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Charlotte is the largest city in the state of North Carolina. It is the county seat of Mecklenburg County and the second largest city in the southeastern United States, just behind Jacksonville, Florida. Charlotte is the third fastest growing major city in the United States. In 2014, the estimated population of Charlotte according to the U.S. Census Bureau was 809,958, making it the 17th largest city in the United States based on population. The Charlotte metropolitan area ranks 22nd largest in the US and had a 2014 population of 2,380,314. The Charlotte metropolitan area is part of a sixteen-county market region or combined statistical area with a 2014 U.S. Census population estimate of 2,537,990. Residents of Charlotte are referred to as "Charlotteans". It is listed as a "gamma-plus" global city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network.
Charlotte is home to the corporate headquarters of Bank of Americaand the east coast operations of Wells Fargo, which along with other financial institutions makes it the second largest banking center in the United States. Among Charlotte's many notable attractions, some of the most popular include the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League (NFL), the Charlotte Hornets of the National Basketball Association (NBA), the Charlotte Independence of the United Soccer League (USL), two NASCAR Sprint Cup races and the NASCAR All-Star Race, the Wells Fargo Championship, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Carowinds amusement park, and the U.S. National Whitewater Center. Charlotte Douglas International Airport is a major international hub, and was ranked the 23rd busiest airport in the world by passenger traffic in 2013.
Nicknamed the Queen City, like its county a few years earlier, Charlotte was named in honor of Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who had become the Queen of Great Britain just seven years before the town's incorporation. A second nickname derives from theAmerican Revolutionary War, when British commander General Cornwallis occupied the city but was driven out by hostile residents, prompting him to write that Charlotte was "a hornet's nest of rebellion", leading to the nicknameThe Hornet's Nest.
Charlotte has a humid subtropical climate. Charlotte is located several miles east of the Catawba Riverand southeast of Lake Norman, the largest man-made lake in North Carolina. Lake Wylie and Mountain Island Lake are two smaller man-made lakes located near the city.
|POPULATION :||• City 809,958 (17th)
• Urban 1,249,442 (38th)
• Metro 2,380,314 (22nd)
|FOUNDED :||Settled 1755
Incorporated 1768 (as a town, later a city)
|TIME ZONE :||Time zone EST (UTC-5)
Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
|AREA :||297.7 sq mi (771 km2)|
|ELEVATION :||751 ft (229 m)|
|COORDINATES :||35°13′37″N 80°50′36″W|
|SEX RATIO :|
|AREA CODE :||704, 980|
|POSTAL CODE :||28201-28237, 28240-28247, 28250, 28253-28256, 28258, 28260-28262, 28265-28266, 28269-28275, 28277-28278, 28280-28290, 28296-28297, 28299|
|DIALING CODE :|
Charlotte is an ambitious and rapidly growing city in the southern part of the Piedmont of North Carolina. It is the largest city in the state, with a population of 809,856 (2014 estimate) residents within the city limits. As of 2006, the Charlotte-Gastonia-Salisbury combined statistical area (CSA) had a regional population of 2,589,763, and Charlotte is the county seat of Mecklenburg County. It is the center of finance, industry, technology, and entertainment for the region. It is a renowned financial powerhouse and banking center, with Bank of America's corporate headquarters and Wells Fargo's East Coast Operations located in Uptown, and is regarded as the second most important financial hub in the United States, behind New York City. Primarily known in the past as a leading Southern textile and manufacturing center, Charlotte is has modernized and diversified its robust economy through successful applications of urban and economic planning, known as "Vision Plans." It is also developing its fledgling tourist industry; currently its central core is one of the most visitor-friendly districts in the Carolinas.
- Charlotte Info Center, 330 S Tryon St and 200 E Seventh St in Uptown, plus a third location inside the airport, , toll-free: . Brochures, souvenirs, and advice are available for first-time visitors as well as long-time residents. Along with the public library, this is the best place to go if you are looking for a concentrated source of information about the city. It is worth checking out the brochures for self-guided walking and driving tours.
The Catawba Native Americans were the first to settle Mecklenburg County (in the Charlotte area) and were first recorded in European records around 1567. By 1759 half the Catawba tribe had been killed by smallpox. At the time of their largest population, Catawba people numbered 10,000, but by 1826 that number dropped to 110.
Mecklenburg County was initially part of Bath County (1696 to 1729) of New Hanover Precinct, which became New Hanover County in 1729. The western portion of New Hanover split into Bladen County in 1734, its western portion splitting into Anson County in 1750. Mecklenburg County formed from Anson County in 1762, with further apportionment in 1792, with Cabarrus County formed from Mecklenburg, and in 1842, with Union County formed from Mecklenburg's southeastern portion. These areas were all part of one of the original six judicial/military districts of North Carolina known as the Salisbury District.
The area that is now Charlotte was settled by people of European descent around 1755, when Thomas Spratt and his family settled near what is now the Elizabeth neighborhood. Thomas Polk (granduncle of U.S. President James K. Polk), who later married Thomas Spratt's daughter, built his house by the intersection of two Native American trading paths between the Yadkin and Catawba rivers.One path ran north–south and was part of the Great Wagon Road; the second path ran east–west along what is now Trade Street. Within decades of Polk's settling, the area grew to become "Charlotte Town", incorporating in 1768.The crossroads, perched atop the Piedmont landscape, became the heart of Uptown Charlotte.
In 1770, surveyors marked the streets in a grid pattern for future development. The east–west trading path became Trade Street, and the Great Wagon Road became Tryon Street, in honor of William Tryon, a royal governor of colonial North Carolina.The intersection of Trade and Tryon—commonly known today as "Trade & Tryon", or simply "The Square"—is more properly called "Independence Square".
While surveying the boundary between the Carolinas in 1772, William Moultrie stopped in Charlotte Town, whose five or six houses were "very ordinary built of logs".
In 1775, local leaders came together and signed the Mecklenburg Resolves, more popularly known as the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. While not a true declaration of independence from British rule, it is among the first such declarations that eventually led to the American Revolution. May 20, the traditional date of the signing of the declaration, is celebrated annually in Charlotte as "MecDec", with musket and cannon fire by reenactors in Independence Square. North Carolina'sstate flag and state seal also bear the date.
After the American Revolution
Charlotte is traditionally considered the home of Southern Presbyterianism, but in the 19th century, numerous churches, including Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist,Episcopalian, Lutheran, and Roman Catholic formed, eventually giving Charlotte the nickname, "The City of Churches".
In 1799, in nearby Cabarrus County, 12-year-old Conrad Reed found a 17-pound rock, which his family used as a doorstop. Three years later, a jeweler determined it was nearly solid gold, paying the family a paltry $3.50. The first documented gold find in the United States of any consequence set off the nation's first gold rush. Many veins of gold were found in the area throughout the 19th and early 20th century, leading to the 1837 founding of the Charlotte Mint. North Carolina was the chief producer of gold in the United States until the Sierra Nevada find in 1848, although the volume mined in the Charlotte area was dwarfed by subsequent rushes.
