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.
|Car||If you plan to explore Charlotte beyond Uptown, a car is the easiest way to get to the city's other neighborhoods, like NoDa and South End. You'll find several rental car companies at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport and in the Uptown area.|
The LYNX Blue Line runs for nearly 20 miles from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in University City to the Pineville city limits, passing through neighborhoods like NoDa, Uptown and South End along the way. There are 26 stations, a handful of which stop near top attractions, such as 7th Street Public Market, Discovery Place and the Mint Museum Uptown. If you're coming from Uptown to sample the bevy of breweries that reside in the South End neighborhood, this is a great way to get there. LYNX Blue Line operates Monday through Saturday from around 5:30 a.m. to about 1:30 a.m. and on Sunday from 6:15 a.m. to midnight. On weekdays, trains run every 10 minutes; intervals between trains is longer on weekends and after evening rush hour.
One-way tickets, which can be purchased at the station, cost $2.20 for adults. Round-trip fares cost $4.40; an all-day unlimited ride pass costs $6.60. Seniors and children receive discounted fares.
There is also a CityLYNX Gold Line street car that is free to ride and runs from the Time Warner Cable Arena to NovantHealth Presbyterian Medical Center. There are six stops along the route. It runs from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday; from 6 a.m. to midnight Friday; 8 a.m. to midnight Saturday; and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. If you're coming from Uptown to explore the Elizabeth neighborhood, which is home to a collection of local bars and restaurants, this is a convenient (free!) option.
Cabs aren't hard to find in the Uptown area, but are scarcer in Charlotte's surrounding neighborhoods. The initial fare starts at $2.50. Rates are based on mileage; each 1/5 of a mile costs $0.50 (so each mile will cost $2.50). If you're hoping to explore some of top attractions located outside of the city, like the U.S. National Whitewater Center or the Charlotte Motor Speedway, rent a car instead. Ride-hailing services, such as Uber and Lyft also operate in Charlotte.
The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) operates more than 70 local, regional and express bus routes, but buses are used more by locals than by visitors. Most routes operate from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m. on weekdays, 6 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. on Saturdays and 6:30 a.m. to midnight on Sundays. Fares for the bus are the same as the light rail. One-way tickets cost $2.20 for local routes.
|Bikes and scooters||
Charlotte has its own bike-share system called Charlotte B-cycle. There are more than 20 stations scattered across the city, with the highest concentration in Uptown. You can buy a 24-hour pass for $8 at any B-cycle station. Day passes allow for unlimited two-hour rentals. After you're done, you can return the bike to any B-cycle station.
There is also a dockless bike-sharing company available called Lime. It also offers electric scooters. These dockless options allow riders to pick up and leave the bike or scooter in whatever legal location they choose (the wheels lock when no one is using them). You'll have to download each company's smartphone app to start using their bikes or scooters. Bikes can be a great way to travel between Uptown and the surrounding neighborhoods, especially the paved Little Sugar Creek Greenway and South End Rail Trail, which runs alongside many of South End's breweries.
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