Best of the East Coast: Charlotte, NC

June 10, 2016

Charlotte, NC

I’m so excited to be linking up with Savannah and lots of other lovely East Coast ladies to talk about our cities. To me, Charlotte, NC is my adopted hometown. I grew up about an hour and a half southwest of the city but never really explored Charlotte proper until I was in college, just 20 minutes south of the city. It’s really confusing to a lot of people because while I technically do live in South Carolina, I could get to the border in a less than 10 minute drive.

Two weeks after I graduated college, I moved 900+ miles away to Houston, Texas. Growing up, I always wanted to live in a big city. However, I didn’t understand how important public transportation is to a big city. (It’s pretty much nonexistent in Houston due to it’s below-sea level altitude and massive size in population and square miles.) After spending four years in Houston, experiencing it’s highs (THE FOOD) and it’s lows (THE TRAFFIC) it made me realize that Charlotte truly is the best of both worlds.

A little background, Charlotte is the 17th largest US city (based on population). It’s the largest city in North Carolina but not the capital (that’s Raleigh). The Charlotte metro area, where I live, spreads across multiple counties and into two different states. In my opinion, it’s the quintessential Southern city.

So, I want to share with you all of my favorite spots in the city in hopes that you’ll come visit. Having just moved back I’m so happy to get reacquainted with the city, so if you think I left anything out, please leave them in the comments below:

How to Get Around:

If you’re exploring Uptown (which is actually downtown, for you out of towners) the Lynx Light Rail is the way to go. For those of us that live very far south, driving to the station at South Blvd (the end of the line) and taking it all the way up to Uptown is way easier than trying to find a parking spot in the city. Not to mention it’s way cheaper. Of course you are welcome to drive but do be prepared for traffic.

What to Do:

Blumenthal Performing Arts – I’m a little biased on this particular spot, since I interned there when I was in college, but I absolutely love going to see shows at the Blumenthal. It’s not just one theater either, the organization manages SIX different venues. You can see anything from the latest Broadway touring production or music performances from tons of great artists. One of the things I love most is the ability for students to see some shows at a discounted rate. Learn more about the Student Rush offer here.

PNC Music Pavilion – Over the years I’ve seen tons of concerts at this venue, way before it’s name change! This venue, compared to the Blumenthal, has larger acts like Coldplay, Dave Matthews Band, and Journey. The venue is owned and operated by Live Nation, so you know the performers will be top notch.

BB&T Ballpark

Charlotte Knights at BB&T Ballpark – The Charlotte Knights are the minor league teamed located in town, the Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. I haven’t had the chance to visit the new stadium Uptown but after seeing photos of the view, I’m dying to go. When the Knights played in Fort Mill, SC, we went a few times and even celebrated Independence Day there!

Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium – Need I say more? I’ve been a Panthers fan my entire life and I was so excited to see them in the Super Bowl (even though we lost. BOO!) In case you’re living under a rock, the Panthers is the city’s NFL team.

Charlotte Hornets at Time Warner Cable Arena – Charlotte’s NBA team recently changed from the Bobcats back to the Hornets and I couldn’t be more pleased. I haven’t made it to a game yet but I can’t wait for next season to start up again.

BB&T Ballpark

Romare Bearden Park – If you’re looking to get into some free fun, I highly recommend Romare Bearden Park. Located right in the heart of Uptown, the gorgeous green space is a great respite from the hustle and bustle surrounding you.

Crowders Mountain State Park – I have a deep desire to be an outdoorsy person. My husband Nick used to hike Crowders all the time and I’ve only managed to make it up the mountain once. But after living in flat Texas I’m itching to hike again. This state park is located about 40 minutes west of Charlotte.

Anne Springs Close Greenway – Located south of the NC border in Fort Mill, SC, this is the place to go for horseback riding, camping, boating, and any outdoor activities your heart desires. The Charlotte Symphony does the occasional concert here and it’s lovely.