Some groups still pan for gold occasionally in local streams and creeks. The Reed Gold Mine operated until 1912. The Charlotte Mint was active until 1861, when Confederate forces seized it at the outbreak of the Civil War. The mint was not reopened at the war's end, but the building, albeit in a different location, now houses the Mint Museum of Art.
The city's first boom came after the Civil War, as a cotton processing center and a railroad hub. Charlotte's city population at the 1880 Census grew to 7,084.
WWI to present
Population grew again during World War I, when the U.S. government established Camp Greene north of present-day Wilkinson Boulevard. Many soldiers and suppliers stayed after the war, launching an urban ascent that eventually overtook older city rivals along the Piedmont Crescent.
The city's modern-day banking industry achieved prominence in the 1970s and 1980s, largely under the leadership of financier Hugh McColl. McColl transformed North Carolina National Bank (NCNB) into a formidable national player that through aggressive acquisitions became known as NationsBank, eventually merging with BankAmerica to become Bank of America. Wachovia experienced similar growth, and was acquired by San Francisco-based Wells Fargo. Measured by control of assets, Charlotte is the second largest banking headquarters in the United States, after New York City.
On September 22, 1989, the city took a direct hit from Hurricane Hugo. With sustained winds of 69 mph (111 km/h) and gusts of 87 mph (140 km/h) in some locations, Hugo caused massive property damage, destroyed 80,000 trees, and knocked out electrical power to most of the population. Residents were without power for weeks, schools were closed for a week or more, and cleanup took months. The city was caught unprepared; Charlotte is 200 miles (320 km) inland, and residents from coastal areas in both Carolinas often wait out hurricanes in Charlotte.
In December 2002, Charlotte and much of central North Carolina were hit by an ice storm that resulted in more than 1.3 million people losing power. During an abnormally cold December, many were without power for weeks. Much of the damage was caused by Bradford pear trees, splitting apart under the weight of the ice.
Charlotte, like much of the Piedmont region of the southeastern United States, has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa), with four distinct seasons; the city itself is part of USDA hardiness zone 8a, transitioning to 7b in the suburbs in all directions except the south. Winters are short and generally cool, with a January daily average of 40.1 °F (4.5 °C). On average, there are 59 nights per year that drop to or below freezing, and only 1.5 days that fail to rise above freezing. April is the driest month, with an average of 3.04 inches (7.7 cm) of precipitation. Summers are hot and humid, with a daily average in July of 78.5 °F (25.8 °C). There is an average 44 days per year with highs at or above 90 °F (32 °C). Official record temperatures range from 104 °F (40 °C) recorded six times, most recently on July 1, 2012, down to −5 °F (−21 °C) as recently as January 21, 1985, the last of three occasions; the record cold daily maximum is 14 °F (−10 °C) on February 12 and 13, 1899, while, conversely, the record warm daily minimum is 82 °F (28 °C) on August 13, 1881. The average window for freezing temperatures is November 5 thru March 30, allowing a growing season of 220 days.
Charlotte is directly in the path of subtropical moisture from the Gulf of Mexico as it heads up the eastern seaboard, thus the city receives ample precipitation throughout the year but also many clear, sunny days; precipitation is generally less frequent in autumn than spring. On average, Charlotte receives 41.6 inches (1,060 mm) of precipitation annually, which is somewhat evenly distributed throughout the year, although summer is slightly wetter; annual precipitation has historically ranged from 26.23 in (666 mm) in 2001 to 68.44 in (1,738 mm) in 1884. In addition, there is an average of 4.3 inches (10.9 cm) of snow, mainly in January and February and rarely December or March, with more frequent ice storms and sleet mixed in with rain; seasonal snowfall has historically ranged from trace amounts as recently as 2011–12 to 22.6 in (57 cm) in 1959–60. These storms can have a major impact on the area, as they often pull tree limbs down on power lines and make driving hazardous.
Climate data for Charlotte, North Carolina
|Record high °F (°C)||79
|Mean maximum °F (°C)||69.7
|Average high °F (°C)||50.7
|Average low °F (°C)||29.6
|Mean minimum °F (°C)||14.2
|Record low °F (°C)||−5
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 297.68 square miles (771.0 km2), of which 297.08 square miles (769.4 km2) is land and 0.6 square miles (1.6 km2) is water. Charlotte lies at an elevation of 748 feet (228 m), as measured at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport.
Charlotte constitutes most of Mecklenburg County in the Carolina Piedmont.Charlotte center city sits atop a long rise between two creeks, Sugar Creek and Irwin Creek and was built on the gunnies of the St. Catherine's and Rudisill goldmines.
Though the Catawba River and its lakes lie several miles west, there are no significant bodies of water or other geological features near the city center. Consequently, development has neither been constrained nor helped by waterways or ports that have contributed to many cities of similar size. The lack of these obstructions has contributed to Charlotte's growth as a highway, rail, and air transportation hub.
Charlotte has become a major U.S. financial center and the second largest banking center in the United States (after New York City). The nation's second largest financial institution by assets, Bank of America, calls the city home. The city was also the former corporate home of Wachovia until its 2008 acquisition by Wells Fargo in San Francisco CA; Wells Fargo integrated legacy Wachovia, with the two banks fully merged at the end of 2011, which included transitioning all of the Wachovia branches in the Carolinas to Wells Fargo branches by October 2011. Since then, Charlotte became the regional headquarters for East Coast Operations of Wells Fargo, which is headquartered in San Francisco, California. Charlotte also serves as the headquarters for Wells Fargo's capital markets activities including sales and trading, equity research, and investment banking. Bank of America's headquarters, along with other regional banking and financial services companies, are located primarily in the Uptown central business district.
Charlotte has nine Fortune 500 companies in its metropolitan area, listed in order of their rank: Bank of America, Lowe's in suburban Mooresville, Nucor (steel producer), Duke Energy, Sealed Air Corp, Sonic Automotive, Family Dollar, SPX Corporation (industrial technology), and Domtar (in suburban Fort Mill). The Charlotte area includes a very diverse range of businesses, including foodstuffs such as Chiquita Brands International, Harris Teeter, Snyder's-Lance, Carolina Foods Inc, Bojangles', Food Lion, Compass Group USA, and Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated (Charlotte being the nation's second largest Coca-Cola bottler), motor and transportation companies like RSC Brands, and Continental Tire the Americas, LLC., Meineke Car Care Center,Carlisle Companies (along with several other services), along with a wide array of other businesses.
