Charlotte, North Carolina, is one of those Southern cities that awake your senses with food, fun, and frolic. It is an ideal place for a weekend getaway, family fun, or a girls’ trip, and an explorer’s dream city.
Charlotte is easy to navigate since most neighborhoods are located directly off of I-77, a busy interstate through the state of North Carolina. Each community is unique and offers extraordinary things to see and do. It is no wonder Charlotte, North Carolina, is the entertainment and cultural leader for Southeastern cities.
During a visit with my daughter Peyton, we had the chance to explore many new places in Queen City (Charlotte’s nickname). We share with you a diverse itinerary that will include history, pop culture, delicious dining, and stepping out of our comfort zone.
This is what we did in Charlotte.
Where We Stayed
The Le Méridien, in Uptown Charlotte, was our home away from home, providing luxury accommodations. The decor of the Le Méridien is gorgeous, sleek, and contemporary. Flavored water and coffee were available at all times in the impressive lobby. Plush seating groups are found throughout the first floor and cool lounge music continually plays. An onsite restaurant and bar on the first floor, as well as a stylish rooftop bar, City Lights, which we did not have time to visit. It is, however, one of the more popular and newest places to have cocktails in the city and offers a 360° skyline view.
An accommodating Le Méridien staff member checked us in and showed us to our room. Valet or self-parking is available, both very easy to maneuver. The hotel is within walking distance of multiple attractions.
Peyton and I entered our huge room and immediately loved the gold and black design theme. One wall housed a considerable bed with expensive linens and plenty of pillows, while a flat-screen TV and mini-fridge were located across the room. A functional desk sat in front of the window overlooking the city and held a coffee maker. Le Méridien provided Illy coffee and supplies, a personal favorite. A sizable lighted closet, leather bedside lamps, and a safe were other noteworthy items in the room.
The marble bathroom had an enormous tiled shower with the best shower head that I have ever used. Seriously, this was one incredible shower.
Where to Eat in Charlotte
Peyton and I had breakfast at Evoke, Le Méridien’s onsite new-age steakhouse restaurant. Lunch was from The King’s Kitchen, and a most fabulous dinner was from The Cellar at Duckworth’s.
She chose the House-Made Granola and Berry Parfait and me, the Goat Lady Dairy Sandy Creek Cheese Omelet, from a specialty menu. My omelet, made with local goat cheese, gets an A+ for originality, though the preparation does take 15 to 20 minutes. The omelet was well worth the wait and tasted terrific. Peyton’s granola parfait was huge, and there was an unbelievable amount of berries.
We ate lunch at the King’s Kitchen, a Jim Noble restaurant, who happens to be my favorite chef. I liked the restaurant’s curb appeal immediately, and the huge windows with recipe ingredients etched on them. Peyton and I shared Pimento Cheese with the King’s Kitchen baguette, to begin with, and then ordered Southern staples for our entrees.
Peyton had the BBQ Chicken with fresh Green Beans and the best Macaroni and Cheese she had ever eaten. My meal was the Braised Beef with Creamed Corn, the best Potato Salad, and Collard Greens that totally rocked my world. The cornbread was a nice touch as well, bursting with whole kernel corn and super crispy edges. We were nearly in a food coma when we left.
The Cellar at Duckworth’s
The Cellar at Duckworth’s was a total change of pace. The striking restaurant is housed in a 1900’s building that was previously a pharmacy turned speakeasy during prohibition. They play on the days of the past by pairing gastropub fare with prohibition-style cocktails, which translates to incredibly strong. Peyton and I realized this with the Hard Chai (made with rye whiskey) and Blackberry Mezcal Mule that we ordered. Oh my, we were nearly breathing fire!
For dinner, we started with a most exciting dish of House Made Waffle Cones. Our tray arrived with three different waffle cones, each stuffed with blends including Coconut Shrimp, Chicken (bacon and sriracha) and Ponzu Poke Tuna (avocado and macadamia nuts).
Our entrées from the Cellar at Duckworth’s were Grilled Shrimp and Old Mill Cheddar Grits and the Filet Mignon. My meal was topped with a six-minute egg, definitely a tremendous Southern addition. Peyton’s steak was grilled to perfection, with a nice charred exterior, super tender and flavorful.
What We Did in Charlotte, North Carolina
Funny Bus Comedy City Tour
This Funny Bus tour was definitely out of my comfort zone as comedy is not something that I typically partake in, but a real treat. I highly encourage you to jump on board and have lots of fun, for $25. The 90-minute tour departs from the 7th Street Public Market (a great place to visit) and entertains you all the while seeing Charlotte’s hot neighborhoods. There is a lot of history involved and many laughs. You may bring your own food, beer, and wine on the tour, making it economical as well.
