Day Trips in Charlotte

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Charlotte Skyline

Charlotte Skyline

“Culture and History”

Day 1

-        Hop aboard the LYNX Blue Line light rail or the Charlotte Trolley.  Stop off in Charlotte’s Historic South End neighborhood for boutique browsing and family-friendly dining or journey on to Center City for museums, green spaces, and more.

-        Levine Museum of the New South in Center City documents Charlotte’s rich history through the timeless and award-winning exhibit “Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers.”  Visitors can relive a civil rights era sit-in at a lunch counter or even stroll down a recreated main street to try on a hat in an early Belk department store.

-        Just a few short blocks away is the Mint Museum of Craft + Design. Regionally renowned for a rich history in crafts, the dazzling collections trace North Carolina’s roots in furniture, ceramics, wood-working, and more.

-        Even though a renovation is taking the facility to new heights throughout much of 2009, Discovery Place, one of Charlotte’s most beloved and most visited museums, will remain open to engage and excite young minds.  Explore museum favorites like the Aquarium, KidsPlace, Rat Basketball, and Einstein’s Corner.

-        Cap the day with a performance at the NC Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. Whether catching a regional folk artist at the intimate Spirit Square or a Broadway debut at the Belk Theatre, visitors are sure to be entertained.

 

Day 2

-        Reed Gold Mine is the site of the first documented gold find in the United States.  Today, visitors can relive the traditions that fueled the nation’s first gold rush and pan to find a treasure to take home. 

-        Take in the many halls of the Mint Museum of Art, spanning three centuries of creativity. Formerly the nation’s first branch of the United States Mint, North Carolina’s first art museum now houses noted collections from around the world in addition to an impressive collection of American art.

-        Relax and enjoy the serenity of Wing Haven, a unique part of Charlotte’s Myers Park since its creation in 1927. The gardens and bird sanctuary, enclosed on all sides by brick walls, encompass three acres in the heart of a quiet residential neighborhood.

-        Take a quick detour and stop by three historic residences that embody Southern elegance.  The Van Landingham Estate in Plaza Midwood, the Morehead Inn in Dilworth, and the Duke Mansion in Myers Park all now serve as special event venues and bed & breakfasts. 

-        Rock, jazz, classical, reggae, hip-hop…No matter what’s on your iPod, the area’s variety of venues, which range from neighborhood watering holes like the Evening Muse and Neighborhood Theatre to 20,000-seat arenas like Time Warner Cable Arena, attract musical talent with sounds that satisfy.

 

 

“Unwind”

Day 1

-        Southern history comes alive when visiting the charming Historic Rosedale Plantation, which continues to serve as a beloved symbol of Charlotte’s earliest beginnings.  Take a leisurely tour with 19th century docents through the well-preserved gardens. 

-        Ice cream may be an ok treat, but an ice cream pedicure at The Spa at Ballantyne Resort is an even better one!  In addition to Ballantyne, Charlotte’s got a list of spas sure to rejuvenate the senses. 

-        Any way you slice it (no pun intended), Charlotte’s got plenty of courses to choose from.  More than 40 public ones to be exact.  Whether driving the impressive wetland-shrouded 15th hole of Rocky River Golf Club or teeing off onto the hourglass-shaped greens at Olde Sycamore Golf Plantation, you’ll find a lot of links to your liking.

-        Stroll through the idyllic lanes of Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden and enjoy aromas of lavender, irises, and lilies. The captivating landscapes throughout the nine distinctly themed gardens are sure to offer instant serenity.  The Orchid Conservatory, open year-round, is home to a tropical refuge with waterfalls that flow into water lily sprinkled pools and orchids spanning every color of the rainbow.

-        Cap off your day by hitting up some of Charlotte’s hottest nightlife destinations. Taste a signature martini at Blue Restaurant & Bar, let loose on the dance floor at Suite in the EpiCentre, or get the complete nightlife experience at Hom boasting a different theme on each of its three levels.

 

Day 2

-        Like a fine wine, North Carolina’s Piedmont vineyards have certainly gotten better with age.  Nestled along the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, sip your way through this promising grape-growing terrain that’s been compared to France’s celebrated Burgundy region and that ranks 12th in the nation’s wine production.  Don’t miss area wineries like Childress Vineyards, Shelton Vineyards, and Uwharrie Vineyards.

-        Spend the afternoon at SouthPark Mall, considered the luxury shopping destination of the Carolinas. Peruse high-end retailers like Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, browse exclusive brand names such as Tiffany & Co., Hermes, and Louis Vuitton, or stop in at favorites like Gap, J. Crew, and Anthropologie. 

-        Alfresco shopping and dining locales are taking south Charlotte by storm.  But architects in this city have the right idea – who wouldn’t want to miss out on that Carolina blue sky?  Destinations like Phillips Place, Blakeney, Morrison, and the Village of SouthPark tout specialty stores, unique dining experiences, and outdoor pavilions that all add up to a sophisticated ambiance.

