Beyond the modern skyline of Charlotte’s Center City, you can stroll through streetcar-era communities where buildings range from vintage factories to grand Southern estates. Or you can admire turn-of-the-century architecture and traditional thoroughfares where boutiques and cafes dot tree-lined streets.
Below get ideas for where to eat, play, shop and stay in each of Charlotte’s eclectic neighborhoods.
In 1911, a landscape architect was hired to create a garden suburb, and voilà! Myers Park emerged from a south Charlotte cotton farm, and today it’s one of the city’s most prestigious addresses. Nestled among its winding, shady streets is the not-to-be-missed Mint Museum of Art.
EAT: With eclectic American food, fresh-baked goods and an extensive wine list, Providence Café is a neighborhood favorite. At Good Food on Montford, organic ingredients make for healthful and delicious options.
SHOP: Interiors Marketplace is a decorator’s dream come true, filled with one-of-a-kind antiques, eclectic furniture, lush window treatments and fun decorating ideas.
STAY: The former home of Duke University founder James Buchanan Duke, the circa-1915 Duke Mansion is now a luxurious 20-room B&B listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Built as Charlotte’s first streetcar suburb, Dilworth is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Bungalow-style homes and stately oak trees line residential streets, while a diverse mix of shops and restaurants compete for attention along East Boulevard, the main thoroughfare.
EAT: Bar food reaches another level at Dilworth Neighborhood Grille while 131 Main serves updated American classics. Searching for upscale? Head to Bonterra Dining & Wine Room, a AAA Four Diamond award-winner with an expansive wine selection.
PLAY: Test your knowledge during trivia night at Lebowski’s Neighborhood Grill every Tuesday. And every year in September, you can dance your way around the Annual Yiasou Greek Festival.
SHOP: At Twin Oaks Shopping Center, browse upscale boutiques like I.C. London for fine sleepwear and Sloan Boutique for trendy clothing and jewelry.
STAY: The Morehead Inn, an elegant Southern estate turned B&B has a reputation as “one of the finest inns in the South.” Pets are welcome!
Dilworth’s neighbor, South End, is just a light rail stop away from Center City. It pairs an exciting mix of restaurants, antique shops and retail stores with a relaxed atmosphere. You’ll also find live music, monthly gallery crawl events and festivals like South End Soul (a five-day celebration of design, art and innovation).
EAT: Check out Phat Burrito for a quesadellia, fish taco, or yes...a burrito. The happy hour at Sullivan’s Steakhouse, popular with the after-work crowd. Or choose from more than 200 beers at Icehouse.
PLAY: Pop into Amos’ Southend to see what indie, local or national band is rocking the house. Treat your beloved pooch with all-natural biscuits, cookies and cakes from Canine Café.
SHOP: With the world’s furniture capital just up the road, Charlotte’s furniture district gets designs from renowned manufacturers. Stop in The Furniture Connector and Boulevard Bazaar to browse their impressive collections. Then catch more visual art at a monthly exhibit at Elder Gallery.
New York has SoHo, and Charlotte has NoDa (for North Davidson Street). This former mill-community-turned-arts-district screams bohemian chic. Just north of Center City, NoDa is home to a funky collection of galleries, performance venues and dining hot spots.
EAT: Yes, the fish tacos at Cabo Fish Taco are fabulous, but so is everything else on the menu – like the Epic Tuna Burrito. And, of course, the savory crepes are the star attraction at Crepe Cellar Kitchen & Pub. If you’re a beer lover, don’t miss Growlers Pourhouse, serving a long list of all-American craft beers as well as “beer food” like soft pretzels.
SHOP: Do you miss quaint, independent bookstores? Indulge your need for nostalgia at Red@28th, a multicultural bookstore/wine bar/community gathering spot. Then head to Sunshine Daydreams for funky jewelry and vintage concert T-shirts.
This 1920s revitalized streetcar suburb is one of Charlotte’s most ethnically and socially-diverse neighborhoods and the epitome of cool city living.
EAT: Thomas Street Tavern used to be a post office. Now it’s a neighborhood hangout with a large outdoor patio complete with ping-pong tables and cornhole boards. Diners also flock to Zada Jane’s for organic foods, breakfast favorites (served all day!) and cool artwork.
PLAY: Soul Gastrolounge serves up small plates, R&B and soul tunes, so bring your groove. It’s the hot ticket, especially on weekends.
