Charlotte, North Carolina: Melting Pot of Culture, City Life and Outdoor Fun
As a Londoner I am no stranger to the city life, but as we fly over North Carolina and into the cosmopolitan metropolis of Charlotte, I already know this city is different. Not only is Charlotte the largest and most accessible city between Washington, D.C., and Dallas, Texas, but with its mid-Atlantic location, getting here is easy from anywhere in the world, hence its nickname “the International Gateway to the South”.
Taste the City Life in Charlotte
Vibrant, colourful and filled with a calm yet excited energy, Charlotte’s Center City embodies a truly southern charm with a modern twist. I took a stroll down the myriad of impeccably clean pedestrian-friendly streets that led me to delicious restaurants, buzzy bars and breath-taking pieces of architecture. Charlotte hosts an abundance of stunning art installations, statues and historical monuments steeped in history and grandeur.
If you are looking for a food spot, one local favourite is the indulgent, artisan-inspired Rooster’s Wood-fired Kitchen, located less than a block from the epicentre of downtown within the same building as the lovely Ritz-Carlton.
Get Active at the U.S. National Whitewater Center
I have always thought of myself as a bit of a dare-devil, loving the thrill of active outdoor pursuits, and for those with the same spirit as me, look no further than the U.S. National Whitewater Center. Adrenaline junkies can take a spin down the rapids with friends, climb huge man made rock faces that will leave you dizzy with excitement, or have a go at zip lining through the dense forests. If that’s not enough to get your blood pumping, how about walking across the ropes and plank bridges of the Adventure Course, an aerial obstacle challenge located 20 feet up. I did and I felt like Indiana Jones – well at the end of it anyway!
I found the best way to unwind is to take in the mindful tranquillity of the lake at the River’s Edge Restaurant or Pump House Biergarten. Yummy local cuisine and refreshing beverages, I was in heaven.
Thrills at The NASCAR Hall of Fame
Being a Brit, I know very little about NASCAR, but let me tell you, it’s grittier than and just as exciting as the British Grand Prix/Formula One. Charlotte is the headquarters for 90 percent of the sport’s Sprint Cup teams and it makes perfect sense that the NASCAR Hall of Fame is right here as well. I ambled through the museum learning everything about the history of the sport, the science and the engineering behind it. I even got the chance to drive a NASCAR simulator. I swear I could smell burnt rubber as I was pulled into this virtual world. I came in last by the way!
Thirst Quenching Craft Beer Scene
Never one to pass up a good pint, I found that Charlotte is quite the spot for craft beers. With over 25 local breweries including NoDa, 2014 World Beer Cup Gold Award Winner. This microbrewery offers a variety of small-batch craft beers, similar to Birdsong Brewery where I took a tour behind the scenes to see how these hop wizards are concocting delights for beer drinkers across North America. Be sure to try their delicious and unique, Jalapeno Pale Ale!
Charlotte is filled with craft beer spots that boast unique tasting rooms, brewpubs and speciality bottle shops. Be warned that you may leave a little merrier than when you went in. Never a bad thing!
Charlotte’s truly got a lot: natural beauty, outdoor pursuits, brilliant shopping, high-speed action and craft beers that will delight your taste buds. Go see for yourself!
When You Go
Things to Do
U.S. National White Water Center
NASCAR Hall of Fame
Food and Drink
Rooster’s Wood-fired Kitchen
NoDa Brewing Company
Birdsong Brewing Company
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