Wellness in Charlotte
Whether you’re looking to move – be it slow-flowing or endorphin-raising – rest and relax, or tap into the Queen City’s vegan and plant-based dining, Charlotte is the perfect stop for a curated wellness retreat.
by Liz Logan
A hub for self-care and rejuvenation, thanks to a vibrant yoga and fitness community, abundant and awe-inspiring natural spaces, and intentional chefs creating mindful cuisine, pockets across the city offer a reprieve from the busyness of daily life, beckoning those seeking an escape.
Yoga and Movement
Start your wellness awakening with yoga and movement at some of Charlotte’s unique classes and staple studios. Climb, dance and get in intervals for endorphin- and adrenaline-pumping group classes or solo sessions.
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Art + Culture, in addition to being a great resource and destination for arts and community outings, boasts expansive views not only of artworks spanning generations but of the Queen City’s skyline. Take in the scenery with the Yoga on the Rooftop series with a vinyasa flow synced to upbeat music. Practice with SweatNET’s popups from the roof of The Metropolitan or in Ballantyne’s Backyard with Yoga + Mimosas.
Charlotte’s yoga community stays true to yoga’s fundamentals by offering inclusive classes and spaces for practice. NoDa Yoga brings in Soul Liberation Wellness for Queer Yoga, a healing space for the queer and trans community, providing connection to Self and others. The Coterie Wellness Center provides classes in Power and Peace at an affordable and sliding price point.
Drop in for Ashtanga and hot classes at Charlotte Yoga. Take your yoga on a different path at Good Karma Ranch with alpaca yoga followed by a personal farm tour. In Belmont, Amber Jenelle leads SUKHA, a monthly blacklight, invigorating experience incorporating Kundalini, HIIT and a high-energy soundtrack, at Belmont Yoga. Stop in next door for a farm-to-table dinner at Heirloom Restaurant next door as you wind down from this soulful experience.
Annual festivals feature yoga and movement. Each May, Lenny Boy Brewing Co. hosts ONE Fest – Charlotte’s Yoga, Music + Healing Arts Festival with more than 45 classes and workshops. The U.S. National Whitewater Center is home to classes under an enveloping tree canopy throughout the week, with the annual Flow Fest focusing on wellness and mindfulness through a variety of yoga classes and workshops, including meditation and stand-up-paddleboard (SUP) yoga on the flat waters of the Catawba River. Through the duration of Charlotte SHOUT!, an early spring arts festival, area teachers guide yogis with classes through the Elemental Yoga + Fitness Series.
Whether going solo or with a pal, Inner Peaks’ indoor rock climbing gyms have walls that provide climbers with a state-of-the-art experience, from auto-belay stations to bouldering. Get a bird’s-eye view from the 25- and 40-foot walls and stick around for yoga. Stay up high with silks classes at AerialCLT geared towards all skill levels.
For high-energy movement, head to NC Dance District for drop-in hip-hop classes and workshops or Open Door Studios for classes in tap, jazz and ballet. Take a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) class with Charlotte FIT South, or join creator and owner Liz Hilliard of Hilliard Studio Method for a strength class from her wellness boutique and flagship studio as she shares her simple mantra and philosophy of “Be Powerful” in all her offerings.
Healing, Self Care and Mental Health
Whether looking for spas or sound baths, the pathways to healing are plentiful
Sit in the infrared sauna or salt room at The Invigory and replenish with IV hydration therapy. Treat yourself to a massage and bio-electric magnetic therapy at KUR Health Spa, developed to promote the body’s ability to heal. Stop in the South End storefront of Selenite Beauty for natural skincare, makeup and fragrances. Step upstairs into the Spa at Selenite Beauty for a facial finished with a Gua Sha facial massage.
For healing that goes beyond the physical body, Curio, Craft & Conjure carries intuitive supplies meant for manifesting. Find herbs, crystals and incense lining the shelves. Develop your intuition further through intuitive readings or a limpieza, an energy-clearing experience led through a shamanic approach, or an ancestor walk, a walking meditation taking participants on a guided tour of their lineage.
Balancing well-being and inner peace with relaxation, clarity and wisdom, Reiki sessions at Okra, a multi-faceted studio space in the heart of Plaza Midwood, start with sage or palo santo and are guided by the loving energy of the practitioner. Okra’s monthly Sacred Sound Ceremonies with facilitator Kim Savage are immersive experiences composed of varying sound modalities interwoven to create a frequency-raising session that leaves participants at ease.
Scenic Routes for Running, Hiking and Biking
The greenways, sidewalks and trails of the city are often dotted with joggers, runners and walkers on the move, taking in the scenery of a shining cityscape or traversing creekside along the surprising natural spaces that weave in and around Charlotte neighborhoods.
The paved trail at Freedom Park, perfect for strolls of any ability, circles a fountain-clad lake, with connectivity to the Little Sugar Creek Greenway, tied to the vast footprint of the Carolina Thread Trail, lying beneath a voluminous tree canopy.
Runners gather in droves for Mad Miles Run Club taking off from Camp North End’s You Vs Yourself fitness studio. Be Social, tucked behind the storefront of Social Status in Charlotte’s Plaza Midwood neighborhood, also hosts runners ready for courses through the historic neighborhood.
