Hail to the Queen

In Do, September 2016 by Alexandra Drosu

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The Carolina Panthers kick off the season this fall at the Bank of America Stadium but there are plenty of reasons to visit Charlotte besides football. North Carolina’s largest city is packed with hotels, restaurants, high-end boutiques, museums and more, all within walking distance of the two main sports arenas.

Named in honor of Queen Charlotte of Britain, the city’s past is rich with history. The Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, signed in 1775, was one of the first of its kind, leading to the American Revolution. Today, the city is leading the charge in finance as the second largest banking center in the U.S. after New York City. The title has drawn new transplants to the city, adding to the diverse culture and reflected in new restaurants and retail stores.

Beyond downtown, plenty of areas offer visitors different experiences in the city—peruse artsy North Charlotte also known as NoDa, take refuge in Myers Park’s 98-acre Freedom Park, or shop luxury stores in South Park.

STAY

The Dunhill The city’s only historic hotel is located in action-packed uptown, just blocks from the Time Warner Cable Arena and across the street from the Discovery Place museum.  Complimentary amenities including WiFi, European breakfast and Wednesday wine social. dunhillhotel.com

The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge

For a more relaxing retreat, this upscale resort (20 minutes south of downtown) offers a golf course, spa, tennis courts, pool and fitness center. Special teas offer a touch of whimsy. theballantynehotel.com

Aloft Charlotte Uptown In the city’s financial district, the hotel offers easy access to dining, shopping, activities and nightlife. The pet friendly hotel features a splash pool, gym and the WXYZ bar often featuring live musical performances. aloftcharlotteuptown.com

Eat

Rocksalt Located just south of the city, this eatery focuses on local and sustainable seafood yet also offers options for meat lovers and craft cocktail connoisseurs. Don’t miss the fresh oyster bar while enjoying the outdoor patio! rocksaltrestaurants.com

Roosters Kitchen Don’t get fooled by the straightforward menu, the seasonal-inspired offerings are sourced from local farmers and packed with flavor, and the uptown location makes it walking distance from many hotels.  Be warned: the bill can add up. roosterskitchen.com

Loft and Cellar Opening this month and located at the junction of the historic Third and Fourth Wards, the brainchild of Executive Chef Nicholas Daniels (formerly of Wooden Vine) bills itself as a dining and nightlife destination. loftandcellar.com

DRINK

Free Range Brewing Brothers Jeff and Jason Alexander’s small, family-friendly brewery opened last year in NoDa. They boast that they don’t have flagship beers so prepare to enjoy a rotating menu of brews. Freerangebrewing.com

Birdsong Brewing Company

This neighborhood brewery launched in 2011 but a newly opened taproom offers a great outdoor space to enjoy one of its 12 selections on tap. Every Thursday it debuts a new, small batch brew and offers free tours. birdsongbrewing.com

Pit Stop Worthy

The Mint Museum

The renowned museum is also the oldest in NC, with an extensive collection of art across two sites, known as Randolph and Uptown. Housed in the former Charlotte Mint, the Randolph collection features works by the esteemed Hudson River School artists, ancient American artifacts and an extensive compilation of decorative arts spanning almost 2,000 years.

The newer, Uptown museum showcases the area’s rich legacy of craft and design, and don’t miss the special exhibit chronicling 80 years of photography from the permanent collection. Mintmuseum.org

Nascar Hall of Fame

Even if you aren’t a NASCAR fan, the museum is worth visiting. Learn more about the sport in the High Octane Theater, check out dramatic crashes in the Great Hall, or take a stroll back in time through 18 historic cars that chronicle the evolution of NASCAR. nascarhall.com

AvidXchange Music Factory

The Factory plays host to a variety of music venues, comedy stages, restaurants and bars. Music lovers can choose between the intimate stage of The Fillmore (named after the legendary San Francisco music hall) or enjoy the Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre’s larger venue acts.

Check out the local craft beer scene at VBGB Beer Hall, dine at Osso’s or take in the nightlife at Label. The best part? Everything is within walking distance. avidxchangemusicfactory.com

Discovery Place

The entire family will enjoy this science and technology museum filled with interactive fun and rotating exhibitions. Other attractions include World Alive, featuring 15 different ecosystems; explore current events through Science Buzz or design footwear in Think It Up. Daily programs offer a variety of shows such as Rat Basketball (yes, these furry friends play ball!) or Science at the Stage, featuring hands-on experiments. discoveryplace.org

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