Charlotte is the major center in the U.S. motorsports industry, housing multiple offices of NASCAR, the NASCAR Hall of Fame and Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord. Approximately 75% of the NASCAR industry's race teams, employees and drivers are based nearby. The large presence of the racing technology industry along with the newly built NHRA dragstrip, zMAX Dragway at Concord, is influencing other top professional drag racers to move their shops to Charlotte as well.
Located in the western part of Mecklenburg County is the U.S. National Whitewater Center, which consists of man-made rapids of various degrees and is open to the public year round.
The Charlotte Region has a major base of energy-oriented organizations and has become known as "Charlotte USA – The New Energy Capital". In the region there are more than 240 companies directly tied to energy sector collectively employing more than 26,400. Since 2007 more than 4,000 energy sector jobs have been announced. Major energy players in Charlotte include AREVA, Babcock & Wilcox, Duke Energy, Electric Power Research Institute, Fluor, Metso Power, Piedmont Natural Gas, Siemens Energy, Shaw Group, Toshiba, URS Corp., and Westinghouse. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte has a reputation in energy education and research and its Energy Production and Infrastructure Center (EPIC) trains energy engineers and conducts research.
The area is an increasingly growing trucking and freight transportation hub for the East Coast. The Charlotte Center city has seen remarkable growth over the last decade. Numerous residential units continue to be built uptown, including over 20 skyscrapers under construction, recently completed, or in the planning stage. Many new restaurants, bars and clubs now operate in the Uptown area. Several projects are transforming the Midtown Charlotte/Elizabeth area.
In 2013, Forbes named Charlotte among its list of Best Places for Business and Careers. Charlotte was listed as the #20 largest city in the US, and the #60 fastest growing city in the US between 2000-2008.
Charlotte's central district, and the location of its somewhat oversized skyline as well as the center of Charlotte's commerce, culture, and government, with most of the bustle centered around Tryon Street, the "Main Street" of the city. The district is home to several Fortune 500 headquarters, museums, nightclubs, restaurants, parks, city and county government offices and theaters. It is generally agreed that the word "uptown" refers to anything inside the I-277 loop.
NoDa, short for North Davidson Street, is one of Charlotte's most eclectic and original neighborhoods. About two miles north of the center city, this old mill district has been revitalized by artists moving in and is now home to street level art galleries, several restaurants and other unique shops as well as a popular "gallery crawl".
Close to Uptown in the corridor formed by Tryon Street and South Blvd along the light rail line, this old mill district has been gradually converted into a hip, semi-upscale entertainment/cultural district that is also home to Charlotte's emerging design industry. This district is also possibly the best place in town to take a walk with children, with its ice cream shops, a trolley museum and several kids-oriented stores.
Similar in some ways to NoDa and South End, but a little rougher around the edges because of its alternative and non-conformist crowd. This vibrant neighborhood is home to several local institutions such as: The Diamond (a popular diner), several consignment shops, the famous Nova bakery and local galleries that rival even the most popular ones in Noda.
Once located altogether outside the city, Myers Park is near the heart of modern-day Charlotte. Its reputation as an "old money" neighborhood is accentuated by its beautiful tree-lined and winding avenues. Home to some of Charlotte's oldest and most expensive homes as well as Queens University of Charlotte and Freedom Park. A driving tour of Myers Park is a popular way for tourists to get acquainted with the neighborhood.
Charlotte's first "streetcar suburb", Dilworth has never lost its reputation as a desirable place to make home. In recent years the neighborhood has blossomed into an upscale district dotted with eateries and galleries. The promise of increased public transit service has added even more development to this already walkable neighborhood.
An affluent district in south-central Charlotte, and home to the city's second-largest business district. SouthPark is a newer suburb whose development has mostly occurred in the last 40 years, but it has quickly developed into a semi-urban concentration of office buildings, high rise condos, hotels and entertainment options.
Just outside of Uptown, Elizabeth reflects a transition between elegant Myers Park and gritty Plaza-Midwood. Its tree-lined streets and quiet residential blocks provide an air of relaxation, but its commercial blocks are among the city's most colorful. Sometimes characterized as "a poor man's Dilworth", Elizabeth is coming into its own as a center of activity.
A sprawling 1970s-style suburban district, focused around the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. This area is on the city's northeast side and is largely an area in transition, having formerly been mostly rural or affluent suburbs and now drawing in minority groups and young families. Aside from the University and related research centers, this area is also home to Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre (now known as PNC Music Pavilion), a well-defined "downtown" cluster of hotels and retail centers, and many square miles of sprawling shopping centers.
A somewhat ambiguous, but distinctive, area covering a large portion of the city's eastern end. East Charlotte contains the city's largest concentration of immigrants, and is mostly a middle- to lower-class area. Much of the east side is depressed and unattractive, but it contains some of Charlotte's most interesting cultural development. Virtually any kind of ethnic food can be found here, and much of the city's "street life" gravitates toward this area.
The most recent large-scale development in Charlotte, Ballantyne is located at the far southern edge of the city. Sprawling and suburban in nature, it is noted for its luxurious "mini-mansions", upscale retail, large hotels and corporate buildings, and distinguished country club. Ballantyne is mostly residential in nature and most tourist attraction is generated by the Ballantyne Resort.
An area known well for its poverty and crime. This section of town constantly has to battle a lack of proper groceries and a high murder rate. Real Estate in West Charlotte is far cheaper than other neighborhoods in Charlotte. Most of the property is not owner occupied. It has close access to uptown and the airport.
The city of Charlotte has mandatory 10-digit dialing, so you must include the area code even on local calls. Charlotte has two area codes: 704 and 980.
There are some public pay phones scattered around the city, but they are becoming increasingly rare with the predominance of cell phones. It is not safe to assume you will be able to find a pay phone at any given time.
All ZIP codes in the city of Charlotte begin with 282. The central district's code is 28202.
Prices in Charlotte
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$1.60|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||$13.00|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||$26.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||$51.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||$|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||$6.50|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||$5.00|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$4.00|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||$10.00|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||$14.50|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||$0.10|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||$5.60|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||$3.00|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||$45.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||$33.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||$79.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||$2.25|
72 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- meals in cheap restaurant
- public transport
- cheap hotel
274 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- mid-range meals and drinks
Transportation - Get In
Charlotte Douglas International Airport (IATA: CLT) is on the west side of town near Billy Graham Parkway. The airport is a major domestic and international hub for Oneworld member American Airlines. American Airlines serves over 120 domestic destinations from Charlotte/Douglas and over 35 international destinations, including Rome, London, Paris, Frankfurt, Dublin, Madrid, Mexico City and Rio de Janeiro, among many others. The airport also receives flights from most other major airlines. Lufthansa, also aligned with Star Alliance, is the only foreign transoceanic carrier, with service to Munich. Air Canada has service to Toronto. Insel Air has flights to Curaçao. Though the airport has diversified somewhat in the past few years, American Airlines domestic flights are still its primary source of traffic. Due to this dominance by a single carrier, finding fare bargains can be a challenge.
