Why It's Worth It

Between its lush gardens and glimmering skyscrapers, Charlotte is a town that can give you almost any experience you desire, whether that's a slow, intimate small town or a high-end cosmopolitan city. From car races and food festivals to public art and picturesque scenery, the Queen City (named for King George III of Great Britain's wife, Queen Charlotte) becomes what you make of it. The former trading village—now the second-largest banking center in the United States—is a surprising, kaleidoscopic treasure. —Simran Sethi