- North Carolina
As a Londoner I am no stranger to the city life, but flying over North Carolina and into the cosmopolitan metropolis of Charlotte, I knew right away that the city was 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, colorful and filled with a calm yet excited energy, Charlotte’s Center City embodies 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 breathtaking 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 favorite is the indulgent, artisan-inspired Rooster’s Wood-Fired Kitchen, which is less than a block from the center of downtown in the same building as the lovely Ritz-Carlton.
City skyline as a backdrop to Romare Bearden Park
Get Active at the U.S. National Whitewater Center
I have always thought of myself as a bit of a daredevil, loving the thrill of active outdoor pursuits. 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 six meters 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 and enjoy yummy local cuisine and refreshing beverages. I was in heaven.
Kayaking and rafting at the U.S. National Whitewater Center
Thrills at the NASCAR Hall of Fame
Being a Brit, I know very little about NASCAR, but let me tell you, it’s 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 in addition to 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!
Fast cars on display at the NASCAR Hall of Fame
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 more than 25 local breweries, including NoDa Brewing Company, a 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 with unique tasting rooms, brewpubs and specialty bottle shops. Other favorites include Free Range Brewing, Heist Brewery and Brewers at 4001 Yancey. 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!
Enjoying craft beers at Birdsong Brewing Company