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How to Spend a Weekend in Charlotte

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Disclosure: This post on things to do in Charlotte, NC on a weekend was created in collaboration with Hotel Planner. As always, all experiences and opinions are my own.

The South is steeped in history that spans much more than Southern belles, debutante balls, or Sunday barbecues with smoked meats and crawfish boils. In the past decade, there’s been a revival of the Old South with a new spin, particularly when it comes to the food scene.

Many local chefs are going back to their roots and celebrating Southern cuisine with long forgotten ingredients and menu items. These chefs are also evolving the culinary history of the South by drawing on newer immigrant cultures. It’s this mixing of the Old South with the new that makes a weekend in Charlotte a must.

How to Spend a Weekend in Charlotte

Image via Flickr by James Willamor.

Charlotte is smaller than a lot of other Southern cities, so it’s easier to navigate and enjoy in just a few days. Plus, she’s definitely one of the prettiest belles at the ball. In fact, she’s the queen.

Since a weekend isn’t a whole lot of time, I’m focusing on Uptown in the central part of the city. But you can find lots to do, see, eat and drink all over Charlotte. There are no rules to say you can’t do more!

A Weekend in Charlotte near the City Center/Uptown

How to Spend a Weekend in Charlotte_Bechtler Museum of Modern Art

Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. Image via Flickr by James Willamor.

This section of Charlotte is densely packed with lots to do. I highly recommend doing as much walking as possible. Burn those calories while visiting a museum, doing a walking tour, or shopping. Then you won’t feel so guilty when you order dessert! Whether you decide to make your home base at a hotel near the city center or close to Discovery Place, you’ll find a plethora of possibilities.

North Carolina’s oldest art museum, the Mint Museum, is right at your doorstep. There are local and internationally renowned artists; Chihuly’s “Royal Blue Mint Chandelier,” and a focus on fine crafts such as glass, pottery, wood, and jewelry. Right next door, you’ll find the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. The museum’s architecture is stunning, and it’s home to works from major artists like Picasso and Warhol. Plus, if your weekend starts on the first Friday of the month, you can catch one of two jazz shows.

Got the kids with you for your weekend in Charlotte? Don’t miss taking them to Discovery Place, an interactive museum for kids focused on science and technology. The museum also has a really cool Genghis Khan exhibit that is not to be missed. The museum is actually a whole lot of fun without the kids, too!

To get a thorough understanding of Southern life and culture, visit the Levine Museum of the New South. Afterward, you can check out the local food scene by exploring the Seventh Street Public Market. Shopping and eating in this famous market help support the food culture of the Carolinas and promotes local and regional farmers, food artisans, and entrepreneurs. Here, you’re not just eating; you’re contributing, too.

I always enjoy walking tours when I’m visiting a new city, especially if they’re food tours. If you’re also fascinated by local food culture, I highly recommend a tour from Tour de Food or Feast Food Tours, two companies hosting culinary escapades in Uptown. Not only will you learn a thing or two, but you won’t go hungry, either.

How to Spend a Weekend in Charlotte_Uptown Restaurant

Image via Flickr by James Willamor.

Where to Eat and Drink in the Uptown area:

Breakfast and Brunch

  • Amelie’s French Bakery (380 S College St.): Enjoy a casual breakfast with delicious pastries and a damn good croissant.
  • The Asbury (235 N. Tryon St.): Don’t miss the deviled eggs with fried cornichons. This is a great spot for dinner, too.

Lunch

  • The King’s Kitchen (129 W. Trade St.): This spot serves farm-centric Southern comfort food, and every penny of profit goes to feed the poor.
  • Mert’s Heart & Soul (214 N College St.): This spot is home to very good salmon cakes.
  • Chili Man (101-139 S Tryon St.): Get the Life Changer from this food cart owned by Vic.
  • Papi Queso Streatery (6th/Tryon St.): Catch this food truck on Fridays and grab the signature grilled cheese sandwich.

Cocktails

  • 204 North Kitchen and Cocktails (204 N Tryon St.): Stop here for pre-dinner cocktails.

