On June 30Sarah Crosland answered the question:Whether you’re just in the mood to peruse or looking for a new addition to hang above the mantle, these three local galleries offer gorgeous art in a variety of styles.
Elder Art Gallery
This South End gallery features two floors of art from both local and international artists. Inside the upscale gallery you’ll find paintings, pottery, sculpture, and drawings, all offered for sale. Collectors in the know will appreciate that it is the exclusive representative for the collections of several talented artists including Leon A. Makielski and the late Carl Plansky.
The range of works here may be the most impressive thing about this Myers Park shop. From talented new artists to well known names, art lovers will find a variety of beautiful contemporary pieces in this bright gallery. Look for colorful paintings by artists like Gary Bodner, Paul Hunter, and Christy Kinard among many others.
Ciel Gallery + Mosaic Studio
Quite possibly the most unusual gallery in town, this spot offers stunning fine art mosaics. It’s one of the few galleries in the United States dedicated to exhibiting fine art mosaics and in addition to rotating exhibits from mosaic artists around the world, you’ll also find art classes, mosaic workshops, and consultations.
On June 30Sarah Crosland answered the question:Between its bustling new uptown arts complex and small neighborhood galleries, there’s always something for art lovers around town. Here are two of the latest exhibits for those looking to be educated and entertained.
New Eyes on America: The Genius of Richard Caton Woodville (June 29-November 3)
This exhibit, featuring more than forty paintings and works on paper by arstis Richard Caton Woodville and his contemporaries offers a peek at America during the first half of the 19th century. It’s the first exhibition of his work in 45 years and the Mint Museum Randolph is the only venue outside of The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore to host it.
The Kinsey Collection: Shared Treasures of Bernard and Shirley Kinsey (June 29- October 12)
This exhibition celebrates this couple’s passion for collecting African-American art and historical pieces and showcases some of the incredible objects from their collection. Guests to the exhibit can view items like an early copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, letters by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, and a first-edition book of poetry by Phillis Wheatley.
On June 30Sarah Crosland answered the question:It’s no coincidence that Charlotte’s former mayor Anthony Foxx was recently appointed the Secretary of the United States Department of Transportation. The city has shown serious growth in its public transit system in recent years. And while there’s plenty of room for improvement—and many plans in the works—it’s a city that’s becoming more and more easily navigable using public transportation.
The easiest mode of public transportation is the LYNX light rail line. This line, which runs south from center city into South End and ultimately into south Charlotte, has convenient stops throughout Uptown. In Uptown, you’ll also find the Gold Rush Trolley, a free trolley bus that goes east and west on Trade Street and north and south on Tryon, making frequently stops on almost every block. Uptown also now offers a public bike sharing system with an ever-increasing number of stations in the surrounding neighborhoods as well.
Finally, the most helpful part of public transportation for Uptown visitors may be the city’s Sprinter bus, which provides direct connection between Charlotte Douglas International Airport and the city center. It departs every 20 minutes during weekdays and every 30 minutes on nights and weekends.
On June 30Sarah Crosland answered the question:Sure, Charlotte is a great city for enjoying outdoors, but on a day when the weather isn’t working in your favor, there are plenty of places to head inside for a fun time. Here are three top spots you won’t want to miss—rain or shine.
Billy Graham Library
The famed evangelist grew up in Charlotte and still has strong ties in the area. Now, the 40,000-square-foot library offers interactive tours showing his rise from a local farm boy to an international speaker. Inside the barn shaped building you’ll find the tour and the Graham Brothers Dairy Bar featuring bites and ice cream. Plus, you have the chance to tour the home he lived in from age 9 until college, which was relocated from its original location several miles away.
This luxe mall located south of town features more than 1.5 million square feet of shopping. It’s the largest mall in the Carolinas and includes upscale shopping such as Neiman Marcus, Hermes, Kate Spade, Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Lacoste, and Tiffany & Co.
Ray’s Splash Planet
There’s no lack of ways to get soaked at this massive indoor water park containing more than 100,000 gallons of water. A three-story slide, current pool, and lazy river are just a few of the ways your family can stay entertained (and wet) in this county-funded aquatic center.
