Every month on CharlotteFive.com we publish a list of the 10 things you MUST do around Charlotte that month. For this year’s Living Here, we decided to use that idea and come up with a list of the 10 things you MUST do in Charlotte. Period. No excuses.
Of course there are many more Charlotte-y things you should check out (and you can find many of them on our website), but we had to stop somewhere, so we each picked our five favorite Charlotte things to do.
1. Park yourself on a patio.
The porch and patio space shared by The Mayobird and The Summit Room in Dilworth offers the Southern rocking-chair porch vibe blended with an elegant garden ambiance. Come for the coffee by day at The Mayobird, and the cocktails by night at The Summit Room. Or, if you're looking to split a bottle of wine with some hummus and crackers picnic-style, settle into the huge expanse of porch and patio at The Company Store in NoDa, complete with hanging plants, picnic tables, bench swings and a mural by Matt Moore and Matt Hooker.
2. Indulge in the decadent doughnut boom.
This is a real (and sugary) phenomenon happening in Charlotte. From the Duck Donuts storefront in Dilworth where you can pick your own topping and drizzle, to the Joe's Doughs space in NoDa where Maple Bacon started as the most popular flavor, to Your Mom's Donuts on Monroe Road where mostly organic and local ingredients are featured, this city has doughnuts aplenty. Get them while the glaze is hot.
3. Get out and get artsy.
Create your own South End gallery crawl by visiting independent galleries along the Charlotte Rail Trail like Anne Neilson Fine Art, Lark and Key Gallery and Boutique, Ciel Gallery and Hidell Brooks Gallery. The trick -- it's free to walk into these places. Then explore the Levine Center for the Arts uptown and buy an admission ticket to The Mint Museum for a look at the internationally renowned Craft + Design collection, or the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture to see the current exhibitions as well as the way the building design alludes to the original Jacob's Ladder. Then there is the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, where you can take in mid-century modernism through the Bechtler family collection.
4. Take a bite out of the growing restaurant scene.
Kindred, just up the highway in Davidson, is worth making a reservation for. The restaurant, opened by Joe and Katy Kindred, claimed one of Bon Appetit's top 10 best new restaurant listings of 2015 -- and you won't regret the milk bread or the chocolate birthday cake. You could (should?) also go farm-to-fork with Heirloom, where Johnson & Wales University graduate Clark Barlowe mans the kitchen as executive chef and owner. He's particularly well-known for foraging for his own wild mushrooms.
5. Soak up the skyline view from a rooftop.
First stop: Fahrenheit for a big-city, much-posted-about-on-social-media view from above the Skye Condos uptown. The menu inspiration here is described by Chef Rocco Whalen as “inventive, new American regional cuisine.” Second stop: the newer City Lights Rooftop Bar at Le Meridien, serving craft cocktails, beer and a limited grill menu -- they opened over the summer with King of Pops popsicles garnishing sparkling beverages like Prosecco and Brut. Lastly, just outside the uptown city limits is The Peculiar Rabbit in Plaza Midwood, where you can nosh on gastropub-style brunch (and Bloody Marys) in sight of a sweeping view of the entire city.
1. Explore the Whitewater Center.
A uniquely Charlotte attraction, the U.S. National Whitewater Center is not just about whitewater rafting. There are trails for hiking and biking, ropes courses, zip lines, flatwater kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding, plus food and a huge beer garden in the middle. The center also offers a weekly concert series in the summer and also has live music from regional and national acts during its many festivals year-round.
2. Taste Charlotte beer.
It doesn’t take long to figure out that beer is kind of a big deal here. The Charlotte area now has more than 25 breweries with more opening each year. Each one offers a range of styles and experiences, from the traditional German styles at The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, to the gold-medal-winning IPA at NoDa Brewing Company, to the kombucha (and beer) at Lenny Boy Brewing, to the Jalepeno Pale Ale at Birdsong Brewing. Try ‘em all. You really can’t go wrong.
3. Stroll down a greenway.
Mecklenburg County has more than 30 miles of greenways (and many more miles planned) and even more trails spread all around the city. They’re perfect for walking, running, biking and more. You can enjoy the urban backdrop of the Little Sugar Creek Greenway near uptown or feel far away from the city on the trails of Reedy Creek Park. (There’s even a new brewery, Blue Blaze Brewing, right off the Stewart Creek Greenway in West End if you want to combine Nos. 2 and 3.) If you really want to get out of the city, you can hike Crowders Mountain, less than 45 minutes away from uptown Charlotte.
4. Feel the need for speed at the NASCAR Hall of Fame (and enjoy our other pro sports).
Not a NASCAR fan? You might be after visiting this hands-on uptown museum and hall-of-fame. There’s a super-realistic racing simulator and a pit stop simulator. Plus, NASCAR is a huge part of Charlotte’s history and culture. Many of the best race teams are based in the area and the sport’s moonshine-laced story has its beginnings in the mountains not far from Charlotte. While you’re at it, enjoy all of the professional sports Charlotte has to offer: Carolina Panthers football, Charlotte Hornets basketball, Charlotte Knights baseball, Charlotte Checkers, Charlotte Hounds lacrosse, Charlotte Independence soccer and more.
5. Enjoy a meal from a truck.
Charlotte loves its food trucks these days, and I’m not talking about just a simple taco truck (though those are awesome, too). Chefs create amazing food experiences in these mobile kitchens and one of them, The TIN Kitchen, was recently featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” Try one of the Food Truck Friday events in South End or Matthews or one of the other food truck rallies that happen throughout the week.
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