Passengers flying on American, JetBlue,or Lufthansa, will arrive and depart from Concourse B, C, D, or E. Concourse D is the airports international concourse. All other airlines arrive and depart from Concourse A.
Don't worry if you get hungry at CLT – the airport is home to many restaurants and shops. While many of the restaurants are decently priced, the shops are not - charging upwards of $2 for a Coke.
For those who need to remain connected, free WiFi is available at the Bank of America Business center, located in the central concourse. The center has multiple electrical outlets, comfy chairs, and several restaurants nearby. Throughout the airport free WiFi is available. Connect to the SSID CLTNET.
A special bus line called Sprinter (CATS Route 5) runs regularly between the airport and Uptown. A one-way ticket costs $2.20. Two additional routes connect the airport with Northlake Mall (Route 590) and LYNX Blue Line Archdale Station (Route 591).
Taxis charge a flat $25 rate for a trip from the airport to Uptown (for one or two passengers; additional charges apply for groups).
The Amtrak station is on North Tryon near Dalton, on bus route 11 (North Tryon). Charlotte is the southern end of the Carolinian and Piedmont lines, which head north to Raleigh, with the Carolinian continuing to New York City. It's also a stop along the Crescent between New York City and Atlanta and New Orleans, however this train passes through Charlotte very late at night. If you arrive by train, be aware that this area is relatively seedy. Though you will be safe in and around the station, it is not a good idea to "wing it" once you arrive. Try to pre-arrange travel from the station to your next destination; walking is not recommended. A #11 bus meets each arriving Carolinian and Piedmont train to take passengers to Uptown.
- Greyhound. The station is just northwest of Uptown and is served by buses 1 (Mount Holly), 8 (Tuckaseegee), 34 (Freedom Dr), and 7 (Beatties Ford).
- Megabus. Service from Atlanta, Athens, Durham, Richmond, and Washington, D.C.. Buses arrive and depart along Whitton St between Dewitt Ln and South Blvd, near the Scaleybark LYNX station. Fares from $1 and up.
The interstate highways through Charlotte are Interstates 85 (northeast-southwest) and 77 (north-south). I-85 takes you to Burlington and Greensboro. N.C. 74 is also a primary route into the city, and links with I-277.
Transportation - Get Around
Uptown is very dense, and almost all attractions in that part of town are easily reached by walking. However, only a few other districts (such as NoDa and Dilworth) are truly pedestrian-friendly. Outer districts, such as Ballantyne and University City, are pedestrian-unfriendly areas. If you must walk, give some thought to the weather; summer days in the South are quite hot and it is easy to get dehydrated.
Uptown is laid out in a grid, with numbered streets running east-west with few exceptions. Streets running north-south have proper names. Charlotte's outer suburbs are often difficult to navigate. Most roads are built according to the natural lay of the land; once you leave the I-277 loop, you are likely to find it increasingly difficult to predict the direction (and often, the name) of the road you are traveling on. Therefore, it is a good idea to make certain your directions are specific and trustworthy before venturing into an unknown area. Otherwise, you will likely find yourself relying on the (usually) friendly natives for directions back to your starting point.
Note that while I-277 has been completed for some time, I-485 is incomplete and still under construction. The northwestern quadrant of I-485 is still missing, but the rest of the freeway is quite useful for circling the perimeter of the city.
Similarly, I-277 is very useful when moving quickly around the center city. However, it is important to understand that one side of the "loop" is actually I-77, which interchanges with I-277 in two places. It is easy to misread the signs and end up moving farther along I-77 rather than circling back onto I-277. When using the loop, be sure to follow signs for "Downtown" in order to stay on the correct path.
Secondary roads in Charlotte are notoriously difficult to navigate. In particular, visitors and residents alike are often befuddled by frequent name changes in the roads. To make matters worse, many roads in the city share similar names. Also, very few of the city's roads are based on a grid or similarly organized system; most of the roads outside the city core are winding avenues that follow the natural features of the land.
The city can be a delight to explore by car, but visitors are strongly advised to pick up a free map or purchase a road map upon arrival. A GPS unit with the most current updates can, of course, make travel in and around Charlotte immensely more enjoyable.
By public transit
Available to any part of Charlotte. There are several prominent companies, and unlike larger cities (for instance, New York City or London) the design of the vehicles is not uniform. However, a taxi is always recognizable by a sign on the roof of the car. If the taxi is vacant, the sign will be lit up; if it has a passenger, the sign will be off. It is customary to give a tip to cab drivers, especially if they help you with luggage or other items. It is usually a good idea to inquire about the fare before boarding if you are planning to make a longer trip; Charlotte's sprawled-out nature can lead to high fares for trips outside the center city.
Cab fares in Charlotte are regulated by the city, and are consistent for all companies. The "drop charge" (pickup rate) is $2.50, and each 1/5th mile is $0.50. During weekday rush hours (7-9AM and 4-6PM), you will also be charged $0.50 for every minute spent in stopped traffic. For a direct one-way trip to or from the airport, the rate is a flat $25. You can save money by sharing a cab with a companion, but be aware that there is a $2 charge for each person after 2.
By light rail
LYNX Blue Line light rail corridor is a rapid and efficient way to commute from Uptown to the southern edges of Mecklenburg County. It stops at major Uptown destination (Time Warner Cable Arena, the Convention Center), travels through South End, and proceeds along South Blvd all the way down to I-485. Frequency varies from 7–10 minutes on weekdays to 20–30 minutes on weekends. Fares are $2 for a one-way ticket (discounts for seniors and youth) and $6 for a day pass. Tickets are good for 90 minutes and allow for transfer to CATS transit buses.
Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) operates transit service throughout the Charlotte area. Most bus routes start at the teal-roofed Transportation Center in Uptown (across the street from the Time Warner Cable Arena) and go toward the suburbs like spokes on a wheel (roughly). Though they are generally clean and safe, they are usually not the most efficient way to get around the city. Bus fare is $2 one-way, $6 for a day pass. Allow 45 minutes for a one-leg trip, 2 hours for a two-leg trip. Bus transfers can be used on the LYNX light rail and are valid for an hour and 45 minutes after issue. Also, be aware of the colorfully-painted buses in the suburbs that connect neighborhoods to primary routes.
Charlotte Trolley is a replica streetcar system that operates on the LYNX line between the South End and Uptown. The Trolley stops at LYNX Light Rail stations in Uptown and South End as well as stops at Morehead and 9th St.
Some parts of Charlotte are very friendly to cyclists, especially the south-central area around Myers Park and Dilworth, but be aware that most of the city is not friendly toward bikers. It is a good idea to research in advance to identify streets with designated bike lanes on the right-hand side of the road. Be aware that bicycles are subject to the same traffic laws as cars. Helmets are recommended but not required for adults.