Leaning into the community inherent in craft beer, run clubs can be found at area breweries every day of the week. NoDa Brewing Run Club, started by Around the Crown 10K’s founder Brian Mister over a decade ago, was the city’s first brewery run club and is still going strong with routes from both the North End and The OG locations. Lower Left Brewing Co. and Resident Culture Brewing Company are among those hosting fan-favorite clubs, with Weathered Souls Brewing hosting Black Men Run weekly.
While Around the Crown has made a name for itself by hosting thousands of runners annually on the highway encircling Uptown, Novant Health Charlotte Marathon, a Boston Marathon qualifier, has been running the streets since 1977, first as the Charlotte Observer Marathon followed by the NASCAR-themed Thunder Road moniker before its final rename in 2016.
Through the wooded outskirts of the city, Anne Springs Close Greenway hosts an annual half-marathon through their Greenway Race Series. Year-round the U.S. National Whitewater Center is home to races ranging from 1-mile walks to WC-50 Ultra Trail Marathons through the trails along both the human-made whitewater river and the flatwater Catawba River.
Area nature preserves, like McDowell Nature Preserve and Latta Nature Preserve, are waterfront homes to protected wildlife, greenspace and miles of trails. Nearby, trails tie the peaks of Crowders Mountain and Kings Mountain together with varying lengths and difficulty, and a view of Charlotte’s skyline, with spaces for hiking and meandering just outside the city. Local outdoor group, Issa Vibe Adventures, takes hikers from novice to expert on guided tours with the aim of connecting to nature.
Within the city, the Light Rail Trail lining the LYNX Blue Line in South End is an area favorite. The CLT Trail Guide maps out perfect routes along this trail and more, many of which are wheelchair accessible and have Charlotte Joy Ride stations for those looking to take the trip on two wheels.
Farm-Fresh Dining, Drinks and Tours
With their fingers constantly on the pulse of Charlotte-area produce’s seasonality, thanks to the farmer-chef relationships, Charlotte’s food and beverage purveyors lean heavily into the ingredients synonymous with the South while finding influence from international flavors.
One of Charlotte’s longest-standing organic and vegan restaurants, Living Kitchen presents plates of collard-wrapped barbecued oyster mushrooms and housemade cashew pimento cheese atop quinoa veggie burgers, with breakfasts of overnight oats and sprouted raw granola gracing the menu all day from their dining room in South End’s Atherton Mill and Market. A few blocks down in its brightly hued café, Flower Child conjures colorful dishes that fit into vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and paleo lifestyles.
Faring from South Africa, with their first restaurant stateside, Oh My Soul has found a home in a historic mill house in NoDa, Charlotte’s art district. Downtown Davidson features farm-to-fork The Pickled Peach, with rotating menu items dependent on seasonality, ensuring freshness in every dish. For a fun twist on vegan dining, Karaoke Food Tours takes eager diners on their three-hour “Where Should We Vegan?” tour to the sound of jazz, neo soul, classic rock and alternative tunes.
Cult-favorite vegan food truck-turned drive-thru Romeo’s Vegan Burgers grills plant-based burgers topped with their signature housemade sauce. Walk-up food stalls at Optimist Hall feature plant-based dishes, like Enat Ethiopian’s vegan platter with traditional items like miser, tikel gomen and ater served with spongy injera used as a utensil, and Botiwalla Indian Street Grill’s SPDP, a flavorful puff flour crisp filled with a bright yet savory combination of chutneys, potatoes and cilantro.
Optimist’s Village Juice Co. creates cold-pressed juices, and downstairs Fonta Flora Brewery pours an array of crisp, sparkling waters flavored with whole-leaf citra hops, lemongrass and ginger. Around the region, upscale food purveyors craft spirit-free cocktail menus, with the intimate Restaurant Constance placing a particular emphasis on the program. Lenny Boy Brewing Co. made its way into a craft beer destination while still featuring the kombucha that started it all.
Farmers with whom so many of these prolific chefs collaborate can be found at farmers markets from the city’s center to surrounding regions. Vendors can be found mid-week at North End Farmers Market, just across the walkway from Plant Joy at Camp North End; Saturday mornings at the Uptown Farmers Market; and daily Wednesday through Sunday at the area’s largest market, the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market, which was host to Dee’s Vegan To Go’s original iteration of take-home style vegan meals before the opening of their West Charlotte restaurant.
Complete your retreat with Charlotte’s hotels centered on soothing escapes.
Uptown’s The Ritz-Carlton’s in-house Spa & Wellness Center features a Relaxation Room and an Aqua Lounge, with massage therapists offering tranquil stress-relieving sessions. Step out on the Bohemian Garden Lawn of the artfully designed Grand Bohemian Hotel and find rest in the Argentinian-inspired rooms.
The Ballantyne Hotel’s accommodations come fitted with luxurious Frette linens, perfect for a deep sleep after experiencing a stone massage at in-house The Spa at Ballantyne. Enjoy a quiet dinner in the Library Lounge of The Ivey’s Hotel, a boutique hotel in the heart of Uptown with 47 rooms, each unique from one another, with luxury Italian bedding, turndown service and plush robes and slippers to don after a dip in the European-style soaking tubs found in select rooms.