-        Be prepared to give Charlotte a standing ovation after taking in breathtaking ballets, awesome operas, and a wide variety of scintillating stage shows at venues like Belk Theater or Ovens Auditorium.

 

 

“Free and Family-Friendly”

                Day 1

-        Park spaces almost outweigh the pavement in and around Charlotte.  Spots like the novella-themed “The Green” are perfect for the little ones.  With a giant fish fountain, hopscotch, and curving paths that ribbit, purr, and chirp as people walk by, this spot in Center City is especially kid-friendly.  Don’t miss stunning area green spaces like Marshall Park, Freedom Park, Independence Park, Reedy Creek Park, and others. 

-        Explore the Billy Graham Library.  Combining iconic memorabilia, multimedia technology, and good plain fun, visitors are transported into the life and faith of this beloved evangelist.  Exhibits feature powerful montages of Billy Graham in action, photos with notables from around the globe, Ruth Graham and family, and much more. A country kitchen and replica of Graham’s boyhood home complete this not-to-be-missed experience. 

-        Charlotte is home to 80% of NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers.  Go behind the scenes and see how they prepare for race days at race shops like Hendrick Motorsports Museum and Dale Earnhardt Inc., which offer free self-guided tours.  In addition, the "Dale Trail" is a self-guided free tour of Earnhardt landmarks in his nearby hometown of Kannapolis. 

-        Embark on a free gallery crawl every first and third Friday of the month hosted by NoDa, Charlotte’s fringe art neighborhood.  Browse the area’s swanky galleries, enjoy a bite to eat and relax to smooth music played by local street musicians in this growing artistic community.

 

Day 2

-        Check out the U.S. National Whitewater Center.  Aside from braving class III-IV rapids on the world’s largest manmade whitewater river, visitors can enjoy the facility’s many hiking and biking trails or flatwater paddling on the Catawba River free of charge.  Alongside the main competition channel, visitors can sit on the rocks at the water’s edge to take in the scenic surroundings, groups of rafters, or Olympic-caliber athletes. The Center offers several bargain rafting and climbing packages and hosts a variety of free outdoor music concerts and events. 

-        Set out on a walking tour showcasing Charlotte’s many historical and public art gems.  A Center City tour highlights works of art by the local sculptor Raymond Kaskey, architectural gems, and frescoes by renowned painter Benjamin Long.  A nearby Fourth Ward walking tour in Center City highlights charming Victorian Southern estates appropriately nicknamed the “grand old ladies.”

-        Take the family to ImaginOn: The Joe and Joan Martin Center.  One of Charlotte’s first LEED designed buildings, this innovative and fun facility combines a library and the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte.  Stay for story time, allow the theatre troupe to take you to faraway lands, or explore the many multimedia-oriented displays and exhibits geared towards kids and teenagers. 

-        North Carolina was “First in Flight,” so to mark this occasion while in the area, pack a picnic and head to the airport.  At the Overlook Park at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, visitors can watch planes take-off and land just yards away.  Shady trees with picnic tables and benches sit close to the runway. 

 

 

“NASCAR”

Day 1

-        See how the pros “shake and bake” and top out at speeds of up to 180mph when you suit up for the Richard Petty Driving Experience or Jeff Gordon Racing School.

-        Break for lunch at the Speedway Club, which overlooks Lowe’s Motor Speedway.  Home to the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, the Coca-Cola 600 and the Bank of America 500, this 1.5 mile superspeedway is a favorite for drivers like Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson.

-        Fans ready to immerse themselves in the total speedway experience should embark on the Over The Wall Tour, a three-hour up-close look at Lowe’s Motor Speedway including areas that are off limits on race days like the NEXTEL Cup garage, pit road, and Victory Circle.

-        Put the pedal to the metal at NASCAR Speedpark where the race never ends on five exciting tracks with NASCAR-inspired go-karts.  Or at Victory Lane Karting, top out at speeds of up to 40mph with specialty racing karts in a 1/3-mile long indoor road course.

 

Day 2

-        Over 80% of all Sprint teams and over 70% of Busch teams are located in the Charlotte region, so see how these racing legends prepare at race shops such as Raceworld USA or Dale Earnhardt Inc.  Many offer group tours, souvenir shops, or viewing rooms where you can catch the crew in action.

-        At PIT Instruction & Training, groups can train for the fastest 13 seconds in sports with skilled crew members during role-playing and equipment demonstrations.  Stay to peruse memorabilia and a gallery of racecars.

-        NASCAR fans won’t want to miss the treasures of the renowned motorsports artist at Sam Bass Gallery.  Learn how this master comes up with designs for race car paint schemes, uniforms, and logos for top race teams.  

-        You might spy Dale Earnhardt Jr. himself when you stop in for dinner at Big Daddy’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar.  With racecars proudly displayed on the exterior, this popular and group-friendly Mooresville favorite has had NASCAR steeped in its roots since 1974. 

 

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