Dinner

  • Rooster’s Wood-fired Kitchen (150 N College St.): Don’t miss the duck dishes or the excellent mac and cheese.
  • Sea Level NC (129 E 5th St.): Dig into sustainable seafood and Carolina oysters in a classy atmosphere.
  • 5Church (127 N. Tryon St.): Try the Rosemary Gin Fizz at this hip steakhouse.
  • McNinch House (511 N. Church St.): Enjoy this formal dining restaurant with top-of-the-line service.

Dessert

  • Crave Dessert Bar (500 W 5th St. #120): Save room for dessert or an after-dinner drink at this sweet spot.

Coffee

  • Not Just Coffee (224 E 7th St): Artisinal Homeland Creamery and Counter Culture Coffee.
  • Smelly Cat Coffee House & Roastery (514 E 36th St) NOT in Uptown, but NoDa, however, I love this place and its Insta-worthy wall!

Weekend Sports Trips

How to Spend a Weekend in Charlotte_Charlotte Panthers Foorball

Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. Image via Flickr by James Willamor.

Charlotte is a big sports town. If you visit for a weekend to catch the Charlotte Hornets at Spectrum Center, you’ll find plenty of hotels nearby and these great eats:

  • Sunflour Baking Company (2001 East Seventh Street): Amazing bagels and lox
  • Midwood Smokehouse’s (1401 Central Avenue): Carolina barbecue
  • Mert’s Heart & Soul (214 North College Street): Southern soul food and Lowcountry dishes

If you visit Charlotte for a Carolina Panthers game at Bank of America Stadium, stay at a hotel nearby and fill up on these pre-game treats:

  • Price’s Chicken Coop (1614 Camden Road): Carry this institution’s signature take-out dish to the game with you.
  • Pinky’s Westside Grill (1600 West Morehead Street): Don’t miss the iconic White Trash Burger.
  • Seoul Food Meat Company (1400 South Church Street): Get your chicken wings Korean style.

Weekend in Charlotte for the Family

How to Spend a Weekend in Charlotte_Discovery Place Nature

The butterfly garden at Discovery Place Nature. Image via Flickr by That Guy DouG.

A great spot to take the kids on a family weekend is Discovery Place Nature, formerly known as the Charlotte Nature Museum. It’s an oasis for children and adults to learn more about local wildlife. There’s a butterfly garden, hands-on animal experiences, and a nature trail to Freedom Park, where you can enjoy a family picnic.

Here are some family-friendly spots for food:

  • Duck Donuts (1710 Kenilworth Avenue): Don’t miss these donuts!
  • Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar (1626 East Boulevard): The kids will love the name, and you’ll love the burgers.
  • JJ’s Red Hots (1514 East Boulevard): Enjoy classic hotdogs in a retro environment.

How’s that for options? The Queen City rules when it comes to an action-packed, food-filled weekend.

How about you? Have you visited Charlotte? What would you add to my weekend plans?

For a visual summary of this post, check out my Charlotte web story!

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How to Spend a Weekend in Charlotte How to Spend a Weekend in Charlotte How to Spend a Weekend in Charlotte
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Kevin | Caffeinated Excursions

Wednesday 25th of December 2019

I used to live in Columbia, SC and always loved driving up to Charlotte for the day to visit friends and enjoy the city. The downtown is compact and walkable with so much to do. Your guide made me nostalgic!

Lauryn R

Tuesday 16th of May 2017

I have never been to Charlotte before! It definitely sounds like you had a awesome time while there though. :) Thanks for sharing!

Melissa Dixon

Thursday 4th of May 2017

I have been through there but have never really stopped to see it. It looks like a great place to visit.

ricci

Wednesday 3rd of May 2017

I have been to Charlotte once, a long time ago and it has changed quite a bit!! I need to get back and check out that foodie scene!!

Rebecca Swenor

Wednesday 3rd of May 2017

A weekend in Charlotte sounds like it would be so much fun for the whole family. We love any type of museums and would love to see the Mint museum. It is awesome that it's North Carolina’s oldest art museum. The Seventh Street Public Market sounds like it would be awesome to see too. Thanks for sharing these awesome ideas for a weekend in Charlotte.