Ready to explore a little Southern heritage? Charlotte’s downtown streets are lined with skyscrapers, worthy of its status as a banking and finance center. But North Carolina’s largest city hasn’t lost touch with her historic and Southern roots.
Where to Stay
The most desirable hotel district is the downtown area, where you can be close to the action. You can afford to treat yourself to a nice downtown Charlotte hotel since prices in the region are quite reasonable compared to bigger cities. Chain hotels like the Hampton Inn or Holiday Inn Express are popular choices. If you’re interested in something more unique to Charlotte, try the historic VanLandingham Estate Inn, a charming Southern estate converted to a hotel and conference center.
What to Eat
The cuisine in Charlotte leans decidedly Southern and, although the city sits inland from the coast, local chefs love to incorporate fresh seafood. The local barbecue is vinegar-based and pairs well with craft beers. Deep-fried foods are abundant. Fried pickles are a signature dish in the city, but don’t miss a chance to also eat fried oysters or fried okra. Two specific dishes to try include the “infamous calamari” at Passion8 and the classic fried chicken from Price’s Chicken Coop.
On your first day, enjoy the city’s walkable center and visit some of the downtown attractions. There is a museum for every member of the family in this compact cultural zone. The Mint Museum, housed in a former U.S. Mint branch, is a favorite for traditional art lovers, but the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art has been making a splash since it opened in 2010. The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts & Culture is a visual feast of art, history, insight, and emotion.
For a local history lesson, visit the Levine Museum of the New South, where the permanent exhibit takes you from cotton fields to skyscrapers. Racing fans will want to make a pilgrimage to the NASCAR Hall of Fame to see vintage cars and learn about the history of racing. Kids will love Discovery Place, an interactive science center, and the ImaginOn library and theater complex.
Relive the past with a tour of the Historic Rosedale Plantation and its lovely gardens. Costumed docents will fill you in on the grandeur of the plantation and the lives of the Caldwell family and the slaves who lived at Rosedale.
Near the plantation, you’ll find the NoDa Brewing Company. At NoDa you can enjoy some pub food and a local beer and take a free brewery tour if you’re interested. For the best experience, try some flights of the local craft brews.
Continue soaking up the charm of Charlotte with a visit to the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in nearby Belmont, where you can stroll through nine separate gardens and an Orchid Conservatory. Or visit wineries in the Piedmont area in the Blue Ridge Mountain foothills.
However you choose to spend your time in Charlotte, you’re sure to fall in love with the city’s intoxicating Southern charm, hospitality, and cuisine.