Why Locals Love Charlotte (And Why You Will, Too)
Prepare to be charmed by the majesty of the Queen City
Named for the wife of King George III, bustling Charlotte is known for Southern hospitality—and plenty of fun.
When you picture Charlotte, you may think of a growing Southern city booming with banks. Or fast cars. Or maybe you just think of star Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and his unique fashion sense. But the Queen City is much more than any one thing or one person. Charlotte’s a beer-loving, oak-covered retreat with a surprising history and welcoming vibe. Here are a few reasons why you should pay us a visit.
You’ll be welcomed with open arms
I grew up in here—and that qualifies me as a “unicorn.” That’s what people in the Queen City, which is full of transplants, call natives. We’re that rare. From 2010 to 2015, an average of 109 people moved to the area every day—and that number is still rising. So, you’re a visitor wondering what to do in Charlotte? No problem! You’ll fit right in. Plus, people are friendly and always willing to point you in the right direction—or offer up recommendations about their favorite new restaurants and breweries.
Exploring on foot is easy
OK, we admit it: Charlotte travel can be a bit confusing to navigate. Proof: The Myers Park intersection of Queens Road and Queens Road or Providence Road and … Providence Road. But there are plenty of easy-to-find neighborhoods where you can park the car and spend the day exploring on foot.
North Davidson, known as NoDa, is Charlotte’s funky northside neighborhood, popular for its intimate music venues, Neighborhood Theatre and The Evening Muse, which book local bands as well as well-known touring acts. But NoDa’s restaurants alone are worth a visit. You can’t go wrong with the fried chicken at Haberdish or the Brie-covered French fries at Crepe Cellar Kitchen & Pub.
And know this: When it comes to beer, Charlotte doesn’t play around. In fact, one of the best IPAs in the world—yes, you read that right—can be found here at NoDa Brewing Company, a brewery as popular for its running club and Charlotte Symphony On Tap performances as for its brews. Head over and order a Hop, Drop, ‘n Roll, an American-style IPA that took home a gold medal at the 2014 World Beer Cup. Also in the neighborhood and worth a visit: Heist Brewing. Located in an old mill, it has an industrial vibe and a killer Bloody Mary bar during weekend brunch.
A bit closer to city center, Plaza Midwood has funky shops, funkier people, a diverse restaurant scene, and the popular Legion Brewing, known for its Juicy Jay IPA. Work up an appetite with a walk around offbeat home décor and vintage clothing shops, then head over to Soul Gastrolounge for inventive dishes like Asian glazed pork belly tacos (with watermelon salsa). Sometimes there’s a crazy-long wait, so kick back downstairs with a glass of wine at Gallery Twenty-Two, a bar-meets-art gallery that showcases the work of local artists.
No car? No worries. From Uptown, hop on the Lynx light rail and head over to South End, where new apartment complexes (to house all our transplants!) are attracting new breweries and restaurants by the minute. For a flavorful ramen fix, try Futo Buta’s Tonkotsu—a signature bone broth noodle soup—and sample sake with a flight. If southern-fried is more your speed, head around the corner to Price’s Chicken Coop, a hole-in-the-wall take-out only spot that’s been serving signature seasoned fried chicken and sandwiches since 1962. Wooden Robot (order a Good Morning Vietnam, a blonde ale) and Sycamore Brewing, with its food truck fare and massive beer garden, often with live music, are worth a visit, too.
We’re trendsetters, dating back to 1775
At first glance, some believe this sparkling city in the North Carolina Piedmont doesn’t have much in the way of history. But it’s just not true. Download the Charlotte Liberty Walk app to uncover the city’s deep-rooted rebellious spirit, which dates to the Revolutionary War.
Each May 20, Charlotte celebrates Meck Dec Day, an homage to the 1775 document that declared Mecklenburg County free from British rule more than a year before the nation’s declaration. The Liberty Walk will take you on a tour around Uptown—don’t call it “Downtown”—to walk in the footsteps of Revolutionary War soldiers and visit inns, cemeteries and other historically relevant spots. As you explore, expect the app to feed you tidbits like this one: During the revolution, General Cornwallis called Charlotte “a hornet’s nest of rebellion.” That’s where the city’s NBA team gets its name.
There’s no bad time to visit
One of my favorite things about Charlotte is just how pretty she is. Proof: Uptown’s Romare Bearden Park, inspired by and named for the Charlotte-born artist. I’ve lived in Chicago and London and I still don’t think there’s anything like Charlotte in spring. Or fall. Or whenever. Not only do we have four distinct seasons, but we have a dynamic tree canopy to emphasize each one. (There’s a citywide effort to have half of Charlotte covered by tree canopies by 2050.) And thanks to our temperate weather, there’s really never a bad time to visit. We typically make it through our mild winters with only one or two dreamy dustings of snow per season.
Charlotte is a growing city that’s still trying to figure out exactly what it wants to be when it grows up. But it’s a place filled with possibilities. Find hotels in Charlotte and come visit!
Written by Virginia Brown