Once a sleepy suburb, this quickly-evolving, Southern city is at the top of our list this month. Set in between North Carolina’s lush Appalachian Mountains, and its coveted Outer Banks, Charlotte has something for every kind of aficionado. As Bank of America’s headquarters, Charlotte has a history of attracting families before it does young professionals, but the multitude of new spots to eat, shop, and enjoy life, have changed the face of the city.
The mass of corporate offices, convention centers, and hotels give the appearance that Uptown is the heart of the city, some of the best restaurants, spas, golf courses and shopping lie in Myers Park, Southpark, and South Charlotte. And though they may be less accessible without a car, these quaint neighborhoods deserve just as much fanfare.
Depending on how much time you have to adventure, the good times will roll far beyond city limits. Less than two hours away await five-star vineyards with views of the Stone Mountains. But, even if you’re adventuring within the sprawling “Queen City,” there is much to take in.
PLACES TO EAT
With enough confidence to call itself, “Your Fried Chicken Hotline,” and glowing reviews to match, Haberdish is a great spot to start your CLT-food journey. No hesitation will be necessary to dive into their array of Southern staples, like Hushpuppies, Charred Okra, and Corn Bread Pudding.
Start your day like a Parisian at this picture-perfect café. Its quirky elegance and endless, delectable dishes make it a favorite for business meetings, family brunch, or a quick Café Au Lait.
This might be one of the cheapest trips you take to Barcelona….or at least, this Wine Bar will have you thinking that. If the wealth of menu options induces more havoc than calm, give your server the opportunity to surprise you (....and given their knowledge on all 400 wines Barcelona carries, they’re more than trustworthy).
Not in a rush to start your day? This daytime cafe serves up sweet, savory, and just about everything in between–just don’t laze around for too long, as they close at 2:30 p.m. From the ‘Power Breakfast Quinoa Bowl,’ to their seasonal, ‘Cinnamon Chip Pancakes,’ there’s a lot to enjoy.
Mirror, mirror, on the wall...who has the cheesiest queso of them all? Definitely, Bakersfield. While you’re treating yourself, plunge into one of their Premium Margaritas, paired best with their tacos, made with homemade tortillas.
Come here to find out what happens when New-England-bred Chef, Brett Moffett, puts his spin on New South cuisine. His mouth-watering take on numerous pasta dishes is not to be missed, but Moffett’s re-make of Carpaccio, served with fried pickles and pimento cheese, is unforgettable.
PLACES TO STAY
A true anomaly on the QC’s hotel scene, The Ivey’s offers city views, literally, and aesthetically. If modern elegance is your kryptonite, you’ll love the contrast between your guest room’s brick wall, and velvet furniture, as well as the hotel’s eccentric sitting rooms.
Fitted with everything from dramatic, crystal chandeliers, to a Sweet Tea bar, the Kimpton embodies everything the New South has to offer: grandeur. Its mixture of dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows, with muted design notes, creates major coziness while dropping jaws.
Though recently restored, The Dunhill will transport you to the old world. Expect to see much American, English, and Italian influence in The Dunhill’s interior design. But with new-age amenities galore, no wonder this hotel is a notable favorite.
Arguably one of The QC’s most desirable hotels, Le Méridien puts a refreshing spin on European chic. Its ultra-luxe lobby, restaurants, meeting, and guest rooms possess a ‘je ne sais quoi’ that will dazzle you “from your first bonjour, to your last au revoir.”
Rumored to have hosted George Clooney and President Barack Obama, The Ballantyne Resort is a mainstay for Charlotteans and celebrities alike. Don’t be surprised if their luxurious spa gets you ooh-ing and aah-ing, especially after a day on the hotel’s world-class golf range.
PLACES TO SHOP
In a city known for ‘preppy’ dress, Boem brings a refreshing selection of bohemian chic. But with brands like Blank NYC, Free People, and MINKPINK, in store, Boem is as premium as boho gets.
A longstanding favorite with Charlotteans, Luna is often on the lips of moms and daughters alike. Their stylish selection of designer brands is sure to make you hungry for more, but fear not: if you leave in need of more retail therapy, SouthPark Mall is right up the street!
Clad with to-die-for gowns by Peter Pilotto and Carolina Herrera, amongst others, Capitol takes the crown when it comes to luxury. Its curation of gowns, jewels, shoes, bags, and more, is sure to dazzle you (and your credit card).
THINGS TO SEE
It’s business as usual in Whitehall Corporate Center until you lay your eyes on METALmorphosis! Designed by Czech artist, David Černý, the forty-layer kinetic sculpture of a human head conglomerates into seven, moveable pieces. In Černý’s words, his aim was to, “create a beautiful synergy of form and function.”
Hidden from view in The Sheraton Hotel Uptown, this oasis in the sky is one the town’s best kept secrets. With great views, a pool, and ample libations, Craft City is the spot for an adult playday.
Named after Charlotte-born artist, Romare Bearden, this city park sets the stage for picnics and strolls. Its near-five-and-a-half acres flanked by skyscrapers, and abstract sculptures, reminiscent of Bearden’s work, this space offers inspiration and refuge for all, artist or not.
In the heart of Uptown, the Levine Center for the Arts is a dream for art and history buffs, as it holds the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, the Knight Theater, and the Mint Museum. Come here to reflect, get creative, or to be awed–just know, all three will happen at some point.
Conveniently located in what is considered the QC’s “artsy” neighborhood, this unconventional art gallery has built quite the reputation. Come here for local beer, bar bites, art exhibitions, live music, and even a food truck.