightclubs and open air venues almost any night of the week. If you are looking for entertainment, visitors can find it uptown, in the Historic Southend, in Dillworth, NoDa, in the leafy, more suburban Southpark neighborhood and beyond.
The city also loves its outdoor spaces. Charlotte’s Greenway continues to grow and it is well used–on any given day, in any given months (yep, even the coolder months), you find joggers, dog walkers, biking families and more. Shady, paved, mostly flat, Charlotte’s Greenway connects one end of town to the other. And if you would rather stay put, to enjoy a picnic, perhaps, find shade and plenty of open space in one of Charlotte’s parks: Freedom Park, in the heart of Dilloworth.
The coast is a few hours east; the cool, Blue Ridge mountains are a short car ride west.
The North Carolina Wine Trail is making a name for itself.
NASCAR is here.
Enjoy these itineraries for some of Charlotte’s best:
Charlotte is a year-round destination with four distinct seasons–it can be extremely hot and humid in the summertime, but there is plenty of green space (Freedom Park, the green trails) and plenty of a/c. Go any time of year, and you’ll find things happening. The live music scene never dies down, although it might move indoors for the winter, which (to this former northerner) is blissfully brief.
Give yourself at least three days to explore Charlotte, although you can be amused for a full week without a problem. There is live music, popular and art-house theaters (Manor Theatre, for example), outdoor sports to participate in (Whitewater Rafting Center) or watch–Panthers are heading to the Super Bowl in 2016 for the first time!
NASCAR races are just 30 minutes north of the city, and if the races aren’t running, fans can visit the NASCAR Museum.
Fine Arts are alive and well–visit the Mint Museum, the Bechtel, Knight Center for Performing Arts and more.
Live music is essential in Charlotte. Find clubs in NODA, uptown and on South Boulevard and more–you’re chances of hearing some great local or national groups in a pretty intimate setting are good.
Fine shopping in local stores in Dilworth or NODA neighborhoods and national shopping at places like South Park Mall.
Hikers can get in short trips to Crowders Mountain Park or day trips to places like Blowing Rock or Asheville.
No one gets bored in Charlotte…at least, no one SHOULD get bored in Charlotte!
Charlotte is a destination no matter what time of year, although the wind and chill might get the best of you in January and February. But the weather does little to deter Charlotteans enjoyment of anything. The big local Farmers Market operates year-round (if a little lighter in winter), and little shuts down.
Go when you can!
Charlotte climate remains seasonable yet mild for four distinct seasons. Temperature highs averages about 51ºF in January and in the upper 80s in July and August, the hottest and stickiest months. Winters are short, and even when snow does fall, it doesn’t remain on the ground for long.
The mild weather allows residents and visitors plenty of time to be outside year-round–rainfall is light, too–average monthly precipitation hovers between three and four inches. No dry season, no rainy season.
In other words, every season is a great season to visit Charlotte.
Charlotte Jazz Festival (April)
Art Walk (Late April)
Beer, Bourbon and BBQ (May)
Annual Festival in the Park (September)
Charlotte Candlelight Tango Festival (Early December)
Eastern Time Zone (same as NYC)
Charlotte is a casual town. Jeans and t-shirts work almost everywhere. That said, the town likes to dress up, too–for events, for the theater, for sports teams (blue hair for the Panthers, anyone?).
It is a city–I would just say don’t go TOO casual when you are heading out.
In the summertime, when it is so hot, summer clothes and, for women, summer dresses are a great bet. Like most places these days, summer interiors are often over air-conditioned, so I usually have a light sweater with me, too.
In the winter, it does get cold, and I own a ski jacket and a long wool coat for my time there.
Charlotte is mostly a driving town, and it is pretty east to navigate, so renting a car is a good option if you fly in. Parking in town can be an issue. Patience might reward you with street parking, but the safest bet is to find a parking garage close to where
you are going–and always ask if they validate your parking.
If you stay in town (often called Uptown), you can get south of the city on the light rail line, LYNX, and the line IS expanding to the north, although it is not open yet. Adults: $2.20 one way. One-day pass: $6.60 for Adults. (more info here: http://charmeck.org/city/charlotte/cats/fares/faresandpasses/Pages/lynxfares.aspx)
There is a bus from the airport into town. Cabs into town cost anywhere from (roughly) $25 into town, $35 to outer neighborhoods and $60 to suburbs (like Concord Mills Mall).
Charlotte is served by a great bus system, and most buses take you almost anywhere with a transfer. Fares are same as LYNX: $2.20 per adult, one way. One-day pass: $6.60. Passes can be picked up at the transit center in town:
Charlotte Transportation Center
310 East Trade St., Charlotte, NC 28202
More information about Charlotte Area Transit: https://secure.ridetransit.org/psales/
Charlotte was a hub for USAir–with that airline’s merger with American, it is hard to tell what will happen, but plenty of air traffic flows through this busy–and comfortable (rockers! free wifi!) airport. Charlotte is an easy place to fly.
If you are driving, I-77 runs right into the heart of Charlotte north/south, I-85 runs east/west, taking travelers to Atlanta (almost due west) or the eastern (and slightly north) towns of Chapel Hill, Raliegh and Durham.
Amtrak has a station on the north side of the city and people use the train.
CATS (Charlotte Area Transit System) Charlotte Transportation Center
310 East Trade St., Charlotte, NC 28202
Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) Website: http://charmeck.org/city/charlotte/Airport/Pages/default.aspx
Address: 5501 R C Josh Birmingham Pkwy, Charlotte, NC 28208, United States
Phone: 1 704-359-4013