A Southern Diamond in the Rough: Charlotte

After visiting Winston-Salem, North Carolina, as a part of my #Take12Trips project, for a few days, I trekked down to Charlotte and spent a day there as it’s where the airport I flew in and out of was. Similar to Winston-Salem, I knew little about Charlotte before going there. I can blame this one of the fact that it was a last minute decision to spend a day and night there, whereas with Winston-Salem it was due to my procrastination in planning. However, it worked out in Winston-Salem and (hint, hint) did in Charlotte as well!

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We stayed in Uptown Charlotte, which is their branding of most cities’ downtowns. In my blind ignorance, I assumed Charlotte would be a sprawling major city with a car-oriented downtown, little foot traffic, and not much going on other than businesses that cater to the 9 to 5 workers in the tall office buildings as many other southern cities are in the United States. Thankfully, my ignorance proved to be far from wrong. Certainly, Charlotte offered car-first transportation as is typical of most other American cities compared to European ones. However, there was a plethora of shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues that were packed with people. The public spaces were filled with street performers from the afternoon into the evening, and the Uptown area was, well, busy.

The city, and Uptown in particular, had a lot to offer. I spent my time checking out the area of blocks and blocks of entertainment options. Everything was bustling, and that’s not including the multiple apartment and condo buildings that were still being built and were therefore, unoccupied, yet. Charlotte seemed to be city poised for growth. It’s not the sprawling land mass of Atlanta but isn’t located in the chilly northern climate of say a Pittsburgh or Cleveland. Maybe I’m getting too much into my urban livability bias though. Clearly, I prefer places that are walkable and livable with lots of action happening. I like urban spaces filled with people interacting as a community. I prefer public transportation, biking, and/or walking to single-occupancy vehicle travel. It’s not what everyone enjoys, but these are the type of places that intrigue me.

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Anyways, back to Charlotte, eh? It’s a major hub of business, entertainment, and was fairly easy to travel to as the airport is manageable for those with a fear of large airports. A lot had sprung up in Charlotte over the last decade or so – an urban revival of sorts. I cannot imagine it stopping either judging by how prosperous everything seemed.

The Epicentre was at the middle of this. It’s a four-story outdoor mall in the middle of Uptown (downtown) that had everything from shops and restaurants to bars and clubs at all different price points. In my humble opinion, I’d say there’s something for everyone right in the area. We went a couple bars and then a club. Clubs are a little out of my comfort zone as Milwaukee doesn’t boast many of them, or at least many that I’ve been to. In fact, the first time I went to a discoteca in Spain, I was really thrown off an didn’t know what to do, which probably resulted in me making a fool of myself dancing. Come to think of it, that probably happens all the time, not just that time. Oh, well!

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Before I flew home, we visited the NoDa district of Charlotte. It’s described by there website as:

Charlotte’s historic arts and entertainment district – a neighborhood where the people are as diverse as the art, live music, craft beers, restaurants, custom gifts and tattoos you will find here. NoDa is dedicated to promoting the arts, living eco-friendly lifestyles, supporting small businesses, encouraging diversity and aiding fellow charities.

While I admittedly didn’t spend as much time in the area as I would have liked, it was a really hip place that seemed to encompass all it’s billed as. There were bunch of different local shops, performance centers, and breweries to name a few things. The NoDa Brewing Company caught my eye, and I’ll be checking it out when I return someday. However, the best place I went to was Amelie’s French Bakery. The french sandwiches, pastries, and atmosphere were straight up delicious…assuming atmosphere can be delicious. I guess I should have characterized the atmosphere as eclectic. There was a smattering of people from presumably different walks of life enjoying the food and community centered space. It’s a place I’d highly recommend stopping by if you’re ever in Charlotte, and more specifically NoDa.

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If you’re looking a southern city to visit that is up-and-coming and will continue to be for the foreseeable future, I’d highly recommend Charlotte. I’ve never thought of visiting Charlotte before, but would definitely go back. Similarly, if you’re thinking about traveling somewhere but aren’t sure, take the leap and go. It could end up being a really neat place!

have you taken a leap of faith and visited a place you knew little about? Have you ever been to Charlotte? How’d you like it?

 

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4 responses to “A Southern Diamond in the Rough: Charlotte

  1. Pingback: My Favorite Things About Boston | Mapless Mike·

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