North Carolina's Unexpected Capital
Perhaps it is not the first city you think of when discussing visiting a town on the east coast of the U.S. Nor is it likely the first city that comes to mind when envisioning the deep south, but the city of Charlotte in North Carolina has just as much life, charm and character as any other great city in the USA.
Charlotte is situated in the interior of North Carolina State, about 450km south of Washington DC and 400km Northeast of Atlanta. It’s the largest city in the state with around two million inhabitants in the greater metro area. The city is primarily a banking and finance city but has made a sway in recent years to be more tourist-friendly with an influx of craft beer breweries, world-class dining and unique neighbourhoods.
Recently I spent a weekend there, and if I’m honest, wasn’t expecting a lot, however, the ‘Queen’ city was full of surprises. Brimming with sports events and enthusiasts, food scene and buzzing unique neighbourhoods it was a rewarding and exciting getaway.
Arriving at the international airport I was able to rent a car easily from there. I find that majority of cities in North America are best to discover with your own transportation. Charlotte is no exception with its sprawling neighbourhoods and wide streets. The transport system is the city is still quite good. There is a trolly and light rail that connects with most of the places a visitor would like to see but the first choice would be to have your own set of wheels.
Staying in the heart of the city, otherwise known as ‘Uptown” in Charlotte, is recommend for a first time visit. Not only is this area where you’ll find sporting venues, museums, theatres and parks. Charlotte’s city centre is often praised for being one of the safest for its size. Here you will be able to find a wide range of accommodation on any budget. Staying in the centre also gives you easy access to the other popular districts nearby, such as NoDa, which stands for North Davidson Street. This the historic arts district. It has a more laid-back feel to the skyscrapers of uptown and a bit more of an edgy feel with its many art galleries and trendy shops. To the south of Uptown is the originally named South End neighbourhood. The South End is quaint and has a high end entertainment district.
Spending a few days in Charlotte wouldn’t be complete without a visit to a sporting event. The cities residents take their sports seriously. With a downtown arena home to the NBA team the Charlotte Hornets and the AHL ice hockey team the Checkers. The city has an NFL team the Carolina Panthers. The big sporting event though is NASCAR. This has been a top sport in the south for decades and Charlotte is just as passionate about the indy car races.
Charlotte really does live up to the slogan the new Old South with its fine meshing of diversity, culture and history and is a great place for anybody looking for an exciting getaway.