Why Go To Charlotte
Tucked in the Piedmont region's sleepy rolling hills, this bustling metropolis is anything but a quiet Southern belle. Charlotte, North Carolina, explodes with growing businesses, burgeoning sports franchises and an evolving culinary scene. Though the Queen City is known for the Charlotte Motor Speedway and the NASCAR Hall of Fame, it's much more than a haven for those with a need for speed. Uptown Charlotte – be sure not to call it downtown – is crawling with suits and tourists, while art aficionados and culture hounds flood the Plaza Midwood and NoDa (or North Davidson) neighborhoods. Meanwhile, those in search of a pint of local beer won't want to miss South End, home to a handful of the city's top breweries.
This ever-expanding city has a knack for keeping an East Coast pace without stomping on its Southern roots; locals are dedicated to keeping classic Southern charm alive. The blending of these two personalities is engagingly energetic.
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Best of Charlotte
Charlotte Travel Tips
Best Months to Visit
The best time to visit Charlotte is March through May or September through November, the shoulder seasons when the city is less crowded and hotels are less expensive. Though it's tempting to visit in summer thanks to the extended hours offered by some of the city's top attractions, June through August is also the busiest (not to mention the hottest) time to be in the Queen City. Plan an early autumn visit and you'll be rewarded with mild temps and agreeable hotel prices. Winters are fairly pleasant – snow is rare and the evening lows hover between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. You'll also find that tourists abandon the city this time of year, and hotel rates take a nosedive.
Weather in Charlotte
Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center
What You Need to Know
- It still has that Southern charm Although this city's big banking industry has drawn in plenty of Yankees, Charlotte's Southern hospitality roots are still well-preserved.
- Leave your ripped jeans at home Charlotte's residents tend to dress on the clean cut and conservative side so if you're trying to blend in, pack your khakis and penny loafers.
- Have your own wheels Charlotte is much easier to explore in a car. Plus, there are a few top attractions that sit beyond the city's borders.
How to Save Money in Charlotte
- Check the tourism site for deals Visit Charlotte offers discounts and deals on everything from attractions to hotels on its website.
- Plan a spring or fall visit Summer is hot and busy in the Queen City and as such, hotel rates are at their highest. You can plan a more wallet-friendly trip in spring or fall.
- Avoid a mid-week stay Charlotte's hotels are full of business travelers during the week; you'll find better deals and empty rooms on the weekends.
What to Eat
Charlotte's restaurant scene is a fair representation of its cultural identity: modern, with a bit of Southern tradition. Though it boasts its fair share of Southern comfort food, the city also shows off its flair for fine dining with a variety of sophisticated international and farm-to-fork menus.
Almost an attraction in itself, Price's Chicken Coop is a must-visit if you're hoping to experience some of the city's best Southern fried chicken. This hole-in-the-wall favorite is carry-out only (bring cash; your plastic is no good here). But what Price's lacks in ambiance it makes up for in crispy, delicious chicken. Beloved by both locals and travelers, Price's counter is consistently busy, so prepare to wait in line (especially at lunch). If you like your fried chicken paired with waffles — a Southern tradition — try another one of the city's cheap eat favorites, the Midnight Diner. For a taste of Carolina-style barbecue, head to Midwood Smokehouse, Queen City Q or Mac's Speed Shop.
If you're in the mood for fine dining, Charlotte's got you covered there, too. Business travelers looking to treat clients to a classic steak dinner will find plenty of chain chophouses in the Uptown area, but for a splurge-worthy meal that celebrates the bounty of the Carolinas, consider Halcyon Flavors From the Earth. If you're willing to travel outside the Uptown area, you'll find a bevy of award-winning restaurants, including Fig Tree, an eatery that occupies a Registered Historic Landmark home, Stagioni, an intimate Italian restaurant, and Good Food on Montford, a tapas-style eatery.
You can't make reservations at Soul Gastrolounge, but you also can't leave the Queen City without trying this eclectic, perpetually busy eatery. Sushi, internationally inspired small plates and handcrafted cocktails are what keep locals and visitors coming back again and again.
And then there's the beer. Charlotte is often overlooked by craft beer aficionados in favor of Asheville's suds, but the Queen City can hold its own. New breweries are opening all of the time — in fact, North Carolina touts more craft breweries than any other state in the South. Luckily, many of them are grouped by neighborhood, making it easy to visit a few in one trip. Standouts include The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery (home to one of the largest beer gardens in the city), Sycamore Brewing, Birdsong Brewing Company (don't leave without trying its Jalapeño Pale) and NoDa Brewing Company. If you don't want to venture too far outside the Uptown area, Wooden Robot Brewery and the Unknown Brewing Co. are some of the closest options.
Getting Around Charlotte
The best way to get around Charlotte is by car. The city's transit system isn't as well-connected as in other major cities, so having your own set of wheels is your best way to navigate the Queen City. You can rent a car at Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) – located about 7 miles west of the city center – or you can take a taxi and rent a car once you're in town. Taxi fares from the airport to Charlotte's downtown area cost a flat fee of $25; ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft also service the city. You can also take a shuttle – the Sprinter bus – from the airport to Charlotte's Uptown area for $2.20. But the low cost comes with a longer ride due to the multiple stops the bus makes in between the airport and city center.
Race cars zip around the oval track at the Charlotte Motor Speedway during the annual Coca-Cola 600 event.
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