Top Places to Stop on the Charlotte Light Rail
Whether you’re a light rail regular or newbie, here's where to eat, drink and explore near each of the 26 stations along the LYNX Blue Line.
by Kristen Moore
The LYNX Blue Line light rail has been a game-changer for Charlotteans since its operations began in 2007 with 15 stations linking the south side of Intersate 485 to Uptown. In 2018, the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) added an extension, connecting Uptown to UNC Charlotte and bringing the total south-north route to 18.9 miles with 26 stations, including 11 park-and-ride locations.
From getting a taste of the local culinary scene to treating yourself to new finds at a locally owned boutique, there’s a variety of experiences to enjoy at each stop. Before you start exploring, download the CATS Pass mobile app to purchase your tickets and plan your trip and the CATS Art in Transit mobile app to learn more about the art you pass along the ride.
The southernmost site on the LYNX Blue Line light rail line, this station features more than 1,100 parking spots across a deck and lot, bike racks, a covered waiting area and public art.
Eat & Drink: Smoothie King, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, McDonald’s, Steak ‘n Shake, Hooter’s, Middle James Brewing Company
Stay: Comfort Suites Pineville-Ballantyne Area, Suburban Extended Stay Hotel Charlotte-Ballantyne, Hampton Inn & Suites Charlotte - Pineville
Located at the intersection of South Boulevard and Sharon Road West, this station features a parking lot with 188 spots, bike lockers and public art. It’s also near Campbell’s Snacks (formerly the historic Snyder’s-Lance Factory). Head to a nearby gas station to get a pack of the famous crackers to munch on while you snap a selfie in front of the building.
Eat & Drink: Costa Del Sol #1
Do: Fridas Beauty Salon, Jambox
Just a short walk from the Arrowood Station, you’ll find a few different international restaurants to create your own global tasting tour, or head to Compare Foods Supermarket to stock up on your favorite international products and fresh produce. The station also has nearly 300 park-and-ride spots, a covered waiting area, and is the pickup/drop-off spot for Megabus.
Eat & Drink: JC Tacos, Cherry House II, Lempira Restaurant, La Catracha, Don Juan Bakery, Mi Tierra Restaurant, Choi’s Korea & Wing
Do: Compare Foods Supermarket
Park in one of the 430 park-and-ride spots and then head up the stairs or elevator to get to the station platform on the bridge over Archdale Drive. This is a great station to hop off to do some shopping at the nearby Latin American grocery stores or to grab a bite to eat at authentic international eateries.
Eat & Drink: Tacos Bar, Mini Taco, Pollo Campero, Fonda Mexicana E Paraiso, 500 Degrees Pizzeria, Lempira Restaurant, Doan’s Vietnamese Cuisine
Do: Planet Fitness, Bloom Movement Artistry, Esperanza Supermarket, La Unica Supermercado
The Tyvola Station is also on a bridge that runs above Grover Road. The station features 465 spots to park and ride and has several global food options nearby, including Latin American and Indian cuisine.
Eat & Drink: Lupitas Carniceria & Tortilleria, American Deli, My Messy Kitchen, Romeo’s Vegan Burgers, Morazan, Ebenezer Restaurant
Do: Tyvola Square shopping mall, ALDI
Stay: Sonesta Charlotte Executive Park, Wyndham Garden Charlotte Executive Park, Hilton Charlotte Executive Park
Montclaire South/Lower South End
Park your car in one of the 382 park-and-ride spots or secure your bike in the bike locker and hop on the train to head to South End or Uptown. Or ride to the Woodlawn Station for popular local restaurants (Beef ‘N Bottle has been a Charlotte institution for more than 40 years) and shopping.
Do: Woodlawn Marketplace shopping mall, Rountree Nursery & Supply
Stay: Best Western Sterling Hotel & Suites, Days Inn by Wyndham Charlotte/Woodlawn, Radisson Hotel Charlotte Airport, Ramada Plaza by Wyndham Charlotte Airport Conference Center, Quality Inn Airport South, Courtyard by Marriott Charlotte Airport/Billy Graham Library, Embassy Suites by Hilton Charlotte
This park-and-ride location has 315 spots and a covered waiting area. It’s also just a short walk to a cidery, breweries, and entertainment like a game bar and escape room.
Stay: InTown Suites Extended Stay Charlotte NC - Airport
The New Bern Station is the southernmost stop in the popular South End neighborhood. More than a dozen restaurants, breweries, bars and entertainment hot spots are within walking distance. The stop lets off right onto the Rail Trail, an urban linear park that runs parallel to the rail line.
Do: South End Exchange, Canine Cafe, F45 Training South End, MADabolic
Stay: Super 8 by Wyndham Charlotte Downtown Area
Hop off and hit all the hot spots in South End within walking distance from the East/West Station. With shopping, breweries and eateries galore, you can spend the whole day hanging in the heart of South End. Don’t miss the public art on display at the station and along the Rail Trail.
