Once known for its cotton mills and railroads, in the past 40 or so years Charlotte, North Carolina, has become the banking and energy hub of the Southeast. Rapid new development and restoration of historic neighborhoods have not only encouraged a robust postrecession economic resurrection, but have also helped to create a lively art and restaurant scene.
The nascent tourism industry, coupled with the city’s banking and energy companies, means that Charlotte offers a large and diverse range of hotels, restaurants, and shopping, courting everyone from weekend visitors to frequent-flying business travelers.
A light rail and streetcar system makes the city easily navigable by public transportation. Despite its recent growth into a metropolis, Charlotte retains its character, boasting elegant pre–Civil War architecture and neighborhoods with distinctive personalities and storied pasts.
To learn about the role of Charlotte and the surrounding Piedmont region in southern history, the award-winning Levine Museum of the New South is a must stop. Located in the First Ward of central Charlotte—known as Uptown—the interactive exhibits document the post-1865 South. You can walk through an audio, photographic, and video history spanning Reconstruction, segregation, World War II, the revolutionary events of the 1950s and ’60s, and the present day.
East of Uptown is the NoDa (north of Davidson Street) neighborhood, known for its vibrant art gallery scene and eclectic restaurants. If you happen to be in Charlotte on the first or third Friday of the month, join the Gallery Crawl, when many galleries have open houses.
After you’ve fed your soul with art, nourish your body by feasting on the Cajun-
Creole fare at Boudreaux’s Louisiana Kitchen. Then top off your night of sensory indulgence by listening to some live music at The Evening Muse.
On the south side of the city, the “cathedral canopy of trees” is a trademark of Myers Park, a fashionable neighborhood with some of Charlotte’s most beautiful old homes. Come here for a stroll or walking tour along the tree-lined streets. After house peeping, treat yourself to a glass of wine and house-made chocolates at Petit Philippe.
If you’re seeking some physical activity to help balance out all of that jambalaya, wine, and chocolate, head about 30 minutes outside the city to the U.S. National Whitewater Center. An official U.S. Olympic training site, this sprawling park offers whitewater rafting, flat-water kayaking and paddle boarding, zip-line canopy tours, rock climbing, mountain biking, and plenty of other fun outdoor activities. DW
Boudreaux’s Louisiana Kitchen
501 E. 36th St., 704-331-9898
Petit Philippe Tranquil Court, 2820 Selwyn Ave. #160, 704-332-9910
Levine Museum of the New South
200 E. Seventh St., 704-333-1887
NoDa art gallery crawl, year-round, first and third Fridays of the month, 6–9:30 p.m. Map and event details available at noda.org
The Evening Muse 3227 N. Davidson St., 704-376-3737 eveningmuse.com
Free walking and driving tours, Charlotte Historic Landmarks Commission, charlottetour.org
U.S. National Whitewater Center
5000 Whitewater Center Parkway