Charlotte is a chameleon, changing from one neighborhood to the next—busy and professional, quirky and artistic, laid-back and quintessentially Southern. The personality of the city depends on your interests and location. Whatever you're looking for—art, food, nature, nightlife—you'll find in the Queen City.
When to Go
Although Charlotte is a four-season city, fall is the time most locals look forward to, when the city cools down and starts to gear up for football season (with palpable love for the Carolina Panthers). The lower temperatures and reduced pollen count also make it an ideal time to stroll through Freedom Park to take in spectacular fall foliage, go apple or pumpkin picking, or sit outside and savor locally-brewed craft beer.
Food and culture lovers have much to savor during the Yiasou Greek Festival, South End Wine Festival, Festival Latinoamericano, and Festival of India. But the event that sets the city apart is HeroesCon, a convention founded by the owner of Heroes Aren't Hard To Find, one of the best-known comics retailers in the country. Every summer, Charlotte transforms into a mecca of geekdom, showcasing comics, comic book artists and all manner of cosplay.
What to Eat
Charlotte isn't known for specific dishes but, as the biggest city in the state, it is a hub for Southern staples including fried chicken, shrimp and grits, chicken and waffles, pimento cheese, and succulent vinegar or tomato-based North Carolina pork barbecue.
Souvenir to Take Home
For $5 you can purchase a piece of original art from the Art-o-mat, a rehabbed cigarette vending machine located in the hall of Free Range Brewing. Although the vintage art dispensers are now found all over the United States, its creator Clark Whittington was born and raised just outside of Charlotte in Concord.
Sustainable Travel Tip
Avoid getting stuck in traffic and take the light rail that now runs from Pineville, through the South End, Uptown, and NoDa (North Davidson) areas, all the way to the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. There is also a well-connected bus and trolley system, and a growing number of biking options. Bring sustainability to your plate by seeking out restaurants that celebrate the state's abundant seasonal and local fare.
For dazzling shots of the Charlotte skyline, climb the small hill in Cordelia Park, near the city's NoDa neighborhood, close to sunset. But to really celebrate Charlotte, visit the underside of Matheson Bridge to document the 14,000-square-foot Matheson Bridge Mural. The single largest mural in the city features the signing of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, alleged to predate the signing of the U.S. Declaration of Independence by one full year.