Eat & Drink: Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, Hawkers Asian Street Fare, Barcelona Wine Bar, Sycamore Brewing, Leroy Fox South End, Bang Bang Burgers, Roots Café, QC Pourhouse, Salted Melon Market & Eatery, Trolley Barn Fermentory & Food Hall, The Cocktailery, Canopy Cocktails & Garden, Dilworth Tasting Room, Sunflour Baking Company, 300 East
Stay: Holiday Inn Express & Suites Charlotte - South End
Another popular spot in South End, the Bland Street Station offers riders a variety of culture and culinary experiences as soon as they exit the train and also just a short walk away.
Eat & Drink: Slate Charlotte, Tavern on the Tracks, Oak Room, All American Pub, Hot Taco, Futo Buta, Wooden Robot Brewery, Vana, Golden Cow Creamery, Flower Child, Condado Tacos, Gin Mill, The Brickyard, Hoppin’, Lincoln’s Haberdashery, The RailYard including STIR, North Italia and more
Do: Elder Gallery of Contemporary Art, Arrichion Hot Yoga & Circuit Training, Sweat Method
The Carson station is the northernmost stop in South End before Uptown. Close to the LendingTree headquarters as well as breweries, bars and restaurants, this is a great spot to hop off and explore whether it’s for work or play.
Eat & Drink: Charlotte Beer Garden, HopFly Brewing Company, Resident Culture South End, Ruby Sunshine, Craft Tasting Room & Growler Shop, Lincoln Street Kitchen & Cocktails, Nikko Japanese Restaurant, Capishe Real Italian Kitchen
The Brooklyn Village Station is located above The Westin’s parking deck and connected to Whole Foods on Brooklyn Village Avenue, a street named to honor the historic African-American neighborhood that once occupied this area of Uptown. The southernmost stop in Center City, it’s just a short walk to Uptown’s only brewery, multiple museums and Bank of America Stadium, home of the NFL Carolina Panthers and MLS Carolina FC.
Eat & Drink: D9 Brewing Uptown Charlotte, Whole Foods, Aura Rooftop, Dean’s Italian Steakhouse, Golden Cow Creamery Uptown, Mariposa, Fin & Fino, Sandwich Club, Famous Toastery, Rhino Market & Deli, Chex Grill & Wings
If you're coming from the south, you’ll ride the light rail through the Charlotte Convention Center. The LYNX Blue Line is one of the only light rail systems in the country that cuts through a building. Hop off and head to your next destination: choose from museums, parks, restaurants and more all within walking distance.
Stay: Hilton Charlotte Uptown, Embassy Suites by Hilton Charlotte Uptown, Hyatt Place Charlotte Downtown, Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel, Hilton Garden Inn Charlotte Uptown, Hampton Inn Charlotte Uptown, Le Méridian Charlotte, Sheraton Charlotte Hotel
Just two blocks down from Trade and Tryon streets, the main intersection where the city was originally founded, the CTC/Arena Station gives riders easy access to restaurants, bars, hotels and Spectrum Center, the home of the NBA Charlotte Hornets and the largest indoor concert venue in the city.
Stay: AC Hotel Charlotte City Center, Residence Inn Charlotte City Center, Aloft Charlotte Uptown at the Epicentre, The Ritz-Carlton, Omni Charlotte Hotel, Charlotte Marriott City Center, Grand Bohemian Hotel Charlotte, Hyatt House Charlotte Center City
Before the light rail expansion, the 7th Street Station was the end of the line (or the beginning depending on how you look at it). The station sits next to the 7th Street Parking Deck for easy parking and The Market at 7th Street for exploring the city’s first urban food hall.
Eat & Drink: The Market at 7th Street, Duckworth’s Grill & Taphouse, The Cellar at Duckworth’s, The Capital Grille, 204 North Kitchen & Cocktails, Rí Rá Irish Pub, Church + Union, Sophia’s Lounge, Dandelion Market, Cowbell Burger & Whiskey Bar, Sea Level NC, Mert’s Heart & Soul, 7th Restaurant & Lounge
This Uptown station is the most northern stop before the train crosses Interstate 277 going toward NoDa. This station is situated near First Ward Park and UNC Charlotte Center City, making it the perfect stop for students who need to travel back and forth between the main campus in University City.
Parkwood Station provides access to the quickly developing Optimist Park neighborhood between Uptown and NoDa. Start your experience at Optimist Hall, the largest food hall in the city, and then explore surrounding eateries, bars and parks while enjoying a skyline view.
While not on the main strip of the NoDa neighborhood, the 25th Street Station provides access to old favorites like NoDa Brewing Company’s OG location and new bars, coffee shops and eateries with more on the way.
Do: Re:New Home
Explore all the fun and funky restaurants, bars and shops the NoDa neighborhood offers by hopping off at the 36th Street Station, which exits right out into the heart of NoDa (named for North Davidson Street, the main street that runs through the district).