SHOP: At Lunchbox Records you can purchase new and used LPs, CDs, DVDs and more. If they don’t have what you’re looking for, they’ll order it.
STAY: The VanLandingham Estate transforms a Southern mansion into a B&B offering guests down-home comforts, including a homemade Southern breakfast for two.
South Park is one of Charlotte’s largest business and residential neighborhoods. When it comes to dining, shopping, playing and staying, there’s no shortage of options.
EAT: Upstream turns the day’s freshest catch into delicious Pacific Rim cuisine, while Rooster’s Wood-Fired Kitchen puts a Southern twist on Spanish, French and Italian dishes. Take a culinary journey into contemporary French Cuisine at Zebra Restaurant & Wine Bar, and continue your Parisian excursion at Georges Brasserie, serving classics like cassoulet and ratatouille in a bistro setting.
SHOP: More than 150 retailers and restaurants – anchored by Nordstrom, Belk, Dillard’s, Macy’s and Neiman Marcus – fill SouthPark Mall. Located in the luxury shopping center Phillips Place, LUNA offers designer dresses and hip accessories while Orvis keeps it casual and outdoorsy.
STAY: The Charlotte Marriott SouthPark hotel recently underwent a $10 million renovation and is within walking distance of SouthPark Mall. At the Renaissance Charlotte SouthPark Hotel, enjoy luxury amenities such as marble bathrooms and flat-screen TVs.
In the 1960s, advocates for higher education believed this area’s rolling farm fields were the perfect place to build a university. Today, the neighborhood near UNC Charlotte bustles with attractions, shopping and dining spots.
SHOP: More than 75 retailers make their home at the Shoppes at University Place alongside an idyllic pond.
STAY: Proximity to shopping, dining and the Charlotte Motor Speedway make the Hilton Charlotte University Place the perfect spot for business or leisure travelers. It’s easy to feel at home at Comfort Suites University with rooms featuring coffee makers and wet bars, plus a complimentary breakfast buffet and free Wi-Fi.
This newly-developed area near Uptown hums with shopping, dining and a stunning, brand-new Greenway.
EAT: Dressler’s Metro Restaurant is known for its superb dining (a must try: Lowcountry crab dip) and equally amazing view of the Charlotte skyline. Vivace delivers a seasonally-focused trattoria menu of thin-crust pizzas and plenty of pasta, while Mama Ricotta’s has been specializing in authentic Italian food for 20 years.
PLAY: Run, walk or bike along the Little Sugar Creek Greenway. This celebration of nature features a bubbling fountain, plenty of benches and a paved path hugging a stream. Just a short walk (or jog!) away, the King’s Drive Farmers Market is open Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from April to October. Stock up on local fruits, vegetables, honey, specialty meats and fresh-cut flowers.
SHOP: Find elegantly simple furnishings for a contemporary lifestyle in West Elm. At Lotus, fashionista and owner Effie Loukas’ love for all things fashion is on full display and wonderfully affordable.
Four stone arches grace the entrance to this beautiful community recently developed to accommodate the city’s growth. What was once the hinterlands is now a hub of shopping, fine dining and upscale housing.
EAT: Firebirds Wood Fired Grill brings the Queen City a taste of Colorado with steaks and salads in portions to please a lumberjack. Locals are delighted with the recent opening of Terrace Café’s second location meaning more red velvet waffles and s’mores French toast.
PLAY: Hit the links at The Golf Club at Ballantyne, rated 4.5 stars by Golf Digest. Then head to Ballantyne Village for live music and drink specials as part of Mix at Six free outdoor concerts every early fall.
SHOP: Need some retail therapy? Head to the shops at Ballantyne Village and StoneCrest at Piper Glen.
STAY: The Ballantyne Hotel and Lodge, a AAA Four Diamond property, offers complimentary valet parking and an indoor pool. The conveniently located all-suite Residence Inn Charlotte Piper Glen offers a hot breakfast and evening reception.
To the north, suburban Birkdale Village is dotted with clothing stores for men, women and children. And within 20 minutes of Charlotte, two major man-made lakes – Lake Norman to the north and Lake Wylie to the south – offer excellent water recreation including fishing, boating and swimming.
All around the area, fans of NASCAR will find Charlotte to be a dream. Ninety percent of all NASCAR Sprint Cup teams are headquartered within 50 miles of Charlotte, and gift shops and retail stores abound.