- Charlotte B-Cycle. Bike sharing program with nearly two dozen stations primarily in Uptown, Southend, and Elizabeth. $8/24 hours.
- BEST RATED -
- BEST VALUE -
One of Charlotte's biggest weaknesses is the relative lack of retail shopping in the center city. Though this will change somewhat in the near future, you will generally have to venture into the suburbs to do your shopping. As with most American cities, most retail is in malls and shopping centers, though some areas (especially the inner suburbs) have stores along the streets.
- Metropolitan Midtown, just outside the central business district, is the redevelopment of the former Charlottetown Mall. Concord Mills is not technically in Charlotte, but is the largest shopping destination in the region. Carolina Place Mall is a large mall near the southern city line, convenient to the southern suburbs and stateline. Eastland Mall is an older Charlotte mall that is slated for a revitalization while Northlake Mall is a new mall in north Charlotte, convenient to the University area and Lake Norman area. Northlake Mall is arguably Charlotte's largest and most upscale mall, 10 mi south of center city. Belgate features the first IKEA store in the Carolinas.
- If you are looking to shop outside the commercial retail sector, try exploring some of the districts just outside the I-277 loop. In particular, the Dilworth and Plaza-Midwood areas are good places to visit unique, funky stores. East Blvd. (upscale) and Thomas St. (downscale) are both good places to find unusual items.
For the most part, Charlotte's culinary tastes are in line with the rest of the American South. Standards such as grits, sweet potatoes (yams), and greens are common in kitchens and restaurants. Southern food is typically high in fats and carbohydrates, so dieters should be careful to stick to higher-end restaurants that serve a more cosmopolitan fare. Otherwise, dig in and enjoy the richness of the Southern diet.
Many of Charlotte's older restaurants are owned by Greek families. Often, you will unexpectedly find Greek items on the menus of restaurants that otherwise serve American fare.
North Carolinians have long been fiercely competitive about their barbecue, and Charlotte's eateries reflect that heritage. Outsiders beware: Carolinas "barbeque" is chopped and sauced pork. The sauce will depend on which region it comes from (east or west), and it all works well as a sandwich (though you usually get to choose between sandwich or plate). Barbecue sandwiches are invariably served with slaw (either a vinegar-based red slaw, or a mayonnaise-based white slaw) on the meat, though it will be left out or on the side if you request. This is a local custom and one of the many things that makes Charlotte and more generally NC interesting.
"Carolinas style" hamburgers and hot dogs are typically served with mustard, chili, and cole slaw, though some restaurants will vary their toppings slightly to create a "signature".
Krispy Kreme Donuts is headquartered in nearby Winston-Salem, and their products are widely available. Also, Lance Snacks is based in Charlotte.
The dominant local grocery chains are Harris Teeter and Food Lion. While both began in North Carolina, and still have their headquarters in the state, they are now divisions of larger companies. Harris Teeter is a division of Cincinnati-based Kroger, and Food Lion is a division of the Dutch company Ahold Delhaize. Harris Teeter is relatively expensive but more upscale. Food Lion is a middle-class favorite, and usually has an extensive ethnic section. Other groceries include BI-LO, Aldi, Lowes Foods, and Bloom (a high-tech spin off of Food Lion). The city is also dotted with dozens of ethnic groceries, especially Hispanic, Indian and Vietnamese. Check out Compare Foods stores dotted around the city.
The specialty grocery store scene is also growing, as Charlotte has three Trader Joe's stores, two Earth Fare stores and two Fresh Markets. These stores specialize in natural and organic foods. For something a little bit more local, try the Home Economist or the quaint Berrybrook Farms.
One spot particularly popular with locals is Amelie's French Bakery, located on North Davidson Street in NoDa. Amelie's is open 24/7 and has a wide selection of French pastries and baked goods, as well as coffees and teas. There is also a satellite location Uptown.
Coffe & Drink
Liquor is available by the drink in the city of Charlotte. However, some smaller towns in the region prohibit liquor sales. If you plan to explore nearby counties, there is a chance you may encounter a "dry" area. Open containers of alcohol are never permitted on the street; if you order a beverage you must finish it before leaving the restaurant or bar. If you want to buy liquor by the bottle, you must do it at state-run ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Commission) stores, rather than at traditional liquor stores. Beer and wine are available for purchase at most markets, grocery stores and gas stations.
Cheerwine, a cherry-flavored soft drink, is a local favorite. Sundrop, available in a unique citrus blend and cherry-lemon, is based out of Gastonia and is a favorite among locals. R.C. Cola is also a "traditional" Southern soft drink.
If you are not from the American South, you may be surprised to see sweet iced tea is the predominant non-carbonated drink (and is arguably sweeter).
Sights & Landmarks
- Charlotte with children - itinerary for travellers with children
- Bojangles' Coliseum, 2700 E Independence Blvd, . Historic domed arena in southeast Charlotte on NC-74. Once the largest concrete free-standing dome in the world, it has played host to Elvis, Jimi Hendrix and many sporting events. Currently used for community events, conventions and smaller musical acts. Formerly known as Cricket Arena and Independence Arena.
- Memorial Stadium, 310 N Kings Dr, . Adjacent to the CPCC campus south of Uptown, with a spectacular skyline view. Generally used for smaller events such as high school and college football games and band competitions. The Charlotte Independence will play there beginning in 2016.
- PNC Music Pavilion, 707 Pavilion Boulevard, . This is the venue for big shows in Charlotte. You can get on the lawn for cheaper than seating under the canopy, but you may not be able to see the performers except on the huge big screen.
- Spectrum Center, 333 E Trade St., . Located in Uptown and home to the Charlotte Hornets, this venue, popularly known as "The Hive", hosts a number of musical and sports-related shows each year. Formerly known as Charlotte Bobcats Arena and Time Warner Cable Arena.
- Ballantyne Village Theatre, 14815 John J. Delaney Dr, . Brand-new theater in the southern suburb of Ballantyne. Noted for its bold decision to show independent films on only 4 screens, despite being part of the landmark Ballantyne Village shopping center. Pitches its product as a "luxury" experience with fine dining and other amenities nearby.
- Belmont Drive-In, 314 McAdenville Rd, Belmont, . A traditional drive-in movie theater, located off NC-74 in the nearby town of Belmont. Very strongly recommended for visitors looking for "local color". Extremely cheap compared to a regular theater ($6 per car, regardless of how many people you cram in), welcoming of pets and kids, and serves pretty good concessions. Typically shows 2-3 movies in an evening, and you're free to leave at any time.
- Regal Manor Twin, 609 Providence Rd, . The quintessential independent theater in Charlotte, and the oldest cinema that is still in operation. There are only two screens, and parking is limited, but this is generally the place to find that indie that you can't find anywhere else in the region.
