Here’s a fun fact about me: I’m a bit of a car geek. So when I was offered the chance to catch a NASCAR race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway this past year, I just couldn’t say no. I drove down the coast and ended up in Charlotte, which immediately won me over with its natural beauty and its welcoming Southern vibes. I had originally planned on staying in Charlotte for the race and then driving back home, but as soon as I arrived, I knew I had to spend more time in this beloved North Carolina town.
So when the race ended, I pulled up HotelTonight’s app to search for hotels in the area. Within minutes, I had booked a great hotel room in a desirable Charlotte neighborhood. I hopped in my car and drove to the hotel, where I checked in and almost immediately went to bed, as I was exhausted from my adrenaline-filled day of racing and wanted to make sure I was well-rested before exploring Charlotte the best way possible – like a local.
I try to get a bit of physical activity in every day, so I decided to start my Charlotte adventure in Myers Park, a neighborhood that features what has been nicknamed the “Central Park of Charlotte” – Freedom Park. This gorgeous park spans almost 100 acres, so there’s endless room to walk, bike, or even enjoy a picnic. I opted for a nice run through the park, and I jogged by locals walking their dogs and playing soccer with their kids. If I lived in Charlotte, this is exactly how I’d want to spend every morning.
Since I was lucky enough to be in Charlotte on a day when the King’s Drive Farmers Market was open, I decided to head to Midtown to pick up some fresh produce. This cash-only farmers market had a terrific selection of local fruits and vegetables, so I grabbed a few snacks from the friendly vendors to ease my hunger. I then spent some time wandering through Midtown, which I quickly noticed has some fantastic shopping.
After a quick drive through Midtown, I made my way to NoDa, the historic arts and entertainment district named for its North Davidson Street location. As many arts districts are, NoDa is funky and hip, and there’s no shortage of cool art galleries, small boutiques and trendy restaurants to check out. The area is also a popular spot for craft breweries, so I popped into a brewery to test out their award-winning ales, and I was definitely impressed. There’s no better way to enjoy lunch than by drinking a cold beer while listening to great live music.
This neighborhood may be historic, but it’s actually one of the hippest, most exciting neighborhoods in Charlotte. The Lynx light rail stops in South End, which is one of the reasons it’s become such a haven for young professionals and young families. Even though I had just eaten lunch, I was tempted by all of South End’s delicious food and ended up indulging in some good old Southern barbecue at one of the many food trucks in the area. If you want to get a good sense of Charlotte’s South End, I recommend you walk along the Red Trail, which follows the light rail track and goes from South End to Uptown.
While technically named Uptown, this Charlotte neighborhood acts as the city’s downtown. It’s the most walkable area in Charlotte, and it’s also one of the most exciting. There are great urban parks, plenty of restaurants and bars, and several performing arts and sports centers. Uptown is also home to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, and being the car enthusiast I am, I just had to check it out. Nearly three hours later, I reluctantly left the museum because I was ready to eat dinner. Luckily, there’s an abundance of great dining options in Charlotte, and I chose to eat at a rooftop restaurant so that I could end my trip with sweeping views of this Southern city.
As I returned to my hotel room that night, I reminisced on all that I had done in one day. Charlotte’s a fairly large city, and while I certainly didn’t see all that I wanted to, I still got a great feel for the town. The moment I arrived in Charlotte, I noticed the Southern hospitality and infectious friendliness of the locals, who definitely made me want to return to Charlotte in the future. So if I have a day or two free in the future to spend in Charlotte, North Carolina, I’ll be sure to book a hotel room through HotelTonight so that I can explore even more of this charming city.