On June 30Sarah Crosland answered the question:There are plenty of places to be out and about after dark in Charlotte. From Uptown, where you’ll find well-dressed crowds ready to party on weekends, to neighborhood bars where patrons spill out onto patios and rooftop decks many nights, here are few spots worth checking out.
5th and Tryon
This corner is the hub of uptown’s after dark activity. Spots like Dandelion Market, Prohibition, Ri Ra’s Irish Pub, and Connolly’s On Fifth are popular destinations for those looking for hit music, cheap drinks, and a lively scene on the weekends. Stop by the nearby 5Church for cocktails before you hit the dance floor.
This small street in south Charlotte offers an unexpected array of nightlife options. You can start your evening at a spot like Duckworth’s Grill and Taphouse, which offers on of the city’s best craft beer selections or at Good Food on Montford, an upscale restaurants with a craft cocktail list to rival any in town. Spots like El Camino and Brazwell’s Pub draw the late night crowds and for the seriously late evenings, Jeff’s Bucket Shop features entertaining karaoke until 2 a.m.
This eclectic neighborhood to the east of town features a main street packed with pubs, breweries, and music venues. Grab a local craft beer at Heist and then stop in for a show at The Evening Muse. Whatever you do, end your night at Amelie’s, a 24-hour bakery where the salted caramel brownies will satiate any late night craving.
On June 30Sarah Crosland answered the question:Charlotte loves its pizza and from upscale eateries to casual spots where guests order at the counter and sit in red vinyl booths, you’ll find plenty of places to indulge in this favorite fare around town. Here are three top picks for slices that will leave you craving seconds.
This relatively new, farm-to-table spot is located inside Uptown’s 7th Street Public Market. Order the personal pizzas at the counter featuring creative toppings like local chorizo sausage, tomatoes, shaved radishes, chopped onions, and lime juice. The crust though is what really sets these pies apart. Made with organically grown grains, it’s the perfect mix of crispy and chewy.
The owner is from New York (if his Yankees cap didn’t give it away, his accent would) and his pizza may be the best you’ll find south of the Mason Dixon line. The best pie in the casual joint is the sixteen-by-sixteen inch square Grandma Pizza, which comes with 12 slices of thin crust topped in fresh mozzarella and the secret recipe “Grandma sauce.”
This upscale restaurant in Midtown's Metropolitan complex offers excellent housemade pastas and creative meat dishes, but its pizzas alone would make it worth the trip. Ten inches and prepared in a brick oven, these come with decadent toppings like duck confit, smoked peaches, and grilled green onion or a prociutto with fig, gorgonzola, and arugula.
On June 30Sarah Crosland answered the question:While there is a cost of admission for most of Charlotte’s top museums, there are a few places where you’ll find interesting exhibits at no cost—and a few more where you can get in free, if you know the right time to go.
Tuesday Nights at The Mint Museum
Charlotte’s most well known art museum, The Mint, features internationally renowned artists in both its new Uptown location and Randolph Road original location. You’ll find American Art, fashion, Native American art, and more at both locations. And on Tuesday nights from 5 to 9 admission is free.
The Light Factory
This photography and film museum located uptown in Spirit Square is always free. Here you’ll find summer film series and self-guided tours of rotating photography exhibits (with notable names like Ansel Adams and Diane Arbus), as well as numerous classes and lectures.
Duke Energy EnergyExplorium
Grab the kids and head to this fascinating nuclear station located on the shores of Lake Norman. At the McGuire station you can take a virtual tour of the station, play educational games to learn how to use energy, check out a movie about the lake and its electricity, and explore the lake on a mile-long nature trail—all for free.
On June 30Sarah Crosland answered the question:Forget just sitting down to dine. With these three experiences, there’s much more to entertain you than simply what’s on your plate.
Studio Movie Grill
Located in Uptown’s popular EpiCentre complex, this large space is part movie theater, part restaurant. Here, you can order up dinner and drinks while you catch a feature flick. The menu is casual—and family-friendly—which means that while you and the kids are watching the latest Pixar production, they’ll be chowing down on pizza and chicken tenders.