Old Town Rock Hill, SC – I would be remiss to mention the town I actually live in on this list. Old Town Rock Hill has lots of fun things going on including Food Truck Fridays and Farmers Market Thursdays. There are tons of good places to eat too, but I’ll cover that in the next section.

Where to Eat:

Okay, give me a little bit of slack here. When we lived in the area before, we considered prime cuisine to be Chili’s. Since moving back, we’ve had about three months to correct this and explore all of the great cuisine that the Charlotte area has to offer. So your favorite may not be on the list, but if that’s the case, please leave your suggestions in the comments so I can try them out.
Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 10.07.44 AM

Paco’s Tacos and Tequila – I gotta be honest you guys, the thought of trying to find good Tex Mex outside of Texas was a little terrifying. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the food at Paco’s. In fact, I’m surprised that many Charlotteans prefer to frequent the Chuy’s across the street as they absolutely do not compare in my mind. I highly recommend the cheese enchiladas and Nick likes the brisket tacos. Their charro beans are on point and quite authentic Tex Mex. Go go go!

Dandelion Market – We ate here right before seeing a show at Blumenthal, as I had always heard great things from my friends and co-workers. I have to admit, we probably went a little overboard, but that totally happens when you go to a tapas place, right? My favorite dishes were probably the Baked Potato Croquettes and scallops.

Copper – Now I feel like I need to warn you: this isn’t somewhere the average person would go to for a quick bite on a weeknight. This is a special occasion kind of place. It’s the first place I ever had Indian food and promptly fell in love with it. It’s located in an old home transitioned into a restaurant and I love how cozy it is. Perfect for a date night with someone special.

Bakersfield Charlotte

Bakersfield East Blvd – Yes, another Tex Mex restaurant. What can I say? We got into a habit when we lived in Houston. Apparently this is where the hip kids hang out in Charlotte, especially seeing as we had a 15 minute wait on a Wednesday afternoon. But after eating there I totally understand why. The tacos were delicious and the margaritas were too. But my favorite thing? The salsa verde. It reminded me of my favorite place in Houston. It doesn’t come to your table automatically unlike other Tex Mex places, but we requested it and they happily brought some to go with our chips and queso.

Toast (The Famous Toastery) – I had the pleasure of brunching it up with some lovely blogger ladies here a couple of years ago and I’ve wanted to go back ever since. Going out for breakfast always makes me feel like I’m on vacation, and I love Toast. I had the Southwestern omelette because I always choose the dish that had chorizo in it. Even though I’m not a coffee drinker, I’ve heard that it’s amazing here, and strong.

Hobo’s – Again, I have to mention a few places south of the border in my neck of the woods. Hobo’s is a great burger place in Fort Mill, SC, but I’m a crazy person and always order the Buffalo Chicken Sandwich. The buns are delicious and fresh. If you go, you must get the pimento cheese fritters. It’s not an option.

Flipside Restaurant Rock Hill, SC

Flipside Restaurant/Cafe – There are two locations, one in Fort Mill and one in Rock Hill. Not only are the brunch options delicious, the dinner is fantastic as well. (The menus are different at each location, so be aware.) The pimento cheese skillet with pretzels is a must-have and the shrimp and grits are to die for..

Where to Drink:

I’m kind of the worst person to give recommendations since my drink palette consists of margaritas and Moscow mules, but here I go…

Legal Remedy Brewery – When I lived in the area before, breweries were not really a thing. Now, they are popping up all over the place. There are tons in Charlotte, but I love Legal Remedy. I don’t drink beer (womp, womp) but their cider is yummy and the food… you guys. The food at breweries is always an after thought, but not here. Their chicken fingers are the best I have ever had. Get them. Thank me later.

The Unknown Brewing Company – A couple of things I love about this Uptown brewery (other than the beer because I couldn’t tell you if its good or not)(but I have been told it is): 1) the logo of the company is a green question mark and I feel like I’m walking into The Riddler’s House. I don’t hate it. 2) On Thursday nights, Geeks Who Drink do trivia here and it’s super fun.

Okay, now you know my favorite places to go in Charlotte! Visit the other bloggers to hear about their cities!

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