I’ve been to Charlotte twice in the past couple of months, and I love it more and more each time! Charlotte is only a two and a half hour drive from Blacksburg, Virginia, so maybe I’ll be able to sneak one more trip in there before I move out of Blacksburg. The first time I went to Charlotte I stayed with a friend, but the second time I went a couple of friends and I rented an Airbnb near 6th Street and McDowell Street. When I stayed with a friend, it was easy to get downtown from the outskirts of Charlotte by taking the Blue Line Light Rail for only $2. Airbnbs are pretty cheap in Charlotte, but plan ahead!
Charlotte is definitely a younger city, with lots of a lot new restaurants, bars, and breweries, but also construction. Even though there is not a lot of history here, the city is very clean and trendy. Both times I visited Charlotte there were different festivals, events, and runs to participate in, and you’re never too far from a brewery!
Everywhere I went within the city, it felt like the people were near my age (20s and 30s). The downtown nightlife is a lot of fun, but the breweries are also a more laid-back atmosphere to enjoy a beer with some friends.
- Hoppin’ (brewery, $$): Katie and I went to Hoppin’ Brewery on the first day they opened! I really liked this brewery because it was set up different from a traditional brewery. When you walk in, you hand them your credit card and they link it with a magnetic bracelet. Once you grab a glass, you can choose what beer you want from their 60+ beers and wines on tap, and you pour it yourself! Just hold the bracelet up to the mini screen above the tap you’d like to pour, select your size, and put your glass underneath! The crowd here was definitely younger, and it was a really fun place to hang out.
- Amelie’s French Bakery and Café (coffee shop, $$): I went to two different locations of Amelie’s and loved both of them! The first time I went to the downtown location, and ordered a latte and the special crostini, which was brie with fig jam and bacon! The decorates are French and eclectic, and the atmosphere was lively.
- Pacos Tacos (Mexican restaurant, $): I heard about this restaurant through Buzzfeed’s Snapchat. They were doing a feature on best tacos in big cities and I saw Pacos Tacos was on the list! I brought my friend Katie there and we enjoyed some chicken tacos and queso. This place was definitely in a secret spot, but it was delicious food!
- German Christmas Market ($$): At the beginning of December, there was a pop-up German Christmas Market in the middle of the city. There were small tents with local vendors selling different types of German food and other German items. This market was a fun break before going back to work on a Sunday. Katie and I ordered different streusels from one of the vendors!
- Noda (Art/Craft shops area, $-$$): Noda is considered the art and entertainment district of Charlotte. There were tons of cute art stores and small cafes lining the streets. There were artists spray painting on some of the walls and brick in the district. Cabo Fish Taco is also here! I definitely recommend visiting and walking the street to check out all of the local shops.
- Unknown Brewery ($): This was the first brewery we went to after the 15K race in Charlotte. The brewery was clean and bright, and you could see where they make their beer in giant metal vats. There was also a spin class going on in the brewing room, which was interesting to see! The flights at Unknown come in wooden holders, and you got to choose 4 different beers. One of my favorite beers there was the Tele Porter!
- Sycamore Brewery ($$): I loved Sycamore Brewery! If the weather was a little nicer, the patio would have been a great place to enjoy a beer. I got one of their stouts and it was pretty affordable and delicious. There were lots of young people at this brewery, along with dogs and babies!
- Golden Cow Creamery (ice cream shop, $$): We went to this small ice cream shop right before they closed on a Saturday night. I really liked this ice cream shop because they make all of their ice cream from scratch, and don’t use any artificial flavoring or fillers. There were tons of interesting flavors, like brown butter whiskey pecan and raspberry brownie. I got a scoop of the salted oreo and a scoop of the almond cherry dark chocolate. It was definitely worth $6 for an ice cream cone!
- Heist Brewery (brunch, $-$$): The brunch at Heist Brewery was amazing. The way they ran their brunch was different than other places I’ve been. It is $19 for an all you can eat brunch buffet and pizza bar, along with one entrée on the brunch menu. I ordered the Breakfast Sandwich, which came with Texas Toast, bacon, ham, a fried egg, and sweet and spicy aioli. From the all-you-can-eat bar, I got a little bit of everything: biscuits and gravy, a heart shaped donut, sausage, fruit, and hashbrowns.
- 7th street public market (large public market, $-$$): This was a large indoor market with lots of different food, drink, and retail shops. There was everything from a wine bar with tastings, to a local cheese shop, to a sushi spot, to a fun gift store! I shared the four cheese pizza from Pure Pizza and the tuna poke bowl from Bonsai Fusion Sushi. I loved the family atmosphere and all of the choices at this market.
- South Bound (taco restaurant, $): This taco joint was near Sycamore Brewery, we could walk to it. The place was very big and open, it was nice since it was a warm day. I ordered the carne asada tacos and my bill was only $9 with a tip! Next time I want to try the margaritas because they looked delicious.
- Atherton Mill and Market (farmers market and plant store, $-$$): On the weekend, this market space turns into a local farmers market. However, I didn’t make it in time to see the farmer’s market, but it is a local favorite! During the week, there is a smaller space in the market for a plant store, which sells lots of suculents, terrariums, and other philodendron plants. If I didn’t have so many plants at home, I definitely would have bought one.
- Nascar Hall of Fame ($25): The first time I was in Charlotte was for work, and the conference had a free, sponsored dinner in the Nascar Hall of Fame. I’m not a huge Nascar fan, but the Nascar Hall of Fame was pretty cool. There were lots of old race cars spanning many decades on their make-shift track. There were also racecar themed games, that felt like a Dave n’ Busters! I personally wouldn’t pay $25 to see this, but if you’re into NASCAR, it would be a cool museum to check out!