There are several major theaters and a few fringe groups scattered throughout the city, especially in and near Uptown.
- The Children's Theatre of Charlotte, 300 E 7th St, . M-Th 9AM-9PM, F-Sa 9AM-6PM, Su 1PM-6PM. For weekend evening performances ImaginOn re-opens one hour prior to performance time. Box Office hours M-F 10AM-5PM, and one hour prior to all performances for walk-up guests (box office phones are not answered on weekends). Founded in 1948, it has been opening young minds to the wonders of live theater for over half a century. Annually, it reaches more than 320,000 young people and families from preschool to late teens, with four program areas: MainStage productions; Tarradiddle Players, the professional touring company; and Community Involvement Program. Ticket prices vary.
- Actor's Theatre of Charlotte, 650 E Stonewall St, . M-Th 9AM-9PM, F-Sa 9AM-6PM, Su 1PM-6PM. Highly awarded professional theater in existence since 1989. Diverse dramas and musicals fill the seasons here and no production fails. Besides their main stage productions, the theater is home to a late night series called 650 which are usually free, otherwise- ticket prices vary.
- Carolina Actor's Studio Theatre (CAST), 1118 Clement Ave, .M-Th 9AM-9PM, F-Sa 9AM-6PM, Su 1PM-6PM. Tucked back in the Plaza- Midwood area is a space that prides itself on diverse EXPERIENTIAL theater. Many productions incorporate multi-media and other performing art forms and is the most daring of the spaces around the city. The theater has two intimate spaces, including the 'boxagon' which has a rotating stage. Ticket prices vary.
- Theatre Charlotte, 501 Queens Rd, . M-Th 9AM-6PM, F-Sa 9AM-4PM, closed Su. With a production history dating from 1927, is Charlotte's oldest arts organization as well as the oldest continually producing community theater in the state.
- Charlotte Comedy Theatre, . M-Sa 8PM-midnight. The only 'strictly' comedy venue in Charlotte at the moment. Made of up of Charlotte's most notorious improvisers, founded and directed by an 13 year Chicago improv veteran.
- Blumenthal and Spirit Square, 130 N. Tryon St, . M-Th 9AM-9PM, F-Sa 9AM-6PM, Su 1PM-6PM. The Performing Arts Center has three performance spaces: the 2,100-seat Belk Theater; the 434-seat Booth Playhouse, and the Stage Door Theater which seats 150. The Center presents the Broadway Lights Series, featuring national touring Broadway productions and a wide range of special attractions. Home to the seasons of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Opera Carolina, North Carolina Dance Theatre, Carolina Voices, the Carolinas Concert Association, ArtsTeach, Community School of the Arts, and the Light Factory.
- UNC Charlotte Theatre and Dance, . M-Th 9AM-6PM, F-Sa 9AM-4PM. Performs several times throughout the year.
- Central Piedmont Community College Theatre, . M-Th 9AM-6PM, F-Sa 9AM-4PM. Performs several times throughout the year and has a professional summer series.
- Collaborative Arts Theatre, . M-Th 6PM-midnight, F-Sa 9AM-6PM. Founded in 2006, this small award-winning professional theatre company produces contemporary plays in various locations as well as The Charlotte Shakespeare Festival, a popular annual free summer festival, which takes place both outdoors at The Green Uptown and indoors at The McGlohon Theatre in Spirit Square.
- Shakespeare Carolina. M-Th 6PM-midnight, F-Sa 9AM-6PM. Founded in 1997, they produce Shakespeare plays during the summer.
- Citizens of the Universe, . M-Th 6PM-midnight, F-Sa 9AM-6PM. COTU is one of two active fringe theaters in Charlotte. With no set season and no set theater, this company performs in the environment available to them. Hard to catch, this theater specializes in book/ film translations to stage.
- Play!Play! Theatre. M-Th 6PM-midnight, F-Sa 9AM-6PM. Active children's theatre. PlayPlay! creates plays specifically for children ages birth to age 3.
Zoos and aquariums
- Sea Life Charlotte-Concord Aquarium, 8111 Concord Mills Blvd, Concord, NC, toll-free: .
Museums & Galleries
There are numerous museums and historic sites scattered throughout the city, especially in and near Uptown. In recent years, a "museum district" has arisen on Tryon Street on the south side of Uptown. The highlights of this district are the Mint Museum of Art and the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, both housed in stunning buildings and holding impressive collections of modern and contemporary art. Nearby, adjacent to the convention center, is the new NASCAR Hall of Fame, a slick museum with plenty of interactive exhibits and race cars on view. The north side of Uptown is home to two of the city's best museums, Discovery Place, an acclaimed children's and science museum, and the Levine Museum of the New South, which has a fantastic collection of historical artifacts and displays illustrating the history of the South since the Civil War.
Other museums in the Charlotte area include the Charlotte Trolley Museum in South End, the James K Polk Historic Site in Pineville south of Charlotte, and the Carolinas Aviation Museum.
- Carolinas Aviation Museum, 4108 Airport Dr (at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport), . Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 1PM-5PM. This is a big attraction for aviation fanatics. This museum features a wide variety of resources including historic and restored airplanes, air shows and a library (by research request only). Because it is located at Charlotte-Douglas, it is the only attraction in the city that can be reached by airplane. If you want to meet people working on restoring the airplanes, come on a Tuesday or Thursday. (It is also a great place to watch takeoffs and landings at the airport.)
Things to do
Professional sports are one of Charlotte's most popular forms of entertainment. Though its roots are primarily in stock car racing, the city offers something for fans of nearly every kind of sport. In particular, its success in the NFL and NBA have given it widespread exposure as a growing sports hub.
NASCAR events take place at Charlotte Motor Speedway, which is technically outside of Charlotte in Concord, North Carolina. Charlotte is the de facto hub of stock car racing in the U.S., with several NASCAR teams based in the city. 3 NASCAR Sprint Cup races take place each season, including the All-Star Race and the Coca-Cola 600. Additionally, Charlotte is the home for the NASCAR Hall of Fame and headquarters, which is located near the Convention Center in Uptown. Each year Charlotte hosts "Speed Street", a large festival featuring various racing-themed attractions and a long list of musical guests. The Carolina Panthers is the city's NFL franchise. Games are played at Bank of America Stadium. The city has had a somewhat turbulent NBA history. The Hornets were founded in 1988, and enjoyed great popularity for over a decade until the owner and the city had a huge falling-out, which ended in a nasty divorce and the team leaving for New Orleans in 2002. Two years later, the city was awarded a new NBA franchise, the Bobcats. After the New Orleans team renamed itself the Pelicans in 2013, the Bobcats reclaimed the Hornets name in 2014, and also got ownership of the history of the 1988–2002 Hornets. These events take place in Uptown.
