If we said two days is enough time to see our fair city, we’d be lying. Just between our restaurants and craft breweries, visitors could keep busy for several days, maybe longer! But if you’re heading this way — or if you have out-of-town guests coming to Queen City, and a weekend is all they have to spend, make sure they make the most of it! Here’s where to eat, drink, shop, sightsee and so much more during 48 hours in Charlotte.
48 Hours in Charlotte, North Carolina
When you arrive, check in to the city’s newest addition, The Ivey’s Hotel. This boutique hotel located in the heart of Uptown offers lavish accommodations including Frette Italian luxury linens, a Nespresso coffee maker and curated art collection in each room. We suggest reserving one of their “City View” rooms or Balcony Suites for an impressive view of the city below. The hotel is within walking distance of countless restaurants as well as museums, parks, stadiums, entertainment and the Light Rail.
If The Ivey’s is booked, some fantastic alternatives include Historic Duke Mansion, which features 20 luxurious guest rooms and magnificent gardens all on four-and-a-half acres. And The Ballantyne Hotel also offers luxury accommodations as well as a PGA golf course, a fabulous day spa, on-site dining and more.
Once you’re settled into your room, it’s time to think about getting a bite to eat. Enjoy a quick walk around the corner, where you can enjoy dinner at Stoke Charlotte. The menu boasts delicious Southern fare ranging from a wood finished smoked chicken leg to a Georgia beef ribeye and, our personal favorite, the sticky pork shank. Save room for dessert, because they’re known for “The Doughnut,” a one-pound brioche doughnut topped with powdered sugar, diplomat cream and Heath Bar crumbles. Yes, it is as good as it sounds, but you’ll need some help finishing it all (or take it back to the hotel for a sweet treat later).
For a nightcap head over to the Punch Room located on the 15th floor of the Ritz-Carlton just two short blocks away. It was designed to replicate an upscale speakeasy of days’ past, and with only 37 seats, you’ll enjoy an intimate setting to comfortably wind down your night. Stop by Bar Cocoa, the hotel’s chocolate shop, on your way out to pick up a few treats for when your sweet tooth strikes.
Start your morning with a delicious cup of coffee from Not Just Coffee at 7th Street Public Market before meandering over to Local Loaf for a croissantwich (bacon, scrambled eggs, aged white cheddar on a freshly made croissant) or Hazelnuts for a savory crepe. You can easily walk to the market from the hotel, but if you prefer to drive, don’t fear parking as the market has a parking deck, and you can get your parking ticket validated when you leave (score!).
Now that you’ve gotten your caffeine fix, it’s time to explore! Start on Tryon Street, the main road that cuts through Uptown that’s lined with restaurants, museums and lots of skyscrapers. While you’re in the area, if you love history, we suggest visiting the Levine Museum of the New South, which follows the history of the South after the Civil War with a focus on Charlotte and the surrounding Carolina Piedmont. If you prefer art, check out the Mint Museum, Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Sozo Gallery or Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Culture.
While you’re out exploring Uptown, you’ll definitely want to take a moment to visit one of the many parks that are within walking distance of Tryon Street. Each park gives travelers and locals alike great photo opportunities, and each park is unique and offers something exciting to see. We suggest going to Romare Bearden Park for an excellent view of the city’s beautiful skyscrapers, the Charlotte Knights Stadium and several charming waterfalls that light up at night. The Green is another wonderful option — it’s a one-acre pocket park that has all sorts of sculptures, fountains and interesting novelties to enjoy and explore. Right across from The Green you’ll see the strikingly beautiful Firebird sculpture in front of the Bechtler Museum. The glitzy display (some people call it the Disco Chicken) stands at 17 feet, 5 inches tall and is decorated with more than 7,500 pieces of mirrored and colored glass that catch the Southern sun perfectly at any time of day.