Tour de Food Uptown
Held every Saturday at 2 p.m. through the end of November, this food-lovers event features the chance to hear stories about and get behind-the-scenes looks at some of the city’s top culinary purveyors as you walk around Uptown. And, of course, there are plenty of samples of some of the city’s finest fare.
Food Truck Friday
The food truck trend has hit Charlotte hard and nowhere is that more evident than on Friday nights in the South End neighborhood. You’ll find folks lined up to purchase everything from gourmet grilled cheese to decadent cupcakes, all from trucks from around town.
On June 30Sarah Crosland answered the question:Charlotte has long been known as a steakhouse city when it comes to dining. And while new, locally-run and chef driven restaurants have entered the scene in recent years, you’ll still find top chain steakhouses featuring opulent dining rooms and elegant menus, where some of the city’s biggest deals go down.
In the Piedmont Row area of the SouthPark neighborhood, this renowned steakhouse is known for its see-and-be-seen crowd. On many nights you’re likely to spot a famous face at the crowd around the spectacular bar or coming down its curving staircase. The steaks, of course, steal the show though most nights and are considered some of the best in town.
A relative newcomer to the scene, this restaurant is located off the lobby of Uptown’s Ritz-Carlton. With a more modern and sleek look than most of the city’s steakhouses, it’s been a fast favorite for locals seeking to enjoy an after work cocktail at its small bar. And while its steaks and a la carte sides like jalapeno mashed potatoes, are worth a visit, if you’re short for time, drinks like the rosemary margarita and appetizers like the tuna tartar make are perfect for a light bite.
The Capital Grille
Known for its private rooms, where many of the city’s biggest banking deals are said to have gone down, this center city spot is typically filled with a working crowd. The service here is impressively well done and the only thing on the menu that may get more attention than the steaks are the perfectly fried calamari and peppers.
On June 30Sarah Crosland answered the question:If you’re looking for a taste of adventure, you’re in the right town. Charlotte offers a variety of offerings for those looking for a thrill. Here are three to get you started:
Board an airplane, climb to 14,000 feet, and then jump out with just your instructor and a parachute. You’ll free fall for a full minute—and trust us, this is plenty long to get a rush, especially when you’re going at speeds of up to 120 mph.
Richard Petty Driving Experience
Get a serious taste of local NASCAR culture—and the thrill of speed—at this popular driving experience at Charlotte Motor Speedway. You’ll ride shotgun for three laps going at 160 mph—and hold on tight.
US National Whitewater Center
Whether you’re rafting the rapids, kayaking the river, hitting the ropes course, or speeding down the zipline, this center to the west of town is packed with ways for adrenaline junkies to get their fix.
On June 30Sarah Crosland answered the question: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.
On June 30Sarah Crosland answered the question:Charlotte tends to have very agreeable weather. With four true seasons, it’s the kind of place where you’ll find snowy winter days and very hot summer ones, but, in general, the weather is mild and pleasant.
During the summer, it can be very warm (highs in the 90’s) in Charlotte though, and July and August are definitely the toughest months. Like many Southern cities, humidity is also an issue, especially in July when summer storms roll through the region many nights.
However, one of the great things about Charlotte is its proximity to the nearby—and always cooler—North Carolina mountains. Many weekends in the summer, locals flock to either the mountains or the beach to cool down. Or, even closer, you’ll find Lake Norman and Lake Wylie, both offering acres of refreshing water for swimming, boating, and sporting while keeping cool.
So, while right now a walk around the city may leave you craving air conditioning, Charlotte is still a top spot to find yourself in the summer time.
- Charlotte, NC, USA
Sarah Crosland is a correspondent who lives in Charlotte and covers the city for Forbes Travel Guide. She is also a freelance writer and the executive editor of The Charlotte Observer’s magazine division, which includes numerous lifestyle publications for the region. While the North Carolina native has been a travel writer for almost a decade, her first love has always been food. She is the author of the book Food Lovers’ Guide to Charlotte and has covered the city’s growing culinary scene for various publications, including The Hollywood Reporter and DC magazine.