Minor league sports include the Charlotte Knights (AAA baseball) who play in BB&T Ballpark, one exit past Carowinds. The Charlotte Checkers ice hockey team play in Uptown and is cheap fun (Charlotte was the first city south of Baltimore to host professional hockey and has had a team for most of the last 50 years). The Carolina Speed is the fourth professional indoor football team to be based in Charlotte, with games taking place in East Charlotte. The city also hosts the Charlotte Hounds, a major league lacrosse team. The Charlotte Independence soccer team play near uptown. Charlotte Rugby Football Club, which play northwest of Uptown, and Charlotte Roller Girls, with games in Elizabeth complete a vast list of professional, minor league and club sports to enjoy in the city.
The immediate Charlotte area also has two NCAA Division I sports programs, one in the city and one in the outlying county. The Charlotte 49ers, representing the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, compete in nine men's sports and eight women's sports as members of Conference USA. Davidson College, located in the nearby town of the same name, hosts the Davidson Wildcats, which compete in 11 men's sports and 10 women's sports, mostly in the Atlantic 10 Conference (though the football team plays in the second-level FCS in the Pioneer Football League).
Charlotte has been noted for its "green" appearance, due to its extensive tree canopy and abundance of parks. See the individual district pages for listings of major city parks. Outdoor adventurers may revel in the pleasures offered at the U.S. National Whitewater Center.
Charlotte is home to many amazing venues for music, as well as many famous rappers and soul singers, like Fantasia Barrino, and the comeback band Jodeci. Here are the best places to see live music.
- The Double Door Inn, 218 E Independence Blvd, . Legendary for its blues history, and one of the city's most beloved institutions. Any long-time Charlottean will tell you the story about Eric Clapton's impromptu set at the Double Door; a framed newspaper article over the bar is proof. Hosts musical acts on most nights of the week. Very intimate, and more for the drink-and-watch crowd.
- The Evening Muse, 3227 N Davidson St, . Located in the NoDa district, the Evening Muse is noted for its variety of music ranging from light folk to rockabilly, and open mic on Monday nights.
- The Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd, . Almost forgotten in Charlotte's mainstream entertainment scene, this veteran club has a shockingly prestigious music history—Nirvana, the Flaming Lips, and R.E.M. have all graced the stage here. Though the interior looks like something out of skid row, there is a well-cultivated hipster vibe at the Milestone that is virtually untouched anywhere else in the city. Mention this one in conversation to gauge a friend's true cool-factor.
- Tremont Music Hall, 400 W Tremont Ave, . Premier stop for National Acts specializing in modern rock, indie rock, punk, hardcore, metal, emo, SKA, roots rock and others. Great place to see a band as you’re never more than 50 ft from the stage.
- Amos' Southend, 1423 S Tryon, . All types of bands play here especially cover bands.
- The Gold Standard Chorus. Do you like to sing A Cappella music? The Men's Barbershop Chorus, The Gold Standard Chorus, meets on Monday nights from 7:30PM - 10PM at Aldersgate Methodist Retirement Home.
Golf is a major sport in the Carolinas, and is played nearly year-round due to the mild autumn and spring seasons. Several private, semi-private and country clubs courses are available. Quail Hollow Club hosts the PGA Tour's Wells Fargo Championship each Spring.
- Driving Tours. Queen City Tours covers most of the center city and surrounding area. Note that they offer different types of tour service for different group sizes. This tour shows Uptown, Dilworth and Myers Park.
- Helicopter Tours. North Carolina Rotor and Wing offers a birds' eye view of The Queen City and its surrounding neighborhoods.
- Charlotte 101 Class and Tour. Central Piedmont Community College offers a quarterly combination classroom lecture and tour about the Queen City for 6 hours. Pre-registration required.
Festivals and events
- Heroes Convention. Named "America's favorite comic book convention", Heroes Con has been hosted in Charlotte for the past thirty years and is one of the nations largest and most important comic book conventions. It is held every June in the Charlotte Convention Center and lasts for three days.
- CIAA Basketball Tournament. Will come to Charlotte in early March for the next several years. Historically-black colleges from across the country bring their teams, alums and fans to the center city for a week of games. and accompanying parties and conventions. Games are held at Spectrum Center. Other events take place throughout the city, including a festival along Tryon St.
- St. Patrick's Day Parade. Is not on the scale of Boston or NYC, but always well-attended and a fun time to visit the Irish restaurants Uptown. The parade goes up Tryon St., and the best place to view is at the Square.
- Southern Spring Home and Garden Show. Has brought designers and experts to the city for nearly 50 years. Held in March, and located at the Merchandise Mart. $9 at the door, kids free.
- The Thursday, Friday, and Saturday before Memorial Day, Speed Street brings half a million partiers to the center city for major musical acts and events related to the NASCAR All-Star Race. This event shuts down several major streets, and covers the entirety of Uptown with crowds after sundown. Parking is usually stretched to the limit, and hotels will be difficult to find. However, this is an excellent time for hard partiers to see the city at its most active.
- Charlotte is not known as a horse-racing hub, but the Queen's Cup Steeplechase gives the city an event to call its own. Located about 45 minutes from the center city in Mineral Springs. Held in mid-April.
- There is no better time to visit South End than during the Art and Soul of South End Festival in April. Several major events coincide to bring the district a variety of visual art, music and entertainment. Prices vary based on event, but most is free to attend.
- PGA Quail Hollow Championship. Brings the world's best golfers to Quail Hollow Country Club for a weekend in April. As one would expect, there are plenty of wine-and-cheese events associated with the championship. as well as a noticeable upturn in Polo shirts at Uptown clubs.
- Taste of Charlotte. Festival in June is far and away the best time to bring an appetite to the city. Tryon St. closes down for the weekend and many of the city's best restaurants are represented with samples of their signature dishes.
- Fourth of July Fireworks Display has shifted locations several times lately, but is always located somewhere in Uptown. This event draws nearly 100,000 visitors to the center city at once; be prepared to sit in gridlock, especially during the display when streets will come to a complete halt. Using public transit to park-and-ride from another district is recommended.
- Also in July, comic book collectors meet for the annual Heroes Convention at the Convention Center.
- Black Gay Pride Festival has made inroads as an annual festival in July.
- Charlotte Pride is a more general gay-pride festival in August. It has shifted locations, most recently to the Gateway Village area on the edge of Uptown. It has grown significantly since its inception.
- September is one of the best times to visit the city. The city's Labor Day Parade along Tryon St is modest, but a well-established annual event. The month-long Charlotte Shout collaboration includes not only cultural festivals and events, but also a day of free admissions to important cultural locations. For over 40 years, Festival in the Park has transformed Freedom Park into a massive marketplace and fair. The new Charlotte Film Festival is a collaboration between the city's most prominent theaters in and around the center city. Also, the Yiasou Greek Festival is a long-running tradition at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church that draws a huge crowd for its mouth-watering food and unique shopping opportunities.
