Dubbed "The Queen City," after Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III, Charlotte is an undeniably historic American city. Today, it is one of the top 20 fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the United States, and home to an endless array of interesting attractions, popular restaurants, and raging late-night hotspots.
Known for its fine dining and great nightlife, skyscrapers line the streets and provide a "big city" feel to this charming Southern metropolis. If you're visiting Charlotte during football or basketball season, be sure to grab tickets for a Carolina Panthers game at Bank of America Stadium or a Bobcats game at Charlotte Bobcats Arena . Before you walk though the stadium gates, have pre-game drinks at the Fox & Hound or Ri Ra Irish Pub , a couple of the locals' favorite bars.
It is easy to dine well in Uptown, with upscale choices like Aquavina , Mimosa Grill , and Monticello . If you're looking for something light on the wallet but heavy on the stomach, Mert's Heart and Soul is a well-loved spot to grab some grub.
This historic section of Charlotte combines a glimpse of the old with a taste of the new. Beautiful southern homes share the boulevards with tattoo parlors, cafes, art galleries, and record stores. "Historically hip" would be the best way to describe this Queen City neighborhood.
Plaza-Midwood provides enough food options to satisfy even the pickiest eaters. Some of the more notable establishments include Diamond Restaurant , Portofino's , and Dim Sum Chinese Restaurant . For drinks and after-hours eats, Plaza-Midwood doesn't disappoint. Penguin Drive-In is a throwback to the 1950s, with great food, cold beer, and servers that are pierced and covered in tattoos. Right across the street is the Thomas Street Tavern , another late-night watering hole that will warm your belly after a long day of art perusal and window shopping.
Located in the Northeastern part of Charlotte, University City is one of the most densely populated parts of the city. Comprising over 200,000 residents, University City also encompasses the campus of UNC Charlotte and all its students and faculty.
Join students, faculty, and more than 15 million other people and wander through the shops at Concord Mills . This shopping center is over one million square feet of wallet-opening, window-shopping fun, and declares itself North Carolina's number one tourist attraction.
Just outside University City, NASCAR fans get their fill of heart pounding excitement at Lowe's Motor Speedway , one of the most distinguished race locations in the world. Concord is considered the center of NASCAR with 90 percent of the official NASCAR racing teams located within just 50 miles of the Oval.
The 1920s construction boom brought the commuter neighborhood of Myers Park, which is home to some of Charlotte's oldest houses. Lacking the usual grid design, the oak tree-lined avenues of Myers Park are curved to match the landscape, giving it a unique, relaxed feel.
Myers Park was originally a "streetcar suburb" because of the electric trolley that brought commuters to and from work. This same trolley still provides quick and efficient travel, making this highly desirable Charlotte neighborhood easily accessible.
NoDa, named for a section of North Davidson Street, is Charlotte's equivalent to NYC's SoHo neighborhood. Located directly north of Uptown, NoDa has been transformed from its textile-manufacturing past to an area that oozes creativity. With an extensive collection of art galleries, theaters, hip restaurants, and bars, it is easy to make this your home base. Citizens from all over the region flock to NoDa's twice-monthly Gallery Crawl , in which all the businesses and galleries in the neighborhood open their doors for an upbeat neighborhood-wide party.
While you're in NoDa taking in the creations of Charlotte's best artists, take time to savor some of the Cajun and Creole dishes at Boudreaux's . Finally, venture into the Dog Bar , a neighborhood bar-room where Rover can lap up a few drinks alongside his owner.
This area of Charlotte is crowded with seriously upscale shoppers looking to do some damage. Though mostly a residential neighborhood, SouthPark boasts its fair share of high-end stores. Drop by the Dean & Deluca Wine Room for a tantalizing selection of reds and whites from all around the world. Jerald Melberg Gallery will satisfy your art genes. And After Hours will provide you with the attire you'll need for a proper night on the town in SouthPark.
The restaurants in SouthPark tend to be a little on the fancy side as well, with such noteworthy fine dining establishments as The Palm , Upstream , and Zebra lining the boulevard.
The historic area known as South End was once the site of many industrial buildings and cotton mills. Today those buildings have either been revamped or replaced by a number of restaurants, offices, shops and condominiums. These attractions are easily accessible via the Charlotte Trolley , whose origins can be traced back to this particular section of Charlotte.
If you grab a slice at Fuel Pizza , you can walk while you eat, window shopping all the while. But if you're looking to give those feet a rest, sit down at the Southend Brewery & Smokehouse for a cold local beer and some sauce-smothered BBQ.
