What are some things to know before visiting Charlotte?

Answers from Our Experts (2)

Sarah Crosland

If you’re visiting Charlotte for the first time, here are three tips for making it a great trip that runs smoothly.

1) Rent a car. Unless you are staying Uptown and are only in Charlotte for a brief period of time, this is a city in which it is useful to have a car. Some of the best parts of the city are its neighborhoods to the south and east, which you’ll want to explore if you have the time. From Uptown, you can hop on the LYNX light rail into South End, but at this point there is only one line so your options are still somewhat limited. Uptown, however is easy to navigate without a car. Cabs, bike rentals, the light rail, and even a free trolley system offer trips around town.

2) The city features dynamic neighborhoods, all with distinct differences. Here are a few to check out: Uptown encompasses the center city area surrounded by I-277. It’s primarily businesses (which are primarily banks), but also offers top restaurants, nightlife, hotels, museums, and some retail.  Directly to the south is South End, a popular historic neighborhood that was formerly mills and warehouses. Now, you’ll find a fast-growing section of town full of restaurants, breweries, design shops, and art galleries. Further to the south is SouthPark, which hosts the region’s top shopping mall filled with high end, internationally renowned shops. To the east of town you’ll find Plaza Midwood and NoDa, two edgier neighborhoods filled with concert venues, nightlife, and some of the city’s most iconic restaurants.

3) Don’t plan on barbecue. While North Carolina is famous for its ’cue, you’re more likely to find the good stuff in small towns like Lexington or Shelby. When you’re visiting Charlotte, take advantage of the city’s growing locavore movement and indulge in restaurants like Uptown’s Harvest Moon Grille where the owner/chef/farmer creates inventive—and tasty—dishes all from items grown or raised within 100 miles.

Blake Miller

1. Rent a car. Charlotte’s public transportation system is lacking and because the city is laid out much like Atlanta (pockets of suburban-like neighborhoods make up the city) it’s easiest to get around by car.

2. The ocean is close but it’s not that close. So often visitors to the Queen City want to head to the beach. But the closest beach to Charlotte—the biggest being Myrtle Beach in South Carolina—is still about three to four hours away.

3. Southern cuisine is king, but there’s much more to try. Sure, Southern favorites such as shrimp and grits, fried chicken, and collards can be found on what feels like every corner. But Charlotte’s dining scene is constantly evolving and boasts fantastic Thai and sushi places, modern steakhouses and Mexican spots, as well as high-end seafood restaurants.

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