The Charlotte Guide
Charlotte, the Queen City, has all of the makings of royal living. Forbes ranked the city as one of the Best Places for Business and Careers and six Fortune 500s call it home. But, there's more than just job opportunities.
Charlotte has an active Arts & Entertainment community, professional sports, NASCAR, shopping, dining, parks and green spaces to roam.
Charlotte was incorporated in 1768, and the name is from a Royal bloodline. Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz reigned as Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, and then the United Kingdom of Britain and Ireland, from 1761 through 1818.
She was married to King George III and both Charlotte the city, as well as Mecklenburg County, was named after her as a way to get into the King's good graces. As a patron of the arts, the Queen would be proud of the 30 theaters and museums located in the heart of Charlotte.
The city became one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas between 2004 and 2014 when 888,000 new residents decided to call Charlotte home. There are now 2.5 million people in the greater metro area.
Down is up
Charlotteans refer to their downtown area as uptown. It's the highest elevation point in the area and the city grew around it. So, if you're heading to the city center, you're going up, so downtown just doesn't make sense.
All the World's a Stage
Some stages are small and intimate like the Armour Street Theatre in Davidson, a half hour outside of Charlotte. It seats 100 and is home to the Davidson Community Players.
Then, there are stages like the Belk Theatre at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. The Belk can accommodate audiences as big as 2,000. But, it's just one six theaters that are part of the downtown center. While the Center accommodates shows of all scopes and sizes, it's the home of Broadway on Tour.
More at Blumenthal Performing Arts
In addition to touring shows, the Blumenthal's theaters accommodate local companies including the Charlotte Ballet and On Q Productions. Charlotte's Symphony Orchestra and Opera Carolina also use the facility for their annual seasons.
Theatre with History
The Blumenthal may have a variety of residents, but it's not the only place to catch a live performance in Charlotte.
Actor's Theater of Charlotte has entertained its audiences for more than 30 years. The group performs at the Hadley Theater at Queens University.
Since 1927, Theatre Charlotte has been the Charlotte area's hometown company. Shows are held at 501 Queens Road in the Myers Park District. As Theatre Charlotte depends on volunteers, donating your time is a great way to support the community and make some new friends.
Things To Do This Weekend
Whether you're on vacation or staying close to home, museums are a great answer to "What should we do this weekend (or weekday)?"
Charlotte has plenty of museums that will keep you busy for several weeks. Of course, there are art museums like the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and The Mint. But plenty of other subjects are covered by places like the Carolinas Aviation Museum and Discovery Place Science.
Top-ranked Children's Library
ImaginOn: The Joe and Joan Martin Center goes beyond your typical library. ImaginOn is home to the Children's Theatre of Charlotte. It also hosts Studio i where kids and families can create animated and live-action videos. There's also a loft for teens, so everyone in the family has a special space.
NBA, NFL, and NASCAR, oh my!
Charlotte may not have a Major League Baseball or NHL hockey team, but it does have loyal fans for Michael Jordan's Charlotte Hornets NBA team and the NFL's Carolina Panthers. Charlotte is also the unofficial (well, sort of official) home of NASCAR.
The new Charlotte Hornets are the second go-round for the team, which originally started in 1988. The first Charlotte Hornets moved to New Orleans in 2002. Two years later, Charlotte got a brand new team, formerly known as the Bobcats. Michael Jordan purchased the Bobcats in 2008 and, in 2014, they got their original Hornets name back. The Hornets call the Spectrum Center home and have yet to win an NBA Championship.
The Carolina Panthers joined the NFL in 1995 and are on the quest for their first Super Bowl Ring. While the team has had two appearances in 2003 and, most recently in 2015, they have yet to claim victory. The Panthers play their home games at Bank of America Stadium.
Not only are 75% of all NASCAR teams are located in Charlotte, but the NASCAR Hall of Fame is on East MLK Jr. Boulevard. While the actual main headquarters is in Daytona Beach, there's a branch at NASCAR Plaza in uptown, and Charlotte Motor Speedway hosts several NASCAR races.
Green Grass and Open Space
Mecklenburg County has over 200 parks and facilities managed by the Parks and Rec department. The average high temperature in Charlotte is in the 50s during winter months. So, parks are frequented pretty much all year round.
McAlpine Creek Park
McAlpine Creek Park on Monroe Road has plenty of trails that make it a favorite of runners. There's also a fishing park and outdoor fitness center.
William R. Davie Park
William R. Davie Park is on Pineville-Matthews Road and is the place to go with your four-footed friend. It's a five-acre dog park but also has a fenced-in playground for the little ones (kids, not dogs).
If you're looking for a place to bring your team, then Renaissance Park fits the bill. It's the best for all kinds of sports activities from softball to soccer to golf.
Charlotte's Dining Options
Our city guide will be featuring some of the most popular restaurants in Charlotte as well as those hidden gems that only local Charlotteans can identify. There are some establishments that have been in the area for decades and others that are popping up each month. So, be prepared for a culinary adventure.
By the way, did you know that Charlotte has proclaimed itself to be the Pimento Cheese Capital of the United States? It's home to Ruth's Salads, a producer of sandwich spreads, which makes 45,000 pounds of pimento every week.
Two Classics, One Boulevard
On South Boulevard alone, there are two restaurants that date back as far as 1958.
Beef 'N Bottle is a steakhouse that will make you feel like you've traveled back to its first year of operation in 1958. It's an OpenTable Diners' Choice as one of the Top Steakhouses in the country. You'll need to get the full in-house experience, though, as this restaurant says no to both delivery and takeout. It's located at 4538 South Blvd.
At 4009 South Blvd is a fast food favorite that's been around since 1975. Zack's Hamburgers only has a few tables and frequently has a line around the building. But, that doesn't stop patrons from returning time and again. You can get the Zack's special with two hamburger patties and fries for under $7.00. Now that IS worth the wait!
The Charlotte Miscellaneous
The NASCAR Hall of Fame is in uptown Charlotte and features 40,000 square feet of exhibit space as well as 18 historic cars in Glory Road, racing simulators, the High Octane Theater, and more activities for racing fans.
Every October, hundreds of thousands of people head to uptown Charlotte for the Q City BBQ Championship, the largest sanctioned Memphis Barbecue Network competition in southeast, with more than 100 teams participating.
In 1974, the Charlotte City Council ended all question about downtown or uptown language when it officially named the city center as "Uptown Charlotte."
It's Cheesy, But..
Charlotte is the self-proclaimed Pimento Cheese Capital. Ruth's Salads has been making it for 60 years and produces 45,000 pounds of the cheesy goodness every week.