Eat & Drink: The Chamber by Wooden Robot, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, Idlewild, Amélie’s French Bakery & Café, The Exchange at 36th, Boudreaux’s Louisiana Kitchen, Salud Cerveceria, Smelly Cat Coffee, NoDa Company Store, Cabo Fish Taco, JackBeagle’s NoDa, Protagonist Beer, Popbar, Growlers Pourhouse, Ever Andalo, Haberdish, Reigning Doughnuts, The Goodyear House, Oh My Soul
If you need an easy place to park to get to NoDa or UNC Charlotte, grab one of the more than 600 parking spots at Sugar Creek Station and then hop on the light rail to head to your destination. Or if you’re coming from somewhere else, don’t skip over the culinary and cultural experiences available near this station.
Do: The Independent Picture House, Blackbox Theater, Charlotte Art League, The Fitness Factory of Charlotte
Stay: Continental Inn Charlotte
Eastway/Hidden Valley/University City
Explore the east side of Charlotte at spots near the Old Concord Road Station, or start your journey here by using one of 332 park-and-ride spots. You can also grab a quick ride share from the station to Eastway Park, which features a one-of-a-kind recreation center, disc golf, athletic fields, community art and more.
Eat & Drink: Tryon House Restaurant, American Deli, Mr. Seafood, La Zima Bar, Lempira Restaurant
Do: Eastway Park/Eastway Regional Recreation Center, AMF University Lanes
Located between East Charlotte and University City, the Tom Hunter Station has a few authentic local restaurants close by that are worthy of a quick stop.
Eat & Drink: La Casita, El Taco Veloz, South 21 Jr., Panaderia Odalys, Ely Tortilleria
Do: Fashion Warehouse, Tapers Barbershop
Hop off the train at the University City Boulevard Station and head to the only IKEA in the state for all the fan-favorite homegoods and decor. Find clothing, accessories, furniture and more at other nearby shopping centers. Or have a fun day date or evening out at Topgolf. This station also features a parking deck with more than 1,500 spots and short-term and long-term bike racks.
Eat & Drink: Waffle House, Outback Steakhouse, Mi Pueblo Mexican Grill
Do: IKEA, Belgate Shopping Center, The Wearhouse, Topgolf
Stay: WoodSpring Suites Charlotte - University Research Park, Comfort Suites University - Research Park, InTown Suites Extended Stay Select Charlotte NC - University
Just before the intersection of North Tryon Street and East W.T. Harris Boulevard, hop off at the McCullough Station for a taste of local eats and a game of mini golf.
Eat & Drink: Banh Mi Brothers, Picasso’s Sports Cafe, Le Kebab Grill, Thai House - University, Showmars, King Fish Poke, The Juicy Crab, Jerk & Juice, Tea Fusion Café, Chex Grill & Wings, Papi’s Puerto Rican Cuisine, Crackin’ Crawfish, Soul Central
Do: McCullough Commons shopping mall, Monster Mini Golf Charlotte
Stay: Hampton Inn Charlotte-University Place, Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham Charlotte/University Place, Holiday Inn Charlotte University, Holiday Inn Express & Suites Charlotte NE - University Area, Extended Stay America - Charlotte - University Place, Extended Stay America - Charlotte - University Place - E. McCullough Dr., Sleep in University Place
Start or end your light rail excursion at the JW Clay Station, which has a parking deck with 800 spaces and a pedestrian bridge that crosses over North Tryon Street toward the UNC Charlotte campus. Or head in the other direction to explore the food, drinks and fun at The Shoppes at University Place.
Eat & Drink: Golden Owl Tavern, Sarangi: Indian and Nepali Cuisine, Famous Toastery, CAVA, Binki Cafe Charlotte, Ninety’s Milkshake Bar, Boardwalk Billy’s, Zapata’s Mexican Restaurant, Armored Cow Brewing Co.
Do: Jerry Richardson Stadium, The Shoppes at University Place, Dave’s Paddle Boats, Paradise Valley Par 3
Stay: Hilton Charlotte University Place
The northernmost light rail station takes you to UNC Charlotte’s main campus on Cameron Boulevard, providing easy access for students to get to and from campus and for visitors to explore what the campus has to offer the community. Explore the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens, college sports at the athletic facilities and shows at the university’s performing arts venues.
Eat & Drink: Bojangles, Burger 704, Chick-fil-A Express, Thoughtful Cup, Market on Craver, Panda Express, Peet's Coffee and Tea, Salsarita’s, Mamma Leone’s, Charlotte Greens
Do: UNC Charlotte, UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens
Stay: UNC Charlotte Marriott Hotel & Conference Center
Charlotte’s Metropolitan Transit Committee approved funding to add another light rail stop in South End between the New Bern Station and East/West Blvd. The new station, which is slated for completion by the end of 2026, will be near Publix and Sycamore Brewing with a pedestrian crossing connecting to two sides.