Should visitors rent a car in Charlotte?

Answers from Our Experts (2)

Blake Miller

Absolutely. Charlotte is laid out much like its southern sister city, Atlanta, in that popular pockets of the city such as SouthPark, Dilworth, and Ballantyne are accessible only by car or bus transportation. That being said, there are other ways to navigate the city. For guests traveling by air, the city offers the hybrid electric Sprinter Bus, which runs a direct route from Charlotte Douglas International Airport to Uptown, where you can access hotels such as aloft and the Ritz-Carlton Charlotte not to mention a slew of restaurants and nightlife options. Once in Uptown, you can hop aboard the LYNX Light Rail, which runs from Uptown to 485 making stops in between at destinations such as South End where the home décor scene is one not to miss. If the LYNX doesn’t get you where you need to be, consider hailing a cab or hopping aboard the (free!) Gold Rush Trolley, which makes stops along Tryon Street in Uptown and over to areas off of Morehead Street in Dilworth/South End. This latter area is a great place for walking as well as popping into stores such as Mrs. Howard and Max & Co., acclaimed designer Phoebe Howard's home store.

Sarah Crosland

The answer to this question is definitely yes. Sure, there have been some recent—and very helpful—additions as far as public transportation in Charlotte, but in general, this is a city where driving is useful. While uptown offers access to hotels, restaurants, shops, culture, and businesses all within walking distance, to really explore the city, you need a car. 

Totally set on not renting a car? There are a few ways to navigate town. 

First, you'll want to stay as close to the city's center as possible. Charlotte offers the Sprinter Bus, which features a direct route from the airport to utown. Once you're in uptown, look to hotels like The Ritz-Carlton and Aloft, which are conveniently placed so that you can often walk to restaurants, nightlife and businesses without even stepping outside. Plus, it's not difficult to find taxi service from uptown to outlying neighborhoods (you'll just have to plan to call the taxi for return service). Those hotels also offer easy access to Charlotte's Lynx Light Rail, which has several stops uptown and then travels into south Charlotte with stops in neighborhoods along the way.

Another easy—and, in this case, free—version of public transportation in uptown Charlotte is the Gold Rush Trolley. Look for the signs throughout uptown for spots to get on and off. Finally, Charlotte also recently added a bike share program. You'll see the stations around the city where you can check out a bicycle and then check it back in. It's one more easy way to navigate the area sans car. 

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