The true-blue neighborhood feel of this Charlotte district makes it one of the more desirable areas in which to live. As with most sections of Charlotte, Dilworth is historically and architecturally significant. Just outside of the city limits, Dilworth was a "streetcar suburb" as well. Houses here date back to the early 1900s, and their architecture goes well with the tree-lined streets of the neighborhood. Businesses here fit right into the history-laden scheme of things as well. In an ancient building with history literally lining the walls, the Morehead Street Tavern is a popular watering hole among Dilworth residents stepping off the trolley after a day at the office.
Elizabeth is yet another Charlotte neighborhood steeped in history. Originally named after Elizabeth College, an all girls' Lutheran university, Elizabeth began to rapidly evolve around the turn of the 20th Century. During that period, the completion of a trolley line transformed this particular part of Charlotte into a readily accessible section of the city. When one thinks of Elizabeth, they also tend to think of Independence Park . This was the first public park in the city of Charlotte. On most sunny days, and maybe some not-so-sunny days, this is where you'll find Elizabeth residents enjoying the fresh North Carolina air. Like it was back in its heyday, Elizabeth remains a very fashionable part of Charlotte. This is reflected in the businesses and restaurants located within the district. Some of the more notable establishments include such restaurants like Carpe Diem and the Cajun Queen . If Martinis are your thing, LOFT 1523 provides that perfect upscale atmosphere in which to enjoy them.
Located on the south side of Charlotte is the area known as Ballantyne. In recent decades, this part of the city has been blessed with some heavy growth. Ballantyne homes are beautifully structured and historically significant to the city as a whole. This is yet another neighborhood in Charlotte that has done well by mixing the old and the new. Amidst the age-old residential parts of Ballantyne are new restaurants like the Cajun Yard Dog , bars like Arooji's , and businesses like the Dana Rader Golf School . Indeed, if golf is your thing, this is the neighborhood for you, what with the Golf Club at Ballantyne Resort and Olde Sycamore Golf Plantation right around the way.
You will find everything that a city center should have in this longtime on-the-go district. Catering to any and all food lovers' taste buds, eat comfort food at Zink American Kitchen , have Spanish appetizers and a glass of upscale wine at Arpa , or indulge in food from around the world at Blue . For the after-dinner treat swing by Cans Bar and Canteen , but don't expect to order a draft beer as they specialize in canned brews. For a little late-night 80s dancing and a spandex adventure continue on to the Breakfast Club . As if the options don't already span across the board, relish the new-age ambiance at Liquid Lounge .
Be swept into vibrant cafes and a bustling nightlife when visiting this fringe district. Galleries, unique boutiques, and cafes abound, providing passersby with colorful streets to accompany their stroll. Local art lovers frequent The Evening Muse for the creative atmosphere that stems from live music, artwork and stiff cups of Joe. With eateries named the Mellow Mushroom and the Smelly Cat Coffee House , there is no wonder why the sidewalks are full of people on a sunny day. If you have already had a busy day, a number of inexpensive lunch spots like Boudreaux's Louisiana Kitchen and Cabo Fish Taco will give you a chance to rest your feet.
It is worth a drive through this neighborhood just to admire the beautiful homes that line the curved streets. Park your car and enjoy a walk below the aged oak trees, and for a casual but classy Sunday brunch stop at Providence Cafe to indulge in everything from sandwiches to prime rib. If you decide to see a show at one of the local theaters, have dinner at Volare , a homey Italian restaurant that uses grade-A products. Most of Myers Park's nightspots double as restaurants. For a nice British breakfast and evening Guinness try Big Ben , while Jackalope Jacks serves up sweet cocktails like the Bikini and Chocolate Martinis.
While people thought this eastside neighborhood would mature into Myers Park's sister district, it never developed in the same way. Instead, it acts as a bohemian alter ego catering to the international tongue. For the unique atmosphere that only a home/art store turned restaurant can create, try LuLu or Creation . For both veggies and carnivores, Dish serves up inexpensive southern comfort food in a funky, local-influenced atmosphere. In such a transition neighborhood, you will have little trouble finding a creative bar or lounge to enjoy after-dinner drinks. For a sweet treat try the Fire and Ice lounge, while the Thomas Street Tavern is always brimming with locals who stop in for a beer.
Taking its name from the SouthPark Mall, this upscale area boasts history and class. Since it is home to the historic trolley, take a ride on an age-old artifact before indulging in a fine dining experience. For a romantic dinner for two, eat at La Bibliotheque and be treated to delicious French/American food in an alluring setting. Zebra , also serving up French cuisine, is popular for its delicious, contemporary dishes and a wine list that extends several hundred bottles. With a rustic decor and African wall adornment, make sure to book a table early and avoid the long wait. For Seafood dishes with a high-society crowd, there are an abundance of choices. Upstream offers an always-changing menu, while The Palm is known for its oversized lobster dishes. You can find both wine bars and movie theaters, but this district is generally known for its A-list shops and dainty dining.