If you want to find a good place to shop, head to Selwyn Avenue, where you’ll find trendy boutiques like Doll A Boutique, KK Bloom, Traveling Chic Boutique, Woo Skincare and Cosmetics and Bruce Julian Clothier. SouthPark is also a notable shopping destination that boasts SouthPark Mall as well as Phillips Place and The Shops at Morrison, where you’ll find specialty shops like Granville, Capitol, Poole Shop and B.D. Jeffries.
We might be biased, but Charlotte has no shortage of amazing places to eat, so we’ll give you a few options to choose from for lunch.
Visit The Mayo Bird for the best chicken salad you’ve ever eaten, yummy baked goods, savory soups and a cozy farmhouse-style interior that’s full of overstuffed chairs and wooden tables that remind us of our grandmother’s house. The Mayo Bird’s front porch is lined with comfy rocking chairs if you want to do a little front porch sittin’, and they also have a patio with picnic tables to enjoy a meal outside.
If you’re in the mood for Southern BBQ you’ve got several options, including Midwood Smokehouse, Sauceman’s and Mac’s Speed Shop. Everyone’s got their favorite, but they’re all delicious, and you really can’t go wrong at any of them.
To dine like a Charlottean, try Pinky’s Westside Grill, a local staple where you can get one of the best burgers in town, along with a side of fried pickles and our absolute favorite dessert in the QC, Cheerwine pound cake. Price’s Chicken Coop is also a Charlotte favorite and is the ideal place to grab a quick bite to eat if you’re in a hurry. It’s a popular lunch spot, so there will often be a line out the door, but don’t be alarmed as it moves quickly. Price’s doesn’t have seating, so you’ll often catch people enjoying their meal on the sidewalk. Don’t be afraid to join ’em — we’ve all done it!
If you just can’t decide, there’s an alternative: take a Feast Food Tour, which takes you to local hotspots throughout different neighborhoods while giving you a little history and insight to each part of town. Feast currently offers neighborhood tours through Plaza Midwood, NoDa, Uptown and South End.
After lunch, it’s time for a cold one, and you can’t visit Charlotte without exploring the booming craft brewing scene. Again, we’re biased, but we think we have some of the best brews in the South. There are so many to choose from, but a few of our favorites include Sycamore Brewing, Sugar Creek Brewing, Wooden Robot Brewery and Lenny Boy Brewing, which has champagne on tap as well as their own kombucha. If the weather is nice, there are plenty of incredible patios to choose from — click here for 21 of our favorites!
Head back to the hotel to freshen up (and perhaps take a nap, if you’ve had one beer too many) because you won’t want to miss dinner at Good Food on Montford, an award-winning eatery with a tapas-style menu loaded with flavorful options like crispy fried oysters, five-spice rubbed pork belly and beef carpaccio. You’ll also want to order a drink from their craft cocktail menu. Drinks range from a house smoked bourbon julep to an elderflower pear fizz — there’s something for everyone to sip on.
After dinner, plan to stay in the Montford area as there are plenty of fun places to grab a drink, including Brazwells Pub, which has an awesome outdoor patio. Or if you’re in the mood for some karaoke, stop into Jeff’s Bucket Shop, which is open until 2 a.m. seven days a week and is always a hilariously good time. For a little friendly competition, stroll over to Ten Park Lanes to bowl, and trust us when we say it’s not your average bowling alley. Ten Park has a moonshine bar, delectable desserts and 32 craft beers on tap. (Sometimes you can walk in and get a lane easily, but for a weekend we suggest reserving a lane so you won’t have to wait too long.)
When you’re ready for bed, head back to the hotel for one last night of luxurious sleep.
End your trip to the Queen City on a high note — literally — by enjoying brunch at the rooftop terrace of Fahrenheit, which offers one of the best skyline views in Charlotte. They’ve got an incredible bloody mary bar and Cap’n Crunch pancakes!
We hope you enjoy your time in Charlotte and we know you’ll come back soon!
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