CHARLOTTE, N.C. With so many promoters extolling Charlotte’s virtues, I looked for other topics for this series of stories about our region.
But, boy, did a lot of you let me have it, complaining that I didn’t write enough about our city’s positive attributes and calling me all sorts of names – even going so far as to suggest that I might be a Yankee.
I’ll be candid: After growing up in Charleston, it took me awhile to adjust to living without salt air and plough mud and the ocean nearby – and I still miss them.
But I have come to love many things Charlotte, from its beautiful leafy neighborhoods to the way the city has embraced the future through civil rights and diversity.
I was single when I arrived 27 years ago. After I married and had two children, I discovered the truth in what people have bragged for years: Charlotte is a comfortable, affordable place to live if you’re middle class, a good community in which to raise a family, a smart urban center with a generous array of cultural attractions.
My family even has had a rewarding experience in 13 years in our much-maligned public schools.
But for the longest time I could not figure out why the first impression of many newcomers is how clean the city is – until I visited Richmond, Va., and returned to New York City. Charlotte sparkles by comparison.
So, as I end this series, here’s an ode to my adopted city through snapshots of a few of my favorite places in uptown, places I hope our guests will enjoy as much as I do. If you’re reading this at charlotteobserver.com, weigh in with your favorites.
Getting to know us
Levine Museum of the New South is a fun place to learn about the city. If you’re lucky, you’ll run into historian extraordinaire Tom Hanchett who has a fascinating and entertaining take on Charlotte and can direct you to some fabulous ethnic restaurants.
A rarefied culture
One of Charlotte’s jewels is the Levine Center for the Arts on South Tryon Street. Take your pick of the venues or – better yet – visit them all: Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Gantt Center for African-American Art + Culture, Knight Theater and Mint Museum Uptown.
Weary of suits and ties?
For a bit of bohemia, head to the North Davidson Street community, or Noda as it’s affectionately known. The former mill village boasts funky shops, restaurants and galleries.
Feast on fried dill pickle chips and deep-fried corn dogs at Pinky’s Westside Grill, not far from Bank of America Stadium where President Barack Obama will deliver his acceptance speech. My fave? The Nature Boy bean burger.
Best getaway from the DNC
A mile from the convention center and Time Warner Cable Arena, the Little Sugar Creek Greenway meanders along a creek for five pleasant miles. Watch for the great blue heron fishing in the shallows.
Best place to find shade
The 100-foot willow oaks that arch over Queens Road West in Myers Park are surely one of the greatest wonders of this world we call Charlotte.
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