Home to the University of North Carolina, this area is dominated by cheap eats and neighborhood hangouts. The Old Hickory House is a longtime favorite, filling empty stomachs with BBQ ribs, and making sure that everyone is enjoying a Western, finger-licking good time. Catering to the large population and diverse taste buds and ideologies, enjoy new-age Asian cuisine at Udipi Pure Vegetarian Cuisine , curry at Bombay Cuisine and the hot sauce that will surely light your mouth afire at Monterrey Restaurante Mexicano . A university district would not be the same without the businesses that allow young adults to let some steam off. Check out JB'z Beach Club for billiards, blues and cheep beer, or swing by The Wine Vault to share a bottle of wine with someone special.
Developed in 1890, this was Charlotte's first streetcar suburb. Now, unique architecture and a thriving, youthful neighborhood make Dilworth the perfect place to stroll through shops and choose from dozens of international eateries. For a daytime break eat at Thai Taste , one of the oldest Thai places around. If you want something lighter, grab a quick treat to keep your momentum going at Dilworth Coffeehouse . With an atmosphere that resembles that of the beat generation, and an unforgettable aroma, it's the perfect side stop. Another hip and delicious eatery is a converted house called 300 East . Expect a diverse clientele, menu and plenty of liquor to keep conversations running long. For other eclectic international menus dine at Nikko , Bonterra , and Sole Spanish Grill . With almost as many nightspots as restaurants you will have an easy time finding somewhere to let loose. For Beer, BBQ and bikes, stop at Mac's Speed Shop and be taken in by the motorbike relics that cover the walls. The Tremont Music Hall boasts live entertainment.
In addition to the grits, cornbread, and chitlins that are staples in southern cuisine, Elizabeth is host to some of the finest restaurants in Charlotte. Deriving its name from the local university, Elizabeth College, which has since been incorporated into the local Roanoke College, this area has long been a residence of choice for the local elite. However, these days you don't have to break the bank just to fill your stomach. Southern fare is still alive and well at the The Cajun Queen , where barbeque shrimp, oysters, and the famous Dixie beer can all be enjoyed with live jazz seven nights a week. If you decide to expand your borders, Cuisine Malaya , a short distance from Independence Park , serves up spicy and flavorful curries, sushi, and other dishes from across the Asian continent. Like many of the restaurants in the area, La-tea-da's teahouse is located in a historic home, and offers traditional catering and event hosting. Also capturing the classical limelight is Carpe Diem , where exquisitely presented, time-honored local cuisine is served in a romantic setting. For the younger crowd, the ever-popular Loft 1523 offers many creative libations as well as a high-energy social scene with live music five nights a week.
Springing from the creative minds of Charlotte city planners, the Ballantyne area accommodates the acclaimed Ballantyne Resort and Golf Course as well as the accompanying Ballantyne Village. As a result, most of the dining options Ballantyne has to offer are in these two areas. Villa Antonio located within the village, seeks to transport you back to Northern Italy with an authentic Italian menu, a traveling guitarist and candlelit tables offering the perfect ambiance. For those watching their weight, but still want to be satisfied, Doc Green's Gourmet Salads offers pleasant health-conscious options. Starving after a round of golf? Relax your feet with a glass of wine within the lodge at the Ballantyne Resort , where acclaimed dining choices include the Gallery Restaurant, renowned for its exquisite presentation and service. Back Yard Burger , open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner indulges those with a distinctly American palate.
South End is a historic part of town that has grown out of the ignominy of its industrial past, into a stylish, bustling new identity. That means that there are plenty of new restaurants and bars to try out, running the gamut from cheap and dingy to pricey and highbrow. Most of the food can be found along a stretch of South Boulevard that starts with Carabbas Italian Grill , which is part of an upscale Sicilian-American chain. Down the road is Pewter Rose Bistro , offering expensive fusion cuisine and a huge wine list. At night, the Pewter Rose morphs into Tutto Mondo , a slick nightclub that continues to serve the Bistro's dishes. For somewhat cheaper fare, go a block further to Pike's Old Fashioned Soda Shop where you can get a BLT and, obviously, a tall soda. Pike's is neighbors with the Tyber Creek Pub , an Irish bar perfect for a late night drink. Walk a few more blocks to the only slightly tamer Tea ReX Teahouse , where you can munch muffins while listening to live music. The Villa Antonio Restaurant brings fine Italian cuisine and an atmosphere that ensures a long stay. You won't find as much off of South Boulevard. Quaint but hip Camden Road runs parallel for part of its length, and features the beautifully cheap Price's Chicken Coop , where you can fill up for a fiver but won't find a place to sit. Also on Camden is Queen's Beans Coffee , offering fair-trade coffee and a seating area where you can prop your feet up and rejuvenate.