- The Public Library of Charlotte hosts the Novello Festival of Reading in October. This series of readings and events brings well-known authors (such as Kurt Vonnegut, Ray Bradbury, Toni Morrison) to the city. Prices vary based on event, most of which are held at the Central Branch.
- Scarowinds. Is the city's most unique Halloween event. The Carowinds theme park turns ghoulish after dark, with special decor and events. Though it's a bit pricey, it never draws complaints of overpricing. $29, no kids.
- Carolina Renaissance Festival. Is in late Fall. Located just outside the city, it is a family-friendly reenactment of Elizabethan times. Features a wide array of shopping and themed events. $15 for adults, $5 for children.
- Southern Christmas Show. In late November is one of the region's biggest holiday shopping events. The Merchandise Mart on E Independence Blvd hosts the event. $8 at the door for adults, $3 for kids. $6 per car to park all day.
- EclecFest. Is a fledgling November festival in NoDa, started by the owner of a local bookstore. A combination flea market and cultural festival, this event is a good way to get introduced to the stores and locals of NoDa. Parking is typically available on and around N. Davidson St.
- Charlotte International Auto Show. Brings various dealers and buyers together. Located in the Convention Center and usually in November. Adults $8, kids free.
- Carrousel Thanksgiving Day Parade. Is one of the city's most beloved annual events. Televised regionally, this parade has run along Tryon St for half a century. A great time to visit.
- Charlotte Collectible and Antique Show. Comes to Metrolina Expo on Statesville Rd. each December. The name says it all: shopping opportunities abound. $5, kids free.
- For college football fans, the Belk Bowl is a chance to catch a great game as well as a football-themed festival. Teams from the South's two biggest college football conferences, the ACC and SEC, close out their seasons in Bank of America Stadium. Price varies year-to-year.
The city's nightlife is centered in Uptown, which is host to a wide variety of nightclubs. The largest concentration of clubs in the city is around College St. near its intersection with 5th St.; however, a quick check of local listing reveals plenty of alternatives for those who are seeking a more reserved atmosphere. There is also a large cluster of bars on Montford Dr. in Myers Park. These bars often run cooperative "bar crawl" events with one another.
Things to know
The city is full of "transplants" from New England, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions, and a considerable immigrant population. Nevertheless, the city still has a sizeable population of locals who can remember when the city was still a medium-sized town centered around railroad distribution. Like most Southern cities, Charlotte has a large African-American population. Also, it has a significant community of Asian descent, and a very rapidly growing Hispanic population. What was once a white-and-black city has become increasingly colorful with each passing decade.
Charlotte's physical arrangement reflects the growth trends of the 20th Century. Like most Southern American cities, it is "sprawled" over a relatively wide area for its size. Most of the city is suburban in nature, and most of those suburbs are less than 50 years old although some nearby towns such as Mint Hill date back well into the 1700s. These suburbs are encircled by the partially-completed I-485.
However, unlike many of its peers, Charlotte has a very dense urban core that functions as an axis for its business and cultural life. The center of the city is therefore the primary destination for tourists and business travelers.
What is often lost in this arrangement is a diverse, colorful ring of "inner suburbs" that lie in the zone between the core and the new suburban development. Most of Charlotte's most unique neighborhoods lie in this ring, as well as most of the city's "underground" activity. As a result, these areas have a highly local flavor and are just beginning to be discovered by tourists.
The major language is English. In recent years, the number of foreign-language establishments has begun to rise. In particular, Spanish-speaking shops and restaurants have become numerous on the city's east side. Also, there are a fair number of Asian establishments as well. There is a large shopping area called "Asian Corners", and a part of the east side nicknamed "little Hanoi". It is worth noting, however, that these areas make up a relatively small part of the English-dominated city.
- University of North Carolina at Charlotte UNC Charlotte is a public research university that is home to over 25,000 graduate and undergraduate students. It is the fourth largest university in North Carolina.
- Johnson C. Smith University - A historically African-American university located just outside Uptown. The centerpiece of the historic Biddleville community, J.C. Smith's campus is a picturesque gateway to the north/west side of the city.
- Queens University of Charlotte Queens University of Charlotte is a private, coed, masters level university with 2,600 graduate and undergraduate students. It is affiliated with Presbyterian USA.
- Central Piedmont Community College - CPCC has been a part of the Charlotte landscape for almost 50 years. It has six campuses located throughout Mecklenburg County and serves more than 70,000 students a year.
Charlotte is a city that thrives on big business (specifically banking and is thus the second leading banking center in the country). Its most visible employers are Wells Fargo/Wachovia (the city's largest employer), Bank of America, Duke Energy, Nucor, Sonic Automotive, Continental Tire NA, SPX, Lowe's and Family Dollar. Though the Uptown area has the largest concentration of business offices, the entire metro area has sprouted office and industrial parks. In particular, the gleaming mid rises of SouthPark and Ballantyne are worth noting if you're in those areas. There are several Fortune 500 companies and is regularly listed as one of the U.S.'s fastest-growing business areas, as well as one of the best places to do business in the nation.
Safety in Charlotte
Though the crime rate is not astronomical, Charlotte is still a city—don't let your guard all the way down. If you are uptown, the biggest worry is auto theft/break-in, which is hardly rampant. Violent crime is relatively rare in the central district, as well as the affluent southern side of town. The most dangerous areas are the west and east sides.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police (CMPD) almost always maintain a visible presence in crowded areas. If you have trouble, look for an officer. Note that in certain parts of the city the police are deployed on bikes as well as cars.
Charlotte is not a good allergy city, due to the abundance of flowering trees and greenspace.
Smog has become an increasing concern in recent years, as the city becomes more populated and in turn hosts more auto traffic. Local authorities monitor ozone levels and make public announcements when "vulnerable" groups (children, the elderly, etc.) are at risk. These announcements are carried on local television, radio, and newspapers.
North Carolina is known as "Tobacco Road", and cigarettes are almost ubiquitous in Charlotte. However, due to changing attitudes about smoking, North Carolina passed a law that went into effect in January 2010 banning smoking in all bars and restaurants in the state. It is still legal to smoke on the street, though you may want to be considerate of others if you are in a crowded area. Smoking is also permitted at most nightclubs provided they do not serve food. At concert venues (such as Bobcats Arena) there are outdoor decks for smokers.
In general, it is a good idea to be polite about smoking... whether you smoke or not. If you smoke, try to do it in an area in which others won't be bothered by it. If you are a non-smoker, be aware in advance of whether you will likely be bothered by smoke in a particular place. In North Carolina people tend to be much less sensitive to smoking than in other parts of the country, so you will likely be received with a bit of bewilderment if you make a scene about it.