Our bus had a great crowd, and though it rained part of the time, we did not let that dampen our spirits. I recommend wear inga ponytail as the bus is open-air and gets to speeds that are not hair -riendly. The hilarious tour allows for a 15-minute stop at Wet Willie’s for a bathroom break and drinks purchases. We also stopped at two gorgeous spots for photo-ops. The Funny Bus tour is good for any occasion and evokes plenty of laughter. Kudos for being punctual.
NoDa Food Tour
I was thrilled to attend one of Charlotte’s gourmet food tours, and in NoDa, North Davidson Arts District, the premier arts community. Jon, a knowledgeable and friendly guide led the trip with 12 of us in tow. Our stops for the three-hour tour included six restaurant/drink establishments. Note: the stops change often.
At Heist Brewery, we sampled a variety of Flatbreads (Duck was my favorite!) and handcrafted beers. We were also treated us to sweet treats from Charlotte’s famous bakery, Amélie’s French Bakery. Next up, Southern popsicles (lemonade and sweet tea) from King of Pops to beat the heat as we walked around the neighborhood.
Revolution Ale House prepared delicious Raviolis, Hummus, and Bruschetta for the group, while Füd at Salud offered a Southern favorite, Chicken and Waffles. Boudreaux’s served up a Cajun Carbonara pasta bowl and last, but least was NoDa Company Store poured us Sangria as we snacked on local snacks such as Pimento Cheese and Chips.
All in all, this was an epic food tour. Our group walked about 2 miles around town as our tour guide provided us with details and history. A nice extra touch was that the tour company provided a sheet detailing our stops and foods for the day.
The Levine Museum of the New South
The Levine Museum of the New South is a fascinating and hard-hitting museum showcasing the drastic changes of Southern life through the years. Here unfolds the story of how the South has evolved from “cotton fields to skyscrapers,” which is their current offering. The museum depicts a comprehensive account of post-Civil War Southern history and memories while being very well exhibited, though parts of it are hard to bear.
This is the only museum of its type and includes video clips, oral histories, photographs, and artifacts to tell stories about tenant farmers, 1920’s Main Street, and neighbors shaping Charlotte as it is today. One of my favorite parts of the Levine Museum of the New South was seeing a cotton gin. How cool. Their hands-on displays allowed guests to feel the cotton and seed in various forms. Another fun exhibit was the barbershop and nostalgic soda fountain counter that shared stories from customers and past sit-ins.
Admission is free to the Levine Museum of the New South on the first Sunday of the month. Be sure to stock up on Charlotte magazines, literature, and flyers as they are free here.
Nascar Hall of Fame
Although I have never seen a NASCAR race, I thoroughly enjoyed visiting the Nascar Hall of Fame. Admission gives you a chance to be up close and personal with all things NASCAR at an interactive, state of the art facility that will be fun for the whole family.
The Hall of Fame offerings includes a shrine dedicated to the hall of famers, photo ops, a behind the scenes look at drivers’ preparation for the race, rotating exhibits, and a High Octane Theater. Glory Road is a spectacular ramp area containing 18 historic cars and highlights from NASCAR’s history and tracks. Drivers often make guest appearances, so be sure to check the schedule.
NASCAR’s Pit Crew Challenge is another cutting-edge, hands-on opportunity. Meanwhile, the Hall of Honor is for inductees to the Hall of Fame and has personal photos, vehicles, racing attire, and a few surprises. Do not miss the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s wonderful gift shop and Pit Stop Café.
Hands down, the best thing at the NASCAR Hall of Fame is the simulator ride, which puts you in a race car to compete with other passengers to win the Sprint Cup. Your virtual drive is on the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where you select your vehicle and take a brief driving lesson before taking to the track. I failed horribly at the training because I just wanted to Snapchat my experience. Surprisingly, I ended up finishing 4th of 11 people, many who have annual passes and do this often. High five me for that great score!
Charlotte’s Got A Lot
Charlotte is bursting with offerings, appealing to everyone in your party. I love that this city is home to a plethora of professional sports teams:
- Carolina Panthers- NFL Football
- Charlotte Hornets- NBA Basketball
- Charlotte Knights- Minor League Baseball
- Charlotte Checkers- American Hockey League
- Charlotte Hounds- Major League Lacrosse
- Charlotte Independence- United Soccer League
- Charlotte Rugby Club- Mid-Atlantic Rugby Football Union
- Charlotte Express-American Ultimate Disc League
- Carolina Queens- Independent Women’s Football League
I hope that your travels will bring you to this cosmopolitan city soon and that you have a wonderful time.
Do you have any plans to visit Charlotte?
Thanks to the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority for hosting us on our visit. As with all of my posts, opinions and reviews are 100% mine.
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